These days, I see a lot of families eating out due to their busy schedules. It also seems to be the norm for everyone to have their heads buried in their electronic devices while they wait on their food. There is more conversation with the server than among family members.
This fast-paced life has contributed to the demise of meaningful relationships in our lives. We either do not know how to connect in a meaningful way, or are not willing to take the time to do so, because the process is too slow. Instead we Facebook, tweet, Instagram, snapchat, WeChat, WhatsApp and Pinterest our relationships. Some of us will more quickly answer a text than return a phone call because it is too time consuming. And sadder still – many of us wear that sentiment as a badge of honor.
The consequences of this fast lifestyle are everywhere. Two people working out differences in their marriage can’t withstand the challenges because they do not want to take the time required to build a deep and lasting relationship. Ask any couple who has survived the challenges of two broken people trying to live in harmony and love, and they will tell you it takes time, presence and patience.
The consequences of this fast-paced life also can be seen in the relationships between children and their parents, and how they relate to the world. Many kids do not know how to relate to others because they are not experiencing meaningful relationships at home. They may live under one roof, but they are in their own busy worlds. Then when one of the kids gets in trouble, either in school or with the law, the parents are often shocked. At the core of the shock is usually a lack of meaningful relationship. I am not saying that children with meaningful relationships at home and the skills in developing healthy relations outside the home do not mess up, because they do. What I am saying is that children with neglected relationships are more likely to shock their parents.
What can you do to either slow down and develop meaningful relationships, or keep the fast-paced life from overtaking your life and family?
Be intentional. This has to be the starting place. You have to become intentional about taking control of your life, and start making the choices and changes that will lead to the life you want. You cannot say you will be home for dinner with your family two nights a week and not know which two nights they are. You have to be intentional by identifying those nights. You must be intentional with the steps you must take to slow down in order to develop meaningful relationships with people in your life.
Control the social media. You may be getting bits and pieces from it, but it does not develop deep meaningful relationships. That requires time, energy, presence and patience. Resist the temptation to have it at the table during meals whether at home, the restaurant or someone else’s home. Of course there are exceptions when you are expecting an important call or text that you have to take. And when that is case then you should say so.
Also avoid having it interrupt conversations. We have become so used to looking at our phone during a conversation and calling it multi-tasking that we do not even think of it as inappropriate anymore. I call it disrespectful of the person you are conversing with, rather than multi-tasking. Again, if you are expecting an urgent call or text then say so. Along with being a life and leadership coach, I am also a stay at home dad, and when I am meeting someone during school hours I always try to make sure I say to the person, “If my daughter’s school calls, I will have to take it.”
Give your undivided attention when in a conversation. We have the tendency to look past people when they are talking. Look them in the eyes, pay attention to their words and body language. How many times have you asked someone how they are doing, but then you don’t listen long enough, look them in the eyes or pay attention to their body language to really know how they are? Many of us say, “Hi, how are you doing?” to get past the guilt of others thinking we do not care, and so we can get on with our fast-paced life. Giving others your undivided attention demands that you slow down, which is uncharacteristic, and sometimes painful, for those accustomed to life in the fast lane.
Let me challenge you for the coming week to, 1) cut back on social media as a means of building relationships, 2) give your undivided attention to everyone you talk to and 3) be intentional about developing meaningful relationships by being present, patient and unhurried.
If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.