Wednesday, June 9, 2010

No Dumping Without Permit

Some people believe that being related to or intimate with another person gives them the right to express their opinions and feelings at any given time. They feel that it’s a privilege earned or a sacrifice required from being close. They get to dump their thoughts and feelings on the people they love whenever they want to and the people they love are expected to listen.

Sometimes that person is “bursting” with good news. Other times they’re “bursting” with a complaint, a personal problem or worry. Or, they can’t stand it anymore; they just have to give you that advice that will “fix” your life. They mean well, they love you, but need to tell you what to do.

Afterward, that person feels relieved, unburdened. They “got it off their chest”, “dumped” it elsewhere.

But for the other person, the emotional “dumpee”, it may feel quite different – like they’re now carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Now there’s concern or worry for another person; or the seeds of self-doubt have been planted in their mind; or they’re saddened by the information they’ve been told. Whatever the reaction, their emotional state has been affected by the “dump.” It may ruin their day or even cause them to lose sleep.

In healthy close relationships, the right to “dump” on the one you love isn’t assumed to be a right or requirement. Instead, consideration of the other person’s needs, timing or readiness to listen is taken into account. Permission is requested. An appointment to talk may even be made. Here are some examples of how to share without dumping:

Do you mind if I tell you about something that’s been on my mind?
Is now a good time to talk about that suggestion I had?
When would be a good time to get together and let me give you an update?
Got a minute?