The more I talked the more his eyes glazed. Why I continued to spill out the ridiculous amount of information, I do not know. After all, he wasn’t retaining any of it, so I was basically wasting my time and his.
And while I could be describing almost any lengthy conversation I have with my sweet hubby, this particular conversation was with a ministry peer.
I usually have decent observation skills and can read my surroundings well. Knowing the appropriate way and time to share information, delve into a lengthy discussion or ask someone to join a spontaneous brainstorming session will certainly influence the results, or at the very least the efficiency of the process.
You get caught by someone unexpectedly and it’s a day when you are already overwhelmed, overworked and pretty much exhausted. The other person isn’t doing anything wrong and may even be sharing positive news, but by not being aware of your inability to absorb what is being dumped on you, he or she sends you into a mental battle of perseverance versus creative escape.
You stand there nodding, saying things like “Uh huh” and “of course.” You determine to basically agree to all that is being outlined before you because that will take less time than debating or discussing the details. You convince yourself that the person will wrap up sooner if you don’t contribute to the conversation.
At least those are thoughts that go through my mind in those situations. Does that ever happen to you? (I hope it isn’t happening right now as you read this column!)
Anyway I would venture to guess that most of us have been on both sides of this situation, and I’m curious as to why we keep doing it to each other.
In my recent experience, I knew exactly what was happening, but I also convinced myself that I had to transfer the information to the other person at that moment.
Why did it have to be right then? Not because there was a vital deadline but because I needed to move something out of my brain and off my to-do list. I had planned to check that off my list and chose not to adapt to the situation.
How much of what we do every day is basically taking information of some type from one person and handing it to another person? Sometimes I think we live in an endless tangled web of assembly lines. Instead of taking the item from the person on the left and handing it to the person on the right, we are moving in and out of all the lines handing things to this person and that person — making the rhythm inefficient and chaotic.
In some ways, the spontaneity and creativity is exciting and fresh. In other ways, the lack of order is tiring and unproductive.
And so in this transfer of information from my brain to yours, I merely want to note a few reminders for myself while sharing with you another life lesson I’m trying to learn:
•Be aware of the other person’s schedule, pressures and energy level.
•Give the gift of “just the facts” and let the other person ask for the details he or she needs.
•Be willing to put any information that can wait on hold if the timing or situation seems wrong.
•Try to solve issues or problems (within the appropriate boundaries, of course) before automatically handing the problem to someone else.
•Be positive and encouraging (as long as it is real and not a fake attempt).
•Surprise a family member, friend, co-worker or fellow church worker by taking something off his or her plate.
— Jennifer Davis Rash