Why so much shouting? Isn’t it the season of good cheer?

Communicate to understand, not to respond

I don’t know about you, but it seems like there is a lot of shouting happening at the moment. People are trying to be heard, to get their point of view across.  And it’s a shame, because often the shouting, the posturing and the carry on actually dilutes their message, or makes it more difficult to properly understand.

Communication can be a tricky thing at the best of times, even more so when the issue is an emotive one, or the stakes are (perceived to be) high.  Add the emotion around Christmas and the silly season, too many glasses of bubbles, and situations often get out of hand pretty quickly. People say things they don’t mean or that they do mean but probably would have preferred to have said in a different way in the cold light of day.

So, some suggestions for making it through the silly season in one piece:

  • Seek first to understand. Listen to what people have to say. Truly listen.
  • Don’t react, particularly if you’ve had one glass of bubbles too many. Respond thoughtfully if you can. And if you can’t, either say nothing or say you’ll come back to them the next day (or later).
  • Remember, that just as we can have passionately held views that make absolute sense to us (why can’t they see that they’re just wrong!!); other people can also have similarly passionately held (and possibly opposite) views to you.  Seeking to truly understand their perspective, not just persuade them to your point of view, will never be a waste of time.
  • And if you really can’t agree — end the conversation (or change it) with a statement like “I can see we have differing views on this topic. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspectives with me. Now, can I” .. insert diversionary topic/activity of some description, such as getting a drink or some food, introducing them to another person, or just making your apologies to visit the bathroom etc.
  • If nothing else works, remember this is meant to be season of good will, so wish the person well and move on.

Words can be a thing of beauty. They can illustrate a point, tell a story, captivate, inspire and compel.

But they can also be used as a weapon. As a way to hurt or humiliate.

You choose your words. You choose their intent. You also choose how to react or respond to another person’s words. And at the end of the day (night), it it all goes horribly wrong, you can also choose to say sorry for your part in it, and move on.

Until next week, happy leading.

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