Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Listening Says a Lot

For years, I tried to hide my flaws. Then I realized I was doing myself, and others, a horrible disservice by pretending. I was setting false expectations, which would eventually lead to others thinking I had either been deceitful, or had been replaced with a pod person. So, now, I have a (basically) full-disclosure policy. Here are a few things people should know about me.

  • I make a lot of mistakes
  • I'm clumsy and not graceful at all
  • My edit chip does not always work; and even if it does, my face usually gives me away
  • If you don't want the truth, I'm the wrong person to ask
  • I'm smart, but sometimes lack common sense
  • I'm open-minded, but firm in my convictions (I'll listen to any point of view. If I feel strongly about something, you could convince me otherwise, but it won't be easy.)

I'm open to advice from people who I respect - but I'll be honest, this is a pretty short list. One thing I dislike is being told how to feel, or why my feelings are wrong. For example, I once went on a first date with someone who immediately felt the need to criticize the fact that I am a Yankee fan - but not an A-Rod fan. He dismissed my reasons, and spent the entire date trying to convince me why I should feel otherwise.   

Conversations like this made me feel like the other person didn't think my thoughts or feelings were valid. It also seemed as though they felt if I just listened to their wisdom, I would see the error in my ways. It felt disrespectful and judgmental. Which, honestly, caused me to shut down - or worse, get defensive.  

What you see depends
on how you look.
It's funny how time, and a few life changes, can affect your point of view. I'm no longer sure that people mean anything when they behave this way. In fact, I wonder if some people even realize what they're doing? It might be coming from a genuine place; they may actually be trying to help, and not trying to disrespect me at all. 

Why the change? I'm more open to people. I spend more time focused on what others think and say, and less time worrying about how it makes me feel. I'm also more secure in who I am and what I have to say - which has made me less concerned with what others think about me. [Although, I still care what those respected few think, and I'm okay with that.]

Something else I've noticed? The way I communicate is different. People listen to me more, and open up to me more as well. Is it possible, before I noted how I was being treated, that I might have been guilty of it myself? They say that traits you dislike in others are often traits you possess, but do not notice, in yourself. If that's the case, then it turns out learning to listen has made me a better communicator all the way around. Who knew?

But please note: I still don't like to be disrespected - and I think my ability to detect disrespect has also improved. Also, I won't ever like A-Rod. If you don't believe me, you could ask that guy from my date. If you see him, tell him I said hi.  

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