Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly." --Plutarch

I have been reading a book. It's called Enough Already! Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You, by Peter Walsh, and so far I'm enjoying it quite a bit. What I know about Peter Walsh is that he helps people get rid of clutter in their homes and in their lives, leaving them free to move on from the past and have healthy relationships in the future. This book is about clearing mental clutter, and one of the first areas he addresses is communication. Relationships with family, friends, significant others, coworkers, bosses, teachers, sales clerks, and random strangers all thrive or fail depending on our ability to communicate. It's essential to life, and an important skill to develop. With that in mind, here are a few points from the book.
  • You know how sometimes when you're arguing with someone, you start thinking about the next thing you're going to say before they're finished talking? Walsh calls that overtalking. Don't do it. It's incredibly rude to cut someone off and start talking over them; if you start planning out your next response in your head, you're effectively doing the same thing.

  • Examine your priorities--do you care more about winning the argument or finding a resolution to it? Is it more important that you get your way, or that you come to a solution that you can both agree with? Letting go of the need to win can be difficult, but you know what else is difficult? Fighting all the time.

  • Learn to listen--without multitasking. Do you have your phone out while your partner (or whoever) is talking to you? Are you watching the TV behind them, flipping through a magazine, or playing a video game? If you are, stop. If someone wants to talk to you, put whatever you're doing down and focus on them. Make eye contact. Pay attention and you already set groundwork for a smoother conversation.

  • Don't make every conversation a negotiation. If your spouse has a complaint, don't immediately counter with your own comparable one. This conversation is about him, not you--listen to what he has to say, and address his concern.

  • Don't give pop quizzes. You hated them in school, and they're just as lame in a relationship. If you set your husband up to fail, he will fail. Don't passively hope for something and then be upset when you don't get it, especially if you know it's an area that isn't a strong point for him.
I think the basic principle of all these points is respect. Approach every conversation with respect for the other person, and speak to everyone the way you would like to be spoken to. If you try out some of these tips I think you'll find a lot of improvement in your relationships with people.

1 comment:

Lis said...

I like the points you picked from the book. A lot of times we just assume we are right and don't think about the other person's point of view. Sometimes though, even if you don't adopt their opinion, you can learn from it if you just open up and listen.