Are you ‘Deliberate, Cerebral and Calm’?

If you answered yes to this question,  then lucky you.  Congratulations. 

If not, then you might just be one of those people whose emotions run closer to the surface. 

I used to believe that we were stuck with our demeanor.  This is just the way I am wired.  It typically goes something like this:

Shit happens = I freak out

Turns out there are actually some useful tools that we can use to manage our choice on how to respond.   Interest thing, the word respond.   I chose this word on purpose.  Responding is different than reacting.  These are two different things.

When we listen to others, something fascinating happens inside of our brains.   We are using multiple senses.  It is not just what is being said, it is how it is being said.   Eye contact, voice tone, body language.  Your brain is using everything at its disposal to discern meaning.   At this point,  it is easy to fall into the trap of making a judgement about the other person’s intention.  

But guess what.  Our assumptions are largely based on the story going through our head while the other person is talking.   We can process more words per second than what is being communiated.  We fill that space in our head with the wrong thing.  We hear our assumptions.  They tell us that we understand their intention. 

A better model is to fill that space with interpretation and evaluation before you respond.   As you are listening, check for understanding.  Words mean different things to different people.  Ask questions.  Encourage the other person to keep talking.   Take the time to evaluate what you are hearing.  How credible is it? What is the evidence? Is this a fact, an opinion, a prediction?  Take time to discern.   Then respond.   Respond with what you say and what you show.  Lead your emotions- don’t let them lead you.  And most importantly, before you open your mouth, ask yourself , “is what I am about to say of value?”

I want to thank my friend Dr. Rick Bommelje for reminding me of the power we have within ourselves to be better listeners.  I may never be described as a deliberate, cerebral and calm, but I can certainly work toward becoming a more mindful, thoughtful person through how I choose to respond.




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3 responses to “Are you ‘Deliberate, Cerebral and Calm’?

  1. Ann Fitch

    Melissa; I just love reading your posts – you are so articulate! And, best of all – you make me laugh!

    Hope all is well with you and your family on your new adventure. As I recall, you were instrumental in easing us into our new adventure about 13 years ago when my husband, Jeff, first started at Sharewave. Our daughter is now nine, so, I particularly like reading about your experiences as you raise your daughter; it’s always nice to have someone out in front. It helps to know what to expect.

    Ann Fitch

  2. Let me share a perfect example of listening to the “other” and attempting to discern their meaning. Today I called my friend on the telephone to ask for her mailing address. For some reason, it was not listed in our community directory. Because she did not answer the telephone, I left a message, explaining that I was calling to obtain her mailing address in order to send her an invitation to a party that we are having.

    As I was finishing my message, a man picked up the telephone and began yelling into the telephone. Here is what he said: “What are you people up to anyway? This is the second time you’ve called my house today. And I have your telephone number now. I think you’re “Casing the joint.” I’m calling the police. That’s what I’m going to do.”

    I tried to calm the person on the other end of the line. I explained that I was calling a friend for her address. I verified the number that I had called. I further explained that perhaps my husband had called the same number earlier, since we were working together to put together our mailing list. I apologized for calling the wrong number.

    The person on the other end of the line continued to rant and rave. “I’m calling the police. Now I have your number, and I can turn you in. I know you’re up to no good.”

    So the question is: Did I respond? Or did I react? I think I responded. The only one freaking out in this scenario was the lunatic on the other end of the line.

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