Meryl's Shareable Parables
He and She: a Netflix set-up, reckoning, and communion

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He put her in charge of ordering movies from Netflix. She tried to select movies he would enjoy. He scorned her selections as they arrived. She kept trying to please him.

When the movie I Am David came in the mail, he told their son, “A movie about a boy who escapes from a concentration camp? She orders the strangest movies.” He took their son to Blockbuster to “get something good.”

She put I Am David on the shelf. She pulled it out weeks later and watched it during her morning workout.

He joined her for the last half hour. When it ended, he said, “That was moving. I’m glad we got to share that.”

She replied, “I would have invited you to join me, but when the movie came, you were so disdainful of it that I didn’t think you would want to watch it with me.”

He paused for a moment and said, “Sometimes I don’t like how I behave. I will make a point to work with you on Netflix instead of standing back as a critic when the movies come in.”

He could have found a thousand ways to blame her. He didn’t. Many people would have. Ironically, it’s the people closest to us who resist the most when we tell them how their actions affect us. People closest to us can wound us the most easily. People closest to us are inside the protective shells that keep most people out. (See Keep the bulls out of your china shop ~ how to keep your heart from becoming calloused.)

He could have found a thousand ways to shut her down again. He didn’t. He pledged to behave better in the future.

She loved him more than ever for acknowledging his behavior. She told him about other things he did that shut her down. He listened. He did not accuse her of being too sensitive. She did not accuse him of being insensitive. He told her about things she did that shut him down. She listened. She did not accuse him of being too sensitive. He did not accuse her of being insensitive. He and she felt closer than ever before.

He asked her to tell him if he put her in a lose-lose situation again. She agreed. She asked him to do the same. He agreed.

Yes, he and she both knew they would shut each other down again. He and she also knew it wouldn’t take as long to open back up when they did.

He and she became a we, a they, and an us. They updated their Netflix queue together. Their movie nights became a lot more fun than they used to be. It was a win for everyone – except for Blockbuster, of course.


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Meryl Runion and Speak Strong (SpeakStrong) provides Power Phrases (PowerPhrases) and other tools to help you improve communication skills at work and at home. You can read more about her at www.speakstrong.com.

Meryl is the author of six books on communication that have sold over a quarter million copies worldwide, including Speak Strong, PowerPhrases!, How to Use PowerPhrases, Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors, and How to Say It: Performance Reviews. You can reach her at 719-684-2633, or by email:

You can also follow Meryl on Twitter: http://twitter.com/merylrunion.