A few weeks ago I wrote a piece and called it Let It Snow. My rational was simple. I kept looking at the golf course and seeing green grass. Last week we had a day where the temperature got close to 10. In my mind I was thinking golf. However, the course is closed so that is all I could do. Dream about it. So that glorious afternoon I put Christmas lights on the house. Another story for another day.
Yesterday morning I woke up to a white world. The snow had come. It was actually quite beautiful. For a fleeting moment I enjoyed the winter wonderland. However, before I finished my first cup of coffee I was already commiserating the arrival of winter. I told my wife that winter had come. I had enjoyed the winter but was now ready for spring. Then I thought back to that blog about letting it snow. I thought, did I really say that?
Came across a posting on facebook the other day. It said, “I have reached the age where my brain went from; You probably shouldn’t say that to what the heck, let’s see what happens”. That describes me to a tee. I live on the edge when it comes to communication. Then again, if you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much room. But it can and does get me into trouble.
I find myself in that dilemma far too often. I say things and then wish I could take it back. I send emails and then wish I could recall them. I have had training in assertive communication. I have done research on that topic. I have presented on effective communication. But I can’t seem to master the art. Perhaps it is like my hairdresser said the other day. I was explaining stress management techniques to her. Then I admitted that my stress manifested itself in road rage. She called me a hypocrite. I think she was smiling when she said it.
I cannot get away from my inherent passive-aggressive approach to communication. My wife blames it on my genetics. Perhaps it is, but does that give me an excuse? Me thinks not. I need to learn that harsh, angry words will do more harm than good. Think before I speak. Sometimes I wonder if I actually have the ability to do that.
The other piece involved in communication is the issue of understanding. I need to do a much better job of understanding people and what they are saying to me. Listen more, talk less. Ever notice that in the heat of the moment, in a passionate discussion you are preparing yourself for the next thing you want to say while the other party is talking? In my case I often don’t even prepare. I interrupt. I challenge. But never take the time to listen and understand what the other party is saying. I often tell mediation participants that it is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. It is, first and foremost, a matter of understanding what the other person is trying to communicate. And when we have that understanding, and understand the other, we can have a much more effective discussion on the subject at hand.
I keep going back to a favorite quote I have. “Each Person is doing the best they can do at the moment. Regardless how stupidly, inadequately, ineptly, stubbornly, and defensively the other person is behaving. They may be lacking skill or defending themselves.” Next time I get overly passionate about an issue and think the other person is not “getting” it I need to remember that. Make it a good one.