Category Archives: 31 Day Challenge

Table Talk: Speaking Up & Holding Back

I’m pleased to welcome one of my favorite bloggers and wittiest friends to the “table” today. I’ve mentioned Kristi before, but she’s an excellent writer, a fun momma to 3 beautiful girls and a loving pastor’s wife. I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her as much as I did!

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I’m so glad to be sharing here today! I met Kitty when we both lived in South Carolina, but our friendship didn’t really take off until I offered to pick our friend Bri up at the airport before last year’s Influence Conference. Bri mentioned that her roommate might need a ride too, and it ended up being Kitty! Since then those two have become valued voices in my life. Kitty and Bri encourage me to be ME, and to use my voice for the good of God’s Kingdom.

When I saw Kitty’s theme for October, I was so excited I was almost jealous. It’s SO perfect – helpful, funny, interesting. But when I read her second post, I realized how much I need this kind of thing.

I’m about to get vulnerable.

When I was a junior in high school, my English class did a speech unit. The first speech we were assigned was an introduction, and we were instructed to talk for 2 minutes. Everyone was nervous, squirming in their chairs, and it took everything some of those kids had to squeak out their introduction. And we’d already been in class together for 2 months! I, on the other hand, got up and talked about myself for several extra minutes.
I was the only one in the class to go over. Can you believe it? (My husband can.)

This scenario has, unfortunately, replayed itself several times in my life. I’m soft-spoken but extroverted, and often, I’m a selfish communicator.

For example, one night I was out with a group of women I didn’t know very well. We were split into two tables, and I ended up at a table full of mild-mannered, quiet (lovely) women, while the other group was laughing loudly, banging the table with their hands and curling up in laugh pains.

I felt like I was in a sitcom or something, where it camera zoomed in on the boisterous table and then came back to me, and I was sitting there, carefully cutting a single pea in half, lifting a piece to my mouth, and dabbing the corners daintily with my napkin.

The truth is, I wanted to be at the other table. I wanted to be with the loud people so badly it was hard to focus on the women I was with. One started talking and I tried to hold eye contact but another burst of hysterics from the other table distracted me to the point of no return.

But you know what? The table I was with deserved better.

I’m a church planter’s wife, and recently we’ve experienced some quick growth. It’s been incredibly encouraging, but even this good news comes with its growing pains. One thing I’ve noticed is that previously, I could make my way to almost every new person before we left the building. Now, there’s no way. I have to trust the other people in our church to welcome visitors, and I have to be present in the conversations I AM lucky enough to be a part of.

So I think my contribution to this table talk conversation is this: being a good conversationalist takes work.

For some, that may mean working to show up, to speak up, to be known. It may mean a long nap afterwards, because the work of good conversation was so exhausting.

For others, it mean mean showing up and holding back. Focusing on the people in front of you because they are worth your attention. Trusting others with people in the periphery and dignifying your conversation partner with genuine interest.

This is something I’m continuing to work on, and I’m thankful for the way this series has helped me remember to ask questions first, to listen actively, and to communicate thoughtfully, no matter which table I join.

and babies don't keep

Connect with Kristi at her blog And Babies Don’t Keep or on Instagram (@babiesdontkeep).

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If you’re new here, you can catch up on this series HERE. And don’t forget to enter the “Untie Your Story” giveaway!
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Table Talk: Navigating the Holidays Like a Ninja

Table-in-field2Am I the only one who is already thinking through my Christmas shopping list? (I kind of hope so…because we haven’t even gotten to Halloween, y’all! That, and I wouldn’t wish my hyper-vigilance upon anyone.)

It’s not really the Christmas spirit that gets me making my list and checking it twice, it’s the no-frills, frugal shopper in me. I want to get the deals and get them done so that December is easy, breezy and beautiful.

With all the fun gift-giving and obligatory office parties comes a lot of opportunities to practice our table talk. Sure, there can be some dread surrounding these exchanges. I mean, what DO you say to the cousins you haven’t seen since last Christmas? And how DO you respond to the oh-so-personal questions that the oh-so-socially-awkward-co-worker’s-date keeps cornering you with? We’ve all been there.

So, I thought I’d rustle up a few ideas to help you navigate holiday table talk like a ninja.

Stalk the mess outta your people. 

Stalk now or forever hold your piece of pumpkin pie because now is the time to stalk, people. At this point, people gloss over daily happenings in their lives because they assume everyone “saw it on Facebook.” So, scroll through people’s walls and see what news they’ve been sharing over the past year. Use this as fodder for your “tell me more about about…” questions. 

Ask about their year’s highlights & low-lights. 

Go for a more specific approach to the “how are you” question by asking about highs and lows in their personal lives and with their career (assuming you’ve stalked and know they have a job!)

Tell it like it is. 

Assume someone is going to ask you any number of the the dreaded “So any prospects on the horizon?” or ever popular “When are you two gonna start having kids?” type questions.

Just assume it. Own your emotions and come up with a polite, yet masterfully silencing answer.
For example, when asked about passing down the Hurdle name, I would pleasantly say something along the lines of “Well, we are doing our part!” which would put people in an equally as uncomfortable position so that I could then follow up with “What have you been up to lately” thus moving the conversation right along. 

Put your Black Friday game face on. 

This dinner party, family gathering or corporate mixer can only last so long, right? So go in with your gabfest guns blazing knowing that this too shall pass. Ask God to help you hone in on a handful of people with whom you can practice your listening skills. Ask Him to show up and show off in your conversations. And have a friend (or your mom) lined up for the drive home so you can effortlessly decompress. 

When in doubt, talk about the food.

I mean, there’s guaranteed to be a good dessert somewhere. 
What else would you suggest to help us navigate the holidays like a ninja?

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In the spirit of giving, I wanted to host a giveaway that might help your holiday heart-to-hearts. Between now and the end of my 31 Day Writing Challenge, YOU will have the chance to win a set of FamilyLife’s “Untie Your Story Napkin Ties”! Follow the Rafflecopter instructions for your chances to win.(Also, if you fill out THIS survey and comment that you did it I’ll give you an extra 5 entries!)
I loved these the minute I saw them. napkins2Untie Your Story are napkin ties imprinted with heart-bonding questions like “What little things are you grateful for today?” or “Describe something in your life that has taken time to develop for which you are grateful.”

napkins

Use Untie Your Story next month at your Thanksgiving table or family dinner table. And after the meal has been enjoyed, the table will be clear. Legs will be propped up on the hearth of the warm fireplace and you’ll be drifting into an afternoon nap – content and thankful that you connected well and gave thanks for God’s continued faithfulness through shared stories of your lives.

You might even purchase some affordable linen napkins, tie the ribbons around them and give those as a Christmas gift. Or keep them for yourself, print off all the conversation starters from this series, create a conversation jar, pair it with some cookies and call it Christmas!

Sharing is caring! You can spread the love and earn more entries. The winner will be selected on the 31 Days of Table Talk grand finale post!

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