Communication skills

Listening before you leap

- July 26, 2010 2 MIN READ

“Not like that! I’ll show you how to do it” is one of my daughter’s favourite sayings. She’s two and a half years old. Problem is, I think Amy’s desire to be in the right is inherited.

When someone executes a simple task differently to me, I have historically been quick to leap in and ‘correct’ them. But in my never ending quest to be a nicer person, I’ve been practising holding my tongue. Gee, it’s hard!

Still the mental commentary rages. Why’s my pal dicing the carrots and not slicing them? Why did my mum’s oldest friend ice lamingtons using a spoon, not a knife?

It was John’s reaction that highlighted the need to get over myself. “Sam, Jill owned a tea shop for five years. She taught your mum how to make lamingtons. I think you can trust her methods.”

But we’re very attached to our ways, aren’t we? Did you hear about the lady who recreated a favourite family recipe for her grandmother?

Granny watched in surprise as her grandchild cut the ends off the piece of meat “Why are you doing that?”

“It’s how mum did it and she learned from you.”

“I only cut the ends off because my pot wasn’t big enough!”

Want more articles like this? Check out the  communication skills section.

Granted, this tale seems more literary than literal, but it illustrates how blindly we blunder through our day to day actions without questioning their validity.

Here are ways to wake up.

  1. Hold your tongue. Let people do things their way rather than leap in with an alternative.
  2. Counsel wisely. Instead of “That’s not how you do it” consider, “What do you think of this way?”
  3. Be receptive to alternatives. Giving consideration to other methods is a good habit to adopt.
  4. Ask for opinions. Replace “This is the best idea ever!” with “What do you think of this idea?” for example.
  5. Let go. When working away from home, I have to accept things will roll differently at home. I’m learning not to worry about whether my kids have eaten yet or if they’ve brushed their teeth.

There’s more to life than being ‘right’ and there’s no doubt being respectful, observant and judicious are far more important qualities.

So why’s it so hard? Tell me what you think. I promise to listen carefully to what you have to say.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"