A MAGICAL Tool For Communication
Think about how many times during any given day or week that you have a feeling of not being understood.
…or not being heard.
Communication is a major area of improvement for everyone – including me.
We can all easily get stuck in our tunnel-vision of what we’re focused on doing and slip into habits that aren’t going to take us where we want to go.
I’ve seen it happening for years… and then one amazing woman who is a friend and mentor in my life shifted everything for me.
Her name is Nancy.
She’s an incredible person who is a private wealth manager.
She started her own company from the ground up, is a mom, grandmother, philanthropist, volunteer, deacon in our church, triathlete, and all-around incredible person.
Nancy is extremely intelligent; she graduated from Vanderbilt University with honors in just 3 years.
Nancy is one of those people who others ask, “How do you do it all?”
Sometimes I get asked that question… but even I ask that question about Nancy- she is amazing.
Nancy and I knew each other through our church, and then we ended up working together to help raise money for a non-profit arts organization in our area.
The organization was in terrible shape and was in danger of going out of business – so fundraising with a long-term vision was the top priority.
Nancy and I led the charge on that.
Because she is also a friend and also a spiritual confidante, sometimes our conversations would go in several different directions, and we can shift topics at any given moment.
One day when we were meeting for coffee, I asked her if I could speak with her about something that was bothering me.
Her response was brilliant.
Of course, as my friend, she was going to say yes, but she did not give me a simple yes.
She said, “Absolutely, but first, can you tell me which hat I’ll be wearing?”
I was confused and asked for clarification.
She continued, “We fill a couple of different roles for each other. So, with whatever you want to discuss, will I be wearing my friend hat, my deacon hat, or my board member hat?”
Nancy was right.
She filled all those roles, and honestly, sometimes they cross over.
I thought about it for a few seconds and then told her that I was needing the friend hat, but wanted her to have the deacon hat on stand-by.
She laughed and said that was fair.
Before we dug into what I wanted to discuss, we talked about the wisdom of her question.
How many of us fill multiple roles with different people and never clarify what they want or need when they come to us?
If you are friend with your parent or your adult child, do we ever ask a simple question when they approach us such as, “…before we get into this, do you want me to listen for sympathy, do you want feedback, or would you like the specific direction I think you should take?”
It makes a difference.
I’m extremely close with my tween daughter, Holland.
I’ve made the mistake of not asking for this clarification, and the result is lost trust.
When she has confided in me, as her mother, I’ve felt the responsibility to go “do something” about it… but, that’s not what she wanted.
She wanted and needed someone simply to hear her so she felt safe and understood, and that’s it.
My lack of asking for clarification on the front end left a little mess to clean up on the back end.
We cleaned it up, but it was a bit of work.
It’s a simple mindset tweak for communication that can take you a long way in simplifying your life.
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