Discover more from The Next New Thing (to Me)
I may have gotten it all wrong
Today, I feel like the clone who just discovered she wasn’t a human. It’s a shock to the system when you find out everything you thought about yourself was wrong. And everything I thought about myself, in this instance, is that I’m a good communicator. I’m good at listening, both passively and actively. I’m interested in what others have to say. I don’t talk about myself too much. I listen to others more than I talk.
Lies, all lies.
When my daughter didn’t respond to something I said to her the other day, I asked her why she stopped talking and didn’t have anything to contribute to what I told her. She said that this was an instance when she was talking, and I shared a similar story about my own life, and she felt like I was changing the subject. She added, “You do that a lot.”
I never knew that.
I thought that was a part of being involved in her story; that it was a part of good communication, a healthy dose of witty reparte. But, since I’m as thirsty for correction as an officer walking the walls of the state pen, I decided to take a week and observe my own communication style like a scientist would. I would observe my subject (me) and draw conclusions without bias.
So, it went like this:
Listen, listen, listen.
Think: “Oh my goodness, that same thing happened to me!”
Analyze the data: This is where I would ordinarily chime in with a really interesting story, that may or may not be better than theirs.
Realize: This isn’t the time for sharing.
Response: Go on listening.
After having run this experiment in several different conversations with several different people, I must report that there is strong evidence that when I am excited about a story someone is telling it is often because I can relate. And, in relating, I want to share my similar/better experience as a point of connection, but that often ends the conversations right there. By contrast, when I keep my story for another time, the conversation continues as regularly scheduled.
Further review of the data, suggests that there is a possibility that telling my story may have made them feel like I was more interested in my story than in theirs.
What a shock to the system! Have I been derailing conversations my entire life all the while thinking I was an elocutionist extraordinaire?
This is so new to me!
I have really tried to be conscious about loving people, about hearing them, being present for them, not needing to steal the conversation from them, but it turns out that even in that attempt, I may have hijacked the conversation and made people wish they were on a different flight.
Therefore, I must apologize:
If I have interrupted you, or changed the subject to myself in past conversations, I am sorry. I will work on reading the room better the next time. I know there are good back-and-forths where we can swap stories, but I also now know that doesn’t fit every scenario.
So, my next new thing is to do my best to make my conversations less about me when you are sharing you.
I am a fan of love, and the opposite of love is selfishness. I cannot love you while I’m being selfish, it just isn’t possible. So, the new filter for my mouth is, “Is this going to feel selfish to the other person?” If so, then I’ll save that story for another day.
You may be thinking, “You’re being too hard on yourself Hayley.” And, who knows, maybe you may be right. But the goal of my life is growth, not keeping the status quo (which my husband says doesn’t really exist. “You are either moving forward or backward. There is no real status quo,” and I kinda believe him.) So, I don’t want to be comfortable with the status quo, if it means going backward or staying the same, especially when it comes to how well I love. I want to always be moving forward in the realm of love.
I don’t know about you, but I find that the more I get used to a behavior, the more it becomes an auto-pilot setting for me. And the older I get, the more auto-pilots I’ve collected. Auto-pilot, the captain of the of status quo, is not helping me get to the next new thing. So, the next new thing (to me) is to practice making loving others, not myself, the number one goal of every conversation. That means not making it all about me, but also not hiding myself from you. I will listen with love. Respond with love. And tell you about myself (at the proper time) with love. I say that like it’s a done deal. Of course, it’s not! A lifetime of communication is hard to change in one day, but I know that if it’s impossible for me it’s possible for God. I just need to be moving in the same direction as him to get closer to true love.
Do you ever wonder what people think about your communication chops? Have you asked them? If not, are you prepared to hear something that might be news to you?
Do you find yourself talking most of the time, none of the time? How is your back and forth game? And have you ever tried to change your style? I wanna know how hard it will be. Talk to me!