Love Letters to Humans (no. 86) — “You First”

Yes, inept communication can hurt… and it isn’t necessarily abuse. May we have the capacity to extend grace to the clumsy and the earnest (including ourselves). May we neither seek violence nor manufacture it. May we regard our own power.

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This isn’t a suggestion to bypass harm or abuse when it is happening. Abuse and violence are real, and I am not looking for anyone to pretend otherwise.

I am saying that many of us have not learned to communicate with skill, grace, or generosity, and we fumble around hurting one another unintentionally until we learn better. We all come by it honestly—we learn what we live.

I am saying that withdrawal, punishment, and retaliation are poor teachers if we want others to learn skill, grace, and generosity in communication. We are responsible for our participation in the co-creation of our relationships.

We often expect other people to respond with maturity and grace to our worst behaviors—snark, defensiveness, impatience, sarcasm, clunky accusations, interrogation, condescension, sulking, and so on. When we are met with the same behaviors, we find out precisely how challenging our standards of maturity and grace can be.

If we truly desire more understanding, mutual respect, greater regard for difference, it is within our power to initiate and foster these things in our most important conversations and relationships. As my friend & teacher Andréa Ranae says, “you first.”

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From whom do you expect and demand more skill, maturity, grace, or emotional generosity than you are willing or able to extend?

Where are you committed to depending on someone else’s emotional maturity and skill to determine your peace?


Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.