We are often told the two following things:
“Less is More”
“Actions speak louder than words”
But sometimes the opposite is true, sometimes not saying anything, or not saying enough leads to questions or miscommunication. Actions people have to interpret, I suppose words we have to, too, to a degree, but the more we use our words, the less there is to “figure out”.
This could be as simple as the date and time of a meeting. I was planning a meeting with a client over the past few days, and there was only true time mentioned, and so I assumed that that was the time we were meeting up, even though it technically was another meeting within that meeting. Thank goodness, I double checked, because otherwise, I would have showed up at a different time than what the client was expecting, even though the client didn’t voice the time they thought I was going to show up.
Where this really becomes a problem is when boundaries or expectations need to be defined. People are always worried about hurting people’s feelings, but the truth is, people’s feelings get hurt more, if boundaries or expectations aren’t set. For example, I’m planning a 30th birthday trip, and I really want to do it by myself. I have never traveled truly alone, and so it’s something I want to do to launch this new decade in my life. I know I “hurt” a few people’s feelings who wanted to go with me, but it’s better I communicate it, and let them know the reason, than just going, and then them wondering why I didn’t invite them.
Another example, dating…so you go on a first date, and you just aren’t feelin’ it, and the other person is really into it. Do you say, yea, sure call me! Or, yea let’s do this again. Or, do you be up front, and say you’re just not feelin’ it, you’re sorry, and give you and that person closure, so that they don’t have unanswered questions, and they can just move on, and so can you. Yes, these conversations are tough, but they are important.
Are you afraid of tough conversations? We ALL are! But, the more we become comfortable with having them, the easier it is for everyone to live their lives with closure and feel like they can keep moving forward with their life, and not have questions about what if, or why not, etc.
Going back to more business examples, this is true in terms of employment or potential clients. If you aren’t interested in a potential employee, right on the spot, maybe give them some feedback as to why, and what they can work on. That way they aren’t wondering why they weren’t hired. I realize this isn’t always scalable in a business sense, but when you can do it, do it. :) It helps people improve, and allows them to not wait to hear back from an employer that they really like, and keep looking for jobs (which they should be doing anyway, but still).
It’s not always easy to tell people what they mean to us, in fact, too often, we wait until time is nearing it’s end to tell people, but why? I recently went through a frustrating situation where I knew a particular journey in my life was over, it’s okay, honestly, not everything is meant to workout, but this person couldn’t express the impact we had on each other’s lives, and what the time we spent together meant. It’s kind of a bummer, because it’s something I just don’t understand. Maybe, because I like expressing myself, I like using words, but shouldn’t we all be able to use our words? What’s so scary anyway? We are all just people trying to live the best lives possible. Life is a journey. It has challenges. It has ups. It has downs. And in the end, if there is something we can say to help someone continue to live a beautiful life, I think we should.
So, use your words. I’m not saying that every day all day, you need to oversaturate your life with how important people are to you, or constantly have boundary setting conversations, because life should be fun, but when there’s an opportunity, snatch it up!
Use your words to help, heal, love, support, clarify. Use them for good. This is the only way words should be used. That doesn’t mean people sometimes won’t get their feelings hurt, because they might, people don’t always like what they hear, but it might bring them peace, closure, and then allow them to heal. And it doesn’t mean there won’t continue to be miscommunications, but if we can work harder to use our words, it will help us all understand each other better.
Let your actions be your guide, and let your words provide the clarity.