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It may have happened to you: You said something. And then the person you said it to or a person near you repeats what you just said … in a totally different voice and tone.
And their voice and tone didn’t sound nearly as pleasant as your own voice sounded in your head.
In fact, their playback sounded kind of negative. Is that really how I sounded? At the least it was the other person or persons’ perception. However they play it back is their perception of how it was said. (Of course your perception of their playback of your statement might be different than what they meant, too. OK, that’s getting too complicated perhaps.)
How others repeat what we said, though, can we be telling and if we are willing to listen we can learn from it and adjust our communication style.
When we are open to listen, we were just given the gift of in-the-moment feedback. You know the feedback that’s actually helpful. I like to compare it to the one time I was participating in a professional speaker training. I was speaking with my hands, but I denied that I was. The coach let me get back to presenting and at one point grabbed my hands, which were right in the front of my body flailing in front of my face.
“Please stop talking with your hands.”
Oh, I see. I guess I was talking with my hands. I didn’t believe it and with that couldn’t learn from it until the undeniable feedback was held (literally) right in front of my face.
In-the-moment feedback is so much more powerful than delayed feedback.
The trick is to be open enough to taking it in and learning from it.
Maybe I really sounded like that? Don’t excuse it or try to rationalize the difference in perception away. ‘Oh, they just took it wrong.” Yea, don’t do that.
Appreciate the feedback. Maybe even thank the person:
“Thank you for showing me how you perceive me.”
If there’s a question about the perception, now is the time to ask it. Gently. No accusations. Gentle fact-finding is OK.
Thank the person again for being so honest and helpful.
Then learn and apply – where applicable – anything that was learned from the encounter.