Put Your Weapons Down
You might not know it, but you carry a sword and shield with you every day. Your boss has some "constructive feedback" about the project to which you've devoted your heart and soul--not to mention the last three months of your life. Can you hear it, knowing that it says more about your boss than you? Do you put up your shield and figuratively put your hands over your ears? Or do you pick up your sword and do battle?
Your partner says you never listen to them. Another fight you neither want to start nor finish. Do you raise your shield, knowing that as you block the argument you're also putting that shield between you? Or do you jump in, telling them all the reasons you do listen and all the reasons they're maybe not such a great partner either?
Think back on some of the most heated moments in your life. Chances are pretty good that both you and your conversational partner were feeling like you needed to defend yourselves. That makes you opponents, and we all know how a jousting match turns out.
Examine the weapons you carry. That shield is pretty fucking heavy. Looks like you've added to it over the years, made it even bigger. Is your sword dull from non-use, or still covered in the blood of your last opponent? How have you used the tools you've been given?
If you're ready, there's another approach: Put your weapons down.
Until we learn to approach interactions without reaction, it will always be a fight.
Your partner is telling you something about his or herself, and they are choosing to lead with the opinion that you never listen. What they're really saying is far deeper, but you will never truly hear it unless you're willing to drop your guard and start to understand. You lose the opportunity to dig deeper and rise together.
Your boss' feedback tells you things that he would have done differently. Helpful? Not helpful? You can't decide until you can step back from the fight and sort out the comments from a clear place.
Put your weapons down.
Put a full breath between the statement and your response. Count to ten if you have to. Wait for the smoke to clear.
When you can see again, ask them to tell you more. Help you understand. Most of the time, the opening statement is just that: the tip of the iceberg. Deeper stuff can be unearthed if you are willing to be brave.
Sometimes you will easily see the way forward and other times you will reach an impasse. Sometimes you will need to table the discussion and come back to it after you take some time to yourself. The more you are able to stay in the moment, breathe, and ask questions, the more you will gain knowledge and clarity.
Any new skill takes practice. You're not going to be the Buddha straight out of the gate. But the choice is worth making, again and again. Your relationships are worth growing. Your peace of mind is worth it. Put your weapons down.