I recently read the book titled “You Can’t Text a Tough Conversation” by Mike Bechtle. Exploring through the pages and connecting the information to my experiences and perspectives reminded me of being in graduate school. As I read its almost as if I could physically feel my brain expanding, like I was watching my soul grow from 3rd person perspective. The information is simple, but it elicits such profound understanding. It’s one of my favorite feelings; a full body epiphany.
Communication is riveting to me. A relationship I was in several years back awakened my realization of how two people who seem extremely similar can have vastly different interpretations of the same conversation. Our struggles to effectively communicate ignited a desire to deeply understand the ins and out of communication. This relationship caused me to retrospectively wonder how I was being interpreted to those in my circles and how they were wanting me to interpret them. As I devoured the pages of this book I found so many pieces of information that resonated with my experiences and allowed me to comprehend them on a more intimate level.
“In the absence of data we believe our own made up perspectives”Mike Bechtle Pg. 58
This one made me giggle to myself. When it comes to relationships, intimate or platonic, I am a catastrophic thinker. If I am left in silence to create my own narrative of what is going on, I immediately resort to the worst, most hurtful, options: “There is somebody else”, “They are faking being my friend simply because they think it makes me feel better”, “They are dead on the side of the road somewhere”, “They just don’t care”. Even though those situations usually get “rectified” when the communication finally does occur, those hurtful thoughts have already done their damage. This is something I am aware of and work on daily both in my interpretation of things and in how I communicate to others. I have to consciously force myself to come up with healthier alternatives to my catastrophic thoughts and I am careful not to leave people to creating their own narratives.
“People will soften if you communicate via phone or face to face then on paper or text”Mike Bechtle Pg
The work place anyone? I can be ready to write a scathing e-mail, and then I will happen to run into the intended recipient face to face before I can compose it. Immediately my entire demeanor changes. I am suddenly polite, understanding, and patient. It’s not fake; it’s simply realizing the humanity of the person on the receiving end. This is such a crucial lesson in this time of social media and our heavy reliance on technology to communicate. There’s a human on the other end; someone who makes mistakes, has feelings, and is dealing with things we may know nothing about. Face to face Human interaction keeps us kind.
“Communicating is like dancing…value motivates us to continue the dance”Mike Bechtle Pg. 65
In those casual encounters with someone from past, value is low, so the dance is awkward usually short and void of meaningful interactions. With the people we value we are willing to have the tough conversations and communicate through our differences; the dance is smooth and full of meaning and growth. That moment when the music stops, the value recedes, and the effort dissipates can be heart wrenching. I have vivid memories of the moments when I realized the value had been lost (Adult Growing Pains). It can be heartbreaking, lonely, and it can feel hopeless. It can also be a freeing relief. The music stops and the dance ends.
“If two people see things exactly the same way, one of them is unnecessary”Mike Bechtle Pg. 67
Sometimes diversity is frustrating. There are moments when you just want someone to instantly understand your perspective without having to tediously explain yourself. Quotes like this remind me of the beauty in our differences. It gives me an ounce more of patience when our views aren’t on the same horizon. It also reminds me that focusing on our similarities can pull us together, always focusing on our differences will drive us apart.
When communicating use/get as many senses as possible”Mike Bechtle Pg. 77
As a person who identifies with the love language of physical affection, both in receiving and giving, this point felt so important to me. I love communication, even when it’s difficult, it builds trust and safety in my relationships (when its followed through with actions). The more communication there is the safer I feel and the more vulnerable I’m willing to be. I find that effective communication forces me to grow individually and grow closer to those around me.
I was never a big fan of FaceTime or video chatting. However I’ve been using it more frequently and it made the authors point come to life. The author explained that when people are separated they should communicate in ways that use the most senses. So if you can video chat start there, if you can’t video chat then use phone calls, if you can’t use phone calls use texting or writing but increase the frequency so it feels intentional. Technology is wonderful for enhancing communication but it should not replace it (Mike Bechtle Pg. 77). Video chatting with my friends who live far away immensely altered the atmosphere of the communication. It was so much more authentic and vibrant.
It also sparked thoughts of gratitude for those people I have in my circle. Our communication feels so intentional. We don’t live close to one another but we are almost always in communication with each other. Not only with memes or a simple “hey”, but thoughtful love filled conversations and of course the ever prevalent, I love you. It makes me wonder how any guy I date will ever live up to the love I feel from my closest friends *giggles*.
