The most important 10 minutes of our lives?

Jim is running late after a miserable day in the office. He said he would be home by 18.00, it’s now 18.30 and he is sitting in a traffic hold up! He will be at least another 25 or 30 minutes getting home, making him an hour late.

Sue has been working all afternoon on a special meal; she wants to create a nice evening as she feels their relationship has drifted a little. She figures Jim will be a little late as usual, so she plans the meal for 18.30.

Jim’s mood is getting worse as the traffic is just not moving! Finally, after more than 50 minutes in the hold-up he gets to the front of the queue. He is amazed to see that the problem was caused by ‘an idiot’, who had broken down in the middle of the road. He is fuming mad! His internal communication lets off steam: “Why can’t these people look after their cars properly – I bet he doesn’t get his car serviced regularly!!!”

Do we bring our moods home?

So – Jim walks up the path to his front door at 19.35, very late and in a very bad mood.

Inside, Sue is also in a pretty bad mood by now. The dinner is spoiled of course and the evening she planned is in ruins.

“Where the hell have you been? You promised to be home over an hour ago”.

“Look, don’t start screaming at me – I’ve had a miserable day!

I don’t need you going off at me as well”.

“Don’t you think I am entitled to ‘go off’ as you put it? I have cooked all afternoon to make a special meal for us and you have ruined it”!

“Well then you should have told me – how am I supposed to know – it’s not my fault”!

Out of Control!!

So then ensues one of those no-win arguments, in which both sides will say things they don’t mean and afterwards wish they hadn’t said – leading to a few days of tension that neither wants and are seemingly powerless to do anything about.

Something similar to this happens in many households every day. Why do we allow this poor communication to happen? Do we try to avoid it? Do we even know we can prevent it; are we even bothered?

Of course, it doesn’t end there. What happens in our personal life runs over into our business and professional lives and vice-versa. When things are bad at home it affects our mood and our interaction (communication) with people outside. It affects everything we do, including our performance at work.

When we look at the series of events laid out above it’s obvious how it could have been prevented – mostly it is just by awareness and a little forethought. Of course mistakes happen and we will find ourselves in difficult situations in all aspect of our lives. How then do we ensure that the damage is limited – or prevented?

When we have been separated from our partner for a number of hours, such as a day at work, we will bring the outside influence into that relationship. The chances are that the outside influence was stressful or unfulfilling thus creating a negative mood in us. Without care and attention, we will then inject that mood into our interaction and start a series of events that stretches out like ripple in a pond.

Paying attention to those most important 10 minutes – those 10 minutes when we return to our loved ones – can help ensure our whole lives are more balanced, more productive and more successful.

The most vital of skills

Our ability to communicate will determine the way we can handle such events and the results achieved. One thing is for certain – unless we make the effort, we will be leaving our interactions wholly to chance with those we meet, even those most important to us and this must mean our lives will not be a good as they should be!

The better our expertise in interaction with others, the better will be our success in life – all walks of life. Our ability to interact and effectively communicate underpins our entire lives, determines our success domestically, socially and in our careers – indeed it is the most important and vital subject we can study and perfect.