October 24, 2012
As humans we may not always focus our day on examining the ways we communicate with others. However, the Jesuit tradition relies on this because the Jesuits believe in the importance of self-observation. After doing this they can review their day and learn from their communication. Last Monday I focused on solely saying kind, useful, and true things. I am genuinely a nice person, but I tried even harder to only say things that fell in these categories. After self-observing, I realized that my communication was different than usual, I received some different responses, and I was happier with myself at the end of the day.
When I focused only on saying kind, useful, and true things, I realized my communication was a bit different. I enjoyed talking to people even more than I usually do because I was happy to say nice things to them. Sometimes I ask questions to my friends or family that I know the answer to, and label these as “stupid” questions. However, I eliminated these and focused on saying things that were useful to others. This improved the communication because then something actually came out of the conversation; something to be taken to thought instead of something that will fade soon. For example, I would tell people things that could be advice or a compliment that I actually meant. It is important to be truthful as well, and usually I am, but I feel like everyone says things just to be nice sometimes, but they do not always mean it. So, during my day I only said the truth about things and focused on saying useful things to others, and then I felt like the communication improved between whomever I was having a conversation with.
I also noticed I did not always get the same responses when saying only kind, useful, and true things. When I was helping a boy at Acts4Youth for my service- learning with his homework I never told him any of the problems were incorrect; instead I simply said “let’s try this one again.” I realized his face when I would say this and it was be more of a determined face instead of an annoyed face that I would have seen if I told him it was wrong. I enjoyed the determined face instead of an annoyed one because this way I knew that he realized my help was important and I wanted to be there. Also, my friends did not really notice too much when I was saying nice, true, and useful things, but one thing I realized was since Monday was the day after being home for three days my roommate was a little upset and homesick, and I said things that actually helped her. Instead of saying everything will be better soon, I told her that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. To me that was a better way to help her since she now has something to look forward to. I felt this was useful and I could tell she appreciated me helping her.
Finally, at the end of the day I was just happier with myself in general. I was pleased with the way I talked to people and I knew I even helped some people out, too. I critiqued myself and ended up enjoying the way I treated people even though it was not much different than I usually do. However, even trying harder to make sure I said only things that were nice and useful helped me get through the day, too.
I realized after all of this that self-observation really is key. Without it, a person may not realize some of the things he or she is saying. Sitting down and going over the events of the day will help a person clear his or her mind of everything that has been a bother. I am happy I did this for the day because I not only improved with my communication but I also focused on saying what is really important to people.