…after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.
Mr. Disraeli’s supper companion’s remark demonstrates to us how the prime minister made the young woman feel after their engagement over supper.
I say the word “engagement” knowing that nowadays we all hear a lot about how we can become more bonded in our communications with others.
One of the synonyms for engagement is commitment.
When you say the word commitment, you cannot ignore the meaning of assurance and obligation that lies behind it.
If we are to “engage” another we must naturally offer our pledge, our vow, if you will, that we will stand behind what we’re offering.
We must be trustworthy.
In order to be trustworthy we must also be able to trust.
Conversation is almost always about feelings.
Seldom is it about facts.
Facts might be the starting point to a conversation, but it’s most always the feelings of the conversationalists that color the outcome.
What we think and feel is not always what we say.
Many times it’s in what’s not said that carries the truest meaning.
The same British politician, Benjamin Disraeli, also famously said, “Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth.”
Twenty three million Americans just watched Great Britain’s William and Kate become the most celebrated couple in the world with their marriage in Westminster Chapel on July 29, 2011.
There’s a saying that says, “Have your feelings or they will have you.”
There was much comparison between this wedding and the wedding of William’s mother to Prince Charles, heir to the throne, back in 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The difference in the demeanors of the wedded at each ceremony struck me.
The earlier marriage presented an older, dour faced, uptight Prince Charles next to a shy and almost-frightened doe of a girl, Lady Diana Spencer, in an ill-fitting and star-crossed joining.
This latter event showcased two obviously devoted-to-one-another lovers inside a connected bubble of their own notwithstanding the pomp and pageantry going on all around them.
The Dean of Westminster, John Robert Hall, conducting the marriage ceremony, soberly asked the assemblage about the couple, “Therefore, if any man can show any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together let him now speak or else hereafter, forever, hold his peace.”
Thereafter, the marriage ceremony itself was performed by Dr. Rowan Williams, the in-all-ways interesting Archbishop of Canterbury, who asked again, this time bringing the wrath of God into the mix:
“I require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful. “
Man! If that dire warning didn’t cause one or the other guilty party to drop to their knees and beg forgiveness I don’t know what would have, but it may certainly have been a second warning to both the participants and the congregation for anyone with the kind of information that Prince Charles harbored on his wedding day about Camilla Shand Parker Bowles to step now forward or “…hereafter, forever, hold his peace.”
I could only think how differently things may have turned out if someone inside the Palace had paid any attention to Prince Charles’ glum and sardonic looks and remarks surrounding his own marriage. The bitter aftermath and disaster may have been avoided in two, what seemed to be, very unhappy lives.
Because Charles, Prince of Wales was not allowed to have feelings in the matter of his own marriage, his feelings, in the end, had him.
The lesson here is obvious to us in this discussion about feelings.
All the factual talk about duty and country and bucking up that probably went on inside a Palace deciding that Camilla was not a suitable match for the future king turned out to fare not well in the knotty outcome.
Everything that describes the opposite of feeling — insensitivity, numbness, unconsciousness, obtuseness — appears to have come into play surrounding what is the most important event in one’s life.
The person one marries is the most critical decision one makes in life.
It befuddles the imagination that an institution like the British Monarchy would ignore that fact and be so out of tune but they did all that for Charles with the resultant catastrophe that followed.
One can only imagine how the parties to that marriage felt all those years.
The crying-out spoke for itself and the tragedy that ensued is something Shakespeare himself would have written on.
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This is the stuff we are made of.
No species on earth is crueler to one another than man.
But we can change all that.
We can change and we can be kind to one another.
We can watch for the telltale signs in each other.
We can look for the pain every single one of us carries and we can work to decrease that pain and increase each other’s happiness and joy.
How can we do that?
We can do that by using Disraeli’s secret.
We can explore the possibilities in one another by showing a genuine interest in the other person.
We can ask questions and watch facial expressions and body language.
We can listen closely to the answers and discern what’s not being answered — what’s not being said.
We can create a bubble around ourselves and the other person that says to that other person, “You are my world, right now in this place and time and I am interested in what you have to say to me in this space I occupy in it for you.”
We can be kind.
We can be gracious.
We can make another person feel good and safe in this eventful world we all live in.
If you can do this, your aim will open a hole in another’s heart and you’ll touch their feelings by knowing their secrets.
You have the capacity to change their lives.
They will never forget you.
You’ll make an impact and a difference in a person’s life and you’ll also make a difference and an impact in your own.
Next week we’ll focus on how business communication differs from personal communication. Part II. Part I. Intro.