Do you find yourself frustrated or angry after a conversation with a prospect or other person in your life? Do you feel like you got no respect in your discussion. Did you disrespect the other party in your exchange? Don’t you wish that every little difference didn’t turn into something monumental that resulted in both parties retreating to neutral corners? This is easy, if you want it. The challenge is your perspective. There is an old saying “You can either be right or you can be married.” This applies to business and personal relationships. If your goal is to be right rather than get to an amenable solution, you won’t be successful. You won’t make that sale, or you won’t stay together depending on the relationship.
To avoid being lonely or ostracized, the goal should be to be liked. The easiest way to be liked is to be polite, be courteous and simple show a sign of respect for other people. Sounds simple doesn't it? If you are nice and likeable they will want to talk to you and many of them will want you to be your friend or do business with you. "People do business with people then like and they can trust." But in this fast paced world we live in, nobody has time to listen to anyone else. Sometimes sales people are so caught up in the sale, they don't have time to listen to their prospect. And while they think they are providing valuable information they are just turning off their prospect. Talking without listening is a sign of disrespect and many people have no idea they are dis-respecting others as they go through their daily lives.
If ask the common person if they are polite and respectful, you will probably get 95% of the people to say they definitely are respectful of others. But in order to determine if they really are respectful of others, we must understand what is to be disrespectful. Here are 5 key areas of common disrespect, and if you do these you are alienating your person, and you will not make a friend, be liked or make that sale.
1. The first way to show disrespect is to interrupt them. Think about it. When you interrupt someone, what does it say? It says, "I don’t care what you have to say. You are an idiot. What I have to say is way more important than you, and Stop wasting my time talking and listen to me and learn something." Ouch! That is pretty offensive, but it happens every day, everywhere. Is that what message you are trying to convey?
One of Steven R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that “You must first seek to understand, then to be understood.” Too often people are trying to push information on someone without first trying to understand what’s in their mind. When you try to understand someone else’s perspective first, you can use lively interactive listening skills to have a good exchange of ideas, but if you just want to force your opinion on someone, neither one of you will enjoy it.
Let’s look at an extreme example. If someone says “Wow the sky is a beautifully green this evening.” Yet you look straight up and see the sky is clear blue. You could respond with “You idiot can’t you see the sky is blue. What are you a moron?” OR you can seek to understand and say “Can you tell me why you think the sky is Green?” By asking this question, you might find that as the sun is going down on the horizon, with the fog and haze over the trees it has a green tint to it.” And you would then understand why they said what they said. They were not looking straight up as you were into the blue sky. And this is often how arguments start. Both parties are right but they are talking about different things.
Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction is telling a man why he did not have a girlfriend and she said “Do you listen or just waiting to speak?” The human mind is an amazing thing. It processes thousands of bits of information every second, but when we are in a conversation the brain can only do one thing at a time. It can either listen or think about what to say when the other person stops talking. If you actively listen and ask questions about what your person is saying, you are engaging in active listening and probably having a good interactive dialogue. If you are just waiting for them to take a breath, so you can talk, you are not. You are being disrespectful.
A side note here. When someone is talking and you think you are listening, you need to follow up about their story not something about you. For example, if your person is talking about their dog, this is not the time to bring up something about your dog.
2. The second way to disrespect someone is to lie to them. It’s strange that some of these lies in heated arguments are statistics or facts made up on the fly. Typically they are prefaced by “Everybody knows that….” This approach is insulting in that it says everyone else is right and you are the only one that is wrong. It’s not just one against one. Any lie is permanently detrimental to any relationship.
3. Swearing and raising your voice, including screaming, is a form of intimidation. There is no place for directed cursing at someone in a respectful conversation. Period. No productive conversation comes from dis-respecting someone with a raised voice.
4. The fourth way to disrespect someone is to belittle them. Belittle means to put them down, disparage or insult. This takes on the form of telling someone they don’t know what they are talking about or are stupid. This is very common if you look on Facebook comments about various issues, but is not acceptable anywhere. To respect someone, do not belittle them.
5. The final way to disrespect someone is to Repeat back your misinterpretation of what they actually said, or meant and then address that misinterpretation as your issue. There is an axiom that says Perception is Reality, but we need to remember what I said about the brain earlier, that it is working on a thousand things at once. Often, if a person is distracted they may think one thing but the words may come out slightly different. This is common when someone calls you a different name by accident.
It’s not that they don’t know it, their brain is just processing things a little differently. This can also result in words other than names that are substituted. This can also be a misinterpretation of some non verbal cues. The key is how you handle this faux pas. If you attack what words actually came out rather than what they intended, your conflict will be instant, since the person thinks they actually said something else. This is a no win situation. If someone says something that does not make sense, repeat it back to them so they can hear it so they can correct it or confirm it. This will avoid some unpleasantness.
Ok, That’s it. The five ways to improve your relationships and they are universal. Avoid them at all costs.
Often Misheard or misinterpreted statements
In summary, to have better relationships and better conversations, practices these 5 tips and avoid the disrespectful actions outlined here. Listen and seek to understand, do not interrupt, do not lie, avoid name calling and swearing at anyone, do not belittle them and make sure you heard what they wanted you to hear. This will go a long way to making your life more enjoyable.