Communicating Effectively with Others
Ever heard the expression, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? What this really means is that if we want others to hear us out, we cannot start the conversation on an offensive or aggressive note. No one wants to go into a situation already feeling like they will have to defend themselves. Instead, they want to know that they will be heard and valued and that how they feel will be respected, not dismissed.
Why would anyone want to come to the table when they know they will be patronized? We cannot be so arrogant as to expect others to actually comply with such an invitation. And so, if we want to genuinely salvage a relationship we must come at it with a willingness to listen, learn, and take at least some of the responsibility. Otherwise it just becomes a call to battle where no one really wins.
Nobody likes to hear that they might have done something inappropriate or offensive. But maintaining an air of ignorance will not solve the problem either. Instead, it will just create more distance. Consequently, if a relationship is worth saving we must be willing to reflect on our own role or else we will isolate ourselves from everyone we care about even further; and that’s a really lonely way to live.
The truth is, no one wants to be talked at. When we approach a conflict we must try to come into it with understanding, not confrontation. We might not agree, but to dismiss how another is feeling or to completely reject the way that they perceive events is a sure way to end the conversation fast. If we want others to hear us we must also be willing to listen, for this is what opens up the dialogue. Everyone thinks that they are right, but in order to come to some sort of resolution we each must at least consider that we might have room for improvement. The truth of the matter is, peace can never be achieved without compromise or an empathetic ear.
And so, if we want to bridge and mend fences we must be open to learning from our mistakes, or at least acknowledge that it is possible that we have made some. Otherwise we will be wasting everyone’s time and energy with empty ego arguments. The ego never likes to admit that it is wrong; it is just way too painful and embarrassing. But if we never bend, how will we ever learn, not to mention connect with other people? Being wrong, or even flexible, need not be something to fear. In fact, it shows a great deal of spiritual maturity when we can admit to the possibility that we might have something to learn.
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