People Are Messy

Reader Contribution by Shawn Hosford
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As my friend Jodie says ‘people are messy.’ Yep, this is true. This statement resonates true for me with relation to others as much as it does myself. A group of us talked about this subject several months ago and at the time I said, I will need to write a blog post about this truth. But as with many blogs, the idea comes on in a moment of clarity and then takes some time in reflection to ruminate.

This can be good sometimes, bad other times, or just neutral. Unfortunately, ‘people are messy’ came fully back to my mind on one BIG Messy Monday. On three separate occasions one Monday I came to understand how messy we can all be. The interesting thing about those three messy interactions was the following Friday follow-up from all three individuals. The debriefing continuum between all three people and myself was as far and wide as you can get.

I received a card, email, and letter on that Friday from the three individuals. One was filled with many more ways of misunderstanding, one was explaining the circumstances that made our interaction messy, and the other an apology with humor sprinkled throughout. It was clear which ones had a bridge to understanding.

I have a curiosity about our messiness. Is my messy the same as my husband’s or daughter’s? Does our messiness work with each other’s because we are in the same family unit and so it’s mitigated by our love and acceptance for each other? When things get messy with the store clerk, wait person, or another driver it is normally a fleeting moment in our lives. When it happens with a friend we have the opportunity to review the relationship and figure out if both people are adding to each others lives. Most often when it has happened within my family space it gives me an opportunity to remember our love and history.

At this stage in my life I value my time as precious, so in my reviews of messiness I get very clear about which direction I want to head and with whom. I believe the messiness in all three interactions, was messiness coming from all parties, coupled with layers of misunderstanding. I find in-person conversation the best way to clear things up. In these conversation all parties have the opportunity to explain out their actions, justifications, intentions, and questions while using all of our language both verbal and nonverbal. That said, many folks can be opposed to direct conflict, so conversations may not rank high on their list of possible options to resolve problems. I personally have rarely used the above mentioned card, email, or letter methods as they are reminiscent of the detached mean girls from my middle school and high school days.

As I reflect more on my messiness as well as other’s. I question how we can find complementary and balanced messiness. I plan to do my best to intentionally surround myself with the folks I want to be messy with.

How do you work through messy interactions with others? Can you do better in bridges of understanding? In what ways are you messy?

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