I can remember being at holiday parties, a little anxious about meeting new people and talking to some I already knew. Confession time: I liked to judge them as we chatted, jumping in to tell them what to do because after all, I knew what was best for them. I couldn't help thinking their ideas were so wrong! I noticed lots of times they would get angry with me when I interrupted and told them what to do. I didn't really care because I knew I was helping them. They just didn't realize it and I always thought they would thank me later. Then I noticed, people started to avoid me and didn't seem to want to talk to me. I didn't like this, it made me anxious and stressed.
With time, I learned not to do these 5 things and changed my strategy - which changed my life. I found there was another way, a better way, where I felt I connected with others and they with me. Here are the five things I started to do:
1. Get Curious:
I learned that when I found myself getting negative or in a constant negative headspace it was time to get curious. Where is the negativity coming from? What is going on in my life that contributes to this state of mind? I became more self-aware. I found being curious in conversations helped me avoid negativity. Now, when negative thoughts surface, I ask an open question (begin with who, what, where, when, how or why). Questions allow me to dig deeper, test assumptions and understand the perspectives of others (instead of judging them) to create connections.
2. Choose to Be Open and Listen:
I learned that when I am present in the moment, I think about now, not what has happened or will happen in the future. I find when I actively listen to others, giving them my full attention (no multitasking) I am able to notice their non-verbal cues as well as their words. I choose to listen to what is being said in a way that is open and non-judging, ensuring I honor their perspectives. I have learned we all have our own unique perspectives. I can't presume to understand what others are thinking until I become curious and open to their thoughts, ideas, and/or needs. I ask open, curious questions to peel back the layers of their perspective, so I can understand them more completely.
3. Get Clear On Own Values:
Our values are our GPS that help us navigate our every day life. Like our emotions, they exist whether we acknowledge them or not. I have learned my emotions are connected to my values so once I became clear on my personal values I could better manage my emotions. When I don't live in alignment with my values, I often feel frustrated, off kilter. Then I get curious, reflect and become more aware of the emotional triggers that are tapping my values so I can realign.
4. Access Calming Strategies:
We all need calming strategies - especially during the holidays! Having a couple ready when needed will support us in any moment. I explored many strategies including meditation before an event, graciously taking a time out, or a few deep breathes when I feel my emotional buttons getting pushed. When conversations go in a way that causes discomfort or anxiety and I feel the urge to "win", I pause and get curious. Why am I feeling this way? What value has been compromised? When I figure this out, I then access that place of calm to realign myself so my emotional buttons can be dimmed. This gives me space to understand others, rather than needing to "rescue" them.
We all create our own reality and our realities are developed based on our experiences, thoughts, and perspectives. Rarely are two realities the exact same. When we look at things differently (reframe), the things we look at change. How I experience a conversation is different than the person I am talking with. When I reframe I use curiosity to look at how else I could see, hear, and experience a situation. Instead of focusing on what I experience as 'the obvious', I explore further and am open to how others see things.
This year I look forward to using curiosity when I connect with others so I can better understand their ideas and appreciate them for who they are.