There is a poignant greeting card from Curly Girl Design that says “It is without question our duty to honor the love of every human heart as we would our very own.” I just had a woman stop in and buy this particular card to send to a friend’s adult son who had been particularly hurtful to his mother (who was a dear friend of hers). She was hurting for her friend and felt it was her duty to gently suggest to the son that he be kinder to his mother…and she believed the best way to do this was through writing. I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve personally found myself in situations where I’ve opened my mouth and said things, only to wish I could reach out and take back the words- not necessarily because they were hurtful (although as humans that happens, especially when emotions run high), but because the words I spoke didn’t accurately convey what I really meant, what I deeply felt- and it ultimately ended up making things worse or more complicated than they needed to be. You’ve been there before- found yourself in an argument with someone you care about; you’re feeling frustrated, sad, angry, and like no matter what you say, it just keeps getting messier and more intense. It’s one of the worst places to be – stuck in a communication vortex where you find yourself and the other person spinning in circles around each other, waiting for the dizziness to stop so you can surface, regroup, and take emotional inventory.
In communicating with others it’s vital to not just be articulate, but empathetic and sincere. I’ve found the most effective way to communicate is to put my thoughts down on paper first- the simple act of putting them in writing is clarifying. Sometimes I write to myself. Sometimes I write to others, and even if I don’t always share those thoughts the act of getting them down on paper is therapeutic. It gives me a clearer look at my own feelings, and helps me express my needs and inner truths in ways that spoken communication sometimes isn’t able to.
Writing gives us certain luxuries that blurting out whatever comes to mind cannot – it’s an insurance policy. Through writing we get to self-edit. We get to save our thoughts and come back to them later, editing, re-reading, deleting, and cultivating our words until they are juuuuuuust right (I love Evernote!). Writing gives us total control over when/how/what we communicate to others, so we can ensure that our words are true to our thoughts and will hopefully result in the outcome we’re aiming for- with as little collateral damage as possible.
So who do you need to write to today? What do you need to say? Think about it, write it down, and let it marinate for a little while…Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.