How Not To Open Up Emotionally
Howdy! A Portland, OR native, I currently reside in the northern San Diego County area as a freelance writer. When I'm not sipping coffee, soaking up some rays and writing or playing guitar you can find me at the hot yoga studio.
Here's why: It won't help you develop real relationships or move forward on your goals.
"It's not that I don't want to be transparent," you're likely saying to yourself. "I just don't know how."
People always ask "how to be a good listener" or "how to get people to like you" but they rarely consider "how not to do it."
When you feel called to get to know someone else's pain or excitement, the hardest thing to do is hold it together.
So instead of letting emotion out, you pull it inside.
There's great truth in language:
If you want to tear out your insides, you gotta put your insides away.
Sounds simple, right? But the reality is this.
You must tear yourself away from your feelings first before you can give someone else an ounce of your insides.
It's not fair to give someone else your authentic pain when you don't let yourself feel it.
When we walk through pain or joy, the most effective leaders and connect with others are those who aren't caught up in their own internal, emotional conversations.
Yet, if we want to accomplish our highest potential, we must get to a place where we're actually living without putting our feelings first.
And how do you get there? Here's how:
1. Develop real relationship-building habits
Your best connections are the ones that connect emotionally to others.
In other words, to be truly successful, we have to develop ways of connecting that center around the real connections.
In the world of business, you need to be able to get through hard conversations quickly, confidently, and with more ease than your conversation partners.
You have to be able to give and receive feedback, but most importantly, you need to have a great listening technique.
So how do you develop those skills?
People who build real relationships connect emotionally because they connect people to the truth in them.
They don't judge or criticize their relationships, they support, they coach, they enable.
The most important quality of a good listener is the ability to be an example for others.
That means you have to be the kind of person who can listen to what other people are saying and choose to tune in.
That means you have to be the kind of person who is ready and willing to say, "That was good" or "Thank you."
This doesn't mean that you don't have opinions.
It does mean that you need to be clear about your perspectives so others can get a full picture of what's happening.
When someone expresses themselves, we know when someone is reaching a point when they need to be listened to, when they want to receive feedback or when they are looking to be coached.
No one really wants to be criticized, but criticism isn't a sin in this context. In fact, it is one of the key ways to help people grow.
We all have disagreements, we all have different experiences and we all need different coaching.
As a good listener, you will be more objective and have an easier time making a clear judgment about someone's intentions.
You will become an unbiased coach.
2. Engage your core instincts
Most of us tend to react to every situation based on emotion.
In fact, when we don't know what to do, we tend to make the situation worse by letting our emotions take over.
So, you must break that pattern.
The most effective people in the world aren't the ones who are focused on their own feelings and thoughts.
They are the people who listen, who encourage, who teach, who inspire.
They are people who feel deeply, but also choose to walk through their emotions.
If you want to get to the heart of people, you have to turn off your own brain and really listen.
And, most importantly, you have to listen to what other people are saying.
You have to listen and be the example for others that you want them to follow.
An effective listening strategy is a mix of showing people that you're ready to hear them and that you're ready to lead.
Your listening strategy can be two-fold.
You can listen to them to allow them to express themselves and show them your compassion and generosity, and you can lead with your experience and knowledge and your "why" so you can relate to the situation.
3. Shift the focus of the conversation
You're the best people in the world if you can shift the focus of a conversation.
When you get uncomfortable, you shift the conversation so it doesn't force you to feel uncomfortable.
The amazing thing is that when you make yourself vulnerable and turn the focus to the other person, you actually tend to make a lot of progress because you have fewer reasons to dismiss what they're saying or focus on your own discomfort.
It's a reminder that one of the most important things about relationships is that we become less self-focused and more aware of the other person.
If you listen carefully, you can start to see the world from other people's perspectives.
So, how do you do that?
Focus on the person as a whole person. People really are different.
It's amazing to see how every person is a different combination of all their experiences and all their experiences come together to create who they are.
Look for opportunities to recognize that person's "why." Ask them about that and then listen.
Ask them questions to get to know more about who they are. Really listening is a form of asking questions.
If you give people the chance to respond with their ideas and insights, you do not only get a better idea of what's going on, but you actually get to hear more about the person.
Another way to shift the focus of a conversation is to start by showing that you're ready to receive.
If you're focused on what they said and what they didn't say, you won't feel in charge of the conversation. That's an inviting message.
Another way to shift the focus of a conversation is to acknowledge their accomplishments.
This is something we sometimes do without thinking.
Instead of focusing on what they said or didn't say, or what you think they should have said, consider what they did say.