Episode 77 Tough Conversations

June 28, 2023

Good morning from Martha’s Vineyard. Yes, you heard that correctly. I’m officially in Martha’s Vineyard now While I just love saying good morning from New York City, I’m very grateful to be on this lush, green Island with my dear friend Gail.

So what I have on my mind today is truth telling, blurry lines and re-delineating the boundaries in a relationship, and here’s why. I was talking to my good buddy Eric the other day on the phone. He was telling me that he got this job in New York which has a quick turnaround. He decided to send one of his team members over and I said, why did you choose him?  He said, “because the others are desk jockeys.” I giggled to myself and asked “what do you mean by desk jockey?” He went on to explain “They’re excellent at what they do. They do great reports. They’re very diligent in their research, but I need someone who’s scrappy. I need someone who knows what it means to run around New York City, and how to deal with the inevitable no’s and the plethora of challenges in getting stuff done in a dormant building in the middle of the summer.”

I thought to myself God, I’d hate to be called a desk jockey, but it made me think more because Eric is one of those people who says things that can be hard to hear. His bedside manner is not always wonderful, but I never doubt for a minute that he wants me to do well, that he sees my potential, and that he’s got my back. He’s simply not going to walk around on eggshells.

Anyway, after my conversation with Eric, he sent me this video of a guy in an interview who was saying, the best friends in the world are the ones who don’t care what you want to hear. They tell you what you need to hear, and they keep it a hundred percent real. They are the ones who have your best interest in mind. They want to see you fulfill your potential and be what they know you can be. They don’t walk on eggshells, and they hurt your feelings sometimes. At the bottom of the message Eric wrote ‘me sometimes.’

It was sweet because he was showing me his self-awareness, but it really got me thinking about how grateful I am for the people in my life who do speak up and say those things to me that may be hard to say or may be hard for me to hear. They’re inevitably so helpful. The people that come to mind besides Eric are my best friend Marion, her sister Lisa, my friend Sara, and my good friend Bijan who also recently said to me, “Constance, you’re talking in circles, and you haven’t answered my question.” It stopped me in my tracks and irritated me, but I know beyond a shadow of the doubt that Bijan has my back and he wants to help. I slowed down and I was able to get very vulnerable with him, and he really helped me talk through this subject that was causing me to spiral. I was so grateful to him.

My friends Lisa and Sara also recently said things to me about work that were so very important. Lisa asked permission first. She said, can I tell you what I really think? And went on to bring up a past event that was stressful for me. She said, “I think you have some unexamined residual from that that’s causing you to doubt yourself.” She pointed out to me something that made me realize that I could possibly self-sabotage. It was super helpful.

So, the point I want to get to here is that. There are two sides of the sword to truth telling. One of them is about being loving and kind and brave – to find that right moment to say something, to ask permission, to offer a suggestion or formulate a question in such a way that reveals a blind spot or helps someone think differently about a charged matter. And the other side of that sword is dealing with people in your life who have always been truth tellers, but perhaps in a different way. These are the ones that say things that feel passive aggressive or offer an unwanted opinion. These are the people that just blurt out whatever they think. They tend to be family members, actually. It comes to a time in your life or in your relationship when it’s no longer okay to take those liberties, when you’d like to create perhaps fresh boundaries.

I know I’ve told this story in the past about conversations I’ve had with my dear friend Dana and my best friend Marion. We have come to this understanding that some things are better left unsaid, or it’s more appropriate now to ask permission or to say ‘I have something I want to say to you. Do you want to hear it?’  I wouldn’t call it a boundary so much as an awareness piece that has come into our relationship. It’s really beautiful and it’s added some depth, and when we say things to each other, it has a little more weight because we know that there’s a lot of thought and caring behind it.

So what I want to say is, as it can be brave to say the thing that’s hard to hear to someone you love. It can also be brave to have that conversation with someone who is crossing the line and hurting your feelings and who you’d like to invite to think before they speak. It can be your child, your mother, your sibling.

So I’ll leave you with this. Think about it. Who are you walking on eggshells with? How can you make the observation in a loving way or ask permission to share something that’s on your mind that you really think will help them?  Can you tell them you have something you’d like to share, but you don’t know if it will hurt their feelings and give them the opportunity to say no. Can you perhaps drop a voicemail?

And on the other side, how can you approach your sister or brother or child or whoever in your life is taking liberties that are unwanted, because there does come a point in time when it’s not okay just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t make it okay. And there does come a time in our lives when we need to have those conversations and say, you hurt my feelings, or it’s not okay to always blurt out exactly what’s on your mind I’d like to invite you to think before you speak to me. It’s brave also to have that kind of conversation. And as I said before, sometimes it really does elevate the relationship.

So, who do you want to have those conversations with? I know it’s hard, but it’s so important. I’ll leave you with that for today. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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