Saying What You Mean (and a giveaway)

At a McDonalds Playland about a year ago, my then-3-year-old carefully tipped her tiny cup of ketchup on its side, explaining, “It’s not much left, and this is how you do it.”

“Mine’s almost gone, too,” Jay said. “Would you like a refill?”

“No,” said Melody, focusing on her ketchup. “No,” said Natasha, waiting her turn.

“Maybe you should tell them what a refill is,” I suggested. And after he did, and repeated his offer to refill the answer was a chorus of Yeses.

“It’s all about definitions,” I said. “Everything in life comes down to definitions.”

I say this all the time, like it’s profound or something.  But, as Jay pointed out in that moment, it’s not really the definitions, it’s the whole process of communicating and how you choose to respond to it.

Yes. God created the perfect man for me.

It makes me think about how we can do “everything” right without being understood, because it’s not just about us, the senders of the message; it’s also about the receivers.

Years ago I was riding with a lady who’d been married just a few months. As we conversed I was vaguely aware of the conversation moving slower than I was used to, but I hadn’t pinned the feeling yet on anything specific.

“I’m so sorry!” she said suddenly. “I’ve been talking this who time like I was having this conversation with my husband.”

She went on to explain that she had used the (frequently useful) tool of “reflecting” in our conversation– the practice of rephrasing what she’d heard to verify she understood.

“He really needs that, but with you I’m basically repeating exactly what you said. It’s so different to talk with someone who says exactly what they mean!”

When I told my mom the story she agreed that was the way she talked too (I come by everything honestly), and a that her pastor’s wife, a counselor and therapist, had complimented her on it.

“Everybody knows right where they stand with you,” she said. “There’s no ambiguity or insecurity and people are so comfortable with that.”

Mom pointed out that she had plenty of examples to the contrary, and the woman amended that the positive response was the more logical.

I agree with the pastor’s wife, but take this as yet another example of how many people in this world aren’t logical.  A surprising number of people are not content with getting “The Golden Rule” (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.), they seem to expect some kind of platinum rule (“Do unto me as I would have you do.”)


This is much harder to apply, for the simple reason that unless I really know you I have no guidelines other than my own preferences.  And like my mother I have plenty of experience with people who don’t want to be treated the way I do.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[The original post included a giveaway that is now closed.]


5 thoughts on “Saying What You Mean (and a giveaway)

  1. One of the most fascinating times in my life was when my hubby and I went through counseling and we were taught the whole reflecting thing. We still don’t do it very often and end up mis-communicating often, but things have gotten much better.

    How much we really mis-understand each other is fascinating to me.

  2. i use that technique a lot with the kids, when they are starting to learn to talk and I have no clue what they are saying. (Also when they whine, except I try to make something funny or silly out of their words. The basic message is “I can’t understand what you are saying when you whine.”)

    Anyway, that platinum rule is quite profound. ”Do unto me as I would have you do.” How many times do we live like that? OK maybe it’s just me. :)

  3. Random # generator: 3
    So its PurpleMoose again! (You see why I’m waiting to mail? I’ve got a lot of double signers and never said commenters could only win once.)

    Drawing three is now closed. (But you didn’t need me to say that, you figured it out.)

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