I’ve contemplated five words in a text message way longer than I’ve needed to. Somewhere around the rate of an hour per word. And I’ve rewritten emails, and then reread them, and then rewritten them again, far more often than I care to admit. Because is this what I want to say? Is this how I want to say it? And when it comes to written communication, I think there’s an added pressure to get it right because we can’t add in that real-time voice-over explanations. There’s no option to use our hands, inflect our voices, or show our facial expressions. When I labor over a message, I labor about the words, and not because of the words themselves, but because of the response I’m hoping for in return. Which is a terrible recipe for effective personal communication.
When we’re focused on what we’re saying in order to get the desired response we want, we aren’t really saying what we need to say. Now yes, do certain professional communications, negotiations and back ‘n forth require calculated strategy? Of course. But when it comes to matters of the heart –you know, that thing you feel like you really need to tell them –What you say, what you write, what you communicate shouldn’t ever be about what you hope to get in response. You simply need to speak from a space of your feelings, your truth, your heart.
It’s why we re-write. It’s why we obsess. It’s why we overthink it. It’s why we never say it. Because we think maybe if I say this then they’ll think that and hopefully respond with this.
Wait. Hold. No. But no. Biggest no. Because you cannot control what people feel or what they do because of what you’ve said. You have no control over that response and saying things based on getting that response is a mini-manipulation mainly of your own self. Because it ignores your real needs and hedges for hopeful outcomes.
Doing that –communicating your feelings in a way that guns for a specific response– is a fast track to projecting your expectations and creating full stories of situations that aren’t true. The things you address or call attention to or give feedback on or communicate are best said when they’re because you need to respect yourself, to love yourself, to uphold your boundaries, or to stand in your own truth and expression.