The Recovering Farmer

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Talking So Others Listen

My focus of late seems to have been communication. How to listen. Conflict management. I have mentioned “talking” as well. But perhaps we need to take a closer look at that. Not talking is not an option. Although I sometimes try that when I am upset and find out that as much as I want to punish the other person or at least make my point the lack of talking is not effective. All it does is make matters worse and for all intents and purposes makes me feel miserable and leads to resentment. Carrie Fisher said; “resentment is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die”.

Have you ever said something to someone with the best of intentions and found out the other person is quite upset with what was said? I suspect that happens far too often. Why is that? It boils down to a few simple, yet complicated, issues. First of all each person views the world through a different lens. These lenses are influenced by cultural differences, personalities, social contexts, and upbringing to name a few. What also plays a pivotal role in interpretation is “how” we are. As the saying goes; “we don’t see things as they are we see them as we are”.

Let me introduce you to a conflict management model called Intent-Action-Effect. We do or say things with a certain intention based on our world view. That action can have varying degrees of effect on the receiving end of the action or spoken words based on the recipient’s world view. And that is where the conflict can begin. As that conflict escalates participants have a tendency to withdraw or fight back rather than to seek understanding.

This is where it becomes important to shift from judgement to curiosity. Becoming curious is not easy when high emotions are involved. It takes discipline. It takes a real effort. It becomes imperative to have an open and forthright conversation. Through naming the action and discovering what the intent was provides the opportunity to understand. To describe the effect provides understanding as well. I know that many of the situations I am involved with might not have been a situation at all had these principles been followed.

That then requires listening, as I mentioned last time, but also requires the ability to speak clearly and effectively. The ability to speak so others listen is also an art. Think before you speak. Then speak clearly and concisely. Be assertive. Express your perspective and thoughts. Acknowledge your feelings and emotions. And reveal your interests. Remember. People close up if they feel blamed, dominated, manipulated or dismissed.

Our words can have a profound effect on the listener. All too often it can be a negative effect. That will happen. But if we show curiosity to better understand, something negative can become a positive. With enough practice this can become a natural. Soon you will notice that people open up when they have freedom and choice, feel acceptance and openness, and they are respected and acknowledged. Let’s change our world with one conversation at a time. Make it a good one.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya Angelou

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