We Had an Argument | Episode 10

We Had an Argument | Episode 10

Do you think you’re a good listener? Are you really hearing what your partner is saying? How can active listening help you to work through conflict?

In this podcast episode, Billy and Brandy Eldridge talk about active listening and how to work through conflict resolution in a relationship.

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In This Podcast

Summary

  • Shut down or blow up?
  • Frustration
  • Active listening

Shut down or blow up?

Draw a line with an arrow on each end. One end is pointing towards shutting down and the other towards blowing up. In the middle of that is learning and listening. That’s the window of tolerance. Billy found himself withdrawing, shutting down, and not listening to Brandy’s pain and frustration. He felt powerless and couldn’t fix it, but he wasn’t hearing that Brandy didn’t want him to fix it, she just needed him to hear her, empathize, and resonate with her frustration.

Frustration

It feels to Brandy as though Billy’s work and priorities are number one and she constantly has to readjust her plans. She’s working 40 hours a week with three kids at home and it is getting frustrating. The kids are getting frustrated too. Billy acknowledges that Brandy isn’t just putting the kids in front of the TV, there are so many things that she is doing to keep the machine that is their family going. He thanks Brandy for that, appreciates her and apologizes for when he doesn’t show it. That’s all Brandy needed – validation and understanding.

Active listening

When it comes to fostering a connection between people, it is mandatory when it comes to resolving conflict. You will never fully, mutually, resolve a conflict unless you employ active listening because someone’s going to be left feeling resentful, unheard, they’re going to have to stuff it… unless you put this stuff in play and it’s a life skill anybody can use.

Being a good, active listener, is the crux of everything. It is the crux for solving conflict, validating another human being, especially the ones you care for most in life. Whatever your profession you have to be mindful of that. Everyone needs to be heard.

  • Start with understanding that your whole mission in active listening is to listen with the intent to understand the other person.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Let the speaker finish before you respond.

We often listen to respond, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say in response instead of letting their words “marinate” and absorbing them.

Clarifying

Clarifying is very important. It’s inviting the person you’re talking to, to explain some aspect of what they’re saying to make sure that you are really getting it. E.g. Billy says that what he hears Brandy telling him is that she is frustrated being at home and is overwhelmed with the kids, instead of defending why he thinks he’s being attacked. Clarify, don’t defend.

Paraphrasing

When you listen with the intent to understand your partner, if you can paraphrase what they’ve said to you and they’re okay with what you’ve said, then you’ll be done with the conversation. You don’t need to try and fix anything, you need to understand. You re-clarify, you re-paraphrasing, until you get to the point where you fully understand what they’re bringing to you.

Are you ready to find the freedom to be yourself as a beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free beta revolution course is for you. Sign up for free.

Useful links:

Meet Billy Eldridge

billy-eldridge

Meet Billy, the resident beta male. For Billy, this is a place to hang out with other beta males and the people who love them. We’re redefining what beta males look like in the world. I have learned to embrace my best beta self, and I can help you to do the same. As a therapist, I understand the need to belong. You belong here. Join the REVOLUTION.

 

Meet Brandy Eldridge

brandy-eldridge

Hello, Beta friends. I am an alpha personality who is embracing the beta way of life. I feel alive when connected with people, whether that is listening to their stories or learning about their passions. Forget small talk, let’s go deep together. Come to the table and let’s have some life-changing conversations.

 

Thanks for listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[BILLY]:
Hey guys. I am a therapist and between writing notes, filing insurance claims, and scheduling with clients, it can be hard to stay organized. That’s why I recommend TherapyNotes. This easy to use platform lets you manage your practice securely and efficiently. Visit therapynotes.com. To get two free months of TherapyNotes today, just use the promo code JOE, capital J-O-E when you sign up for a free trial at therapynotes.com.

Hey, friends. We hope you’re having a good day out there today. We always want to be open and honest and forthcoming with you and that’s what we want to do in the episode today. So, I’ll start with, we had a fight. Today’s episode is going to be on active listening and how to work through conflict resolution in a relationship, and we’re going to use our life as a guide through which, we do that well sometimes and sometimes we fail miserably, but we still come to the table. And we try and we feel that that’s what relationship is all about.

[BRANDY]:
You sound so somber, like light… I mean, it’s like we fight all the time. This is not like you came on like, oh, we had a fight… like this is normal.

[BILLY]:
Dearly Beloved…

[BRANDY]:
Don’t make it sound so bad. We’re okay. We fight every day.

[BILLY]:
I was trying to set the mood.

