Over the weekend I had lunch with a dear friend who has been like another sister to me for decades. She’s scheduled for surgery this week and, as any reasonable person would, is feeling apprehensive.
Yet when she expressed her concern, I responded: “Do you trust your doctor?”
“Yes,” she said.
“You know you will be at an excellent hospital, right?”
“Of course,” she replied.
“I’m sure you’ll be just fine,” I reassured her.
When I woke up the next day, I realized how inadequate my response had been. The focus had been on reassuring me, not her. After all, this is one of my best friends. I would be devastated if anything happened to her. Of course I was apprehensive. As her friend, I desired to comfort her, but I hadn’t.
A more thoughtful response would have been to give her a place to express her fears and concerns – to hear her with my head and my heart, to ask and then to listen.
“What parts are you concerned about?”
And she would tell me.
She would tell me more until she had been able to speak all those fears. Then I would say: “It makes sense that you would feel that way.” And, of course, it does.
Being positive and optimistic about the future is, I believe, essentially a more productive way to face the world. Yet not every situation requires us to convince the other (and ourselves) that all will be well. A more productive approach may be to hear the concerns, then seek a way to validate the feelings (even when we disagree with the facts), then find ways to either improve or accept what is.
Whether in our personal life or business lives, we have opportunities to listen and understand, to not assuage our own discomfort or disagreement with words of optimism.
Look for opportunities this week to listen and validate someone else feelings. You’ll be amazed at what you both gain.
Until next Tuesday,