Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 142

Sometimes the best way to diffuse a situation is to bite down on your tongue and perk up with your ears.

Sometimes our emotions get the better of us, and we tend to take on roles that we would rather not occupy.

This can happen from time-to-time when we're put in difficult situations.  An angry parent, an ineffective educator, a student who has moved beyond the challenging mark, all of these are ingredients for a particularly difficult encounter.

Often our instincts tell us that he (or she) who yells loudest is best heard.  However, we know from experience that this isn't the case.  In fact, often the louder we yell, the more our true thoughts and ideas are drowned out.

Usually, the toughest thing to do in situations where we feel we are being attacked is to sit back and not do a thing.  Yet, this can be the most effective response if for no other reason than it prevents us from doing something we might at some point regret.

We need to swallow our pride, keep our mouths closed, and simply listen.  Often, in any tirade, there is a nugget of truth, and sitting back, and taking the heat allows us to better clean the dirt off that nugget to let it shine.  Once we've found what is really at the heart of the matter, we're better prepared to deal with it effectively.

Of course, we can't allow ourselves to be personally attacked without end.  When we feel the conversation going in that direction, we need to ask to meet again when cooler heads will prevail.  There is a certain amount of heat that we should take.  Beyond that, it's time to postpone for the future.

Along with the benefit of not putting one's foot in one's mouth, opening our ears and biting our tongues allows us to truly hear people, and therefore, have them feel heard.  It is that connection, that desire to be understood, that can sometimes diffuse a situation enough where people can begin to see things as being on the same page.

I've found that as difficult as it is to take a hit without swinging back, it is a necessity in the leadership realm.  Those who get defensive are the ones who have the weakest defense, and since a goal should always be to help those we serve, we gain nothing from engaging in a battle.  Instead, by listening, and requesting a recess if things get too hot, we position ourselves to be better able to work with others (even those who despise us) in the future.

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