Communication takes time, but it’s time well spent

Annie Cat

Obviously, spinning words together (in writing or out loud) takes time, but effective communication takes more time than the time it takes to craft words. Sometimes, the best communication time involves no words.

Our household has been more than normally chaotic for a few weeks. I won’t go into all the detail–suffice it to say that time, which is always at a premium for us, has been even tighter than usual.

Relationships suffer under such circumstances. But this morning I got a reminder of how important simply spending time together can be.

One good thing about cats (there’s at least one!) is that they let you know exactly what they’re thinking. They have no tact or diplomacy. This can be annoying, of course. (“I don’t care if the house is on fire and you’re trying to put it out. Feed me.”) But it can also be heartwarming.

Annie, our oldest cat, has been following me around like a puppy for the last couple of weeks. This morning a guy came to the house to repair our air conditioning (and, boy, were we glad to see him!). At one point he went back to his truck to get a part. I had a ton of other stuff I needed to do, but I also didn’t think I had time to do it before he came back, and I thought I needed to be available to answer questions for him. So I just sat in the kitchen for a few minutes.

It has been weeks since I was able to just sit (and I would not have done so if it hadn’t been for the repairman).

Annie immediately came over for some head-rubbing and other obeisance, which I bestowed. Of course, she purred. But tired as I was (and the day had just started), I didn’t feel like bending over for long, so after a few minutes, I stopped and just sat there.

Annie looked up at me expectantly for a bit, then rubbed her head on my leg, but I just sat there. So she settled herself right next to my foot. After a few seconds she began purring again.

She was perfectly happy just being with me without me running around.

I know this is true of the other people in my household too. They understand the pressure I’m under, so they don’t say anything–they have more tact than the cat. But still: it’s important to just spend the time. We don’t always have to be doing something, and in fact in a lot of ways it’s better if we aren’t. We just need to take the time to be.

I know it has been too long when I go into our room and just sit down with my wife without saying anything, and she says, “What’s wrong?”

Where do you need to stop and just spend some time?

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.