None of us like to be corrected. We do not want to hear that we are wrong, misguided or misinformed. We all have egos to some degree or another. Some of us are not all that sensitive and some of us are extremely sensitive. Regardless of where we fall on the spectrum we all tend to get defensive to some extent when it comes to being told things that are not all hearts and flowers, things that are hard to hear.
I am probably as bad at this as anyone. It has taken me many years to learn to not be so sensitive and to not take everything so personally. There is a key to all of this that makes it easier to receive information. The key is how things are framed.
Framing is a lot like a picture. It goes around and makes a place for the picture to hang. It forms boundaries. It can make a great painting look bad or a bad painting look great. Frames can be made of cheap plastic or expensive hard woods. Frames can be new or old. Frames matter.
Framing a conversation is a lot like that. Let me give an example. Let’s say your boss approaches you and says, “You really need to get your act together. Your performance is way below par and you are making too many mistakes.” That is way different than if your boss approaches and says, “I really appreciate the effort you put in to your job there are just a couple of things I would like to see if you could improve upon to help your performance.”
In the first example is negative and aggressive right from the start. In the second there is a compliment followed by a gentle suggestion.
The same thing applies to personal relationships. If I am convinced someone genuinely care about me it is much easier for me to receive what they have to say. If I think you do not care about me most likely I will get defensive and block it all out or even walk away.
Although I am not perfect at this and fail at it sometimes, I try hard to frame my comments to everyone in a positive way. I try especially hard with people that I am close to. It certainly is easier to start a difficult conversation by saying, “I love and care about you. There is something that concerns me that I would like to talk about. Is that OK?” I know I receive that far better than if someone says, “You really ticked me off about something. What is wrong with you?”
How we approach people really matters. Probably bringing up and issue when someone first gets home from work is not a good time. Let them vent about their day first before bringing up issues. Boy did I ever learn that one that hard way!
I call that “landing on people”. That’s happens me to me sometimes when I go to work. People immediately “land on me” regarding issues they are having. I mean I get it to a point. I am the computer guy and if something is not working I need to fix it. But it is still better to at least say good morning first!
At all costs I try to frame things in love. I believe deep down we all want to improve and be better people. The people closest to us are in a unique position to help us along our journey.
Frame things wrapped in love. Give it a try. Love is always the answer.