Most people don’t listen. They’re merely waiting for their turn to speak.
You remember that well-intended advice your grandparent always gave you;
“Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you”?
Well… it sucks. (sorry grandpa)
By adopting these niceties we don’t allow ourselves to express how we truly feel about a situation or what we really think. It’s fake most of the times.
Don’t be fake.
I have my doubts with the ways in which people choose to live their life but never really comment on it because I’ve read it was “appropriate” not to judge them.
Guess it makes some sense – Who am I to say how others should tackle their life?
- “Hey, why aren’t you hitting the gym bro? Protein protein!”
- “Dude drop the movies and beer and read some books!”
- “Video games? For real? You’re wasting your life my man!”
Being overly nice can lubricate your social interactions but in essence it means you’re keeping things back and people can sense that.
Openness on the other hand can build trust and respect but also can provoke strong reactions, sometimes making others uncomfortable or down-right hostile.
A middle-way is needed.
Listen & Question
Simple as that; Listen to them and when your point of view clashes with theirs, simply ask them why they think that way.
It opens up opportunities to expand your view (and theirs)
Mostly we shove our own beliefs/paradigms/world-views down other peoples’ throat and afterwards we wonder why we’re having so many conflicts. (BIIIIG global problem)
The first step in not being a non-judgmental asshole is by listening to others. Mostly we subscribe them with our own autobiography without even trying to see trough their eyes.
The second step is understanding others by reflecting what they’re saying and how they’re feeling
Different lives create different beliefs. Yet we use our own paradigms as the measuring stick for others.
“Hey I’m having this problem with my family, my dad constantly comes home drunk and I don’t really want to go home anymore since he yells constantly and hits me sometimes.”
You should call the police and have him arrested for treating you that way. I wouldn’t allow that man. What a douche bag. Simple as that dude. Get it done.
“Yeah, uhu. Maybe”
What they’re really thinking is this: “My god, why aren’t you listening to ME. I don’t care about your way of seeing things”
Hey I’m having this problem with my family, my dad constantly comes home drunk and I don’t really want to go home anymore since he yells constantly and hits me sometimes.
You feel the situation is getting out of hand right and don’t really know what to do?
Yeah, exactly. And I don’t really want to get to offensive by involving the police and such.
You still love your dad and don’t think involving the police will make the problem better in the long-term?
Yeah, you see; I know he’s trying but since my mom left he kind of lost control of his life. Calling in the cops will only make it worse. I don’t know man, what do you think I should do? (Asks for your advice)
See the difference?
- You Don’t listen? -> You Don’t Build Trust -> They Close up
- You Listen?! -> You Build Trust -> They Open up
First you make sure you fully understand them, then smooth out the differences by asking questions.
We don’t listen enough anymore, it’s disturbing. Mostly when people open up we stomp them close again by dictating our own auto-biography to them on what they “should” be doing.
We respond with conflict instead of understanding, never to resolve conflicts but only deepening the wound.
It’s exactly the reason why so many people are in conflict and don’t feel like talking about sensitive topics since nobody is really listening to them. (discounting language barrier’s)
Openness Vs Superficiality
Secondly; I’ve found that most don’t want to talk about stuff that actually matters. We don’t touch upon really important subjects like money, fear, doubts, confidence, lifestyle, health, relationships, …
We’ve resorted mostly to superficiality and indifference.
I believe it’s because we’ve been stomped on so many times that we rather not open up at all. We’d rather dabble around talking about the latest sports games, that new serie that’s airing and our most recent weekend adventures instead of running the risk of being hurt.
Leaving the chronic emotional problems untouched.
Like placing a band-aid on a open wound instead of stitching it.
It requires a certain internal security to share yourself with others face to face and not be reactive to what’s being said.
Like someone calling you a trashcan. Would that bother you?
Probably not since you’re pretty sure you’re not a trashcan. It’s the same with all the other opinions.
Anyway, here’s what I want you to take away from my rambling;
- Build internal security on principles
- Open up more to build trust (you go first). Talk about your passions, emotions, goals, relationships and whatnot. Never be indifferent/apathetic
- Question other peoples’ behavior, never judge it.
- People with low internal security don’t want to open up, so don’t stomp them close even more. Understand them by reflecting their content and emotions
When you see people engaging in behavior that could be better in your eyes, ask them their reasoning behind it. Don’t judge but just listen, open up to their perception.
See the world trough their eyes.
Everyone has wired their brain differently to accommodate their life. Whatever they’ve been using is working for them and has lead to their current circumstances.
I do believe there are “better” patterns than others. I think eating healthy and going to the gym is a better pattern than eating junk food and watching tv. I think reading and writing is a better pattern than trolling on the internet. I think approaching women and striking conversation is a better pattern than sitting at the bar and drinking beer.
(Some simply don’t see this since our standard brain is pretty ff-ed up. )
Anyway point of this post being: I believe being open and confronting in some situations is a better pattern than social “niceties’. In the end being trusted is more valuable than being “nice”.
Next argument/conflict you have I want you to try something;
Listen with the intent of seeing the world trough his/her eyes. Try to define the pattern they’ve acquired in their mind and understand their reasoning. Ask him/her questions where your visions collide. Unreactive and understanding.
Firstly: thanks for reading my opinion. Hope it can alter yours to improve your life quality. I think simple listening can be a huuuge boost to your social life.
Secondly: It has become increasingly difficult for me to post personal posts like this (since there are actually people reading it now) hence why it’s so important I keep doing it. Struggling with openness/internal security is normal, everyone does it.
Thirdly: I have no idea how I can center this column – If someone knows, that would be great ;) I’m getting a bit into minimalism lately.
Take care & stay strong
Hi Simon, I enjoyed reading the article especially the listen and question. Its works well in the work environment too when you dealing with different stakeholders who may have agenda conflicting with each other. With that, who inspires you Simon, who have been your mentors on your journey ? You are becoming one of mine.
My mentors have been; Greg Plitt primarily. He’s the one that turned my life around by showing me how much more I could be. Sadly he died in an accident January 17th.
Owen Cook further has had a huge impact on my social life. I used to have tremendous approach anxiety and couldn’t relate to women at all. He shaved years of my learning curve.
Lastly I’m going to put Elliott Hulse up here, he has had some great advice on building up a stronger mindset and body.
The rest came from books. Most memorable are 7 habits by Stephen Covey, Superior Man by David Deida, Models by Mark Manson & As A Man Thinketh by James Allen.
Mentors are sweet, they expand the image of what we can become. Cool quote;
“We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day” – Richard G. Scott
Meaning we turn into the reflection/combination of the people we admire.
Great article Simon! The example you put up is great very clarifying.
As you say, I think that one of the most important things is to never judge anyone. As Tony Robbins says instead of judging decide to become curious and ask yourself what made that person feel that way or most importantly how can you help that person.