Most of us would probably love people to say this about us. But, how do we get that label?
Definitely not by trying to sound smart.
Definitely by not trying to be cool or look beautiful.
Recently, I had a meeting I wasn’t looking forward to. I felt like I didn’t have anything to offer this person and that we didn’t have much in common. In my preparation for the meeting, though, I dropped every assumption, plan, and expectation and just concentrated on being available; loving the person and the evening.
The time turned into a beautiful conversation and connection, and, that person, later, complimented my beautiful mind. What?
Must be that the “beautiful mind” person is just the one that sees and hears the other person as beautiful.
That’s much easier than trying to be beautiful.
A disgruntled employee told me she could write a book about the dysfunctional communication in her company. After finally accepting some of the responsibility for the dysfunction, she is now sending me copies of praise emails she is sending and receiving from her team. The latest ended with this exclamation:
“…tears of joy! How can you not feel positive when you’re making other people feel good?! Thanks for having such a positive impact on my life – work and personal.”
There is only one big obstacle (ourselves)
Separating us from this joy (ourselves)
But, when scaled
Leaves us with more
Than we ever
Dared to dream
The fast train to better, sweeter, and richer communication…
No one is listening when we…
But, we keep doing it, with irrational hope, ignorance, or annoying arrogance.
Suggested alternatives (only if we want to be heard):
- Ask more questions.
- Mirror emotions.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Drop our agenda and just be present.
Why do we get so much enjoyment out of telling people how busy we are, how hard we work, how little sleep we got, how people disappointed us, or what went wrong at the restaurant or auto shop?
I understand the need to vent or get sympathy from others, yet this type of complaining often becomes our conversation MO.
Is it because we don’t have anything else to talk about?
Do we think this gives us some type of status in the brotherhood/sisterhood 0f whiners?
Is it because we think other people don’t have enough frustrations of their own?
Whatever the reason, complaining only adds more unrest, emptiness, and static to our already crowded lives.
When we decide to bring “music” instead of noise to the world, our conversations might sound more like this…
“I was thinking about you today and how glad I am that you are in my life.”
“Tell me the highlight of your day.”
“Have I told you lately how proud of you I am?”
Want a better payoff?
If we want someone to hear our side of the story, we can’t start with it. We must start with their side of the story, so they know we get it.
If someone communicates to me in this manner, I find no need to defend myself (because they are defending me) and I can listen to the other side of the story with ease.
For example, if someone felt as if we had disrespected them when, we feel they misunderstood us and were overreacting, the following would get us the best result…
- I understand that you felt disrespected.
- I never want you to feel disrespected.
- I am so sorry that you had to go through that experience.
- (Then (and only then), the other side of the story)
If, instead, we merely say, “I understand,” be prepared for the other person to roll their eyes.
Our health, relationships, jobs, and special concerns have a (significant and scientifically-proven) statistical advantage of survival if…wait for it…we learn to state our opinions on emotionally-charged issues honestly and respectfully.
Most of us don’t, and skillfully blame the other party for our failure, i.e., “They don’t listen to me,” “They think they are always right,” “I tried,” “It doesn’t do any good,” etc. When the actual truth is: our approach fails to provide a safe place for the exchange of real information.
Getting better results is easier than we think. We just have to be humble enough to learn, prepare, and practice new skills.
If, instead, we choose to do what we have always done, we must accept the consequences…
- The costly games we play sabotage our jobs, relationships, and plans.
- Relationship stress and frustration break down our immune systems.
- 75% of all violent crimes are committed against family members, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.
“I thought complaining made me appear sensitive, insightful, and intelligent.” I actually read this confession in a Carlos Castaneda book. But, unfortunately, he is not the only one who has held this erroneous belief. From reading Facebook and blog posts, it seems most people believe it, or else they don’t care if others know how petty and immature they are.
Sub-consciously, I must have believed complaining sounded smart too, because I certainly never missed an opportunity to populate the airspace with my static. It took massive energy to learn to check my negativity at the door and keep conversations productive, but what a difference it made…for those who had to listen to me.
I’m tired of hearing myself drone on about the same ole things. I’m tired of chiming in when complainers start complaining. I’m tired of wasting the airspace with words that fall lifeless to the floor. I’m tired of sucking the energy out of conversations by being ho-hum, critical, or negative.
I was born for more than this. I was born to uplift, to rise above my circumstances, to give hope, and to electrify instead of fizzle.
What a day this can be!
We can be so naively unaware how our words can be mind-numbing to those who live around us. We often use worn out phrases and clichés without even thinking about it. For example:
To be honest with you… (really? what were we being before?)
I can’t believe this… (because we prefer to live in denial?)
If you will… (what the heck does that mean? if I will what?)
Nobody’s perfect… (like we need to be reminded?)
I don’t have time for this… (and we are going to save time by complaining?)
So boring. So predicable. So ho hum.
If we listen to ourselves, we might find we are just parroting other people, trying to sound cool, or just filling up the airspace. We might find that we are talking from a small place instead of a large place; stealing energy instead of giving it.
What if we all made a commitment (for at least 24 hrs) to only say the most meaningful words?
I thought I was communicating. Everyone else thought I was just talking.
You thought you were confident. They thought you were arrogant.
I thought I was being flexible. He thought I was indecisive.
You thought it was humility. She thought you were weak.
I thought I was showing self-respect. They thought it was annoying self-pity.
He thought it was candor. You thought it was painful criticism.
She thought it was cooperation. He saw it as compromise.
She thought she was helping. You thought she was interfering.
You thought it was love. She thought it was co-dependency.
By failing to define the fine line between these character traits, we invariably put our relationships, career, happiness, and productivity at risk.
Only the wise
the other side.