What do the butter knife, Netflix and the toilet seat have in common? They’re the disguise of something much more profound that can destroy relationships.
The toilet seat, up or down, used to be the number one reason stated for a divorce. Some people would justify either which way a toilet seat is supposed to be, at the end though, it was a disconnect ending with a divorce.
The top reason for a divorce was soon replaced by Netflix when some couples shared a queue for DVD delivery and the queue would be rearranged without communicating with the other party. The choices for the upcoming movie could have been negotiated, again, a disconnect was created.
I’m in the business of human dynamics and connection so I pay close attention to things that may go unnoticed by others.
So what about the butter knife?
I was visiting a friend one evening and we had decided to stay in, cook dinner and catch up. My friend offered to play some music and asked me for my preference, I said blues, I love blues music!
As I began cooking, I soon heard yelling and a raging crowd coming from the speaker, not blues music. My friend was watching a political rally and the crowd was mad. The noise bothered me but I said nothing wanting to brush it off, and telling myself the music would be on shortly. But the music didn’t come, the yelling got louder and I lost patience. The noise was feeling like an aggression to me and I snapped at my friend harshly asking for it to stop. My words were along the lines of: “not now, I’m sorry!!” And I’m pretty sure it was accompanied with hand movement and cooking utensils.
My friend obliged and soon after turned on the blues music which lowered my blood pressure.
We sat at the table and as a good French girl, I put the butter on a small plate, with a butter knife. We started eating, my friend used his knife already covered with food and dug into the butter. I made a sarcastic joke: “Would you like another butter knife?” which didn’t go over well. My friend got mad at me, I was blindsided and the atmosphere in the room got really heavy.
We could argue the relevance of the use of the butter knife, how dirty my friend’s knife was/wasn’t or how relevant it is to be French while leaving in the U.S. We could do that, and then what? It wasn’t about the butter knife.
By the time we sat for dinner, my friend was still triggered by my reaction about the political rally. He needed to feel seen and heard about the political climate at the time. Instead of checking in with him I reacted in an emotional manner and created a disconnect. My friend didn’t sense he had a safe space to express himself so he bottled his emotion up, the same way I had done earlier. That’s a very counterproductive thing to do.
My friend and I talked it out, figured it out and developed a system to be aware of ourselves and each other’s trigger. It’s all about awareness and being there for others. It’s not about the toilet seat, or Netflix, or the butter knife after all.
I invite you to develop that awareness of emotions, triggers and our reactions. They can show up in counterproductive ways and create disconnects. Connecting is a lot more fun!
Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself