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.