“What Do You Do If…”

Speakers and trainers often receive very good if incredibly general questions from their audiences. It took me a long time to realise why answering these always felt like grasping at straws and why the asker didn’t always seem very pleased with the answer.

People harp on about things when they don’t feel listened to

Sometimes you just can’t get your point across. You get frustrated. The other person harps on and on, and sticks to their own point like week-old chewing gum. How many times, and in how many different ways, must you express something before it’s finally accepted?

That one person is just sooo difficult

It’s easy to label a person who feels negative as a killjoy and a nuisance without considering any further what drives their behaviour. But what makes someone be the person who always sees the risks and threats, and who always asks the irritating and difficult questions?

It’s dangerous to strive for flawlessness

If someone never makes mistakes, it can, in theory, mean that they’re a supreme being alike to an omnipotent god. However, it’s more likely that they’re someone who plays it safe and polishes their work ad nauseum.

It can’t make you angry if it’s the truth, right?

The truth hurts and shames us, which leads to indignation, defensiveness and even attacks. That’s why before voicing criticism it pays off to consider if the relationship is strong enough for critique, if you’ve done your homework well enough and if your phrasing is sufficiently tactful.

You get better feedback by asking for it

Ask for precise and specific feedback on a topic you’ve chosen yourself to work on. Then it’s easier for people to give you useful and concrete feedback, and it’s easier for you to receive it and use it to improve yourself.

Is it our biggest problem that people don’t read?

One tech professional told me once in a fit of frustration, “Elisa, the biggest communication problem this organisation has is that people simply don’t read.” But if we know for a fact that people don’t read, is that then a problem – or a fact of life that we need to adjust to?

Practice listening for five minutes every day

Listening requires practice and uses up energy. That’s why it’s a good idea to practice listening for five minutes every day. You’ll get more out of your practice if you choose beforehand which area of listening you’re going to be practicing, with whom and when.

Hanlon’s razor teaches us to interpret things better

People have a tendency to assume that anything unpleasant was done with malicious intent. However, Hanlon’s razor tells us, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.”