Monday, July 16, 2012
If you follow The Classy Woman Facebook page then you know that I posted about a personal experience I had with a family member last week as it pertains to manners (or in this case the lack thereof). While I was vague in terms of the story itself, there was a good lesson behind it and many of you commented and enjoyed the post and some asked how to best respond to the person lacking in manners in this type of situation. So, I've decided to share it here on the blog too as today's Manners Monday post. :)
Some of you might be reading the title of this post and thinking, "Really, there are certain manners behind sharing good news with someone?" I believe there are because it is always about how we leave others feeling at the end of a conversation or exchange that shows whether or not we used good judgement and manners or left much to be desired.
Last week I was grocery shopping and while waiting in line happened to check my e-mail via my phone, I saw a Facebook e-mail message from a family member who had very exciting news to share. It was truly a surprise to read that she was expecting baby #2 and I was very happy for her, but it was the content and tone of her e-mail that left me feeling a bit hurt in the end instead of overjoyed.
You see, she had immediately dove into her good news and how the technician said the baby looks really healthy and how her first child will be such a a good sibling to the new baby and why and yada yada yada. At the end she threw in a quick "Hope you're doing well". Now, I admit I'm a pretty over-analytical person and I can tend to read into things more than I should sometimes but this is also not the first time I've received an e-mail like this via Facebook from this person. The other sad detail is that we very rarely speak anymore and we only see each other about once per year in person when I fly back home to Toronto although we were inseparable as kids. While I've tried numerous times to reach out so that we could have some phone conversations and correspond via e-mail, she almost never replies. The only time I really receive a note from her is to hear about the new home they just purchased, their upcoming baby, etc. I can say after several years I do know where I stand with this person and while I will always be cordial and nice to her, I have stopped investing myself into that relationship as I see it for what it is.
When we make a phone call, face-to-face talk, e-mail or written correspondence and it is all about us we alienate others and it tells them that they (nor how they're doing or what they're going through and experiencing in life) don't really matter to us. I think we almost need to eliminate the phrase "I hope you're doing well" from our vocabulary. It takes very little effort to say this. When someone asks me, "So, how's your design business going this summer" or "How was your vacation?" it immediately makes me feel special and as though they truly care what is actually going on in my life. I'm sure you can all relate. Nobody that I know enjoys feeling ignored or as if someone completely glosses over the current topics in their life.
These types of conversations can also happen when someone happens to have really bad news as well such as the sudden passing of a loved one or the loss of a job, etc. In these situations if you're the one sharing the not-so-great news I think it is important to grieve your loss but also understand that others have challenges, loss and problems also. Most will let you grieve and experience what you are experiencing and I believe it's really important and healthy to do so. Good friends give grace to those they love in these times. However, if the conversations become a regular occurrence, every effort should be made to make it a conversation with the other person and not a weekly therapy session or means to vent on your end only.
Here is the key to more meaningful conversation:
Lead in with Questions- You can never go wrong in a conversation (whether verbal or written) when you lead with questions, in fact asking someone something about their life will draw them closer to you and you'll also learn more about them too. Sometimes we have really special news to share but the other person might as well, if you don't ask, you'll never know as some don't choose to highlight all of the news in their life. Always ask how the other person is doing first and also ask specific questions that pertain to the season of their life such as, "Are you having a good summer with the kids?", "How's your new job going?", "How are you enjoying being a mom?", "Did you do anything exciting during the weekend?" There are millions of questions you can ask someone that makes them feel like you actually care and that you're not going into the conversation with an agenda or just to brag.
What to do when someone drops their great news and completely ignores you:
Vanessa from Luxuria Jewellery asked me what I recommend doing when this type of behavior occurs as she too has experienced it many times herself. The best thing to do is this:
Be the Example- It's not easy and it's not always fun however nothing will truly be gained by sharing with someone (especially one you don't know overly well) that you feel they're self-centered or that everything is about them when you are not that close to them or this self-absorption has only happened one time. Be the model for the other person, perhaps they'll catch on. It's not our job to correct everyone's behavior when we feel it isn't suitable (unless they are your small children). If the person in question is very close in relationship and it's an ongoing trend, read the tip below....
You Cannot Correct What You Don't Confront- Please hear me when I say that I'm not suggesting we become confrontational with others, however in certain situations when we are dealing with a very close family member or friend I think it is appropriate to share our feelings. While being polite and ladylike often involves holding our tongue, sometimes doing so hinders a relationship with another and prevents it from blossoming the way it could when one person is feeling as though they are being taken for granted or feel hurt by the other person. I've been in this position before and it didn't feel great in the moment but it was really necessary and the friendship in question actually grew stronger as a result afterwards. Letting the other person know how their words/actions make you "feel" and not merely telling them what you "think" of their behavior, will help soften the impact and they may feel compelled to change their ways in order to become a more well-mannered person and better friend.
*Please note that I chose the above image as I felt her body language fit well with today's post topic. I'm in no way suggesting that women or a classy woman should attempt to be so thin!
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you! Some of your may have differing opinions from mine and that is completely okay. ;) How do you deal with people like this in your life?