Has it ever happened to you to get angry at someone about something they said, only to realize later that what you have heard was not what they were trying to say?
Sometimes we don’t always perceive things the right way. Think of it this way. Someone asks you a question; while you are listening to them you are thinking of something that happened to you at work that might have put you in a bad mood. Without paying attention, you respond defensively because you perceived a negative tone in the person’s voice. Was that an accurate observation on your part?
Are you seeing the story for what it truly is or are you seeing it through a distorted veil in front of you? Is it changing your understanding of the situation?
As I was growing up my mom taught me, by example, to get on the same page. During some of our conversations, I would sometimes feel personally attacked or treated unfairly and reacted to what she said. She wouldn’t automatically jump to conclusion, but instead took the time to listen as to why I was reacting and made sure we both perceive and understood what message was trying to be conveyed.
This always permitted us to get clear on the message and helped us find a solution so that this same situation wouldn’t happen again in the future. It allowed us to get on the same page!
You can do this too, here’s how:
1. If you feel getting on the defensive based on what someone said, take a step back and figure out why that is. Take a breath and observe your reaction.
2. Assess what exactly is bothering you. Why am I reacting? Put into clear words what making you mad and defensive. It’s one thing to notice something bothering you; it’s another to understand what exactly that thing is.
I’ve noticed that when I sometime get impatient with something my partner says; most times it’s because it reminds me of an event from my past that I didn’t particularly enjoy back in the day. It had nothing to do with him and what he was asking in the moment. Be aware of this for yourself.
3. Once you are clear on what’s bothering you and you’ve calmed down. It’s time to get on the same page.
Take a breath, go sit with this person and tell them what is on your mind. Be kind, be clear and DO NOT blame. The blame game will only get them on the defensive. Express your feelings as you perceive them. Example: ‘When you said this… Quote it as it was said. I perceived it to mean this…’ Express how YOU felt when you perceived what was said. Then give them the space to express their thoughts behind their statement.
Is it what you perceived? Was it a valid thought? Did you have the right reaction?
I.e.: ‘When you told me to clean up after myself, it brought me back to my childhood. I perceived it as if I was a child being told what to do and it made me feel like I am seen as a slob and I can’t pick up after myself. I didn’t appreciate feeling this way.’
Give them the space to express themselves and come to a solution together. Most likely it won’t have anything to do with you. Now that you understand where they are coming from, you are officially on the same page. It will help with future discussions and reduce disagreement on similar conversations.
Remember being on the same page is key to any successful relationship, whether it’d be family, friends, or co-workers. Assess why something is bothering you. Take a breath. Express how it makes you feel. Give them the space to give their side of the story. Come to an understanding.
If you feel there might be things holding you back due to past memories preventing you to express yourself clearly, we can help. Contact us at 613-746-9113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
Annie and Carmen