What a shame it is that you do not realise how many vital communication skills you lack, until you make a right cock up of something. Invariably, the net result of the cock up is all too often an upset loved one, but it isn’t just the loved ones who are often on the receiving end of your inability to communicate properly. If you are self aware then you will be angry at yourself, not to mention the pile of strangers you have left shaking angrily in your wake.
In my last blog post Take Responsibility For Your Life – Lessons Learned in Venice I wrote about a trip to Venice where I displayed all the communication skills of a deaf bat. Despite acting like a complete idiot, I am actually an improved version of my former self, and one of the methods I use to help me improve my awareness of things – like poor acts of communication – is a process I call The Check In.
The Check In is a period of time reserved, usually at the day’s end, where you spend at least 30-minutes reflecting on how your day went. I have met The Check In during various periods of my life but have recently gotten to know him a lot closer since I started dating my current girlfriend.
My girlfriend and I have careers that take us all over the world. We have to work hard on our relationship because we are apart for long periods of time. One of the ways that we do this is to spend quality time, each night, talking to each other through Skype, where we describe our experiences and emotions that we have encountered during the day. Once we have finished describing our experiences and emotions we take a little time to talk about the things we are grateful for and what our intentions are for the remainder of that night and the following day. There is only one rule during The Check In and it is a rule I break frequently.
No talking when your partner is doing his or her check-in!
This is not a time to have an opinion but instead listen intently to your partner. During my check-ins in Venice, I would describe the anger I felt by confronting acts of poor customer service, and then how disappointed I was in the way that I dealt with them. I talked about my inability to take 100% responsibility for my life – IN THAT MOMENT – and the The Check In acts in the same way as good solid affirmations. The next time I found myself in a similar predicament, I would remember the words spoken in my check in and suddenly become more mindful.
You do not need a partner to carry out The Check In
When my son was much younger than he is now, I used to try and have conversation with him and would be greeted with the usual one word answers. I would invariably ask him how his time went in school and his favourite answer would be, “I can’t remember.” We started to play a little game during bath time where we would go through our day from the moment we woke up until the time we ended up in that bath. All of a sudden my son couldn’t stop talking and he also became more interested in what Dad did to put food on the table. I didn’t realise it then, but we were both applying The Check In.
For the past few years I have completed a Thinking Journal at the end of each day. I will write about this process in due course, but in the meantime I just want to note that the completion of my Thinking Journal was also a form of checking in with myself. So you don’t need a partner to perform The Check In but from previous experience I find you get more value out of it if you do.
Do you apply a form of The Check In, in your life? Do you need a partner to check in with?
It was my girlfriend who first asked me would I like to Check In and then started to talk about her day. Typically, I started to have an opinion every few minutes and she got very angry that I would not allow her to finish her Check In. Over time I have managed to control the little Chatterbox a little better, and I really look forward to checking in with her each and every night.
As I wrote Take Responsibility For Your Life – Lessons Learned in Venice, I gave thought to the tips and techniques I use to get better at being more mindful in the moment you need it. I am the world champion of hindsight, but am continually working harder to improve my mindfulness. It struck me that The Check In process is one of my best resources for improving my awareness and mindfulness and this is why I wrote this post.
Photos courtesy of Reservasdecoches.com and my good self (cc @ flickr.com)