Do you know people who react defensively or erupt with anger when you try to tell them something?
Or maybe you have a friend or colleague who cuts you off and never seems to hear what you’re saying.
Or maybe that person is you.
That defensive (and sometimes interrupting) person used to be me.
But, it’s not anymore.
So, what did I do to overcome these not-so-great traits?
I read books, attended workshops, practiced listening, focused on not interrupting, and learned how to ask open-ended questions.
All of that helped…a bit.
Mostly I was learning what NOT to do. Don’t talk too much. Don’t make it about myself. Don’t blame others. Don’t get defensive.
I wasn’t learning what TO DO.
Until I began my coaching training. My mentors suggested I stay curious when listening to a client and hold off responding too quickly.
Just hearing those two words, STAY CURIOUS, gave me an instantaneous, aha, kind of insight.
STAY CURIOUS became my new mantra. If I were into tattoos I’d have it inscribed on my wrist.
When my brain was working on staying curious, I found that it couldn’t do all those other things I was trying so hard to stop doing.
Do more of what you want and there will be less space for what you’re trying to stop.
Almost magically STAY CURIOUS helped me to put my thoughts on the back burner so there was space for me to stay calm in the face of hard to hear views.
Here are three ways that adopting a STAY CURIOUS mantra might help you:
- When your brain has a curiosity mindset, it can’t be defensive at the same time.
- When your main intention is to understand another person’s point of view, you are able to put your suggestions, thoughts and reactions aside.
- When you stay curious, it’s like hitting a pause button that gives you time to calm down from whatever has triggered your emotions.
Making this one change has helped me be fully present in the face of hard to hear words, able to calm strong emotions and to have open and honest political conversations with those who have opposing views.
So, I’d say that by making STAY CURIOUS your mantra, you can become a person who will be less reactive and better able to understand the perspectives of others…leading to a calmer you. What would you say?
For more check out my award-winning book: Less Stress Business: A Guide for Hiring, Coaching and Leading Great Employees