Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

With whom are you careful?

A recent blog posted by my best mate poet-writer-lyricist-protege John Beresford entitled Someone loves you brought up all sorts of thoughts for me.

In his blog, John wonders why it is we seem to put more effort into our interactions with people we don't know than for the people with whom we share our lives most intimately.

You know, we spiff up for someone we want to impress, then feel no compunction about doing nothing about our appearance for the very person who does the most for us - in fact the very person who has to look at us most of the time.

It reminded me of an agent who repped my writing and directing awhile back. At first I considered her a bit closed off.

You must remember by contrast, my life is an open book. I'm pretty transparent, though I seldom discuss my family or others in my life to protect their privacy - except when one of my coachees deserves praise or congratulations!

I'm not sure why she liked me so much - perhaps it was that unshielded openness.

A true maple leaf Canadian, she is very down to earth, modest and quiet. She and her husband have one child.

Knowing how protective she is of her family and personal life, I was incredibly honored to be invited to stay with her family more than once.

The home is impeccably decorated - simple but elegant - and she is a gourmet cook.

I finally realized what was so impacting and impressive about her and her relationships with her family and those close to her: she wasn't wary - she was careful. Careful about whom she lets into her circle because she is someone who does what she says she'll do.

She is thoughtful, giving her very best to her immediate family and others who become part of her extended family. In order to be able to do that, she keeps her extended family circle small.

People are not treated cavalierly in her world. They are treated respectfully and she expects the same in return.

Promises are kept. When she says, "Call you later," she means she'll actually phone you soon. It's a committment, not a careless remark. She expects the same from you.

She carefully chooses what she cooks for herself, her family and guests (our favorite foods!); then prepares it -- with love. I guarantee you her cooking is *amazing!*

Since I don't cook, I clean up and do dishes with love ... ;-)

Decisions are made with scrupulous consideration. She and her husband communicate about decisions regarding their child, themselves and each other. They both have demanding careers.

Their unspoiled child is also thoughtful, respectful and considerate. And successful!

One thing that also stands out: their caring, sensitive actions appear effortless and easy.

I felt so appreciated, cared for and esteemed when I was around them; and that door swung both ways. Not because it was expected, but because I wanted to show them my appreciation and gratitude for all they did.

They brought my relationship game way up, so I wanted to make myself and others feel that special and respected.

I was also reminded the way we treat others closest to us is generally a reflection of how we think of ourselves. How we treat others we care about is a pretty good barometer of where we are with our own souls.

The folks who share their lives with us intimatly or with whom we are closest in work or play deserve our best, our deepest caring and highest esteem.

I will *never* forget having a discussion with a co-worker who blew off a meeting with another coworker at the last minute because she had a personal problem to work out.

She just left me a message saying she wouldn't even be back in town for a couple days.

When I saw her I asked why she felt she could just blow off our meeting without finding another way to deal with her personal situation. It felt pretty disrespectful and as if breaking her word to us wasn't a big deal to her.

She said, "I knew I could cancel because it was *just* (coworker NAME), and we could always have the meeting another time."

HUH? Say, WHAT? In very few words, she had discounted our coworker and the meeting more than if she had called people names and left the room screaming and yelling.

I responded, "I don't believe (coworker NAME) thinks of herself as *just* (coworker NAME). You didn't give me enough notice to cancel the meeting, so she still showed up and we had the meeting without you."

Which was the problem, but the absent coworker indicated it did not matter to her.

I realized this is the way she chose to treat her work family.

And it made me think of my agent/friend, realizing that she would never - never - treat anyone this way, nor would she allow them to treat her this way.

It gave me great insight into the coworker's relationship values - which I found untrustworthy - and the working relationship ended shortly thereafter.

In so many ways, we are members of several families at once.

How do you treat those with whom you are closest?

It's not the grand gestures that make the difference. It is the little things. The tender thanks for being you touch, email or card; making a favorite dish; the extra effort we make to create a warm connection or make a person feel seen, heard and understood.

I try to welcome people the same way my dogs and cat greet me - except I don't wag my tail or bark. They're always excited to see me and make it clear that in their eyes I am adored. I let them know the feeling is mutual.

Everyone who knows me understands what I mean when I say I like to treat people as well as I treat my dogs. *That* is a compliment! And of course, I like to be treated as well as they treat me!

It doesn't take a lot of work - just a little thought and understanding where our priorities lie.

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  • At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Kate said…

    What a lovely post.


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