A few nights ago my wife said to me, “I don’t know if you realize it, the way you talk lately has become ponderous and you are over explaining things.”
While intellectually I knew that I have asked Marie to point these things out when she sees them, in the moment it felt harsh to me.
Despite my standing request with Marie, my first reaction was, “you must be wrong, I don’t do that.” However I quickly shifted to something more productive….” thank you, I wasn’t aware. I appreciate you pointing it out.” This is a classic example of Catch and Correct, shifting from bioreaction to purpose.
The truth is we are terrible at listening to ourselves, seeing ourselves as others see us or even detecting when we have bad breath.
Remember the last time you noticed something that a loved one would want to know and possibly could be annoyed at you pointing it out to them? Remember the mental gymnastics you went through before sharing your observation? “How can I say this without hurting her feelings?. . . How can I make sure he doesn’t take this the wrong way?”
It would serve us all well to remember that when someone is sharing a potentially negative observation with us, that their sole point is to HELP us. And that they probably thought long and hard before saying something. So just imagine the damage that gets done when you discourage that by being defensive and denying that whatever they observed is true!
Our denial is usually related to how we view ourselves and how the observation doesn’t fit without own picture of ourselves.
I’m continuing to shift my initial response to an observation or criticism. I’d like to be able to always say “Thank you, I’ll work on that.” It saves a lot of time and cuts the person who went out on a limb, a break! And I might make a better impression the next time we meet!