I write those words at least three times per week. It is where I have failed at getting through to my audience with the expanded version and give in to the abbreviated, bullet list which surpasses the attention span of most everyone I encounter.
No. I am neither kicking those with an attention deficit diagnosis nor being supercilious. To be perfectly frank, I am exhausted.
First and Second
It all begins with a simple call where someone asks me to interpret a situation. This a simple fact-finding mission happens between friends every day of the week. First friend calls second friend and explains a situation. Second friend is not embroiled in the situation and sees it very clearly. Second friend restates the situation from the new perspective, often filling in the signals first friend missed. First friend’s light bulb goes on and can see the situation as clearly as the second friend.
At least that is the plan.
The emotional state of first friend confounds what would otherwise be a simple examination of the situation. The consternation clouds the view of second friend’s perspective. This is the place exhaustion takes over.
First friend cannot let go of the emotions which were clouding judgment in the first place and keeping clear perspective at bay. Second friend has to defuse the emotional static on the line before the message gets to first friend. Ever play a game of emotional telephone?
Shoot the Line
Telephone companies do it all the time. They send the equivalent of a bullet down the line to clear the static. Enter bullet list. Listing only the highlights leaves little room for static. Usually.
It turns out, if the bullets are fired too rapidly in succession, they are not seen as separate points and clog the line when first friend gets to the one which is a bitter pill to swallow. First friend is having a hard time being a good listener. Most frequently, the bitter-pill bullet falls into one of these categories:
- Lays blame for the situation on the listener
- Points out the culpability of the listener
- Points out the sign the listener missed by
- Denying culpability
- Believing a lie
- Being fooled
- Failing to see not everyone is good
Occasionally, the bitter pill comes as a result of being unable to recognize the truth. Denial has a way of making people unwilling to accept the consequences of their actions, be they good or bad, but especially when they are bad and the main reason first friend needed to talk.
Denial can also be the mask for a lack of understanding. Sometimes consequences are not the direct (easy to follow) result of an action; consequences can go rumble like a 9.6 earthquake through a number of people’s lives before first friend feels the aftershock currently setting the line atilt.
Whichever the cause for the clogged line, the first friend is still just as stuck as when the conversation began.
At some point, we have all been the first friend. All it takes to clear the line is to stop filling it with excuses as to why our perspective is correct. In fact, had our perspective been correct, we would have absolutely no need to call second friend in the first place.
Just a bit of food for thought.
Do you have a first friend who clogs the line of communication (no names)? What can you say to first friend to get an ear open for the bullet(s)?
Hashtags: #communication #friendship #lifelessons