Put yourself in their shoes
Back then I used to have a desk that separated me from anyone who came into the room to see me. The HR manager told me to allow them to speak before pausing to think. During my pause I was to pretend that I was sat in their chair facing me. How would I feel? Where have these feelings come from? Why am I so upset and angry? I am a chatterbox by nature, and I found that by introducing a pause into my conversations, the person on the other side of the table would continue to talk. The more they talked, the more I paused, and I could see that they were feeling a little better, just by being able to offload their burden and believe they were being listened to.
To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation
People behave in a certain way for a particular reason. If you can learn to put yourself in their shoes you can start to examine why they are behaving the way that they are. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their point of view; on the contrary, it just means that you have an awareness of where they are coming from. This awareness allows you to create a much better response. A response based on understanding and bereft of defensive anger.
If you spend more time asking appropriate questions rather than giving answers or opinions, your listening skills will increase
Imagine a close personal friend is getting you down. Every time he or she rings you they are complaining about their life. In the end you decide that you cannot take it any longer. You feel filthy from the toxicity of it all. You tell them to stop complaining and this produces resentment, anger and possibly an argument.
This time imagine that your close personal friend is getting you down. He or she has called you and is complaining about how terrible life is. You listen and put yourself in their shoes. Why is she feeling this way? Instead of creating a build up of anger you can use your energy to direct some reflective questioning. Once you have asked a few of these questions just listen to their output, put yourself in their shoes and complete the process once more.
By acting in this way, you are more likely to help the other person get to the bottom of their problem. Hopefully, the experience will reduce negativity and increase positivity. At the very least they will go away from your conversation feeling far happier than when they started.
Do you have an example where you have put yourself in someone elses shoes and turned negativity around?
When I wrote Negative Thinking: The Price of a Can of Tuna I did so because I felt overwhelmed by toxic conversations from those people who were in my inner circle of love (my closest family and friends). When I write a blog post I try to keep it as brief as I can but I always find it difficult. So I decided to split the posts up into bite size chunks and create a Negativity series and will one day write a more extensive PDF.
I remembered how difficult it was, trying to be a manager when things were not going well, and how I kept trying to deal with negativity by pushing against it. I was very opinionated and instead I learned that I needed to be quiet and listen more intently. I still believe that people have the power to change, as I wrote in Take Responsibility For Your Life, and I am not here to just listen to people whine and complain. By putting yourself in their shoes you are trying to understand why people behave the way they do and having more empathy with it.