Written by Shenise Gatson
Have you ever met a person who only talks about themselves 24/7?
Or only focuses on what’s happening in their own world?
And they never stop to ponder the idea that someone else is going through struggles, obstacles, or hardships as well. While you are sitting there listening to them talk, your brain is wondering, “Wow, we’ve been talking all this time, and they haven’t even asked how I am doing or how my day was. Does this person even care what’s happening in my life?”
The relationship or friendship starts to feel a little one-sided, right?
I am sure we all have met someone like this at some point. In fact, I have been this person at various times in my life! Most people love to talk about what is going on in their world. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that…in moderation.
We all have moments where we need to vent or get things off our chest. It is definitely okay to do this, but we have to make sure our relationships are balanced. Sometimes that means showing a caring and empathetic ear to others just like we expect them to do the same for us.
The problem arises when we get so caught up in our own bubble that we can’t focus on anyone else but our own problems.
I have been guilty of that. Whenever I faced hardships, I would get so wrapped in my own problems that I did not dedicate a lot of energy to participating in the relationships and world around me. I am still learning how to overcome this.
Believe me; I can testify that this can be damaging to relationships. No one wants to be in a friendship or relationship that is completely one-sided. We, as humans, desire to be heard, understood and supported. I know I do! I am so grateful to have a supportive circle around me.
Many people desire relationships and friendships that are mutual or reciprocal in quality and nature. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines these terms in the following manner:
- Mutual: “Having the same feelings one for the other” or “joint.”
- Reciprocal: “Shared, felt, or shown by both sides.”
After reading these definitions, I can see the importance of having relationships that are mutual or reciprocal. When both parties are displaying care, love, concern, respect, and empathy toward each other, the scales balance out more evenly.
I am a firm believer that self-reflection is important. We cannot develop healthier or stronger relationships/interactions until we face our struggles head-on.
Whenever we find ourselves wondering if we have become one-sided in our interactions and relationships, we can ask ourselves the following question: Have I asked?
What does this look like exactly? This might mean asking ourselves:
- Have I asked someone how their day was? (And really meant it)
- Have I asked someone how their weekend went?
- Have I texted someone to see how they are doing?
- Have I tried to remember significant details of another person’s life?
- Have I asked someone if they are feeling better?
- Have I sent someone get well wishes?
- Have I prayed for someone other than myself?
- Have I called someone who is facing a really challenging obstacle or struggle?
Seems simple, right? However, you would be surprised by the number of people in this world who start talking and do not even realize they are not listening. Both talking and listening play a part in keeping a relationship strong. Not only that but displaying sympathy and empathy is important too.
We never want to give the wrong impression to someone. Sometimes we can send the wrong signal to someone by not asking about their life. I am not referring to people who ask for insincere motives or to get juicy details of someone’s life for gossip purposes. This post is just referring to all my sincere and genuine people who care about the people around them.
Something as simple as asking can be translated as “I care about you” and “I care about what is going on in your world.”
We can utilize this whether we are interacting with a family member, friend, colleague, or significant other, etc.
This is something we can practice daily to strengthen our everyday interactions. As you read this post, let this be a time of realization and self-reflection for the relationships and interactions in your life. I am in there with you as we confront ourselves daily with the question: Have I asked?
Copyright @ 2019 Shenise Gatson
Mutual (n.d). In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mutual.
Reciprocal. (n.d). In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reciprocal.
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