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Secrets of Success

Dismissed

We’ve heard the phrase all of our lives.

In school,” Class dismissed.”

If you served in the military, “Company dismissed.”

Being physically dismissed is one thing but having our feelings and realities dismissed is something altogether different.

For over 35 years I have inhabited the world of relationships in business. As I work with people in organizations to help them communicate and connect more effectively, I often observe people being dismissive of others.

The dictionary defines dismissive as “feeling or showing that something is unworthy of consideration.”

This is what dismissive sounds like:

“It’s not about you.”

“If that’s the worst thing that happens…”

“I think you’re getting upset over nothing…”

“You’re looking at this all wrong…”

“Everybody else has to deal with this.”

In each case, the other person’s reality is being judged and deemed unacceptable by a second party.

Dismissive behavior is unkind, insensitive and unproductive. It contributes to others feeling unsafe and ruptures connection between people.

 

Why then do we do it?

There are, I suspect, many reasons. One is habit. It was done to us, and we simply are unaware on a conscious level we are doing it to others.

Another less benign reason is that we feel people deserve it; that they need to have their behavior monitored and we’re the ones to do it.

But the main reason I suspect has to do with the way we treat ourselves. If a person has a hard time being compassionate and caring about their own feelings, it would make sense that they would have a hard time having compassion and understanding for others. If their own feelings make them anxious, so will the feelings of others. It’s as if we adopt a belief system that says, “Feelings are off limits.”

As such the feelings of others stir up things inside of us and we feel the need to shut down all feelings, including theirs, as a way of regulating our own anxiety.

 

How do we change it?

First we have to come to grips with a reality larger than our own and learn to understand other people do not necessarily see the world the way we do and not only is that ok it’s the way things are.

The second thing we need to do is put what the other person is saying into context.

I have forgotten how many times I have said, “They’re just FEELINGS! Everybody has them. It’s ok. They won’t bite you.”  Their feelings, our feelings, they’re just feelings!

The most important thing we need to do is practice new behaviors. A good place to begin is by telling the person back the feelings or thoughts you just heard.

By repeating their thought or feelings back to them, you differentiate their point of view from yours allowing them to exist in a separate reality.

“So let me see if I got that.”   “You said you think it’s unfair that you have to work on this project alone.”

“Is that what you said?”

“Is there more about that?”

All those phrases indicate the other person is different from us. Maybe they do or maybe they don’t have to work on the project alone, but they have a right to their feelings.

 

The next time somebody comes to you with a thought, opinion or feeling see if you can respectfully hear what they are saying as important to them. Whether or not you agree, just the act of respectfully giving their point of view voice will mean the world to them.

 

 

 

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488