Thumb down time... (and noise)

 Today’s wellness tip has to do with improving communication.

Many years ago, my spouse and I came up with the “thumb down time” – I am not sure if we picked it up from someone else, but through trial and error, we realized that we wasted our time with conversations – or they were way too long with extra drama- if they were during a thumb down time.

A “thumb down” time means that it is not a good time to talk.

Here is an example.  If I walked in from a hectic morning of meetings, had traffic that was detoured, and I was hungry (and maybe even low on sleep) this would be a thumbs down time for me to have a big conversation.  I could do it if it was an emergency, although I would grab some protein and maybe change outfits.  Another example relates to my spouse – he came in after a long day – I had a small list of things to go over and when I brought over the sheet, his face just cracked this half smile – we looked at each other and I asked, “thumb down time....?” and he replied, “Yeah, sure is.  Can we talk about it at....”
 It took us a while to reach this point, to where we can almost sense the thumb down, but it has really served us well. 

You see the “thumb down” time is actually a respectful boundary to have in place.  When a person has the freedom to use this option, there is less pressure.  They also learn more about using choices and even managing their interacting (which can lead to less reacting and more healthy responding).
And when we speak up and say, “Not now, please,” it benefits both people because a conversation needs both people to be present.  Now sure, the person initiating the conversation will have to dig for some patience, which could be hard if it is an emotional time, but the mutual respect allowed with this option pays off with better communication in the long run.

Now do make sure this does not become an excuse to avoid or delay important talks – because that cycle can start.  Also, there might be times when it is really important and we have to talk right away – and suck it up.  

But seriously, you do want to have a conversation with someone who is actively involved, don’t ya? Sure you do.

And so my tip for today is to just think MORE about yourself and about the other person when you are having a convo.

Whether a spouse, a friend, a colleague – consider what is going on – with BOTH of you – and consider how this will impact the exchange.

In communication we call this checking for noise.

Physiological noise refers to the biological factors being tired, mentally drained, ill, etc.  Psychological noise refers to the mental things we are processing – or the filters we have in our mind that might interfere with how we respond and interact.   And regular external noise counts too, which could be loud music, a TV show blaring in the background, some type of odor in the air, or a crowded place that feels tense.

 I have a good example for external noise from when I visit my mother.  She likes to have religious TV on and I cannot talk “with” her while those preachers speak. I simply cannot block them out when I listen to her and I cannot talk over their voices, even if the volume is low.
I have to have it turned off if we are trying to talk.

Also with my mother, or anybody else for that matter, if a topic comes up that I know is sensitive, I will evaluate the situation a bit – for all people involved – not just myself.   I also remember to monitor the volume of my speech – because this impacts the noise a bit, but that topic is for another post later.

So remember, let’s never stop working at excellent communicating, it is worth it and the people in our loves are worth it.
In order to make communication more effective, consider any “noise” that might interfere.  Consider how folks are doing mentally, physically, or externally and consider what might need to be changed or if this is simply a thumb down time.