When someone’s in your face

Listening.  I’ve read so many different articles on the skill and purpose of listening over the years.  I’m sure you have too.  I’ve come to view listening in different ways depending on the context of the interaction.  Let’s take the context of someone being upset with us.  When someone’s angry and shouting at me, I’ve come to realize it’s not what they’re saying they want me to ‘listen’ to.  They want me to ‘listen’ to their real reason for interacting with me; they need to share their anger.  It’s their emotions they need to share, not the specific words.  When I listen like this, I say things like, “you’re upset, you’re angry.”  And then I shut up and let them get it out.  By letting them get it out and not fighting back or trying to defend, their anger gets dissipated and the situation calms down.  Notice the two skills necessary: being able to catch your anger before you respond and having the presence to see calming the situation down is being the best you can bring to the interaction!

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