The nature of all of my work dictates that I deal with lots of people all around the world. People in different cultures, situations and circumstances.
This morning, I communicated with someone in Ecuador. This afternoon, I’ll be communicating with someone in Guatemala and someone else in Colombia. Yesterday, my global communication led me to Chile, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. My domestic communication led me to people in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle yesterday.
Every person I communicated with was in a different environment, had different circumstances and faced different challenges and/or opportunities. The experiences I have working with people around the world are fascinating and sometimes challenging. One thing is for sure. I’m never bored!
While some communication experiences are fascinating, others are puzzling. The older I get, the more I’m learning to stop, ask and listen before processing what I think is happening. I want to get the reality of the situation right.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve frequently applied this stop, ask and listen approach to many people who had gone silent on me for reasons I did not understand. Here’s what I learned when I listened.
- I went through a brutal divorce and other personal stuff. Doing well now…how have you been
- My son in another state from my first marriage drowned trying to save his friend who fell into a fast running river.
- My husband died from a heart attack. Nobody is monitoring that account any longer.
- I don’t have time to communicate. I’m up to my eyeballs in problems. (Unfortunately, this person created his own problems and was now operating in crisis mode…not a pretty picture)
- My husband fell off a ladder. I’ve been trying to juggle the pressures of a new job, regular life stuff and the added burden of helping my husband get back on his feet.
- We lost one of our children to Leukemia.
Wow! This is some serious information that I would not have known if I hadn’t asked and listened. Stopping, asking and listening allowed me to process my response more carefully. In many cases, relationships were saved.
One of the skills we measure in Emotional Intelligence Coaching is called Reality Testing. Reality Testing means seeing things as they really are rather than seeing things the way we think they are. Possessing strong Reality Testing skills can pay dividends for anyone whose work focuses on people and relationships.
In all of the above cases, I had ideas in my mind to explain why one person or another went silent for period of time. It wasn’t until I stopped, asked and listened that I found out what was really happening.
Try slowing down or even stopping, asking for answers and listening. You might be surprised by what you’ll learn.