People aren’t mind-readers, tell them how you feel

As Clyde walked in for our life coaching appointment, I turned my phone off so we wouldn’t be interrupted.

“I get sick of those things,” Clyde said, motioning toward the phone.

“The phone?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “It seems people cannot live without them. Twenty years ago, all we had was a land line and a desktop computer. Nowadays, people have constant access to everyone and everything. I may sound like a grumpy old man, but at 72, I can’t believe how dependent people are on technology.”

“That’s funny because I considered you a tech-y,” I said. “Don’t you have the latest in computers, phones, televisions, etc.?”

“Yes, but I know when and how to use them properly,” Clyde said. “Over the weekend I was with my family and we could barely have a conversation. It’s rare when we are all together. And yet, there were two computers open and lots of texting and calling happening. We were together physically, but that’s about it. What’s the point?”

“It sounds like you were frustrated,” I said.

“Yes,” Clyde said. “Too many screens!”

“How would you like it to be?” I asked.

“As I get older, I realize how important family time is,” he said with conviction. “I’d like to have family gatherings where we are truly together. I don’t want someone texting or looking something up. I want to be together without outside interference. No screens.”

“Does your family know how you feel about no screens?” I asked.

“No,” Clyde said, “but I don’t want to sound grumpy. I just wish they would notice and put the screens away.”

“How long have you been wishing this without saying something?” I asked.

“A long time,” Clyde said, “and nothing has changed.” He paused. “Yes, I should say something if I want to see change.”

“What’s your concern with telling them how you feel?” I asked.

“I don’t like to make waves, but I’m fed up with our family time being interrupted by technology,” he said. “I’ve complained to my wife numerous times, but nothing changes. But she isn’t the one I have the issue with. It’s time to talk to the kids.”

“What’s the best way to do that?” I asked.

“Sending an e-mail would be least confrontational,” he said, “but it would be better in person. I’ll call each of them and let them know how I feel and explain what I’d like.”

“And what if you don’t get the reaction you expect?” I asked.

“It will at least open a conversation and let them know how I feel,” Clyde said. “I want to stress how important family time is to me and see how we can improve our time together.”

“When will you have these conversations?” I said.

“I’ll call the kids this week before our family picnic this weekend,” he said.

“How will I know you’ve completed your action step?” I asked.

“I’ll text you by Friday,” he smiled, “during my designated screen time.”

Coaching challenge: When you’re frustrated by someone’s behavior and would like something to change, communicate your frustration to the person with whom you have the complaint, focusing on how YOU feel rather than what THEY are doing. Describe how you’d like things to be and be open to compromise.

People cannot read your mind, and the longer you don’t say something to them, you are the person who will be irritated.

Sheri Fisher is an intuitive life coach living in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For more information and to access her blog, go to


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