Simply put, summarizing is repeating the other person’s narrative to them briefly and in your own words. Let’s delve a bit deeper, though: why, how and for what purpose you can use summarizing.
Within every conflict there’s a possibility for growth
It’s easy to be a good team player on days when everybody is happy. It takes a whole lotta more talent to be a good team player on other days, when opinions, goals and personalities clash. However, each argument, conflict and difficult situation contains a possibility to develop as a human being.
These situations feel uneasy at first. We have a tendency to avoid discomfort, fear and rejection. In addition to that, most of us have been brought up to believe one should not argue. No wonder we would like to circle around difficult topics and put out any potential conflict as fast as possible. But that is not a sustainable way of dealing with things.
Not all arguments are necessary. I want to help you to recognize the ones that are. I want to provide you with tools to withstand and endure difficult situations and deal with challenging people. What is good argument like? How can you disagree in a constructive manner? How to find the growth within the conflict?
Start with these
In my everyday life, I’ve noticed that the most usable model for giving feedback is a simple observation + impact model. It’s simple enough to be understandable and still demanding enough that you have to think about how you give feedback.
“Other people’s behaviour doesn’t make us angry? Of course it does. It happens almost every day!” We are accustomed to thinking that it is people’s behaviour that makes us angry and thus, that it is bad behaviour. In reality, our reaction is not universal or inevitable.
Are there too many people in the meetings you attend, just to be safe? Is there no agenda, the topic is unclear and no one quite knows what’s the point of the meeting? Is no one listening but doing other work during the meeting? Let’s save the meetings!
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?
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?
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?
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.”
Naming can be used to check even big assumptions because naming doesn’t claim that anything is true. “Sounds like” doesn’t argue that something is true, just that it seemed like that to the listener.
Are you one of those people, for whom NO comes naturally and is more or less your default reaction? Take a step to the next level and learn to say no without saying no.
These too are worth your while
We want to keep our worldview. If we’re presented with facts that argue against our core beliefs, instead of changing our core beliefs we become angry, defensive or even aggressive. This batshit-f*cking-bonkers behaviour* has a scientific name called the backfire effect. Read all about it from this brilliant comic.
* The Oatmeal’s terminology, not mine.
The Arbinger Institute, 2009
I’m right and others are mostly wrong. I’m hard-working and do things right, others are lazy and do a poor job. I cannot trust anything to others, I’ll do it better myself anyway. People simply don’t appreciate enough what I do for them. If any of these sentences is a recurrent thought in your head, read this book. Preferably right now and repeat every second year or so.