What if we talked less? What if we smiled more? Once again I'm borrowing a line from
Hamilton, the Broadway play, because it has captured my attention. I imagine if we talked less we might do more:
- finding common ground
And if we did more of these things we would:
- have greater understanding
- get in fewer arguments
- feel more connected to others
- feel heard when we talked
I know that when I smile more, people smile back. It is really quite amazing. Salespeople are taught to have a smile in their voice. Why? Because it makes people feel better and they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.
In Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's opinion piece in the
New York Times
on October 1, she quotes her mother-in-law's advice on her wedding day, "In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf." She says that she has followed that advice at home in her 56 years of marriage and in each of her workplaces.
She goes on to say, "When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one's ability to persuade."
When we have the capacity to pause and consider how we want to respond to a spouse or co-worker, we will experience fewer conflicts. Then, when we feel less "charged" we can talk in a calm and confident way that builds each of us up rather than tearing us down.
How do we build the capacity to pause and not have a knee-jerk reaction? It takes conscious effort and practice. Some tricks in the heat of the moment include putting your feet on the ground, taking a few deep breaths, sipping water, walking around. All of these techniques bide you time to gain your composure and think about what you might want to do or say next. Perhaps you will suggest a "time out" for both of you.
Mindfulness practice, on a regular basis, will also help you to build the capacity to pause, talk less, and smile more.