As we’re crafting the second course in our new curriculum – Catalytic Listening – we have been talking about creating “cheat sheets” as reminders. One of those sheets will include a list of words and phrases that inadvertently not only fail to bring out the best in ourselves and others, they actually bring out the worst in both parties and the situation overall.
Those words and phrases tend to fall into two categories. If the definitions below aren’t quite clear, you’ll get the gist as we begin listing them.
• Aggressive language – language that, by the very words, pushes people away (and that’s not bringing out the best in anyone!)
• Advice language – language, often in the form of a question, that is all about what we would do if we were in the other person’s shoes (which – duh – we are not – they are in their shoes. And again, that can’t possibly bring out the best in either you or them!).
In preparing for our next meeting, what better place than here at the blog to begin listing those words and phrases, so that we can keep adding to it as we craft this class.
I’ll get us started. Please add in your own words and phrases to either / both of these lists.
• Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment
• I want to challenge you on that, if I might
• I need to push back on that a bit.
• Here’s what I would do
• Can I offer some constructive criticism?
• Are you open for some honest feedback?
• Have you thought of ____?
• Have you done _____?
• What if you did _______?
• You know what you should do? (Often said as a joke, with something supposedly absurd as the answer)
As you add your own words and phrases to this list, you may be wondering what to do instead. The first step is to be aware of what happens when you use such language in your own life. Do people pull away, grimace, get defensive? Use that as an indicator that despite the fact that you probably meant well and likely care deeply about the other person’s well-being, that in fact, your approach brought out the worst in that person, and likely created ripples that may also have brought out the worst in you.
From there, there are a whole range of practices for bringing out the best in others and ourselves – which is what Catalytic Thinking is all about. That first step, though – the noticing – it is an ongoing practice, in life, at work, and everywhere we be.
We look forward to seeing what you guys come up with!