Miles.

Today I took some friends from the Philippines on a small road trip to central Utah and back. It was their first time seeing rural Utah outside of the Utah and Salt Lake counties. They loved the views that my state shared with them and were amazed at how I lived in such a beautiful place. While we drove those many miles south then back north we spent time talking about this and that keeping our friendship current and lively.

Driving to me is an opportunity to see the world from the relaxation of a chair and a destination in mind. You can travel at a high enough speed that you feel you’re flying  but have a better viewpoint of what’s around you than if you are thousands of feet above the ground in an airplane. Road Trips are ideal times just to share a conversation that like a road has various twists and turns yet keeps the day moving forward to a destination.

There are many reasons to just jump in a car with friends and set off to see the world and the reason behind it is simple: Spending time in a car together brings people together if you’re open to it. Being willing to spend the miles enclosed in that small space listening to each others music, stories, and opinions can really grow friendships stronger. We need more of these times together with those we know and care for.

It doesn’t always have to be a trip to a tourist destination where you can choose to spend time. You could take a friend to see their family, a family member to see the doctor, or just head out for lunch together and see where the day takes you. The key to these miles and minutes spent together is simply the act of investing your time for friendship.

Speak up.

Speaking up can be a challenge no matter who you are in a uncomfortable situation. The ability to say what you need to when it’s needed to be said is a tactful gift that few have. A few thoughts on sharing the hard truth.

First off, use your words wisely. Say what needs to be said, don’t beat around the bush when delivering the message but be tactful with the way you say it. People may not appreciate you speaking up and saying what needs to be said at first but will respect you for having the gumption to say it.

Second, keep your message simple and filled with the truth. Allowing the discussion to be built around fluff and misinformation can deteriorate the trust you share with the person you are conversing with. Keep the message as lengthy as it needs to be but not too long. Use clear words that communicate the message effectively without question, use strong statements that effectively relay your message without belittling the person you are talking to

Thirdly, be mindful not to back your communication partner into a corner. When giving a hard message it’s essential to deliver a clean message with the intent to help not harm the other person. Giving others clear options will be a safe bet to avoid emotional defense and rebuttal from another. Although you clearly know where you want or need the conversation to go have options for another than can effectively lead them through the desert to the oasis that is your desired resolution.

Is this an easy skill to learn? Not really. Is it a good way to become a better communicator? Yes, say it as it needs to be said, use your words wisely, share the simple truth of your message, and keep the trail ahead open with options that lead your communication partner to a clear understanding of your desired outcome. You’ll fumble a few times until you get the hang of delivering the hard message, but once the message is delivered and you can breathe a sigh of relief it’ll be easier to relay the next time around.