Sunday, 23 January 2011

Translating the Conversation

One of the biggest problems we humans face in life are misunderstandings.  We've all been victims of them and all been equally puzzled when things go wrong and chaos ensues.

We sit at home feeling wounded running through the conversation or situation again and again in our minds trying desperately to work out what went wrong, only to end up frustrated and with a headache.

In my experience of working with people I have realised something, and that is that people often translate conversations in their minds, decide what other people really mean when they say something, and convince themselves that whatever they really want to happen, will.

This is because we all have our own agendas and own desires, which brings me to the second part of this problem: knowing what you really want.  Sadly, few people know what they really want out of life and if you don't believe me ask yourself how many people you know who are as blissfully and completely happy as possible in all areas of their lives.  I'll guarantee you that you can think of very few.

You may know people happy in their work - but how many?  You may know people happy in their relationship - but again how many?  How many people do you know who are really, deep down, happy with their lot and how many do you know that are living a compromise?

Add to this that although we all think we listen to others, those best at the job have done years of training in learning to listen.  This is because you need to learn to listen beneath the words and hear what the person is really saying.  You do this by listening to their speech patterns, noticing what they talk about, and most importantly of all - watching their actions and noting the results.  

We live lives of pretence, pretending that we are doing something, pretending we're working hard to bring about changes, pretending we want something when deep down inside we're screaming to escape.

We also care about the people around us so when they ask something of us we will say yes even when we mean no - again running a second conversation through our minds working out how we can get out of whatever it is as quickly as possible.

Thus it doesn't matter how clear we are when we talk, we're actually not talking about quite the same subject in quite the same way, and we're amazed when the wheels come off.

So the message is, listen to your own thoughts when you speak words, and listen to what the person in front of you is actually saying.  Be aware when you're thoughts are running contrary to what your mouth is agreeing to.

Also understand that your agenda needs to be spoken clearly out loud otherwise you cannot expect the other person to understand you and what you want.  A favourite Deb-ism of mine is - what isn't said isn't heard and you can't blame other people for their ignorance if you haven't spoken.

When dealing with someone else watch them carefully and if you're not certain you're on the same page flag that up and reinforce your side of the conversation as clearly as possible.

If you're not sure ask questions, and if it's in any way important (especially financially and emotionally)  confirm the conversation in writing so that you both have it to go back to. 

Just be aware though that every time you get into a muddle it won't be entirely the other person's fault because you were there too.

Wishing you happy days and peaceful nights


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