Bids and Volleys and How The Sport Can Save Your Relationships
April 28, 2021

Bids and Volleys and how the support can save your relationships

During one of our recent book club lives in our Facebook group, we talked about the communication technique of bids and volleys we learned from reading The Second Mountain by David Brooks.  It’s something that immediately grabbed our interest and we have been intently practicing the “sport” since.


The person that you married needs to be someone that you can talk to for the rest of life.  

What we learned is how critical communication is with everyone, but even more so with your partner or spouse. Shutting down is not an option and studies actually show that the quality, not quantity of your communication dictates the quality of your relationship. 

As quoted by David Brooks, author of The Second Mountain, “Words are the fuel of marriage. Everything else is transitory. Most of the time you’re together will be devoted to conversation.”

Onto bids and volleys….

A few weeks ago, Jody was trying to talk to me, but I was deep into some other things, and not really paying attention.  I was sitting at the kitchen counter, enjoying my daily oatmeal while deeply engrossed in reading the paper on my iPad. Jody was standing nearby at the sink, looking out the window when she suddenly saw not one, but SIX Cardinals in the tree outside. (Cardinals are a thing for us.)

Jody bids, “Mark you have to come look!  There are six Cardinals in the driveway… in the same tree!” She immediately expected me to drop everything in that moment to come look, because she thought to herself, how often do you get to see this??

A bid simply means that Jody is starting a conversation. She’s moving towards her partner, and I now have a chance to engage.  I can reply with a volley and say something responsive, like “Oh my God, let me get up and come look at the birds with you!” (what she was hoping for) OR (and we can all see where this is headed!)  I could miss the opportunity to volley by saying something like “I’m reading the paper.” 

I’ll let you guess what I did.

I overlooked her bid and missed the opportunity to volley back.  

Jody was thinking that the birds aren’t going to be there forever. It’s a once in a lifetime moment. You’ve got about eight more seconds and those little suckers are going to fly away, and it’s beautiful.  She was excited and wanted to share it with her partner.  And I am there unaware, in the middle of this great article.  

We’ve all been there.

What can be important in any game or communication strategy, is that you are aware of what the other person is doing.  You wouldn’t kick a ball over to the person with their back turned and expect them to receive it, and the same goes with a conversation.  With that said, it is equally important to be mindful of when someone (your teammate) is trying to get your attention to start a conversation and that you are willing to accept the bid and volley back. 

There are two types of people in the world with volleys and bids. 

The master

A master partner is one that looks for the good things in the other person to congratulate them, to thank them and be nice to them. That’s a master of bids and volleys.

The disaster

They are on the look out…surveillance all the time for the things that their spouse or partner are doing wrong or different, or not living up to what their expectations are.  They either point it out or dismiss confrontation with them all together. Total disaster.

Do you identify with one of these?

Bids and volleys are a healthy tool for us to reflect upon because it puts on the forefront this more loving, caring way to interact with each other.  We are intent on being more mindful of the smaller touch points in our communication, which overall helps our relationship.  How can you start to work on this in your own relationships?  When your wife, husband or partner reaches out with a forward conversation, a positive conversation, think about what the best way to respond is and try to move towards them. 

Pay close attention to the bids, to the volleys. 

Those little moments make up a great part of your relationship.