Welcome to Secret #4 of 7 Secrets To Mastering Communication
SECRET #4 - Quit Taking It Personally
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What someone says is about them. What we hear is about us.
Kelly Bryson, MFT and author of "Don’t Be Nice, Be Real” gives some great tips inspired by Stan Dale, founder of the Human Awareness Institute who coined the acronym, Q-TIP, for Quit Taking It Personally.
Are you someone who feels like salt has been thrown on an old wound any time someone makes a comment that you disagree with or challenges you for anything? When that happens, we are not truly hearing what that person said. Instead, we are hearing through the filter of our Internal Chain Of Commands. We start blaming them or ourselves or apologizing, feeling guilty and taking responsibility for the situation, their needs or a variety of other reactions.
Instead of hearing and responding to the needs and feelings the other person is expressing, we take it all personally. And frankly, we just aren’t that important.
How would it be if instead, we listened intuitively and empathetically for their pain and unmet needs instead of making it all about us? More often than not, people are distressed about something that may not have anything to do with you. Call it displaced anger, fear or concerns, but it isn’t really about you. Maybe your comment pushed a button but it's up to them to recognize their buttons. This is when it’s smart to listen with your senses and intuition to get to the deeper meaning of what the other person is expressing.
Let’s say your partner says she is unhappy that you never have real special fun time together anymore and you just hang out at home watching DVDs instead. If you answer by reminding her of the last time you took her out or telling her how busy your life is, too, you’ve haven’t heard what she is really saying.
Maybe instead, she needs some empathy about how difficult it is for her to bring up the subject with you about spending more time together without feeling like a nag. Remember, it’s about her, not about you or going to on a day trip together. She can do that on her own or with a girlfriend. When you quit taking it personally your focus shifts from what you hear through your filter to what the other person is really expressing.
What she is expressing is a need and desire for more closeness, companionship and special fun time with you.
Look at these two replies.
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“Are you feeling disappointed because you want more companionship?”
“Are you upset because you need me to take you out more often?”
Can you see the difference? In one response you are showing understanding and empathy. In the other one, you place yourself as the solution to her emotional needs and that isn't your responsibility.