Imagine for a moment that you go into a beautiful restaurant with an extensive menu of options, including dishes from all around the world. You sit down in a lovely booth, and take in the ambiance, the music, and general vibe. You can't wait.
When the server comes to your table and asks you what you want you say, "Food." A little taken back, the server responds with, "Well what kind of food?" You again say, "Food." He tries again to get more specifics, and again you simply say, "Food."
He walks away, unsure what to do and what to bring you, so brings you nothing, thinking you want more time.
You wait and wait and wait some more until you are getting really irritated with the lack of service, the lack of respect, the lack of attention. You raise your voice, and maybe wave your hands around trying to get the attention of the server so that you can get some food.
When the server comes back and again asks what you want, you again reply with "Food." He shakes his head, and quickly walks away unsure how to deal with such a person.
Moments pass and the server brings you a basket of bread with some butter. You shake your head and say, "This isn't what I want," pushing the basket across the table. The server is clearly shaken and asks what you would prefer. "I want some REAL FOOD," you reply.
The server quickly walks away, and comes back with a salad. Again you push it away and say that isn't what you want. This continues a couple more times, as the server guesses as what you might want. You are becoming angrier and angrier, and the server is becoming more and more irritated and tired.
Eventually the manager arrives and you say to her, "Your server is useless. I want some food and he won't give it to me. You run a horrible establishment. I am going to leave, and write up a horrible review, if you don't give me some god-damned food."
The manager keeps her calm (as this isn't her first experience) and asks again what you would like to eat, so that she can bring it to you. The smoke is coming out of your ears at this point, and you rise from your seat, throw down your napkin and leave the restaurant, yelling and screaming about how horrible it is, as you stalk out the door.
Now, you are probably laughing at this point, saying to yourself, "I would never do that. That is absurd."
I hate to tell you this, but you probably do. Not at a restaurant, maybe, but in your relationships. I know because I see and hear it all the time with clients.
"What is the one thing you want more of in your relationship?" is a common question that comes up in some of our first calls.
The responses are usually things like trust, respect, collaboration, improved communication, etc. Things we all want and deserve. Unfortunately, what we don't realize is that is like asking for "FOOD" at a restaurant.
If you aren't specific, you either get nothing, or you end up with something that you didn't order.
What is it that will REALLY improve your relationship, and how can you more specifically ask for what you want? (Do keep in mind that it might not be on the menu in this particular establishment...)
P.S. If you loved this, I would love to hear from you, and am always pleased when you share.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.