I had a post with random Twitter levity planned, but then I saw this tweet:
By the way, it isn’t really a Robin Williams quote, even though he did say the words (see here).
But it connected with several articles and blog posts and some acquaintance-related developments, all of which coalesced to a single theme. People don’t pay attention to other people. People take other people for granted, especially those whom they supposedly care about. Communication doesn’t mean you assume things are fine (read: live in denial) until someone submits a notarized written complaint. If you wait for people to be blunt with you, it’s probably too late. Communication implies you are aware of the person you care about, that you can sense their distress, their reluctance, their pain. You pay attention to subtle cues.
A person I know IRL was very vocal about the excellent communication in their relationship. Yet, I could name several instances where they appeared totally clueless about how their actions were likely affecting their significant other. I tried to gently hint that they might’ve acted carelessly; as expected, they didn’t appreciate this input, and insisted that their parent would’ve said something. Then they got broken up with, without ever having been given much beyond empty platitudes as the reason. So much for excellent communication.
Many people are finely attuned to the needs of their children. Why can’t they extend the same courtesy to the adults in their lives?
I often get back to this poignant piece of nonfiction, “The Crane Wife” in The Paris Review. It reminds us it’s not that hard to know what other people need.