With limitations on visiting people, how we handle our conversations may matter even more now than during normal times. Why?
When we can’t talk face to face, we can’t see expressions or body language. It’s harder to distinguish between a playful joke and an insult; a genuine question from sarcasm. Even a video conversation is not quite the same as being in the same room, is it?
However, we’re accustomed to using phones, emails, texts, and other communications. What’s different now?
Could it be that when a misunderstanding does come up, we’re less able to say, “Let’s meet for coffee and talk about it”?
One thing hasn’t changed, however. We can always look at our conversations and assess them. We can ask ourselves, “How well did that work? Did I hear and understand? Was I heard and understood? Is the situation better or worse now?”
If you make a habit of evaluating, you’ll likely notice that some conversations leave you feeling energized and focused. You’re revved up, motivated, ready to get things done.
Then there are the other conversations. You know the ones. You finish one of those and there you are, digging around in the cupboards for any comforting snack. Or you sit mindlessly in front of the TV or flip through your phone. Maybe you even have a little cry. “What’s the point?” you ask yourself. “Nothing works for me.”
While the difference between those two responses may be “just” a feeling, that feeling will have an impact on your reality if it affects your actions. Do you now huddle under the blankets? Or do you stand up and explore? Each choice, even a small one, has an effect.
While you may never find yourself at either of those extremes, evaluation questions can be helpful: “Do I feel more positive, motivated, and encouraged now than before this conversation? Was this conversation helpful? Harmful? Neutral? ”
But what if there’s a regular discourager in your conversational line-up? Especially if it’s someone that you believe you can’t walk away from?
Perhaps the first important element is recognition. Knowing helps. If every conversation with Person X ends up with you stuffing yourself with cookies while watching cat videos, it could indicate that these are not helpful interactions.
What to do? Figure out what control you do have—over the situation, the conversation, and your reaction.
The situation: Do you want to engage in the conversation at all? Or avoid it? Is avoidance an effective long-term solution? In some cases, it may be. Likely not for all, though.
The conversation: Even if you perceive that the other person is attempting to control you, you still have choices. Do you want to fight? Passively listen? Ignore? Do you want to steer the conversation toward less aggravating or disrespectful topics?
Your reaction: Do you want to feel hurt? Angry? Disrespected? Dis-spirited? I’m guessing that you don’t; you’d rather feel uplifted, encouraged, supported, and heard.
It’s much easier to feel positive and encouraged when you’ve had a positive, encouraging conversation. However, regardless of the tone of the conversation, you still have some control over your reaction. Choosing to respond differently may take practice. Recognizing that you even have choices in how you react is a good start.
How are your conversations going?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom