What Do You Know? – Part 2

knowTo shut down discussion can seem to save time, but actually creates more tension. When this comes from someone more senior (whether by age or position) it can be begrudgingly allowed, but may just breed increasing hostility. The key is to talk with respectful assertiveness, so as to replace opinionated angst with a reasoned request. It is generally a good idea, in employment or team situations, to back the right to speak with plenty of hard work! Of course, many relationships with no such power difference are often much more problematic.

Even though I may be right about my presumptions about others, I can’t afford superiority or suspicion without these attitudes increasingly corrupting my overall outlook on life. Positive people focus on being positively people-focused! This means valuing others and their potential, no matter how bad things may look, because the person and not the issue is a key priority in positive resolution. Issues may be important, too, but not generally if they are really just about us saving face or regaining control.

I try to set the goal of listening, reflecting back what I have heard, and using more questions (“Can you help me to understand why I feel…? Can we discuss something I heard a person say which is troubling me …?) With written communication, I especially try to hear the heart, overlook potentially offensive words and then phone and discuss intentions and interests. This is preferable to just focusing on what seems to have been stated, but where I am careful not to dismiss details of concern.

In the end, care is demonstrated with engagement and evidence, whatever the nature of our relationships. Quick assertions or assessments will generally (and sadly) do more harm than good.

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