“Being late says what I’m dong is more important than what you’re doing”Mike Bechtle Pg. 79
I have lost, and will continue to lose friends over this one. Late happens to all of us occasionally, but make it a habit and I can’t help but feel like our friendship isn’t a priority. It doesn’t feel good to be apart of relationships where equal effort isn’t being given on both sides. It’s not worth it to me to keep them around; it doesn’t make me feel valued.
“Independence is valuable but interdependence strengthens both people”Mike Bechtle Pg. 79
Growing up independence was a highly coveted trait in our household. I idolized women and peers who “didn’t need a man” and I judged those who clung to or outwardly longed for theirs. My outlook as an adult is vastly different. I admire those who are interdependent. Those who are their own person but have also become vulnerable enough to need their partner in the life they’ve created. Partnerships that have committed to facing the tough issues together as a team. As relationships grow and become more serious, there should be a sense of need behind the connection. In marriage you experience so much together: love, loss, children, disasters, financial struggles and successes, depression, failure. Enduring all those things as a unit should elicit a healthy need to lean on your partner and use your strength as a couple to get through it. Without that sense of need the connection doesn’t have purpose.
“Emotions aren’t good or bad they’re just fuel”Mike Bechtle Pg. 94
I hid my emotions a lot in my early twenties and late teens. I was proud to be seen as someone who never cried and held a strong demeanor. As I grew into myself I realized that tough exterior was keeping me from making the authentic connections that I so strongly desired. It’s defeating to have a vulnerable conversation with someone who presents as a tin man. We often look for validation in those bare moments; when that need is met with a lack of outward empathy the motivation to share dissipates. It’s far more comforting to give those moments to someone who is willing to share those emotions with you. Hiding from my emotions only kept my closest friends at arms length; letting them into my soul and owning my fears and insecurities out loud has only made us grow closer, and has only made me grow stronger.
“Logic becomes valuable after we’ve processed the emotion (positive or negative)”Mike Bechtle Pg. 96
I lead with emotion. Its the lens in which I process information through and it’s the fuel that drives my decisions. I struggle immensely to put myself in the shoes of those who process logically. Their ways feel cold and isolating to me. Remembering that a logical lens can be beneficial after I have processed the emotion is a helpful reminder to be more balanced in how I analyze things.
“When we are unhurried conversational nuggets of gold can be found…Spend longer relaxed unhurried amounts of time with people… the conversation becomes more than just simply catching up”Mike Bechtle Pg. 106
This served as the inspiration for my 2nd celebration of my 30th birthday on the shores of lake Tahoe with six of my closest girl friends. I intentionally picked a place where the days were slow so we would spend most of our time simply connecting. The difficulty we have getting us all in the same place is baffling; You turn 30 and suddenly you’re planning get togethers months in advance because its the first available weekend you all have. With crammed schedules, our sporadic gatherings are spent simply catching up; there isn’t much time left to truly connect and talk about thoughts that randomly meandering through our conscious.
Five days on the shores of Lake Tahoe with no itinerary gave us the opportunity to do just that. We had incredible conversations about our perspectives and how we navigate the world. We analyzed our similarities, our differences, and of course shared how grateful we are to know each other. This trip forever changed a few of my relationships. We had epiphanies about how we connect and why we interact the way we do. I adore the growth that it has given us.
“Fear is an emotion people like to feel when they know they are safe”Alfred Hitchcock
I love haunted houses; they are without question my favorite part of Halloween. I recognize they are thrilling because I know I’m safe so it’s fun to feel scared. In relationships feeling fear isn’t fun because their is no security of safety behind it. Its of the utmost importance to keep the relationship an emotionally safe place. Both people don’t necessarily enjoy having those tough conversations but they are willing to have them in order to preserve the happiness of the relationship. When terror hits these kind of relationships it tends to bring two people closer together, in unsafe relationships it drives them apart.
These quotes are simple; their lessons almost seem obvious. However, the growth they elicit is invaluable. These are just a few, there are so many more to be had, in this book, and elsewhere in the world. I genuinely believe that the key to happiness starts with a foundational understanding of who you are and what you need. Discovering ways to ask for those things, and strategies to understand others is a key piece in finding them. I don’t want to walk through this life like a zombie, doing things and feelings things without understanding why. I want to authentically understand what drives me, I’m dedicated to being continually curious about who I am; this book is a powerful component of that journey.
Interested in reading the book yourself? Here’s a link to purchase it via Amazon: “You Can’t Text a Tough Conversation“. This would be a great book club book; it would serve as an phenomenal catalyst for more meaningful conversations.