I was sad and I failed, and now I'm frustrated. What a week!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

 

My good friend Lee Mei was worried reading my posts about me feeling sad and having failed that when I saw her yesterday, she made it a point to ask me if I am really ok. 

I assured her, I am. 

I still am but today I got really frustrated. 

I train the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at work and I have just read The Like Switch by Jack Schafer. Both have a section on emphatic listening and emphatic language, and I was reminded of it today after a conversation went haywire. 

Steven Covey introduced me to the subject of Autobiographical Listening. It is a kind of listening that we are quite used to, that is we listen to what others are telling us by using our own stories and filters. In such listening, we tend to probe, evaluate, advice and analyze. As a result, we lead the story away from the person who owns it in the first place. 

It is alright to use this kind of listening in normal circumstances, but when emotions are high, we cannot listen to others with our own filters and add to it with our own stories. We need to listen empathetically. 

But Schafer went further to say that we should even use empathic language at all times. It is putting yourself in the other person's shoes and listening to their stories as they are and understanding the person as a result. The focus is not you or even the story, it's the person you are speaking with. 

This was how the conversation went haywire this afternoon. I was correcting my vehicle's side view mirror when I was reminded of what happened a few days ago that made my driving that day quite risky on the road. 

Me: Do you know that someone flipped close my side view mirror on my right that day? I did not realise it until I was already on the road and I did not have any chance to stop by the side of road to adjust it back. It was so difficult to drive without it, without a view of what's coming from my right. 

Him: Really? Well, that person did something good for you. He closed it so that your mirror won't be spoilt when others come by. 

Me: What? I had my car parked at a place where pedestrian traffic is minimal. It is fine that the person need space to walk through but he should have readjusted it back. 

Him: No, he did you a favour.

Me: Why are you not on my side and why are you speaking for others? You weren't even there to really know what happened. 

Him: Why are you so emotional?

Me: Arggh!!!

For the rest of the day I was just being quiet and not wanting to say anything anymore. I keep telling myself that it is so, so trivial and that he lacked in empathetical listening anyway, that he is basically a person of common sense and facts but the other half of me just cannot accept it.

To do it Schafer-style, the conversation should have gone this way. 

Me: Do you know that someone flipped close my side view mirror on my right that day? I did not realise it until I was already on the road and I did not have any chance to stop by the side of road to adjust it back. It was so difficult to drive without it, without a view of what's coming from my right. 

Him: Really? Well, yeah that could have been very dangerous. 

Me: Exactly. It's alright that the person need space to pass by my car but he should have readjusted it back. 

Him: You may be right, but it must have been a natural reflex for the person to flip it close and then not think to adjust it back. Good that you managed to drive more carefully though. 

Me: Yeah, next time I do need to check all my mirrors before I begin to drive. 

See? Isn't that a much better conversation?

pearlie 

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