Ever been in the awkward position of being within earshot of an argument? Have you ever been hanging out with your friend and their boyfriend or girlfriend and a disagreement starts brewing; or even worse, everything’s fine and all of a sudden your parents start getting into it?
Since you can’t do what you’d love to, which is disappear into thin air, you do what’s second best, you stay out of it. You know better than to jump in or to offer your input or opinion. You do have an advantage though, because as the person not involved in the argument, you aren’t emotionally invested and therefore you listen objectively.
I’ve been in that position before, objectively listening to married friends argue, and among the thoughts that go through my mind are, Why are you yelling? Why are *you* mad? What I usually realize, that they’re too fired up to consider, is that they’re both saying the same thing, they’re just failing to effectively communicate their point in a way that the other can receive it in that moment.
One of my favorite books is Love & Respect by Emerson Eggers. The book is about how women place value on feeling loved while men tend to value being respected. When I hear an argument or find myself in a disagreement with someone, I think about whether the lack of communication and excess of frustration is because someone doesn’t feel heard and/or respected. If that isn’t the case, it’s usually a matter of tone.
You know how it is when someone, especially a parent, tells you something you probably need to hear but they say it in a smart mouthed, nasty, condescending, or belittling manner? It doesn’t matter if it’s the greatest advice ever, when it’s delivered ‘wrong’, it’s ineffective. Many times, good advice falls on deaf ears because it’s delivered with a sour tone.
Sweet Advice + Sour Tone = Deaf Ears
As you know, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. If your goal is to help, inform, or correct, than speak when you are able to do so with a polite and respectful tone. If you’re too mad, aiming to hurt, or don’t quite have the desire to do so yet, then shut up.