“And I suddenly remembered a lesson a professor had taught about brain function. When people speak, they aren’t just expressing their ideas; they are, even more, expressing their emotions. And it’s the emotions that they really want heard.”
Atul Gawande, to the 2018 graduating class of the U.C.L.A. Medical School
Good morning, friends! I hope you are on top of the world today. It was a great weekend in our home, with our first graduate experience. But that’s my stuff. Let’s get to the real stuff!
Picture the scene: you’re in a bad situation. Somebody is angry, something has happened, something is askew in someone’s world, and everything is coming at you. Could be a boss, or a spouse, or a neighbor, or a child, or a customer, doesn’t matter. What matters is the inflamed flow of words coming at you. What do you do? A very natural reaction is to give it back to “them”, fight fire with fire you might say. The person is the words so fight them off. But the very notion of competitive language suggests a winner and a loser. I have no memory of such encounters ending well for anyone.
Now imagine you are the angry person in the story, you are the spewer of words. Surely you can remember being this person some times in your life. Were you the words? Or was it something else? Sure was; you were not the words. The words were simply the reflection of something broken, hurting, angry, etc. You didn’t want to be heard so much as you wanted to be felt. This effect isn’t only true with angry words. It also is true with loving words, casual words, indifferent words, any words. Our words express our feelings. Who feels them?
· We love the friend who “gets” us.
· We marry the person who “knows” us.
· We attach to the pets who reach us deeply.
The best relationships are with the people who know our feelings. Why? Because everyone wants to be “felt”, as in, we want others to know how we feel, what our emotions are, even when we say it poorly. How can you be the boss, spouse, neighbor, child, customer, or friend who listens beyond the words to feel the emotions? Professionals call this act “non-complementary” behavior, not fighting back but sensing and speaking to the deeper emotions. Just think of all the relationships you have that could use some of that magic! Try it next time, and experience something amazing. Have a wonderful week.