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Sweat the small stuff! Conversations on the little things can improve the quality of relationships.

The quality of our relationships is directly proportional to the depth of our conversations.

Truth is all relationships -romantic, friendships, family requires deliberate and intentional work. We humans are diverse and complex beings, we grow through traumas differently, see and respond to the same stimuli in different ways. That is why it is so important to create room for open dialogue with our community. Many times, unaddressed tiny cracks deepen to form irreparable structural damage that perhaps with a conversation at the sight of the first crack could have mitigated the demise.

I know, trust me I know - having tough discussions, at work, with family, friends your partner is hard work! It really is, but life has repeatedly taught me to experience the fullness of human vulnerability and the gift of a strong supportive community, we must be willing to have hard conversations. How else are we going to mend those cracks when they appear? How else are we going to revel in the full joy of deep vulnerable emotional connection?

Last year, a long-time friend sent me a video and advised me they were in Jamaica. We excitedly made plans to meet and catch up. Its someone I held a dear space for, so I looked forward to the link and pre-planned where we would go. During the time of syncing our schedules to meet, they planned on going to the country on the weekend that would have worked best for me. Rest assured we kept dialogue open, and I anticipated we would do a full Jamaican Style brunch on the coming Sunday. I was left perplexed, when on Sunday morning browsing through social media their status made me aware, they were no longer in JA.

I sent a short note asking, ‘did you leave?’ To which they responded, ‘yea, got back in this morning sorry we could not meet up this time.’ ‘No problem I said, that’s ok, I hope you had the best time, smiley face. What I really wanted to say was, I am disappointed that you reached out to let me know you were here, made plans to meet, changed the plans and didn’t not have the decency to let me know. But to avoid an awkward conversation, I didn’t. Don’t sweat the small stuff I said, let it go. I never said anything, but you know what happened, I made zero attempts at reaching out or having conversations after that. I would often be greeted with a Hey stranger message, or I can tell you must be busy eventually our conversations just withered away. I could have brought it up and asked, hey what happened? Or I could have asked for a moment of vulnerability to say that I felt slighted, but I never did. Probably there was an equally good explanation for the turn of events. I still don’t know because I did not muster up the courage or vulnerability to have that conversation.

I have experienced, listened to so many stories like this, friendships | family relationships wither away because we leave to many ‘little things’ unaddressed.

How many times have you been asked what ever happened to you and so and so, and your only response was, we just drifted apart. If we spend time on the honest reality of the situation, the drifting is a result of the small annoyances we left unaddressed. Eventually these small things lead to a wave of unspoken issues, misunderstandings crashing into the end of a friendship. Parenting and Partnering has taught me repeatedly, the things we argue about, are rarely the things we want to argue about. It’s a collection of unspoken small things built-up over a period. Like a pebble that gathers moss along the way, eventually becomes a boulder.

The small things matter – a lot! How then can we openly discuss small infractions with our friends| partners| family members at the risk of not being perceived as too emotional or a nag. How are we going to foster safe spaces in our relationships to ‘sweat the small stuff’ so they don’t lead to an avalanche.

Three ways we can we uplift the quality of our relationships by enhancing the quality of our conversations?

1. Hold space for each other:

People can experience the exact same situation and have two completely different realities. We are all wired differently, your experience is no less valid than the other. However, we must hold space for others. Our realities are shaped by our unique experiences and feelings within our minds – no one else on the planet is privy to our internal reality. Create a safe space for people in your life to talk openly to you. Try prompters like, hey you’ve been quiet lately... Is anything wrong? Or I realized you’ve been distant since we had this conversation, did I say /do something that offended you?

2. Be open to feedback:

By creating a safe space, we also must be prepared to hear the truth about our actions. I know, we are all God’s Favourite, but we’re not perfect! We all have space to learn, grow, be better humans. It’s a forever journey, and as long as you are in emotional partnerships you have to be prepared to receive feedback. I constantly go back to Will Smiths book – WILL. He planned the most extravagant gala to celebrates Jada’s birthday. The guests raved about how exquisite it was and gushed over how Will outdid himself, all the while Jada was sieving, she did not want any of this. She felt her boundaries were violated and Will organised this grand gesture to stroke his ego. So many times, we may do or say things for our partners | friends with the best intentions which are not received that way. That doesn’t mean that we’re wrong or we’re bad people, it just means in this situation our exchange did not convey our intent (assuming our intents were good). We must be open to create safe spaces to receive feedback. It’s ok to say, man, I hear everything you’ve expressed, and I am sorry. This was not my intention. Thank you for sharing this with me, or go further, how would you have preferred this said/done?

3. Take nothing personally:

If we really want to create space for relationships and receive honest feedback, we have to master the first skill in Don Miguel Ruiz Book – The Four Agreements. Take nothing personally. We are complex beings; our realities are different. We have to acknowledge this truism to fully understand that when someone expresses an infraction, it is not an indictment on who we are, it is not a personal attack on our being. It is an expression shaped by their own internal reality, something we said or did, had a negative effect on them. It is not our job to dictate how it should affect them. It is our job to feel secure within ourselves, that we acknowledge what is said, and open the door for meaningful dialogue on the situation to understand the feelings your action or inaction conjured, without ever taking this personal or as a personal attack on you.

No man is an island, studies have repeatedly shown the quality and longevity of our lives is directly linked to the quality and health of our relationships. Emotional relationships go through peaks and valleys, just like life. Create space in your life to have awkward, hard conversations with your partners, your friends, your relatives. It is daunting, but try using small prompters to start, I promise it gets easier over time. Let’s spend time talking about the things that really make us tick and the things that don’t. Let’s hold space for each other, to be vulnerable, to not feel so alone. Let’s create space for deep meaningful relationships.

As always, I would love to hear from you, how do you create space to preserve your relationships after infractions…



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