A Focus on Friendships - Part One of Three

Sunday, August 15, 2021

I feel a bit shocked that it's August already - nearing the end of third quarter for our business and time to go school shopping for most of our littles. We are just wrapping up third crop hay on our farm and getting ready for corn harvest. This is one of my favorite months of the year in my little corner of the cornfield. The corn is taller than I am, and I can't see the road from my patio. We have a long driveway, but this time of year, I have a cornfield as a privacy fence. It's all very fancy if you ask me - my allergies however are a different story. We all have well established farmer tans and freckles and we've cut most of the sleeves off our t-shirts. As much as we will eventually welcome the cooler weather, fuzzy sweaters, and school, for now we are soaking in the more relaxing days and increased together time. Well, I am enjoying the together time. I am positive my teenagers would tell a different story of the demanding mother who forces them out of bed hours before they are ready. 

 Those angsty teenagers are the inspiration for my articles this month. If you don't have teenagers, I'm sure you were one at one time, so don't stop reading now. I promise you'll be able to relate - and today's discussion about friendships may help you with your writing (believable characters and such) and if you're not a writer, maybe it will help you with your friendships. Now, before I get too much further, I want you to know I've been an awful friend. I've been a great friend. I'm a work in progress. There's undoubtedly people who might look at this article and think "she has no business talking to anyone about friendships" and there's other people who might disagree wholeheartedly (maybe...I hope?). I however, think struggling with things is what makes us the perfect person to participate in a discussion about said topic. So - here goes - let's talk about friendships, shall we? This isn't me telling you what to do or not to do - it's just a conversation and hopefully it will offer each of us a little something. Grab your favorite beverage (I'll fill my coffee mug) and we can chat a bit. Stop back later this month for part two publishing on the 26th of this month!. If you're wondering - today's photo headline is a picture of me and my best friend a few days ago as we celebrate our 9th year of wedded bliss and forever friendship! 

 Have you ever been the friend who spoke up and told someone how you feel? If you have, I commend you! It's really hard to tell someone how you are feeling. There's always the risk of them seeing your feedback as an insult or attack. What happens then? Sometimes we let that fear of the unknown stop us from being open and talking about our feelings. Whether we have the conversation or not, those negative feelings are going to take a toll on the friendship. It takes a brave person to open up about how they are feeling. It also takes a brave person to listen and accept what is being said. Once we hear how someone is feeling, it is our choice what to do with that information. Years ago before children and before farming, I had an opportunity to lead a discussion concerning "dealing with difficult people" and I like to use some of that information when it comes to sorting out my own feelings and friendships. My takeaway from the difficult people discussion was concerning types of feedback and deciding what type of feedback we are receiving (or giving). I like to say there are two types of feedback, but in reality only one is feedback and the other is criticism (or basically an insult). The words can be the same for each, but it's the motive that needs to be examined. Let's boil it down to something basic: 

 1) Feedback is something we are telling someone about to help them grow 

2) Criticism is something we are telling someone to hurt them Basically, the intention is the difference. 

 We could spend weeks coming up with longer definitions, but let's go with the down and dirty for the sake of today's conversation. My daughter was recently told by a friend that the friend felt left out at times. She bravely said "when we are together I have a lot of fun, but when your other friends are around I don't feel like I'm part of the group". I applaud the young lady for talking about her feelings. She wasn't attacking the other friends or hurling insults, she was simply sharing things from her perspective. My daughter was hurt by what was said and came home to talk about it. I told her that though I wasn't there, I feel this is valuable feedback that should be taken to heart. I also reminded her that she's 14 and the choice is hers to make - she can either accept the feedback or not. I suggested she may want to thank her friend for being open about how she is feeling and then they can talk about ways to be more inclusive in a large group setting. We also had a conversation about how we might feel differently if the friend had said "you really aren't a good friend when Krissy is around; you ignore me and you're so snobby". It's so easy to tell the difference between feedback and critism in this example; sometimes it's not quite this easy though. 

 Our time is coming to an end today - but before we get together again, leave a comment and answer one of these questions if you would please? 

 ** When did you provide a friend with what you thought was feedback but it was received as criticism? What do you wish you had done differently? 

** How would you like to receive feedback from a friend? Do you have an example of a time you received feedback and it helped grow your relationship/friendship? 

** What do you think is the key to a long lasting friendship?

And with that - hugs my dear friend and until next time!

Today's blogger is Crystal J. Casavant-Otto who is a hot mess of a momma and dairy farmer enjoying her little corner of the cornfield in Wisconsin! 


Margo Dill said...

I think the key to a long-lasting friendship is trust, honesty, compatibility, fun, and a little selflessness--just like a relationship. Friendships have to be nutured!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Finding a solid friendship is like finding a solid critique group or critique partner. Sometimes it takes more than one try to find a good match.

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