"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening
when you'd have preferred to talk." --Gary Larson
I have Jen Singer's blog on my blogroll because every so often she hits me squarely between the eyes with a post. The latest of these is entitled "The Three Words That Make Your Kids Tune Out." Read this post. I don't care whether you have kids or not: the concept carries over to communications with anyone.
For those who didn't click over, the three words in question are "I know, but..."
(The "but" often being followed by a dismissive remark of some sort.)
The day before Easter, I took a long walk with my eldest: he has his own geocaching account and he's trying to get his number of cache finds up to 100. In the course of a conversation we were having, I caught myself saying the dreaded three words, and it stopped me cold. Along with the conversation for a few minutes, I might add. *headdesk*
Last night, our school held a public forum--as a school board, we were looking for input as to what the community wants our school to look like and offer in the next three-to-five year timeframe, since our size and demographics are changing. The guy who happened to sit next to me had very different opinions from mine, and I felt the dreaded three words bubbling up again. Instead, based on my earlier experience with my son, I made a conscious decision to keep my mouth closed and encourage him to talk, since that was the purpose of the forum to begin with. We still weren't seeing eye-to-eye when he was done, but his body language suggested that he was happy to have been respectfully heard out (a problem that our school has had in general in communications with parents) and nobody's died and made me the queen of the universe anyway...it may well be that we'll end up going in his preferred direction, this being a democracy and all. (Or, at the very least, a benign dictatorship comprising nine dictators, each of whom has a vote that carries equal weight.)
Two ears, one mouth: twice as much listening as talking! Note to self for the day.