By Piper Bayard
As some of you know, I volunteered with Hospice for a time. I am also blessed with the best tweeps (Twitter friends) on the planet. So much so that lately a few people have come to me for advice about how to find such amazing tweeps. It’s simple. I treat everyone like they are about to die.
George Washington on His Deathbed by Junius Steams
No, I don’t ask them for their stuff. . . . Well, okay, there was this one woman. But I knew her melodramatic threats to kill herself with a spork while reading my first manuscript were completely insincere. I mean, she doesn’t even go camping to own a spork. Though come to think of it, I haven’t heard from her for a while. But I digress. . . .
This calls for a list. When people are dying . . .
1. We don’t judge them.
Their Judgement Day will come soon enough, and the Big It needs no assistance from us on that score.
2. We do listen to them.
In that moment, they are more important than we are so we keep our mouths shut and our ears open.
3. We do let them know they are heard.
This doesn’t mean we agree with everything they say. It means we validate that they said it. One way to let them know we heard them is to say, “That sounds . . .” Difficult, painful, amazing, intense, etc. I mean, when someone tells us their mom is in the ICU, it’s not hard to find an adjective. It does sound painful and intense. When they tell us the book contract came through, it does sound joyful.
4. We don’t argue.
Letting people know we heard what they said is not the same as agreeing with them so we are not violating our integrity when we refrain from disagreeing. “It sounds like you feel quite passionate about that.”
5. We don’t offer unsolicited advice.
Most of the time when we want to fix other people’s problems, it has nothing to do with being nice people. It’s because their misery is making us uncomfortable. So we understand that other peoples problems are not ours–we have plenty of our own–and we simply provide our presence unless they specifically ask for something more. “That sounds like a difficult situation.”
6. We don’t whine about our problems.
It’s one thing when we share the truth of our lives, such as our allergies, our sudden hospitalizations, or our sadness when a child leaves home. It’s another to whine about our hemorrhoids. (Note: Hemorrhoids are those pains in the butt that never really go away, like wretched stepmothers, drunken relatives, or abandonment issues.) Dying people may be interested in us, but NO ONE wants to hear about our life’s ‘hemorrhoids’.
7. We do validate their feelings.
When they say they are angry because a new jerk on their HOA board is going through their neighborhood counting dandelions and sending out violation notices, “I can see why you would be upset about that.”
8. We do validate their lives.
We read their words and comment on their pictures, and we let them know we are a witness to their existence. People need to know we see them.
9. We do find sincere, positive things to say.
We notice their accomplishments. We notice their efforts. We notice the beauty of the day.
10. We do show our gratitude.
We say thank you. Because every single time they share themselves with us, it is a gift we may never experience again. And every single time, they didn’t have to do it.
Making great Twitter friends is simple, because it’s like life. What we give is all that matters, and we may never get the chance to give to this person again. So treat everyone like they are dying.
Or, as William Shatner says, “Live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna.”
I’d love to chat with you while we’re here. Please follow me on Twitter at@piperbayard and say hello. I always follow back humans. You can also find some awesome Twitter friends at the hashtag #theconnecter.
What social media tips would you like to share, and how did you learn them?
My sincere gratitude to each of you for sharing this moment in time with me.