Now Let Me State This Right Up Front!
I am not referring to those naughty fantasies that you may have thought about when you read this title! I’m referring to those thoughts that grow arms and legs from a single comment, facial expression or part of a gesture.
You Know What I’m Talking About!
…when a colleague, client, friend or family member says something innocently, then we start to dissect it in our heads. Or their facial expression changes and unsettles us and we begin to try and work out what they actually meant by that?
That little voice inside our heads can spin a look, word or phrase, maybe even a gesture into something positive – or, more often, negative.
So, is it a positive or a negative spin that you apply to what you see or hear? Maybe that depends on the person delivering it?
If you find you are getting caught up in a negative spiral about someone or that you seem to be reading things into gestures and looks that make you feel bad, annoyed, frustrated or angry, then the 5 Point Guide to breaking the negative spiral, below, might be just what you need.
Breaking The Negative Spiral – A 5 Point Guide
- The first thing to do is ask yourself what real evidence is there to back up what has just been interpreted – concentrate on facts only, not subjectivity.
- Could the person you are dealing with have something else on their minds other than what you are discussing? Could this be affecting their communication with you?
- Look out for repeated behavioural patterns: vary times and places of meetings. In case this could be affecting the interactions. (It could be that the person you are dealing with isn’t a ‘mornings person’ and may communicate more easily in the afternoons. Or maybe the physical barrier of a big desk between you is causing psychological barrier too, and a chat over coffee in the staffroom would be more positive.)
- Discuss with the person what you have observed and the impact it had on you. Be very factual and specific – not general – in your comments. So prepare.
- Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What did you say and how did you say it? Could you have put it differently? Could your tone of voice have affected their response?
Sometimes we are so wrapped up in what we are doing or saying that we don’t always notice the things that maybe affecting others. Prepare yourself, by using the 5 Point Guide, and discuss your observations openly and honestly. You may be very surprised by the discussions you have and in the end you will find common ground…. if you look for it!