Know your blind spots…
I am reasonably open to people, and I have always proposed to those who would listen to me that I am a people person. (Exactly!!)
I still believe that I am. So when someone who is new into your circle then casually throws out a comment such as “I don’t regard you as a people person”, then it enters your head and festers until the trust builds until the conversation to discover ‘why you would say such a thing about me?’ can be approached with confidence.
So, I asked the question during the second meeting that the new person and I had not that long after our first conversation.
“When we spoke the last time, you said that I wasn’t a people person. That confused me as I always felt that I was, but you came to that conclusion during our first meeting. Can I ask why you decided that?”
“Sure”, they said with utter confidence.
Yikes. I was taken aback. I thought I was more in a place where I had convinced them that I was a people person and that they would admit to their mistake.
Maybe, they were just doing this to set me back on my heels and layer in a power-play type thing as we sized each other up. I have seen this tactic before, and it is in the book – power play 101.
They could possibly still be new to the whole ‘how to read people’ bag of tricks and that they were wrong. They could simply be wrong… it is just their opinion, after all.
My mind jumbled in other thoughts.
“You were not listening to me, and you kept speaking over me.”
“Really, I didn’t notice.”
“Yes, I think you did it to every one of my comments or responses. You didn’t let me finish. That, for me, is a sure-fire indicator for someone that is not a people person.”
I hesitated for a second and reflected for a flash to recall our initial conversation.
“See, that’s better. That pause you are using now is what you should do. You have let me finish, and it means that you can now add your response.”
There was a further pause, and then I cocked my head slightly to the side and raised an eyebrow like Rodger Moore. Calm.
“Would you consider yourself to be a people person?” I asked back.
“Of course,” they said, “Why do you ask?”
“Because I felt you didn’t let me finish my sentences and that you were not listening to me,” I said, palms out.
“Wow,” they replied, “So we were having a debate on our first meeting.”
There was a moment of comical eye contact, like a Monty Python style Mexican standoff, our pupils narrowed like to the point of a barrel. There was a minute of tense silence before we both smiled and agreed. That would not have been the best way to start off what needs to be a healthy relationship because we got to get stuff done, and we need each other.
We met each other halfway in that moment and spent more time pausing and listening to the other’s point of view. We asked questions to understand if our understanding of each other’s positions was accurate. We validated as we wandered through an inspirational conversation. This meeting could probably have all gone a different way. Still, it didn’t because we are adults and we are both people who enjoy other people’s company.
I love breakthroughs like this, and I relish the time I take to reflect back and learn at the end of the day. When I am honest with myself, I can learn a lot, and I now recognise that I have a blind spot when it comes to listening. Something for me to keep working on!!
I also wrote the following three points in my journal that evening;
Trust is built on openness, so don’t let things fester.
I can learn a lot from this person because they are sharp as a lego brick. (I also say lego brick, the picture sticks longer in mind – it is respect)
You have to take ownership of your own part of the miscommunications in life.
I closed the evening’s journal entry with one word that I had picked up before about Listening, Understanding and Validating what you hear being said.