I’m a reactor. I get so much anxiety because I overreact to the smallest things. I’m also, admittedly, not the best listener. I’m the type of person who thinks of what to say next while you’re still telling me your own story. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m socially anxious and I tend to have a lot of awkward silences when talking to people I’m not close with. So I search my brain for whatever else I can say while you’re still talking to me. It’s a very bad habit of mine but I’m glad I’m becoming a better listener lately.
I have to give credit to my mindfulness practice via the Calm app on my iPhone. I try to meditate daily, especially in the morning because it helps set my mood for the rest of the day. It’s a great guide for someone like myself who is not naturally a relaxed person.
Here’s the lesson last Friday, that I transcribed and would like to share with you just in case it helps!
Today I’d like to introduce the practice of listening as a way of dealing with difficult people in our lives. From time to time, we all have to deal with people who rub us the wrong way. It seems to be an inevitable part of human interaction to encounter people who feel draining to be around or impossible to get along with.
And while it may be unrealistic to turn these relationships into friendships, we can certainly infuse them with a little ease. We can’t change the person in front of us but we can work on how we perceive them, remembering that difficult people are often that way for a reason.
When we get to know someone’s story, if we listen closely, we may find that behind their abrasive exterior, there is a woundedness, a suffering we could never have imagined. With this understanding, it becomes easier to offer kindness. All we have to do is listen. The practice of deep listening not only shows the other person that we hear and understand them — it also builds trust. It forms a bridge so that they may also see us and relate to us in a different light. And it’s amazing how relationships can transform when people feel hurt.
So what would happen if we put our judgments and preconceived notions aside for a moment and listen — truly and deeply listen to the person in front of us no matter how challenging their personality. What if we pause long enough to drop our expectations and try to understand where they’re coming from instead of assuming we already know.
The next time you find yourself anticipating an exchange with a challenging boss or an annoying neighbor, pause and take the time to listen with less judgment, with [fewer] labels. Watch as patience and compassion arise within you. You may realize these difficult people aren’t so difficult after all.
As H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said: Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
This is a great reminder not just for dealing with difficult people. It’s a great reminder to just sit down and LISTEN. I get so upset with myself whenever I catch myself cutting Jim off while he’s still talking. I just get overly excited!! But the important thing is that I’m aware of this problem and he’s so patient and in love with me (hehe) he never even noticed it until I apologized for it. Even if he’s not bothered by it, I really do want to stop. If you liked what you read above, imagine it being read to you by a really relaxing voice. I don’t know whose voice it is that they use in the Calm app but who wouldn’t listen to her? She’s my voice peg. LOL.
Try it out on Calm.com.