In my recent writing about partnerships I’ve become more attuned to the importance of acknowledgement. There is a depth in acknowledging someone, and more specifically, their feelings. This is something I wasn’t considering.
Even while actively listening, I will most likely miss the real reason and the underlying motivations they have when talking to me. It’s a very interesting experience, and it feels completely awkward. When this happens, even when I’m devoting all my attention to listening and trying to give space, the other person (usually my wife) simply doesn’t feel it. It’s awkward for them, too.
Recently I realized it’s because I was acknowledging words but not feelings. Usually by this point, it’s too late to switch gears. The logical side of me wants to blame her for this, because she’s talking about something different than what she feels! How dare she get upset with me for responding to what she says! Words represent feelings the best they can, but often times not good enough.
Then I learned to be quiet
More accurately, I’m learning to be quiet. I’m struggle to not jump to a conclusion, to spit out an answer. I struggle to just be still. If someone is talking to me, especially with heightened emotions, and I don’t know why I just need to wait. Eventually it will make sense and I’ll understand what they’re really feeling.
Often times, they will also figure out their own answer. They just needed someone to help them get there, maybe with questions and maybe just sitting next to them listening. I’m not sure which is more effective, but I have learned what isn’t effective. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
In life, showing your work matters.
If I give an answer, correct or not, it has no value. The only value is in the recipient understanding the answer and then accepting it. Sometimes the answer can help in the journey, solving the maze backwards. More often than not, I’ve found it alienates myself.
The smartest people in the room aren’t the ones with all the answers, they’re the ones with the gentle guidance that enlighten other people. In this endless pursuit to convince ourselves we’re smart, or prove that we’re smart, whatever, we make these mistakes. We show how many answers we have, and that’s not what anybody else wants, it’s giving a drowning man a glass of water.
Reminding myself, over and over again.
I love to solve problems. I love puzzles. Very few people have ever come to me seeking advice wanted me to solve a puzzle for them, yet that’s how I treated the situation. I know this now, but simply knowing isn’t enough to change. I have to remind myself and work on it, breaking the habit that I’ve built up.
The problem is that I don’t know how to be more effective. Good thing that is a puzzle, and one I can investigate and solve for myself.