4/24/15

The Response Waiting Period



If you speak when angry, you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.
Groucho Marx
In many places, where civilians are allowed to own a firearm, the government requires that there be a waiting period between the time when the weapon is purchased and the time it’s handed over. Although this time varies from location to location, the general explanation given is so that the government can do a proper background check on the person. Yet, with today’s hyper connected society, a background check can be done almost instantaneously. Even without the government’s resources, as an individual you can Google anyone's life history in less than an hour to know what kind of a person they are. So, with that understood, why would you have to wait 24 hours, 48 hours, or even a week for a background check?

Because it’s not about doing a background check. It’s a cooling off period. It’s giving you enough time to think about why you are getting a weapon. It’s giving you enough to keep you from doing something you will regret the rest of your life. So, if we can understand the logic behind a cooling off period to keep you from your own stupidity, why don’t we use that same logic in any other moment we need to keep ourselves from “doing something you will regret the rest of your life.”

Be it your spouse, your kids, your parents, your boss, or anyone else, comes up to you with the dreaded “we need to talk,” they probably already talked about the issue with you. You just weren’t present during the discussion. We all do this, as we review how to discuss any difficult issue with someone. We review what we want to say and how we will say it. We consider any reply the person might have, practicing what our response to these comments will be. And we do this for days, even weeks. When we think we have every base covered and every scenario pre-rehearsed, we confront the person. Then, even if it took us weeks to get ready, expect the other person to be able to respond instantaneously.

And the other person probably ends up doing something stupid.

As the ability of people today to do constructive criticism has lessened, and our ability to receive ANY kind of criticism is slowly lost as a result, we will probably react to “we need to talk” as a challenge. In this case, it’s within our nature as humans to revert to a fight/flight when confronted. Your reaction will either be to win the argument, however possible, or to run away from it, again however possible. By this time, the conversation has turned into a win/lose situation, where it stops being about understanding, reviewing what is being called out, or even finding common ground.

As communication and openness is crucial in any social interaction, how do you handle this kind of situation, how do you keep it from turning into a power struggle? First, the person bringing up the issue, the one who had enough time to prepare for the exchange, has to give the other person the same consideration of time to review the issues brought up. Second, the person on the receiving end has to listen and consider just what is brought up, not as an attack, but as something they might not have considered.

All Relationship, be it familiar, friendships, romantic, or even business, must be about a balance and a partnership. It should never be a power struggle where one dominates the other. It should be about creating an environment where both persons benefit from each other. By giving a person the space to explain what they are going though and how they feel, you are offering them respect. By giving the person the time to consider what was told to them, you are offering them understanding.

And isn’t that what all relationships should be about? Respect and understanding?