Adding a timeline, a “By when” to our communication is essential in relationships.
We have a communication legacy stemming from our childhood. As children when we requested or wanted something we often heard, “no, not now, later, soon, in a while, after dinner, next week, when you are older,” and so forth.
Before long we came to understand that whatever it is we wanted or expected – was never going to happen.
As adults, we carry a childhood legacy of, “Not now, later & etc.” into our adult conversations. We might really mean “later” speaking to our partners – but they and we hear, ‘Not now, never.”
So, it makes a great deal of difference to add a true timeline to our requests: a “by when.” “Let’s take a time out and get back to this conversation in another ten minutes, an hour, tomorrow morning.” With a timeline, our promises become far more powerful.
And should we fall back into an old, “No not now later” meme, we can remind each other about making promises when we speak.