October 22, 2019

A Moment in Time: If I Understand Correctly …

Dear all,
Years ago I was helping a couple navigate a difficult patch in their relationship. Here’s how their conversation began:
Partner A: “You came home late yesterday. I wish you had called me.”
Partner B (defensively): “I was working on a project. I’m sorry I bothered you. Next time, I’ll make sure not to wake you up.”
The dialogue spiraled from there. But it wasn’t the Talmud that came to my rescue. It was my love of aviation.
I used to listen to Air Traffic Control (ATC) often. Whenever the controller gives an instruction, the pilot must repeat it. It’s really important to ensure the communication is effective.
ATC: “British Airways 143, taxi into position and hold.”
Pilot: “British Airways 143, position and hold.” (Note: today, the lingo is “line up and wait.”)
So I tried this wisdom with the couple. I asked partner B to repeat what partner A had said:
Partner B: “He told me that I bothered him because I made noise.”
I then asked Partner A to share again:
Partner A: “You came home late yesterday. I wish you had called me.”
Again, I asked Partner B to repeat:
Partner B: “If I understand correctly, you shared that I came home late and that you wished I had called you.”
And THAT became the moment in time, their communication began in earnest. We had to make sure each person understood one another without jumping to other places.
Friends, relationships take nurturing. They require active listening. They require us to hear, really hear, what the other is saying. And they require affirmation of understanding, lining us up onto a runway of wonderment!
With love and Shalom,
Rabbi Zach Shapiro