Saturday, July 28, 2012

Literally

Directness: (Noun) The quality of being direct; straightforwardness; immediateness.
-Webster's Dictionary

Today at lunch, my mother-in law was talking about someone putting words in her mouth. My daughter immediately added “I put food in my mouth.”  Not long ago, after she heard her older brother jokingly call his friend a loser, she said “ I'm a finder”. The other day when I mentioned a pet peeve, she said “my pet’s name is LuLu Belle.” 
Also today, I read Gretchen Rubin’s blog post in The Happiness Project. She talked about making angry comments and faces and how quick flared words can sour the mood at home and leave her feeling guilty which leaves her even more irritable than before she lost her temper. Rubin was looking for advice on how to stop the cycle. The comments ranged from getting enough to eat and sleep to taking a deep breath during a troubling encounter, calming down and thinking before you speak. My two cents were to treat the ones we love like the ones we like. Because I have never lost control of my emotions around a friend or acquaintance the way I do with my spouse and kids. 
But after thinking about my daughter’s literal view of the world, I would like to add one more piece of advice to that list. Say what you mean. That doesn’t mean giving up figurative language, it means being more direct. Whether I am trying to avoid a conflict or hurting someone’s feelings or just not wanting to share my true feelings on a topic, I am not always forthright. Or worse, there are some passive aggressive habits that have become just that, habit, in my marriage. Whether I am communicating that way to my children or not, undoubtedly, they are hearing and learning from it.
Before I can be direct, I have to be aware of my thoughts and feelings. So all that other advice plays a role in avoiding snarky comments that are quick tempered but long lived.

Am I tired? Am I hungry? Have I thought about  if I am really mad about this situation or am I angry about a past experience that is resurfacing? Do I know what I do want when faced with something I don’t?  Have I paused to breathe and see it from the other person’s perspective before launching ahead on assumption?
Are you direct? If so, do you have advice on how to be direct and polite?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, you pushed my button..I have always had a personality where I expressed my opinon...but probably hurt someones feelings even tho I TRIED to do it in a nice way, but holding it in was worse...maybe I think now I should have medicated so that tendency would have been surpressed....but now that I am older, what happens is that your good/bad tendencies get more pronounced. So I find that I love being direct and giving advice....I have so much advice within me. I always now say this is just my opinion and take it or leave it and will not be upset if you do something else....the hardest thing is finding someone who has as much advice as me, it is funny because I dont take advice well, but at least I recognize it in me. PD

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