Accepting the message despite the delivery 6


I have learned not to let the messenger or delivery method obscure the truth of the information being delivered .This is not easy. Especially when the info is negative, the words are harsh, the intent suspect, and the moment heated.

I would prefer to get instructional feedback in a pleasant conversation.

I would prefer a light, steady, non-nasty/harsh/loud delivery. (You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar is a valid axiom.)

Sometimes, you just don’t get information that way – even from a loved one (parent, mate, child, friend) or esteemed colleague.

After I pick my feelings and ego out of the protective place I tuck them when they are hurt, I run over the words again.  Is there any truth to what they said?  It’s easier to do this if I have respect for the messenger.

I tend to be non-confrontational with people I love. I avoid conflict like the plague I think it is, but this is an unrealistic and some would say unhealthy way to live especially when you love people who will shoot and sting, get you told, curse you out, debate and cross-examine you in a heartbeat.

They take offense, I retreat.  If it’s a true argument involving back and forth, my brain shuts down.  I can’t remember what was said by them or what I said in response.  I just want to flee to safety and wait for the storm to pass.

Once I wrote a letter to a friend,  saying that I’d heard about a fight she’d had with her daughter and telling her that teenage/young adult mother/daughter relationships are often fraught and sharing some advice because their argument had gotten physical.  I wrote a letter because I thought it was a more thoughtful way to address the situation and that in the privacy of reading it, perhaps she would hear my advice.

It was not received well.  She called me up and cursed me out and told me I was being disrespectful by writing instead of calling her.  Needless to say, I avoided her for a very long time.  We’ve since mended but I’m not sure how I would ever give her any negative feedback should another occasion arise. ( I know in my heart, that if I had called her like she suggested I should have, she would still have berated me verbally and perhaps told me to mind my business, which begs the question, when do you offer advice to loved ones.  I wish even I was young and uncertain but determinedly marching forward into quicksand, that some of the people who saw me going into bad situations had pulled my coat.  It would have saved me from wasting so much time.)

What I’ve come to is accepting that some people I care about will tell it like they perceive it, like to debate, and are quick to anger.  I’ve also learned that I can get powerful lessons even from people who don’t care for me or who are strangers.

While I hold firmly to how I try to give feedback, I have had to accept that my preference for peace has nothing to do with the volatility of others.  I also try to listen, in the case of someone I love dearly, when they told me they didn’t want to hear what I had to say going forward.(Well, damn, I thought more than once.)  Keeping my opinions to myself doesn’t make our relationship better, it just keeps a line or two of communication open even if in an unnatural, non-candid and therefore, non-honest space.

Very recently, I read through the evaluations about a program that I coordinate, gulping when I read one particularly challenging assessment of me.  This person was not reached by me despite what I thought was an open invitation that others in the same program took advantage of.  I have reached out to her and will triple my instructions on my availability if the program is funded again.  While I don’t understand why she came to her conclusions, I have to believe that they are valid to her and act accordingly.

So, give it to me baby.  I may not agree.  I may get hurt but I much prefer to know what you think and where I stand than not.

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About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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6 thoughts on “Accepting the message despite the delivery

  • Carolyn R Jackson

    That’s a HUGE piece of Wisdom to learn and to apply. It continues to be on my daily To Do list. I’m up to the, “Oh no you didn’t just say that…” to taking deep breaths while struggling to formulate an information-gathering-question not delivered through my clinched teeth. At this point, there is still NO poker face capability…coming in version 102.1. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      I so enjoy your way with words. Sometimes my teeth are clenched, too. In the case of loved ones, if you’re going to forge ahead, you have to learn to accept their personalities and styles, even if you don’t like them, even if you think they could do better or differently. In the case of the client, I might know that the person is eccentric or a little cra-cra but still examine to understand that her assessment is valid to her. I don’t have to absorb her message but I do pay attention. Always. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

  • Christle Rawlins-Jackson

    Sometimes the person who you are sharing wisdom and advise with is not ready to hear or except what it is that you are giving them and I say “give” because you’re giving of your expertise and it’s not something you are required to do. And sometimes it’s easier for the person to look outward instead of inward which means that they refuse or are not ready to deal with self to grow. That’s why they call them growing pains. It’s uncomfortable and can be painful at times but the rewards are awesome.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      You are right. I have to figure out why I have such a need to share advice. Actually, I know. I wish I’d had more helpful advice instead of silence as I was becoming. Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful response and for reading my post.

  • Helen Credle

    Information is power, and speaking truth to power no matter the form can be accepted as spiritual information.
    I’ve learned not to “Take Anything Personally”….How come you may be saying? Well, quite simply…
    Nothing others do is because of you.
    What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…their own dream.
    When one becomes free within the totality of their own spirit we become immune to the opinions and actions of others.
    We stop being the victim of needless suffering.
    It a stunning and exciting prace to “don’t take it personally” when one gets the hang of this practice we begin to understand that nothing other people do is because of you/us…it is because of themselves.
    Why
    Because all people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one you live in.
    Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you/us.
    What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.
    Some folks know how to hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally , you eat it up.
    But is you don’t take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell.
    Immunity in the middle of hell is the gift of practicing “DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY”.
    OMG even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; therefore you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.
    Candelaria my dear sweet beloved sister loving YOU and whomever you think you are or are not is my blessing.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      I am going to print out this wisdom you have dropped and read it every day. Your words are so wise and I needed to hear it. I let myself get baited by poison ivies too frequently. When are you going to write your blog? I’m ready for your observations and teaching.