A few days ago, I was weeding my garden… something I do occasionally during the summer. But this summer has been different.
In the past, when I weeded our quieter yards, I heard only the birds and maybe some kids playing in the distance.
Now I hear private conversations, and sometimes painful arguments, all around me.
For a writer this should be a gold mine of information.
But for me, it isn’t.
It’s upsetting to hear how people are communicating. Or failing to communicate. Mostly because I’m reminded of my own inabilities to express myself effectively, and the hurt I feel when I’m not being understood.
A few days ago, while weeding in our noisy neighborhood, I heard a particularly difficult argument between a young man and his mother.
Eventually, the young man became so upset with his mother that he yelled over and over: “You aren’t hearing me! You aren’t listening to me!”
Of course, most of us don’t want to listen when we argue. We just want to be heard.
So it’s incredibly challenging to slow down, cool down, and try to figure out what the other person is feeling.
Especially for those of us who experience life “passionately” and react emotionally.
Let’s face it, we’re all on edge lately . . . feeling angrier at the world, and with each other, than we ever remember feeling in the past.
Maybe we could all use a few tips on how to meet each other somewhere in the middle:
From “The Art of Effective Communication” by Marzena Bielecka…
- “Clarify what you want from the other person. Be specific and use positive language. People are more likely to listen to your arguments when you say what you want them to do instead of telling them what they shouldn’t do.”
- “Feelings can be tough, but you can’t expect anyone to guess how or what you feel… Be as clear as possible in communicating your needs, expectations and feelings.”
- “People often focus so much on winning the fight and having the last word that they actually forget what they’re fighting about. Accept that being right doesn’t matter and that arguing for the sake of determining a winner will never be constructive.”
- “Every single person sees and interprets the world differently. Therefore, to communicate effectively, avoid evaluation and focus on the facts… When you evaluate things, another person can feel judged and nobody likes that.”
- “Most conflicts are provoked to attract someone’s attention. Instead of shutting the person down, ask questions and make an effort to actually understand the other person, even if you’re angry.”
- “If you don’t know yourself well, how can you expect others to guess and fulfill your needs? It’s impossible to find a constructive solution unless you understand what’s motivating your feelings and behaviors each moment… Spending quality time alone, free from distractions, will enable you to connect with yourself and make it easier for you to interact with others.”
I hear you. I’m listening to you.