What’s on your mind?
How often do you “bite your tongue” or “hold your peace”, hoping to keep everybody happy?
Do you ever walk away from a situation, wishing you had said more?
Do “just the right words” usually come to you 5 minutes after the conversation has ended?
The problem with all this is it doesn’t really keep anybody happy. Sure, it might have prevented a disagreement, but who says that would have needed to turn into a row? And how do you feel, when you walk away, knowing you didn’t get to make your point? Usually it leads at least to frustration. If it happens on a regular basis, it can lead to resentment, anger and even self-worth issues.
But what can you do about it?
Sometimes we don’t get to say what we want to because the other person is hogging the conversation. Sometimes it’s because we don’t feel we can say what’s true for us.
The Native American Indians use a specially selected and decorated stick, sometimes called a “talking stick”. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk and it is passed round to all who want to have their say. This creates an environment where everyone gets to be heard, rather than spoken over.
Whilst this might not always be practical in the office or at the pub, there’s something you can do to make an immediate difference to the situation.
If you know you’ve got something to say, rather than hovering on the edge of your seat, poised to have your say, sit back and choose to consciously listen to the other person. Don’t fight for an opportunity to speak.
The reason most people try to hog a discussion is becase they feel they’re not really being heard.
Chances are you’ll realise you’re actually in agreement with the other person, deep down. Even if you’re not, having really heard their opinion, you’ll be better placed to come up with your own views.
Then you can walk away from the discussion, knowing you honoured both sides of the conversation and having done your best to be understood. That’s much more likely to give you a sense of inner peace than not speaking up.
Even if it’s a difficult topic, it’s hard to imagine a situation where pretending you’re ok with something if you’re not.
The knack to speaking out successfully is to do so with compassion and understanding for the other person’s position, rather than trying to score points.
What are your top tips on this one? How have you experienced it? We’d love to hear from you – how about sharing via the comments box?