Seeds of Truth Sprout Gardens of Growth

Many of our arguments and disagreements erupt at the precise but indistinguishable moment when defensive posturing takes hold. I’ve written about it in the past, but the importance of that moment can’t be underestimated. In that moment, we undermine our own interests for some low-value need to be right and defeat criticism. Being right doesn’t win us much: we forgo understanding, intimacy, and partnership for momentary sense of victory. Victory over someone we don’t even really want to defeat.

A better alternative can be pretty challenging, but endlessly rewarding. If we can avoid those, “No I didn’t” moments and the “How can you say that when I just…”, we can listen to our partner for helpful information, pieces of truth in otherwise tough-to-hear comments. What else do we want in that moment than to deflect the criticism and prove our partner wrong – remind him of those so many times I did exactly what you asked of me! Exactly what you accuse me now of never having done!

And then it all falls apart, and no one comes out the better. The truth is, there’s a truth in there somewhere. If we can just step back, step out, let down our guard, and listen for what is useful, what is right in there, we can pick it up and grow it. Find something he said that makes sense, and use it to grow our understanding. Use it to foster partnership in our relationship. Grow collaboratively and learn how to make things better in the future. Even if we disagree, even where we saw it differently, or that perspective never even occurred to me! I can take a moment to see it from his point of view, understand how that felt to him, and do it differently it in the future.

Finding that seed of truth will reveal itself to be a treasure trove. It just takes a bit of humility and a release of the fear of criticism. It gives you a useful way to move forward, to get back to working together. It’s an invitation out of the negativity. Take it and grow with it.

You can learn more about effective listening skills in “The Power of Two” by Susan Heitler and by calling me to schedule a session to build your communication skills and improve your partnership.