Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The ten second rule.

I grew up without a father. Most of my aunts on my father’s side were divorced (some with good reason!) and those on my mother’s side all seemed to live quite a ways away. So, I spent plenty of time with older women growing up. Aunt Agnes – a factory rat, grocery store clerk, smoker, drinker – could cuss with the best of them. Aunt Emiline, factory rat, clerk in a pharmacy, also a smoker and drinker – didn’t cuss quite as much. Aunt Ida – married – my 3rd grade teacher, drinker, smoker – tough as nails. In fact, they all were. My mom, of course. Didn’t smoke, worked her ass off in the post office – another woman tough as nails.

I learned many lessons from these women. Feminists every one long before we were told what a feminist was. Self reliant, independent, opinionated, tough – I was truly blessed to know them. One of the lessons I learned quickly was to listen. Interrupting conversations was not permitted. Not that I wasn’t able to join in the conversations – in fact just the opposite – I was encouraged to do so. Just not to interrupt. Listen to what was being said, consider what you want to say, form your thoughts, wait for an appropriate point to share these thoughts. This takes time – but at least 10 seconds. The ten second rule.

They did not state it that way, they just didn’t tolerate stupid thoughts. Actually, they were fairly forgiving, but demanding none the less. Over the years, I have refined the whole ten second rule process. Today it means: say what you are going to day, TO YOUR SELF, IN YOUR HEAD, wait ten seconds, SAY IT AGAIN TO YOUR SELF, IN YOUR HEAD, if it doesn’t sound stupid, insulting, condescending (unless you mean to sound condescending), if it is really what you want to say then, AND ONLY THEN say it to the person or group you are talking to. Since I have my own business and work with prospects and customers all day, this has held me in good stead over the years. However, its true value is in my relationships with friends and family.

Honestly, women reading this, especially those married women, will look at their husbands and acknowledge that all husbands say the most bone-headed things sometimes. The ten second rule is one of the first survival skills a male must learn – beginning at an early age and continuing through death! Do I really want to say this to my wife, girlfriend, fiancé? If I say these words, what will be the outcome? Will I survive? Does she know how to load the 1911? Are the clips next to the bed loaded?

I have been trying to teach this to my son. He’s pushing 20 now. The task seems to be going slowly. But I am hopeful that before the right girl shows up, he will have mastered this survival skill. Or, pray that his beloved is a poor shot!

I have also shared this with my son-in-law. Having lived with his wife for longer that he has, I know the value of this skill to him! She has been asking me to take her to the weapons range for some more shooting lessons. Hummmmm . . . . .

The ten second rule – learn it, love it, use it!

1 comment:

trinity_ray said...

Good advice. One of the things I've come to enjoy about blogging is the lost art of the essay...a process that by it's nature requires you to formulate your thoughts carefully. It's a good practice.