Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"How to Talk so They'll Listen"

How to Talk So They’ll Listen

When we need to confront someone about something they do or have done that hurts, it’s best to front it in with a “cushion” that softens what you want to say and that acts as a buffer for you.

Susan complained about how her mother constantly criticized her in subtle ways and, sometimes, in not so subtle ways. The mom would say, “I don’t see why you need so many pairs of shoes,” or, “Why don’t you do something with your hair?” Susan, feeling resentful toward her mother, usually reacted in a hostile way that made matters worse.

I coached her to do it this way: “Mom, I love you more than I can say and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you do for me. And, there’s something else I need to say. When you criticize me and run me down, I can’t tell you how it hurts.”

I haven’t heard from Susan how it turned out.

I had a supervisor once that reacted negatively when I brought up an issue between us, or requested something from him. One day, I said, “Sam, I am a self-starter, as you know. I work hard and am dedicated. But, once in a while, I’d like a word of thanks or a nod of appreciation.”

He lunged forward in his chair and, glaring at me. said, “Peggy, just what is it that you want from me?”

The next time I needed to confront him or ask for something, I began with this remark: “Sam, I need to bring up something, but I’m not sure that I won’t be sorry.”
It worked. He listened and we got the problem solved.

Love and blessing,

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