Getting present to what is going on for me and stating my truth hasn’t always been the easiest thing, especially in situations where I might have something negative or difficult to say to others.* Fortunately, I think I’m getting better at it.
Today I got a call from a friend. Recently I have pulled away from wanting to talk to him. I didn’t understand why though. In our rather brief call today, I realized something: he was talking entirely about himself. In fact, he was mostly talking about problems in his life, and not in a way that suggested he was going to find a solution anytime soon.
I realized that rather than feeling good about talking to my friend, I felt annoyed and somewhat turned off by the one-sided nature of the call. I’m not blaming him. I realized that for whatever reason, I had let things become unsatisfying in our conversational dynamic. I did that!
Fortunately I have personal tools at my disposal to get my head on straight. Today I turned to the satisfaction “sniff test,” something I thought up awhile ago:
The Satisfaction “Sniff Test”
- Is this a hell yes?
- Is this a no-brainer?
- Is it a total match?
- Does it make me feel alive?
As I thought through these questions, it is obvious that the conversations with my friend had not been passing the test. First off, it’s not a hell yes to hear someone dominate the conversation talking their problems, especially when it doesn’t seem to do any good. I’d rather do house chores. At least that would have some value! Next, it’s not a no brainer, something I am enthused to get on board with. Do I really want to feel like someone’s therapist? It’s definitely not a total match for me, because I’d much rather have a conversation that is actually fun! And rather than make me feel alive, I felt annoyed and confused, and slightly guilty for not wanting to talk to this friend.
Don’t get me wrong. I like hearing from people. But I want to have a true conversation. You know, a give and take, true reciprocity, where we both get to be heard. To me, that is important in a friendship. Also, I like to focus on solutions. I want to be empowered, and ideally, I want to be uplifted by someone else just as I want to uplift them.
I’m happy to report that after journaling about this at the cafe, my friend called me back. For the first time in awhile, we had a truly satisfying conversation (!). I was honest about my prior dissatisfaction, but was equally positive during our conversation, which was spirited and had an organic give-and-take.
Now that’s more like it!
I am so glad I took the time to check in with myself and figure out what I wanted: open, honest communication. Voila, like magic, getting clear on this helped attract it directly to me.
*I think I’m actually quite good at this in two areas: my piano teaching and my relationship with my wife. In these areas, I have a lot more practice communicating honestly and openly, because nothing else works!