Category Archives: Relationships

Giving Unhurtful Feedback

I am notorious for giving cruel, uncaring, cutting feedback.  I thought that if I was clear, firm, and to the point, I would achieve perfect communication.  This is true only for robots, but not for humans with emotions.

Here’s what I thought happens when two people talk:

(idea in head) -> words spoken -> sound in air -> words heard by other person -> (idea in head)

Here’s what actually happens

(idea in head) -> words spoken with tone and expressed with body language -> sound in air and visual imagery -> other person’s emotions at the time + other person’s unconscious biases and habits + other person’s beliefs and world view + other person’s view on the relationship between you and them + other person’s feelings of their relationships with themselves and the rest of the world at that moment + what you said + what they interpret what you said meant + what they see + what they interpret what they see meant -> (idea in head)

As a result, when I say something like “Don’t do that. Do this instead.”  What I think is happening is I’m clearly communicating what needs to be addressed, and how it needs to be addressed.  What is happening is I’m 1. taking authority and command and superiority to tell the other person what to do 2. making them feel small 3. making them feel threatened 4. making them feel confused and afraid from the threat 5. making them question why 6. making them insecure about whether to trust the information or not 7. wonder about my intentions 8. wonder about the impact on the relationship and on them self if they obey and if they don’t obey 9. creating a hostile environment into which it is difficult to give feedback, ask for clarification, be equal 10. etc.

Instead, lead with intent that is selflessly benevolent to the other person: I want you to do well, so I care if something bad happens to you. I an concerned that if you do that, a unfortunate etc. thing will happen to you, which I don’t want.  So my solution to the situation is to do this because given my experience etc. will happen. What do you think?

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Don’t Overreact

Don’t overreact.  Adapting is important, but there is such a thing as adapting TOO much, and doing so will negatively affect your own life and your relationships with others. Instead, you should adapt the appropriate amount for the given circumstances.

I used to pride myself on how many things I could change in response to feedback.  From what time I sleep to the number of grams of chicken I ate in a 72 hour period to what thoughts to think when transitioning from one task to another, I controlled every detail.  But recently I’ve noticed that small external changes were triggering huge internal changes to my life. I was overreacting. Someone would say I’m drinking to much water and I’d go from a cup per hour to a cup of water per 3 hours and get overly dehydrated.  The change was too much too soon.  Instead I should scale down in percentages: half a cup every 1.5 hours instead of jumping to 3 so soon.

Also: Don’t change your behavior on TOO many occasions. I was taking advice too often: On Monday I’d read something about the dangers of overhydration and start adjusting to a cup every 3 hours, and then on Tuesday I’d read that dehydration has risks and I’d start adjusting back to one cup every hour.  The body needs time to react, generally 3 weeks to build a new consistent lifestyle habit, so all of this constant changing was just keeping my body in a constant state of defense towards foreign and abnormal behaviors which is worse for my health overall.

Not only is this bad for me personally, but it reflects poorly on me to others because I wasn’t being consistent. Inconsistency makes people think you’re unreliable and undependable, both qualities that will lose you relationships.  If on Monday I convince everyone to drink less water and on Tuesday I change my stance, eventually by Wednesday they’ll learn to just not listen to my advice.  And I don’t want that. So I need to have patience and take my time both in making the choice to make a change and in the execution of that change.

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When You Don’t Get Back What You Put In

https://www.reddit.com/r/LifeProTips/comments/614eew/lpt_genuinely_caring_about_somebody_a_lot_does/

Something I’ve learned over the years is that there are some people who take and don’t give back, or they give back significantly less than what they get.  There are people who stay even with you: they give back what you give them.  Then there are people who just give whenever they can, without keeping track of what you’ve given them.

Therefore, the sooner you recognize what category of person you are dealing with, the sooner you can adjust your own strategy accordingly.

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