Our approach, patience or lack of it, our insistence or tone of voice, maybe we talk too much and didn’t let the other person speak, our silence, our lack of participation or over participation and to just get to the result we wanted from the start, our lack of listening to things the other person thinks is important at the time ——- all affect how we are perceived and how someone will react to us.
We might be tired or simply worn out or frustrated from other things that filled our day and this might cause us not to come across well at the moment. What we believe may be so strong that it prevents us from hearing what is shared.
Think about the difference between these two phrases: Please do it! versus Can you please help me? The first has the tone of being an order even though the person saying it might think that they are being polite, open, and engaging. The second comes across as more of a request.
We sometimes confuse wanting to be open and engaging with demanding simply by changing the inflection of our voice with different words in a phrase. As the speaker, we may miss this subtle difference.
Other times, we don’t want to listen and don’t work to better understand another person’s thinking. We are in a hurry, we know what we want and we want it done. Our position in relation to the person we are talking to empowers us with the perceived right to demand. Think parent/child. Sometimes warranted (pulling rank to impose discipline or punishment) and other times maybe not so effective in getting a child’s attention.
Having the skill to understand how others perceive us is very different from being competent and knowledgeable. Neither one by itself is sufficient. You need both in order to be more effective when engaging others.
Each of us comes across differently. Why? Because we are all human. No two of us are alike. That’s ok but important to remember during all of our interactions.
We tend to forget two things:
1) That how we present ourselves to others will affect how others respond to us. Go in mad and they either also become mad or fearful. Go in insistent and watch someone become defiant. How others perceive you, your conversations and your requests will determine the level of attention ( and engagement) they will ultimately give you.
(And this could change over time. For better or for worse.)
2) The other person will always see things a little differently than we do. We need to give them the respect they deserve even though their thinking is different and invest the time to learn from each other to find out where you have “common ground”. They need to have some space between you to allow their individuality to “breathe” and become present in your interaction and relationship that evolves through conversation.
You need to consider both when presenting yourself to others.
Flexibility of thought creates a pathway towards mutual understanding. It requires patience. Demanding give and take. It more closely resembles traveling on a winding road to ultimately reach a destination that did not seem very clear when you started.
Understanding how we come across to others is important in helping us modify our approach in conversations for more effective communication.
For it may simply be the fastest way to get there. Because none of us are as good as we think all of the time.