“Our body is no dumb thing from which we struggle to free ourselves… from which we learn to feel, to move, to smell, to touch, to listen, to hunger and to love.”
~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
Women Who Run with the Wolves.
We challenge ourselves to improve every area of our lives, but often invite people into our space that treat us “casually.” Question: How do we detect casual behavior from a potential suitor, business partner or friendship?
Every week, I recite Dr. Pinkola-Estes’s quote to myself for a couple of reasons. One, it’s powerful. Two, it speaks volumes to women’s emotional struggles in pursuing education, personal freedoms, and independence.
Jim Rohn, (1930-2009) one of the world’s former master communicators once said, “To communicate well, don’t treat conversations (and people) casually.” Rohn referred to the word ‘casually’ meaning without sufficient care. He said, “Casualness brings casualties in the conversation.” Think about that point. Rohn also pointed out the significance of communication. He said, “Everything we feel and have to say is important; so why would anyone feel comfortable treating another person casually?”
As a woman, I think about where we (women) come from, and what we’ve come through to position ourselves where we are today. I’m sure you are mindful of other women’s hustles because you can relate to how demanding our come ups can be as the first teachers of the world. Therefore, when a man decides to treat a woman casually, she is summoned to pause and question, what is his intention? If it’s not to aspire together, enabling both people to differentiate themselves and support their growth, and breathe life into each other, his intention might be to satisfy his own personal agenda for the moment.
How do you recognize casual behavior? Especially if it’s beautifully masked in random acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. I provided a few examples of casual treatment below:
Examples of Casual Treatment
(1) Professional Relationship
Kelly Ripa was informed by the media that Michael Strahan, her partner on Live with Kelly and Michael, accepted a new position with another network. Ripa felt betrayed and hurt; the entire scenario highlighted the importance of communication, consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace. Her responses below captured her disappointment:
“Sometimes when you are so comfortable with somebody, you may not give them the same consideration as somebody you’re not as comfortable with – a certain formality falls away.” (Also a personal example)
“Finding the perfect chemistry, and camaraderie, and trust isn’t easy; it doesn’t fall out of the sky. It takes work and (group) discussion”
(2) Personal Relationship
The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date is casual treatment. This is done in hopes that the person will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone as opposed to the subject respectfully communicating he/she is no longer interested. Aside from dating, this type of casual behavior is witnessed in friendships as well.
So why do people treat people casually when the alternative is easier? Most people don’t look forward to tough conversations. It’s natural for us to avoid conflict since it reinforces anxiety and avoidance is the short path with fewer obstacles. But only for the moment. Casual treatment can lead to bigger confrontations down the line and it’s likely to trigger anger and hurt for the recipient.
What if we chose the alternative and gave that person attention and a direct response? By working to overcome fear of conflict, we can reduce anxiety and build up our courage and communication skills that are important in our relationships. By avoiding casual treatment, we can prevent casualties.
*Mary went to court to obtain custody of her children. Instead of sharing the sacrifices she made as a mother for her children, Mary pointed the finger at the ex-husband’s aggressive behavior while he shared how he provided for his children as a father. Because of her casual treatment toward her ex-husband, Mary almost lost custody of the children. The judge sent them both a clear message:
“The two of you need to learn to communicate better and with each other. I can only imagine how your conversations are at home, based on the way in which it was presented today. Fix the communication and start parenting for these kids.”
Tips to Consider
Be mindful ladies, your life is important. You’re a woman of integrity and depth of feeling–perfection not required. We have a responsibility to treat ourselves well, yes. We also have a responsibility to treat other people respectfully. Your struggle may not be other peoples struggle, but they are human. As the scripture Matt 7:12 goes, “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” Annnd after fighting our whole life for the right to feel, to move, to smell, to touch, to listen, to hunger, and to love, put some respect on that grind. Casualness brings casualties.
Think about the impact of that quote.
Noted below are 5 tips to detect casual treatment:
1. Feel the energy around you.
2. Be present. Listen to what the recipient is saying and not saying.
3. Ask the right questions to determine an agenda.
4. Do not mistake courtesy for interest.
5. Have compassion, and draw a line.
Gentlemen, women deal with many life challenges at home, at work, in general, and personally. Don’t break us down further with casual behavior. It’s messy, inconsiderate and reveals the shadiness in your character. Don’t be messy. Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “Don’t Shuck and Jive” with people’s lives. If you can’t treat them with decency, excuse yourself and take your messiness with you cause ain’t nobody got time fa dat! Communication is a two way street. “Whatever good things we build, end up building us.” (J. Rohn) Let’s consider how our communication choices impact our lives and those around us. Casual treatment is an unhealthy form of communication. And, casual treatment could be a matter of life and death.
Think about why this message might be important to your life right now.
Clarissa’s quote and Jim’s message brought the significance of communicating home for me on another level.
*Name change to protect identity.