The title of my blog is a phrase we often hear---some despise it; some say it epitomizes what we have to do sometimes to get through certain experiences. I’ve been thinking a good deal about this issue lately, giving some friendly advice to new and dear “little sisters” and taking the same advice from my main spiritual advisor. You might recall (look at that---how I assume you have read some of my blogs before----isn’t that cute and assuming of me?) I blogged fairly recently about the word “fine”. We get asked how we are doing, and our initial response is to say “fine”, even if we aren’t. The reasons are good intentioned, I believe, as the alternative is to say, “I’m not fine. Do you have a couple of hours for me to vent and to get advice from you?” to which the person, particularly a stranger, would be apt to think we are daft (and look at that---I’m working on throwing in some English references, as well) and run, or at least walk away at a brisk pace.
Communicating with one another does not come easily. Did I just hear you say “Duh!”? I know, right? Well, if we truly know this, then how is it that we seem to be surprised when things don’t go off as planned? This topic could obviously be one that lasts for the next year, but I am going to mention a couple of circumstances where “fake it ‘til you make it” might come in handy.
MARRIAGE AND OTHER INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS
Dave says he has a few questions for God when he sees Him. The first is: For what reason did You make men and women so different? I’ll tell you about his second and third question some other time, as they consist of wholly different topics. Assuming that God gives Dave a chance a face-to-face audience without laughing outloud (the God of my understanding knows a good chuckle opportunity when He sees one), I happen to believe the answer might consist of something along the lines of: Men and women complement each other and our patterns of communication are not with us when we come out of the womb, but we have to be willing to work for them and work with them if we think the relationship is worth it. (Notice how I bolded words I believe God would say, as if He might be offended if I try to put words in His mouth but less likely to be offended if I give him props with the bold wording.)
So, how and why would we “fake it ‘til we make it”? Dave always, jokingly (I think), gives the following advice to the groom at every wedding we attend: “Just remember these words: You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m sorry.”
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “That all sounds fine and dandy” (it shouldn’t; it’s a joke), but what if we had a mantra we really did say to one another, along the lines of “Our marriage/partnership is more important than this argument”, and then held out your hand to the other person. Sound fake? Yep, it might be to begin with, but once we begin saying such words, even begrudgingly, they can actually become a better way to communicate. You have to admit those words sure beat:
Partner 1: You took the last Butterfinger out of the refrigerator!
Partner 2: It’s been in there for two days!
P1: I was saving it for Saturday! (whatever---just go with my scenario)
P2: You didn’t tell me!
And on and on it goes, sometimes ad nauseam
But what if…..just what if…the scenario were to change to:
Partner 1: Do you know what happened to the Butterfinger in the ‘frig?
Partner 2: Sorry, babe, I just ate that. I should have asked you first.
Partner 1 OR 2: No worries, our marriage is so much more important than that Butterfinger.
Does it sound contrived? Does it sound fake? Of course it does! And it is going to, until it becomes part of our mantra. Pretty soon, we’ll be joking about it (and, likely, a bag of Butterfingers will be bought for Partner 1 in the near future), and our communication will not deteriorate faster than recent political discussions on Facebook. I, for one, do not ever plan on “unfriending” Dave. We just celebrated 25 years of marriage, and we both agreed to re-up for another 25 years.
SCHOOL LEADERS AND TEACHERS
One of the so-many blessings of my work is that I am honored with the opportunity to work with teachers, school leaders, districts, territories, and even countries around the world on the topic of communication. The question: “How can we help students learn best?” is at the root of all our topics. I learned to keep students at the center of every single decision we make in schools a long, long time ago from a very wise man in Florida, who now wisely spends his days fishing and playing with his grandkids.
When working with teachers, I often get asked, “How do you create a culture of manners and respect in a classroom filled with students who don’t come from backgrounds that honor manners and respect?” Great question----one that deserves not to be placated by “You just do it”. Sometimes we simply have to fake it ‘til we make it, and here's how you might do just that.
When I am on the plane, and the person is kicking me in the back of my seat, trust me when I tell you I want to turn around and say “Knock it off!” But I have learned (strike that) am learning to turn around and say, “I am sure you don’t realize it, but I am feeling every beat of the kicks on my seat. Do you mind….” By the time I get this far, I always, always, always get the “I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize I was kicking you!”
Have a blessed Christmas (and every other holiday you celebrate) season, and enjoy your family! And just remember, if they start to bug you, employ the “fake it ‘til you make it” ---- let me know how it turns out.
Happy Communicating and Blessings to you all!