Seek To Understand Is Key

seek to understandSeek To Understand The Other Person Is KEY!

Whether you are a nice person or a horrible person you will strike others that rub you up the wrong way or push your buttons. You will strike them in the workplace, family gatherings, friend’s friends, your children’s friends, your children’s friends parents etc. there is no escaping the inevitable ‘trigger’. They say something and you feel a sensation inside your body, perhaps your chest or your stomach and you hold your tongue; initially at least.

Not wanting to offend anyone or not wanting to draw attention to a disagreement, especially while work colleagues watch on, you stay still or perhaps tell yourself to just get over it, its not that important, don’t make a fuss… Sometimes you just can’t believe that you are that triggered!

To think you can get away with smoothing things over is nonsense because at times in our lives we want to receive that all important message; to know that we matter. And keeping quiet doesn’t quite do the job!

We think proving we are right sends will send us the message that we matter in the world. Although proving we are right also uses a lot of energy and sometimes all we are left with is guilt.

A colleague says something you deem is rude and we engage our precious energy on proving who is right and who is wrong and in the end we don’t prove it anyway.

Ask yourself firstly what is my intention, if it’s to be right, so be it. Be committed to it. If it’s to keep working with this person and perhaps you would like to understand, then let’s talk about how we can go about that instead.

Please put on your ‘seek to understand gumboots’ it could get mucky…

Stand feet firmly on the ground and ask ‘Are you up for giving me a little more clarity about X’? Even if it is a degrading comment about the fabulous work you have just sweated blood over for the last week.

If the answer is ‘no’, then that’s ok… for the time being anyway. I haven’t had anyone say no, they could though. Just wear it and initially walk away and nod.

If the answer is yes, ask a question that involves reflecting back the others words firstly, then guess how they might be feeling (if this were true) and what important value  of theirs is wanting to be heard and understood. A value such as respect, reassurance, support, effectiveness, punctuality or quality. These are a few suggestions to get you started, there are many others. See for a larger list of organisational values.

Then ask them if they think you understood that bit, or if there is more?

Listen only as much as you can reflect back and guess the feelings and needs/values then you haven’t taken on too much of the listening.

If we listen too much we start to resent listening and all the good intention we had at the beginning flies out the window.


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Glyn Conlon

Workplace Communication Specialist at Keystone Skills
Glyn has 20 years experience in the personal development field and more recently Compassionate Communication (NVC) and Workplace and Assessment training. She also has 18 years experience in organisations with an understanding of consumer needs and perception.

Glyn is passionate about communicating the truth with care. She realised an unclaimed source of her own energy is when she can free herself from guilt. Once this freedom is reached she found she could think and communicate more simply and clearly with the courage to ask for what she wanted. Glyn now enables others to more easily have their message heard and the listener more readily agrees to their requests.
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