Glenford Smith | Break those negative mentalities
QUESTION: I have to commend you on your weekly articles. The articles are outstanding each week. You might not hear from me, but I am still reading your articles. I was recently reading an article that you wrote, titled 'You don't have to like someone to learn from them'. I can so relate. I am currently working with my father, and it has not been an easy road so to speak. We all need to break these negative mentalities that we've so easily conjured up.
ANSWER: Thank you for your commendations and for writing in. Even though you've said I might not be hearing from you, it makes a huge difference for you to write in and say how helpful the articles are, like you have. Your letter had to be condensed due to its length.
Many people I used to work with, and some I meet today don't like a supervisor, a manager or a fellow employee. And they allow their animus to get in the way of them learning activities both crucial to their jobs and otherwise. They feel that they don't have to learn from the person.
Many persons fail to understand that they do not have to react angrily to a slight or a provocation. If you are going about your business and you hear someone saying something that would normally get you angry and upset, take a pause. Realise that the person's words cannot harm you. You can let the person speak.
The truth is that we can learn to train ourselves to listen and not interrupt. Other people have a tremendous amount of wisdom they can teach us - if we would just listen. In the case of someone we don't like, this is doubly important. It is when you are angry and emotionally charged that you don't listen.
You are intent on saying your piece and being understood. In the process, you learn nothing. Remember the saying of the late Stephen Covey in his book First Things First: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." When you discipline yourself to listen and understand things from the other person's perspective, you increase the chances they will want to hear what you have to say.
If you suspect somebody does not like you and that person has something valuable to teach you, seek that person out. That is how we are going to break those negative mentalities down. They are merely mindsets that we have adopted, and have come to believe are the truth.
If, in fact, the person really does not like you, do not let that intimidate you. Approach them the same way and seek to find out why. Seek to learn the reasons why they think that way and clarify. Do not argue. Go in a spirit of genuine curiosity and inquiry.
Mentors, teachers, and guides surround us every day. It is essential that we listen even to those we think don't like us. It is equally important that we practice the art of disciplining ourselves in order to make use of the wisdom of those we don't particularly like.
- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.