Dear 90’s Baby #11

Dear 90’s Baby,

Thank you.

Between the last time I wrote to you and now, a lot has happened. I have hosted 2 hangouts, made a career transition, gotten married, and moved to a new city. So, there is a lot of gist. However, I want to take a moment to thank you.

Last week, I went over our wedding website again and realized that some people who filled the guest book are readers whom I have never met. I often say that there are many good people in the world and you’ve proven me right again. Thanks for your prayers, well-wishes and kind words. Thanks for keeping me in your heart and sending mails to ask for your letters.

GOOD NEWS! The letters are back now, and they are not going anywhere. You’ll get them, every other Friday, right here on Lifewords. Yup! That’s twice a month. I write these letters for and to you, because I believe that our generation has something that should not be taken for granted: the ability and opportunity to listen to one other. If you were born in the 90s or if you grew up in the 90s, you are blessed to be a digital native with access to technology that our ancestors could not dream of; we can get information anyhow and to any degree we want. We can listen to each other and solve problems for one other, irrespective of location. So I suggest we use it to start conversations that matter and build communities that thrive. These letters are part of my own contribution 😀 My letters give perspective on issues that millennials have to deal with, in simple English and from a Christian standpoint. Please reply in the comments to add your voice to the conversation.

Because I mentioned marriage earlier on, I want to quickly share a tip for you if your folks are worrying and annoying you about getting married especially when they really have no reason to.

My tip is called Àgbékalè. It’s a Yoruba expression for the art of delivery. I learnt this in marriage (wish I knew it earlier). It is about telling your truth in a way that others want to hear it. Notice, I did not say you have to tell them what they want to hear.  Àgbékalè is not the what, it is the how. It is the art of packaging your communication to people in a way that triggers the response you desire from them. Before now, I thought that this type of packaging was plain dishonesty. Why do I have to respond in a certain way when I have the option of reacting how I feel about the situation? What I have now realized is that you don’t have to lie, you can still pass across your message, only in a way that will be receptive to the listener.

In this life, some people will try to trigger your emotional wreck and if you react, there’s going to be a disaster- so it’s best to respond. Before you respond, there are 3 things I advise:  Take a deep breath, pray under your breath, and launch an àgbékalè that works.

To give yourself peace of mind and avoid incessant fights, learn how to present your case to your parents (or anybody, for that matter). Delivery is important and thankfully, you don’t have to be born with it, you learn it.

Two months ago, a lovely young lady talked to me about how her parents were bugging her to get married. She was losing focus at work and was beginning to believe the negative things they said to and about her. This touched me so, I took the time to share the wonders of Àgbékalè with her. Few weeks later, she sent me a message about how grateful she is- apparently, my tip worked. What exactly did I tell her?

I told her to remind herself of the basic truth, put their motive in context, and speak to a desire they have that can trigger the response she wants… ‘”Your parents love you. It’s just that they have somehow decided that your marriage is one of their achievements in life and they are so scared to fail that they now project those fears unto you. There is no need to attack them.” I said.

“Use this àgbékalè: Thank them for their concern. Assure them that you are serious about getting married and are not trying to chase the men away. Ask them to pray along with you as you believe God is going to give you the best. Depending on your relationship with them, you can go on to say how you feel about their actions. Be ready to repeat this process because after some time, their emotions may get the better part of them and they’ll start again.”

Whether you are dealing with an overreacting family member, a complaining spouse or an oversabi colleague, try to understand where they’re coming from and then, deliver your point accordingly. After getting married, I realized how possible it was for someone not to think highly of my good idea. Sometimes, my hubby would just say no, or not now to an idea I thought was obviously great. (And I would just stare at him wondering why).  Later, I would present the idea in a better way and he’d totally agree. At that point, I realized that I do not need to sulk or emotionally manipulate in order to be understood. I only need to deliver my message properly.

“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness” Proverbs 15:1-2 (HCSB)

Actually, during courtship, my husband suggested that I speak in a different way to get favorable responses from him but I couldn’t imagine it. I argued that we were supposed to be completely open so I wanted to just be as I am, saying it as it is. Thankfully, I’ve learnt that you really don’t have to be brutally honest all the time. My parents would be particularly proud of me if they read this because they tried their best to talk to me about Àgbékalè to no avail. It took me a very long time to realize that what annoyed me about them was from a good place, without evil intentions.

Oh well, that’s it about Àgbékalè and the art of delivery. What about you? What do you think and how do you suggest people deal with nagging parents?

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I appreciate that you read my letters; hope they make a difference 😉

 

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Tolu Michaels

Tolu devotes her life to helping people live truly, connect deeply and love freely. She shares the essentials of the Christian faith in everyday language and has been a speaker at many youth gatherings and discussion groups, encouraging young people to take a stand for the Lord in spite of today’s culture. Tolu serves as the Ministry Director of Godlovers Fellowship and has been featured on Kingdom Times and Lifegiva.

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