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How to stop sending the wrong message

Did you know that you are a very, very lovely human, but you are also a meaning making machine?  

And that just means that you like to make things mean something, whether that was the intended meaning or not.   

So Brene Brown, in her lovely book Dare to Lead, she talks about the fact that if we don’t have all the data, then we make up the rest of the story because we like patterns, and we like them completed 

So if you only know part of something, you tend to make up what the rest of it means, so that the part you’ve got actually makes sense.  

That’s kind of an example like, my beautiful brindled ‘staffy’ (Staffordshire terrier) called Maggie, so she’s a puppy dog, couldn’t get walked yesterday because it was raining hailstorms, and so I didn’t get to walk her.  

And she looked up at me all day with these beautiful, big, delicious brown eyes.  

And I could almost feel like she was saying to me, you’re a bad Mum, you didn’t walk me today, you don’t love me, you can’t care.”  

Now, we all know that dogs don’t think or talk human, or English of any description.  

So she’s not really thinking that.   

That’s my interpretation of the “look” she’s giving me.  

Here’s the thing though, I can’t ask her what she’s actually thinking. 

Well, I can ask, I’m not gonna get an answer, right.  

But when a human does that, so just say you’re in a meeting, or you’re out at dinner, and someone says, or you say something, and someone looks at you with a look, or a stare, or a glance away, or a total <blank> you can tell they haven’t listened, then you make that mean something.  

You make it mean, either that they didn’t like what you said, they don’t like you, they don’t agree with you, they’re angry at you, they’ve got a bugbear or something going on.  

So because you can, and we all do speak human, you can ask them.  

If you’ve only got part of the story, don’t finish it off where you could actually have found out. 

So if someone does give you that glace, hold them up, or pull them up right there and then and say, hey, did I say something that you don’t agree with? Or am I boring you, or are you distracted?”   

And if you can’t do it there and then on the spot, do it when you leave. 

Just say you are in a team meeting, and you get that death stare from one of your colleagues after you’ve said something, and of course you make it mean that they didn’t like it, they didn’t agree with you, etc, etc.   

When you leave, ask them. 

Just pull them aside and say, hey, listen, I noticed that look you gave me was there anything in that? Was it that you didn’t agree with something, or did it really have nothing to do with me?”  

Because here’s the thing, sometimes it’s got nothing to do with you.  

That was a stare because they were off in their own mind thinking about something that had happened before the meeting, they’re a bit grumpy about it, so that came out in their body language and how they looked at you.  

So where, and actually think about it to, where you are only delivering part of a story that someone else is going to do the same thing.  

Think about how you can complete that story so that the intended message gets understood with the meaning that you wanted someone to take from it.  

This happens every day in life, and in work. 

And it’s a really good chance to just step back and say, okay, if I don’t understand the full meaning, rather than make it up… so somebody hasn’t returned a call or somebody hasn’t got back to you about that proposal you sent.  

Don’t assume they don’t like it or assume they don’t want to speak to you. 

Follow up and follow up, and if you have to, follow up again, do that. 

Find out what that answer is.   

And if you’re giving someone some information, give all of it to them so that they don’t get left wondering, oh is that what she means?  

Because after all, You are Valuable!

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