09 March 2010

Lesson #23: Know when to talk, and when to listen.

...AKA.... the fine art of asking for help.  Although that's a narrow focus.  Let's go with communication in general.

Knock knock.  Who's there?  Interrupting cow.  Interr-- MOO!

Get it?

Yeah, that's me.  The interrupting [NOT a cow].  Thoughts come out, and jump right over the barrier and into conversation, often when it's not my turn.  Which is just rude.  And not ok, because then I miss things, either because the conversation changes, or I'm not able to listen.  So I'm working on that one.  

That's just one aspect of communication that's hard for me.  It takes me a while, to organize my thoughts and ideas.  That's why I prefer writing, though this blog, made up of first-drafts, is probably not the best example.  If I know I need to talk to someone about something, particularly if it's difficult, I go over what I want to say a few times before I say it.  Spur of the moment things?  Sometimes.  But not too often.  And let's not even get started on talking about feelings, or admitting I'm angry or unhappy.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that rocking the boat wasn't good.  This isn't a conscious thought.  I wasn't even aware of this habit until the last few months.  It's sneaky.  I realize the problem.  I decide to confront it.  I get into the ring... and then I take a pass.  Decide it's a by week.  Decide to deal with it later, because it's hard or I don't want to deal with it.

This is a problem of not knowing when to talk.  That first feeling that things aren't right should be a red flag.  More will probably come. And when they do, I've learned I need to say something, because silence isn't going to make it better -- the situation won't change, or I won't remove myself from the situation.  It's a vicious cycle to get stuck in.  When I do talk, it's fine to talk to friends, vent, use that time to sort my thoughts out... but then, in the end, I need to make sure I'm also talking to the people involved in the problem, too.

However, once I talk, there's another trap.  I have to listen.  Really listen, not just hear the words coming out of someone else's mouth.  If I ask for help, I need to be receptive to the answer.  If I ask for advice, I should be prepared to consider it.  If I bring up a problem, listening will help me figure out if the situation will be saved, compromised, or scrapped.  But without the listening part, I'm just making noise.

Communication.  I can has it.

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