Assuming Intent can cause a misunderstanding. When someone does something that you don’t understand, ask them why the did it. When you assume why the did something, you take away their truth and reality and you start projecting your truth and reality onto them. Maybe it was an accident like you thought, or maybe it was intentional like you thought, or maybe it wasn’t what you thought and there was another factor involved entirely.
You are not a mind reader, and you also cannot see everything that is going on. It’s less about giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best reason, it’s about achieving certainty by connecting and aligning with them on a shared reality and building a connection and a relationship.
Sometimes you are unaware of how your actions are being perceived by others. You might think you are defending yourself, but in reality the other person is feeling attacked by your defense.
I recently had an experience where the more I defended my point of view, the more aggressive the other person became. And it took me a while to realize that from their point of view, me disagreeing with them was me attacking them. They felt I was invalidating their emotions and their perspective and disrespecting their right to have an opinion that is different from mine when that wasn’t my intention at all.
The approach I suggest you use next time is to utilize active listening to repeat back to them what they said to show that you heard them. Then check if they want to hear your opinion. Ask if they would listen to you now that you’ve listened to them. If the answer is no, then walk away, the conversation is done. If they do listen, then you can speak your mind. Manage the transitions from when you are listening and they are talking, to when you are talking and they are listening by making these transitions very clear. The last thing you want is for them to feel you are interrupting them to talk over them. Clarify if they have finished talking and ask for permission before transitioning to you talk.
In summary, if you are defending your position without acknowledging them, they could feel attacked. The way to have a healthy conversation is to use active listening to show you heard them, and then explicit transitions with consent from you listening and them talking to you talking and them listening so both people are respected and clear on their roles in the conversation at all times.
My New Year’s Resolution for 2023 is to face and overcome my fears. I no longer want to be held back. I want to rise up thrive grow and achieve success. This is how I plan to overcome my fear:
- Defining in objective detail what it is I’m afraid of and be as specific as possible.
- Example: Do not say a fear of snakes. Say a fear of a snake bite that results in death.
- Example: Do not say a fear of abandonment. Say the fear of the pain of grief, loss, and sorrow that comes from abandonment.
- Describe why I am afraid of it. What exactly about the situation do I dislike?
- For the snake bite, the real fear is my fear of death and of a scar on the skin. If a snake bit me and I didn’t die and it didn’t make a mark, I could handle the pain of the pinch no problem.
- For abandonment, the real fear is my fear of loneliness. If someone abandoned me, but I still had many other friends and family to lean on, I could handle the pain of abandonment.
- Make Plans around the fear.
- Wear thick clothing around snakes or hikes with snakes. Do research ahead of time for where there are snakes.
- Join Clubs and maintain an active Social Life. Make and maintain friendships.
- Accept your fear might come true someday and that you did your best. Make a plan for when the worst does occur.
- If you are bitten, know you have health insurance, you can call 911. Live each day like it could be your last, so you have no regrets if it is your last day.
- Build out your emergency contacts list.