Staying Open to the Unexpected

We never know what will happen. We can plan our day or trip or meeting in great detail, but we are never sure what will happen. All we can do is to stay present, stay open to the possibilities and enjoy and appreciate the way things unfold. I used to get annoyed and frustrated when things didn’t go the way I wanted. I would have planned and visualized how a meeting or event would proceed and I would be frustrated if things changed, if I didn’t get what I needed when I needed it. I have learned to let go of this. I now try and go with the flow and find the pleasure in the unexpected. 

When I was working for the local Member of Parliament I had to go to a printers to pick up some flyers and I had huge trouble finding the location. I thought I knew where it was. As I drove up and down the road looking for the printers I became more and more frustrated. Finally, exasperated, I called in at the nearest store to ask directions. There I discovered a magical world, a store full of environmentally safe cleaning products and beauty aids in bulk – “bring your own containers” they said. Of course I found out where the printer was located and made my way there, but in the meantime I discovered a place I frequent on a regular basis for gifts and products. A store I enjoy supporting and a business I believe in and want to promote. I would never have discovered this store if I hadn’t walked in to ask directions. Life is curious, and discoveries are just around the corner. Stay open, embrace the unknown and take advantage of the situation

Can We Re-frame Our Judgments?

Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communications, said “Judgments cause wars”. We all know the damage judgments can do. This is because people usually hear your judgments as criticism and this triggers them. They close down and become resentful. They don’t trust you anymore as you have attacked them, and it is hard to redeem the relationship. The fact is, we remember a judgment much longer than we remember a compliment. Judgments are hard to forget. I still remember the judgments of my English teacher at high school!!

But we all have judgments about places, people and things. Can we re-frame this and turn the judgment into curiosity. Instead of saying “That person dresses in a really bizarre way”, we say, “I am curious as to the choices that person has made” or “I am curious as to why he said that at the meeting” instead of “He made a really stupid comment”. This curiosity is not judgmental, we just want to find out more and re-framing allows us to delve deeper. We gain more understanding, connection and ultimately feel more compassion towards those around us.

Try and use curiosity instead of judgment see how it changes the conversation and your perception of the situation.

Giving Advice- why isn’t it welcome?

I see often see postings saying “Don’t give advice” or “People don’t want to hear your advice”. Why is this?

When someone is triggered or mourning an event, they often need “to be heard”. They have not asked for advice, they have not asked you to tell them about your experiences, they just want “to matter, to be seen and to be heard”.

If you are listening to fix someone, you are meeting your own need “to matter and to contribute”. You are likely not really listening. A part of you is figuring out how to help them or how to fix the problem. They don’t want that. This might seem really frustrating to you as you are up in your head judging the situation and figuring out how to solve it. This is why I say you are not listening from the heart to how they feel and to their need.

I think so many of us have been brought up believing fixing the problem is a way to connect to others and be compassionate. Giving advice is OK as long as you clarify, “Would you like my advice?” By this question, you are offering the person the opportunity to choose. There is nothing wrong with giving advice if it is requested, it is just not useful for the person who wants “to be heard” and have justification that “they matter”.

In Nonviolent Communications we accompany the person in a state of presence, listening for their feelings and needs with a heart to heart connection. We call this NVC Empathy.

Note-   I italicized the universal needs in this blog so that they stand out