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.

Missed.

I missed last typing my three hundred words last night, oops. I wish that I had some good reason to have missed writing something up last night but I really don’t. I made the choice to spend the night with my brother who was visiting instead of writing something up. I actually take back what I wrote a few lines before this. I have the greatest reason to have missed last nights writing time.

My youngest brother came up and spent a day and a half visiting my wife and I. He joined me in visiting a local Krishna Temple and checking in on a llama I used to use as a marketing prop at work. He also chauffered me around to get a little extra driving time as he will soon be taking his driving test, it’s safe to say the sidewalks are safe as he is a great driver! We then went and visited a jump house and bounced around an obstacle course, jumped on Olympic trampolines, and attempted to look graceful while dunking on some tall hoops. It was a blast.

Why do I recap with you what we ended up doing? Because time with my brothers is my favorite past time. I love spending time with them and seeing all they have become as they’ve grown older. I can’t always say that I was a good brother to them, but I’ve worked to become better than I used to be and I feel that our friendships are stronger than ever. We’ve been able to share better experiences as we’ve all grown up a bit more and worked together to keep our relationships strong by just spending time together as we can.

What I’m really getting at is that you may not have been the best sibling to your brothers and sisters in the past but there isn’t a better day than today to try to be a better sibling. Whether it’s a simple text, snap, or letter sent just try and start a conversation that matters and that will rekindle a friendship with a family member. Is it easy to do? Not always, but it’s effort than can pay off if you are willing to do your part.  

Catch.

Relationships are just like a game of catch. They require interaction, cooperation, and a mutual understanding of where the “ball” needs to go. I’m not just talking about relationships between couples either, I’m talking about various types of friendships that require a little give and take at times, a few hard times, and a little forgiveness. Relationships vary between people, but the sentiment is the same we trust those who we have relationships with.

When people play catch there is plenty of back and forth between the participants at play. Each person involved needs to maintain awareness of what is coming their way and also be aware of what they are tossing out. Having knowledge about how far someone can throw and their catching abilities is key in knowing the pace at which the game of catch can be played. Yes, this is a metaphor, knowing your partner or friend is necessary for knowing what information your partner can take in at a given time and what their emotional state might be at any given time. What you know or don’t know can help or hurt your relationship, be attentive and aware of where you both stand.

In any game of catch, an effort is required by both parties playing. One person needs to be on target as they throw and the other needs to be aware of what is coming their way as they prepare to catch what is being sent their way. The effort needed by all parties involved in making the game enjoyable, successful, and continuous as long as both players stay involved and invested in the time together. When you are in any relationship or friendship put in the work, keep the ball moving, and your interest in the relationship at hand.

A game of catch played by at least two people working together to toss a ball back and forth.

Two players who are aware of the other person, their needs, abilities, and interests as they work together to catch and continue with whatever comes their way. People can drop the ball at times and adjustments are made to ensure the game is to go on if both parties are willing to continue. Be invested as you play and learn from one another as you go.

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.