My Thoughts About Interaction With A Goal of Collaboration
In London, "mind the gap" is advice for riders of the London Underground or their subway, also know as "the tubes", to pay attention to the the space between the train platform and the train car in the station so as to avoid injury.
"Mind the gap" could take another meaning when interacting with others; to be mindful of the "space" between individuals--especially the space within which we exchange our thoughts. By "minding the gap" in a conversation, we can decrease our emotional expense--the emotional energy we spend when interacting with others.
What follows is a collection of my thoughts about interacting with others that I've uncovered over the years.
The Fact Factory
"Let me tell you exactly who and what I am..."
When it comes to engaging with others, it's more effective to leave room for flexibility. Rather than promoting a list of absolute and unyielding facts, take the opportunity to interact with others by asking questions that allow their answers to show their perspectives. This could create paths for negotiation or collaboration. You don't need to respond to every statement that is made; instead, provide a way for the conversation to continue.
The True or False Test
"You're wrong about that..."
It's important to be mindful of the tone you take when engaging with others during a discussion. True-or-false questions can be seen as cold and inflexible, and may make others feel unwelcome to share their perspective. Take a moment to consider your intentions and the message you are sending before responding.
The Framing Shop
"I've told you the same thing a million times..."
Don't be afraid to shake things up and diversify your approach. Using the same framing for every situation can seem uninteresting and predictable. Mixing it up and framing responses to different scenarios with different perspectives can lead people to anticipate your reactions, even to the point of avoiding conversation with you.
For instance, when it comes to birthdays, try to think of a unique way to celebrate. While traditional family gatherings can be a lot of fun, perhaps a small, more exclusive couples event could give others a newfound appreciation for the event. Embracing change is key to developing a distinct personality.
Packaging Sells The Product
Framing and packaging are key components in delivering a strong message. When relaying your point, it is important to keep it concise and to the point. To avoid detracting from your message, it is best to avoid over-exaggeration and unnecessary drama. By keeping it short and to the point, your audience will receive your point quickly and effectively.
Rather than trying to correct, instruct, or manage the conversation, focus on learning first. As Stephen Covey so aptly stated, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood". Before reacting to statements from others, take the time to ask for clarification and compose your thoughts. This will ensure that the conversation remains on track and you can properly articulate your thoughts and opinions.
An essay is an extended and introspective collection of thoughts. In your response to a question from someone, was an essay requested? Do you enjoy having others present their essay to you...endlessly? Interact; Give others a chance to express themselves, to share their thoughts or even to change the topic. Until it's clearly your turn to speak, interrupt as little as possible and then only to seek clarification. Also, not every statement from others needs a response or, especially, to be corrected or adjusted by you.
The Job Description
We can all be both givers and receivers. In some respects, we are continually both providing and receiving, however, do these roles meet expectations? Is the giver providing what the receiver desires or is something off-kilter? Assistance that is offered may not always be welcomed; therefore, it is not actually assistance. It is essential to converse, interact, and be willing to make changes. Attune to each other's perspectives in both giving and receiving.
Instead of involved negotiating, try going unconditional. Ditch the “but…” and say “Yes” or “Okay”. This shows that you're okay with whatever route they decide to take, and it prevents any implications that your way is the only way.
Allow others to learn on their own by not interfering too much. If your help is needed, then you'll be there, but give them a chance to build up confidence and establish their own foundation first.
When faced with a difficult situation, take a moment to pause and reflect. Look for any evidence that the situation may not be as negative as it first appears. Consider the potential for a successful outcome and give yourself space to examine your own feelings in the matter carefully. Rather than automatically responding to the situation based on your initial assessment, take the time to learn more before offering any response. By doing so, you can find calmness and clarity amidst the storm, allowing you to navigate around any potential conflicts.
Are you still doing what you’ve always done and still getting what you’ve always gotten? That’s good if you’re getting the results you hope for and want. Otherwise, change it up—change the script.
We each play individual parts on the stage of life and we each can choose how we handle each and every situation. We can’t control others and we can't change their script. I can only change how I participate—how I react—how I lead.
If we make adjustments and make changes to the way we interact we might affect how others choose to interact. In return they might change their own script.
What Don't You Know?
Do you have extra sensory perception? Can you read the thoughts of other people?
Each of us can only go so far when interacting with others. If you don't know what you don't know, be open and ask questions. At least share the awareness with others that you're unclear or uncertain and hope they can help fill the voids.
Openness, Transparency and Confidence
Be open in both giving and in getting. Accept that what others tell you might not be what you expected or that it might be framed or packaged differently so their words don't accurately deliver the intended message.
Be transparent; reflect by repeating the possibly misunderstood statement and ask to hear more. It might be that the stated fact was not a fact at all but was just a poorly packaged opinion.
Get To Know "Norm"
What's your "norm"? How often do you feel that others, any others, aren't the "norm" that you know; that they're "out of bounds" in some way? Can you reconcile your norm with the norm of others or do you feel that others simply don't see things the way you do and they'll need to adjust?
Any one of us might unknowingly present ourselves as though we are the guiding light and that others, we feel, are a bit off-the-beam. It's likely that others may have similar feelings about us or may not even see an issue.
Be flexible; begin by giving others some leeway. Be open and accepting of change.
Is This A Mountain Worth Dying On?
When disagreeing, be mindful, pause, and choose your battles. You can't expect for every disagreement to go your way just as you can't expect to loose every disagreement. But when it comes to "settling up", look for a win-win outcome.
I hope you've enjoyed my inspirational thoughts. They're actually reflections on my own experience—lessons that I've learned on my own, the hard way. Sharing them here has helped me to clarify them for myself.
Please feel free to leave a thought of your own. Thank you for your time.