I go to Intentions University. I am on course for a very good grade. I am enrolled on many different courses; Creative Projects, Language Learning, Social Interactions, Exercise etc. There are others as well. I think I have a list somewhere…no, tell a lie, I’ve been meaning to write them down.
List writing is a popular module early on when we study Procrastination Law.
In my mind I have a list of people I want to write to: the thank yous, the condolences, the ‘I was thinking of yous’ that I know are small gestures that can make a huge impact. It’s a list I rarely get round to doing anything about.
Yet I am aware that in reality it’s one of the most important to do lists in my possession.
My friend Steve tweeted one of his thought-inducing and empathically helpful ‘Ministry Tips’ a while back:
#54: If you are an introvert, check that you said ‘Thank you’ aloud. If you are an extrovert, check that you meant it.
This smacked me right in the head from left field. There it was again. How often do I say something in my head and just assume that it has somehow been transplanted into the brain of the other person?
What Does the Thought Count For?
How often do I think “I should really send a card to say well done/thank you/sorry”, and yet draw that action to a close by virtue of the fact that ‘it’s the thought that counts’?
Yes, the thought that I keep to myself…it counts for, well…nothing I guess. “But I truly do care, and I honestly did mean to say something”.
Ahh yes, intentions. Aren’t they a beautiful thing?
According to studies, when you share your plans with others this gives you the same cognitive satisfaction as actually doing something.
Derek Sivers cited the research of NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer in his own article about why we must keep our plans quiet if we actually want to make them happen. According to these findings, “Once you’ve told people of your intentions, it gives you a ‘premature sense of completeness.'”
In other words, if you want to feel that hit of smugness as you sit before a mountain of good intentions, simply tell everyone what you plan to do. Keep doing this and you’ll always feel good.
Trust and Intentions
The problem is, people begin to stop trusting us, they become frustrated if we are all talk and no action. They lose faith and say ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’, which serves to actually erode our faith in ourselves and make the accomplishment of goals even less likely.
You see, intentions can feel great but they can erode our relationships when they are not backed up by action.
Turning intentions into words and actions in our relationships is so important. Yet it can sometimes be a challenge for introverts and highly sensitive people.
Steve was so on the money when he said that we need to stop and check to make sure that we actually speak out loud what we feel inside.
The thought is there. It’s not about conjuring up insincerity in order to comply with social convention. We just need to connect the dots. It can make us feel vulnerable to articulate a felt-response and to do so with the outward expression that represents what we feel on the inside.
Check to Make Sure You Said it Out Loud:
You can never express too much gratitude. When you notice something, especially if it is something small encourage the other person. Say thank you.
Bereavement is one of the most impactful times of non-expressed intention. Or moreover because people find it so difficult to ‘know what to say’ and conclude that nothing is better than the wrong thing, simply saying something can make all the difference.
In my role as a part time undertaker I have heard people who have been bereaved say that they feel like friends have begun to avoid them in the aftermath of a loved one’s death. This is never malicious. It is often from a position assuming that condolences are a given, or that the card and flowers at the funeral said enough.
Speaking up, not avoiding the elephant in the room, not giving advice or saying ‘everything will be ok’; simply saying sorry and being there can make all the difference.
When you get it wrong say sorry. Learn HOW to apologise. No ‘buts’, ‘becauses’, or ‘if only you’ds’… Check to make sure that when you ARE sorry you say it. People will never assume you are unless you speak and an unspoken apology can cause all sorts of long lasting damage.
Introverts can be notoriously bad at receiving gifts. I don’t know about you but I hate opening presents infront of others, especially in front of the giver. I become less aware of the gift and more aware of the expectation and hope for my excitement.
It can be a really important thing to get right. Express what you feel on the inside in a way that makes it obvious on the outside.
I’m not usually a very ourwardly excitable person. Even when I’m doing backflips in my head about something that is blowing my mind, I may smile politely and say something like ‘great’ and continue thinking about how excited I am.
When you feel it on the inside find ways to convey it on the outside.
Hopes, wishes and expectations are other things we are good at concealing behind the doors of our minds as introverts and highly sensitive people. And on the flipside, disappointments. When things don’t go as planned we might not be very good at expressing that we feel sad about it.
It’s important that people know what you care about and the outcomes you’re emotionally invested in. It can be a source of self-isolating when we don’t share our hopes or when we assume our expectations are obvious. Before you get annoyed that you’ve been let down, check to make sure you actually communicated what you hoped for.
If you want help check to make sure you have made it clear that you are accepting it. We can be very nuanced and complicated creatures. We say things like ‘I’ll be fine’ when we really mean ‘please help’. If you would appreciate assistance then make it as easy as possible for people to give it.
It’s not polite to decline help. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for it. Just make sure that you say it out loud before you get annoyed that no one has given any.
Over to You
Have you ever got yourself into trouble for forgetting to say something out loud? Please feel free to leave your response in the comments below.