Whilst on holiday, I’ve been monitoring how and when I get irritated. And having nailed it down, I’ve found that nearly all the time it’s because something that seems obvious to me, another simply doesn’t understand.
Take map reading, for example. A subject associated with many couple’s arguments (which the magnificent Sally SatNav has gone a long way to solving, thank heavens!). I become irritated when something as simple as this for me to comprehend, my beautiful wife seems incapable of… or, in my eyes, unwilling to learn.
I think this is one of the most common routes to disagreement and then anger in relationships; something that’s seemingly so obvious to one, another of equal intelligence just cannot grasp. So we just assume they don’t want to, or can’t be bothered, which increases the tension.
We all have things we’re good at. If someone else isn’t as good as us at something, does that make him or her stupid or less capable? They certainly have things we don’t understand as easily, too.
Taking the time to first listen to their point-of–view, is the key, rather than forcing them to see everything through our own limited perspective. Then, in a calm and unprovocative way, try to help them understand ours, even when we may feel frustrated.
Great negotiators and businessmen and women have this ability and I find it a charming and alluring quality. They take the time to listen to me before empowering me with their knowledge without being patronising, and I (and I’m sure they, too) feel much better for the interaction afterwards.
In a world of growing differences, I believe these are skills we need more than any other and I would even go as far to say it’s something we should consider teaching in school. The world would be a much better place if we could take the time to first listen and try to understand one another before teaching the other our viewpoints in a calm, generous manner…
…and if I could just get to grips with it, it wouldn’t ‘arf help with arguments in our rental car, too!