Is this an all too familiar scene? You and your love sitting at the restaurant awaiting your server and your fiancé, the love of your life, is busy on his cell phone? Checking Facebook, Email, Twitter, Instagram, Snapshot, etc , etc, etc. You want to scream, you might even scream…. “HELLO… I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU ALL DAY… CAN YOU TALK TO ME?”
As a counselor, I hear this complaint all too often. In the day of instant communication, one would think we would be “better” at communicating. Yet it seems we as a society have “lost” the art of communicating. Communicating is more than texting. Communicating is more than a few phrases. Communicating is more than hash tags. Communicating involves TIME. Communicating involves intentional FOCUS.
Imagine the same scene as before, only that you both silenced your phones or left them in the car. Imagine the following conversation:
“How was your day?”
“Aw.. whew it was a rough one.”
“O really ? What made it rough?”
“I had so many demands; I didn’t think I would meet all the demands, the deadlines.”
“What does that feel like to have demands and deadlines? And what happens if you don’t meet them? What happens if you do?” “How do you feel if you don’t meet or do meet the demands?”
Look at the intended focus of the conversation above. The person initiating the question is interested in knowing how the other person’s day has played out. You know the person is interested and concerned because the questioning and concern is present in the next question. As opposed to “well you think your day was rough, let me tell you about my day…..”
Communication involves listening, hearing, understanding and confirming. Once this occurs you have an opportunity to share. Too often we are quick to share our story, or our feelings or our defense before we have heard our partner.
So on your next date, do something different – turn off the phones and have a conversation. They will be there when you finish dinner. Spend some intentional time listening to your love, really listening. In order to understand – ask questions, for clarification, and not for forming your story. Show that you are interested in your partner as a person – as your love – rather than formulating a response or telling your story.
Below are several topics that might be worth talking about. Elaborate on each topic, don’t simply answer the question. Ask “why is it your favorite” or“what made it the worst possible event”?
1. Toughest problem you have ever had to face
2. Favorite restaurants
3. Favorite magazine
4. Places or events you would find most uncomfortable
5. Most comforting pastime when sick
6. Saddest life event
7. Worst life event
8. Happiest life event
9. Favorite way to exercise
10. Ideal birthday present
11. Two worst fears or disaster scenarios
12. Best recent day
If you really listen to hear and hear to understand, your efforts will be most appreciated and the favor will be returned and the next time you and your fiance go out, you might look forward to leaving the phone in the car!