I don’t like to listen to someone complain. Do you?
I don’t enjoy hearing someone obsess over something that should not have happened to them. Do you?
I don’t want to spend my time with someone who is criticizing, judging, or pontificating. Do you?
We have better things to do with our lives.
Then, why is it so difficult for us to remember not to subject our listeners to our own monotonous monologues?
Making sure to “zap” instead of “sap” people of energy is a good way to jog our memory.
“What could I have done differently?”
The first time I used this phrase was in a case where I felt my partner had not listened to me. When I asked, “Can we talk about what just happened? What could I have done differently to have gotten your full attention?” he relaxed, said he was sorry, and gave me a suggestion that I still use…with unprecedented success!
The phrase removes accusatory language and doesn’t put people on the defensive, thus increasing our chances of staying in dialog and experiencing the thrill of cooperation.
I wish it were not the case, but most of us have multiple opportunities to work through relationship dysfunctions. This phrase is a useful tool.
(Dr. Dean C. Delis has a similar discussion about “No-Fault Communication” in his book, The Passion Paradox.)
Some of us pat ourselves on the back because we avoid difficult people. Some invest time and effort to understand why others may perceive us as being difficult.
Some of us congratulate ourselves for not saying what we really wanted to say to someone. Others learn to say what we want to say in a manner that is non-threatening.
Some of us burn bridges. Others perform regular maintenance on bridges so they may be crossed when necessary.
I often tell new leaders that this one skill will set them apart from all their competitors, but that it doesn’t come naturally. What we instinctively do often makes matters worse.
Learning to speak calmly and assertively when we would rather fight or flee pays off royally in every area of our lives.
I never thought about what a diva Goldilocks was until my friend Rachel (who is difficult to please) mentioned that her husband called her “Goldilocks.”
After listening to Rachel talk about the temperature of her tea (for what seemed like forever), I said, “I guess it’s okay to be particular, as long as you don’t bore the rest of us by blabbering about it.”
I hope she is still my friend.
But, the whole episode got me thinking about how many of us tend to bore others by talking about random things we don’t like, or want more or less of, or can’t handle, or wish were different.
Anyway, if I am discontent about something, I think I’ll consider if it really matters to anyone else before I blab about it.
I say, “I know” too often, especially when people give me advice.
I may “know,” yet the need to voice “I know” says volumes about what I don’t know about listening.
So, I will practice replacing “I know” with “You’re right.” or “Thank you.”
This is a small adjustment for a big change in my willingness to really hear what others are saying to me.
It also changes how I make others feel.
Encountering the wall of “I already know that.” or, cracking the shell of self-deception is not an easy job.
(inspired by July 2013 post)