It’s interesting, how often hurtful actions occupy our thoughts. Taking up space in our minds and hearts, that they do not deserve. Living rent-free in people’s heads, such as it were.

I’ve been hurt before. And I’ve offended others. Deeply. But along the way, I’ve discovered important lessons about communication.

I’m hesitant about making new friends now; less open and more guarded. I know this isn’t a good thing but I’m tired of getting wires crossed. I want to forge lasting friendships with people who are on the same journey as me and who would love to travel in the same vehicle too. Eliminating the worry of being bogged down by thoughts of how healthy a friendship truly is.

So many people want to live single lives and take decisions alone. But not me. I actually like making plans with people and building partnerships. I’ve spent much of my life asking what I can do for others. I’ve only recently started asking what others can do for me.

As I meet people, I generally steer clear of meaningless conversations. A friend said it best – that she wishes she could record all the “first date questions”, so she can just hand them over before meeting people. And bypass all those conversations about your favourite colour, preferred food, schools you went to, etc. Nowadays, I don’t even want to discuss my job. Just check my LinkedIn instead. There’s more to life and its conversational beauty and that time should be occupied with discussing things beyond work.

But anyway, here’s what I’ve learned about communication.

Not Every Instance of Hurt is a Cruel Intention

Sometimes people don’t mean to hurt you and don’t know that they have. So let them know, as soon as possible. Don’t assume the person who hurt you should know. Don’t let things fester. You know stuff is festering when you keep returning to that place of pain, like an unpleasant clip, playing over and over, in your head. When you’re ready, it helps to approach difficult conversations with a light touch. To wrap it up in laughter. To give people the benefit of the doubt.

There was this one time I allegedly told a friend he was silly. I say allegedly because I cannot recall the incident. Alas, he brought it up years later and according to the story, I had completely embarrassed him! That day, I realized words that may mean nothing to me mean plenty to others, based on their experiences and sensitivities.

I lived rent-free in my friend’s head for years. The only reason I found out was because he was doing uncharacteristically petty things. He was trying to get my attention through nastiness!

We are no longer friends per se, for two reasons. My default style of communication is direct. And so, it is hard for me to be close to someone who is passive-aggressive, keeps malice and is overly sensitive. I will end up hurting them, no matter how careful I am. The other reason is I have to constantly walk on eggshells around them. And this would put a continuous strain on any meaningful conversations we try to have. I will always worry about what’s on their mind, always be in the wrong and always have to keep apologizing.

The Facts About Friendships

There will always be disagreements in relationships and if all parties communicate in sharply different ways, wires will get crossed. Hurtful things will be said and won’t get resolved on time. Acrimonious thoughts will start to occupy the mind and next thing you know, every action is treated as a declaration of war. Run from such relationships. Adaptation can only go so far. You cannot contort your core daily. This can happen occasionally, for things like work or business negotiations but not for intimate friendships. It will constantly exhaust you.

That said, I am trying to be kinder and to think a little longer before talking. One should do better.

A Parting Thought…

If you’ve hurt someone or you’ve been hurt, it’s time to face up to it (or not) and let it go. Stop allowing people to live rent-free in your head. Stop waiting for people to realize they’ve hurt you and to say sorry. You will be waiting for a long time. Move on.

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Sometimes people don't mean to hurt you and don't know that they have. So let them know, as soon as possible. Don't assume the person who hurt you should know. Click To Tweet

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