Are you a "drainer" or a "charger"? That's the question I asked yesterday. In other words, if I spent an evening with you, would I walk away emotionally ready to go or feeling all used up?
Your comments yesterday left me scratching my head. Everything from Liz who doesn't know what socializing means (snicker) to Rachel C. who seemed to be scratching her head -- at least at first -- that "draining relationships" might be part of a person's social life.
"Why," I wondered, "does this subject which is very real to me seem be be no big deal to my readers? Could it be because I have spent most of my adult life in a 'caring profession?' Or is it because I have just lived much longer than most of them?" (Don't answer that!)
I finally remembered that being always on call occasionally takes its toll and, while I am rarely woken up in the middle of the night with emergencies these days, I sometimes simply get tired. Those are the moments I become very sensitive to social settings in which someone wants to talk about church (that's spelled w-o-r-k for me) stuff or personal problems.
That said, I hope I don't sound totally selfish when I tell you that the following is how I love to be treated in my social life...
How to be a Charger (with no apologies to a certain NFL team that -- I'm sure -- stole my term. Just kidding.)
1. Become a sponge. Ask questions. Look for ways to briefly link an experience of your own to what another person tells you, then ask another question. Sympathize and empathize appropriately. Genuinely listen to what you are told.
2. Act like a mirror. When someone asks about you, answer as personally as you can (can you imagine that I LOVE to tell stories?). Then reflect the conversation right back to the other person. Repeat as needed. I like to get people talking about their interests. Often, but not always, men like to talk about their work and sports. If a woman has children, she usually wants to tell you about them. (If she pulls out pics of her grandchildren, politely RUN! Not really.)
3. Play. Most adults love some form of entertainment. In our family, it's table games. For others, it's dinner, movies, plays or concerts. For some, it's sporting events. (If you go to church and know your pastor, find out what he or she likes to do and take them. Don't once talk about church stuff while you're out. And, no -- seriously -- this is not a hint for myself.)
4. Pay. Cathy and I have wonderful memories about our younger years when kids were young, money was tight and friends invited us out. Someone would ask us to dinner and encourage us -- sometimes the whole family -- to order whatever we wanted because they wanted to treat us. Those are some very treasured experiences for us. We are now not so young, the kids are grown and we don't have to pinch pennies (is that shillings over there?) as much, so we get to treat others.
Employ one or more of these techniques and you just might have people lining up to spend time with you! (Give me your address and I'll be there tomorrow. Ahem.)
After your wonderful input yesterday, I await your responses with eagerness!