The Fun of the Seasaw

Remember the fun of the seesaw? Dig up those playground experiences for a moment and recall what it was like for you to sit on one end while someone else was on the other. For me the pleasure is in staying on while getting to go up and also getting to come back down and watching the other person hang on. And if you’re more adventurous, enjoying the bumps.

It took a risk for me to get on, as I recall, trying to find balance with the person on the other end, getting ready when the “bumping” started and negotiating when to get off. It takes mental preparation to enjoy the seesaw.

Now I remind myself that someone who weighs more doesn’t get the joy of being suspended in the air. Someone who weighs less doesn’t get the thrill of control. Yet somehow, it’s important to reach the ground and get back up, tottering back and forth.

Dealing with life’s tough conversations is like getting on the seesaw. It requires mentally preparing to find the balance between two key things: intention and relationship.

Perhaps we want someone to know how their actions have affected us, or we want them to be informed of a decision we’ve come to. Quite often we plunge right into the talk, similar to hoisting them in the air without any advance notice. Worse yet, we resolve a change in plans as a result.

“You always leave the seat up.” (startling them into a hoisted position)
“Use the kids’ bathroom from now on.”(plunking straight down)

The weight of that message leaves no room for negotiation, for a 2-way conversation. It seems the intent is to create pain. Even if it isn’t, that’s the message that comes across.

A testing of the balance between relationship and message would have helped.
“Honey, I know you aren’t trying to anger me, but when you leave the seat up I get frustrated. Would you please pay attention to this habit for me?”
This gently lifts them off the ground and also gives them a safe landing.

I had a friend back on that playground that I trusted. When we seesawed, we would get to the point when our faces began to give away our willingness to get more adventurous. That’s when we telegraphed our intention to bump. Our eyes would expand and our smiles would widen into grins. It was the signal to hang on and brace our behinds for impact.

In good fun, we saw how long we could withstand the pranks of jolting each other. Conversation is much the same. When we know each other well enough to distinguish between sarcasm and fun, we focus on agreed-upon areas for humor, not letting instances of the past become fair game for mockery.

Relationship and intention are the two focal points that keep conversation fun, adventurous and enjoyable. When we teeter around without focus on relationship, or before we have decided our intention, we heavily weight the moment for failure.

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On January 14th, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by