[BRANDY]:
Well, you said it like it was…

[BILLY]:
We had a fight.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, like, oh, guys, we’re coming to you today. It’s been… We’ve had… like, come on.

[BILLY]:
I’m a feeler, it weighs heavier on me. You kind of dust yourself off and move on.

[BRANDY]:
I compartmentalize. That’s it.

[BILLY]:
I can’t, and it moves across every bit of my being. When we are not well, I am not well throughout my day.

[BRANDY]:
And I do love that about you, sometimes. I do, but go ahead, I’m sorry.

[BILLY]:
I don’t sleep well. I don’t move well through the world when there’s conflict. It sits like a rock in the pit of my stomach until it’s resolved. Which is kind of funny because I withdraw, and I withhold. So, what I want to ask you guys to do, to draw a line in your mind with an arrow on each end, and one’s pointing towards shutting down and one’s pointing towards blowing up. And in the middle of that is learning and listening.

[BRANDY]:
Like if you had your arrow on you, what would it be?

[BILLY]:
Shut down.

[BRANDY]:
And mine would be…?

[BILLY]:
Blow up.

[BRANDY]:
Absolutely.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. So, in the middle, that’s the window of tolerance. And during times of stress, it’s a much smaller window of tolerance. And what we want to do is teach you guys some skills to open up that window of tolerance so we have room to listen and learn from one another, because it’s really about hearing the other person’s pain and what they’re going through. And what I found myself doing the other day, was withdrawing, shutting down and not listening to Brandy’s pain, and her frustration. What was happening on my end was I felt powerless. I couldn’t fix it. But the thing I wasn’t hearing was she didn’t need me to fix it. She just needed me to hear and empathize and resonate with her frustration.

So here was the deal: getting ready for work. Brandy is home with the kids because it’s COVID-19. She has a full-time job. She’s working on her doctorate. I get to go to my office because my work’s HIPAA, confidential. For me to have my conversations over televideo or live, I can’t be home with the kids. So, I get to go have a little space, a reprieve. She’s here at home, doing teleconferences for work, kids crawling all over, still trying to manage the nonprofit that she’s [unclear], and her level of frustration was building. And when she brought that to me, I heard, you’re failing as a husband. You’re not helping me. What were you really saying?

[BRANDY]:
That was a little bit of it, for sure.

[BILLY]:
I was looking for something that, no, that’s totally wrong…

[BRANDY]:
Let me clarify. I am very happy to be home with my kids during this time. This is fantastic time to be with them as a working mom who’s always worked; I’ve never stayed home with the kids.

[BILLY]:
You’ve never not worked.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, I’ve never not worked. I love being home with them. My frustration is they want to do things. I want to do things with them. But I have, it feels like, 20 Zoom calls a day and 1000 emails a day and just I’m still working…

[BILLY]:
And it’s, “Mom, mom, mom, mom”.

[BRANDY]:
Yes, and I’m still working full time. So, the argument the other day was we both had a nine o’clock session. I had a nine o’clock Zoom with important people on the call and you had a nine o’clock therapy session. But I still have to get the kids in a room, get them together, tell them not to come out. We have a four-year-old that doesn’t understand that all the time. It’s so frustrating, and you just walked off, and I’m like, hey…

[BILLY]:
I just got ready for work in my normal routine. Dad’s out.

[BRANDY]:
And it was okay the first week. I was trying to manage it the second, but now I am still working 40 hours a week from home with children. Plus, I’m working on a doctorate and you took… the night before you were in a board meeting that lasted two and a half hours, and I missed my study group, because you didn’t consider like, hey…

[BILLY]:
Wow, I didn’t even know that.

[BRANDY]:
I know. But it’s on our calendar. And it’s like, you still have the same routine, as you’ve always had. And you just expect me to be here doing what I always do, taking care of stuff. And it hit a point yesterday, when you just got ready and started to leave, and I’m like, hey, I have a meeting too. Can you help me? Like, help me? And not considering like… I was really ticked off the night before about that board meeting. First of all, a board meeting shouldn’t take two and a half hours.

[BILLY]:
Well, and that’s where I felt trapped. I was, you know, I’d signed up to be a part of it, and I’m on this board that does good work in the world. But I didn’t get to set the agenda, and when it started…

[BRANDY]:
You never thought…

[BILLY]:
I should have had some boundaries and just said, I have to leave at this moment to go be with my family.

[BRANDY]:
Or my wife has a thing too, that she’s committed to and I need to be home to help her, but you didn’t even ask. And I asked you what time would you be home? You said six, and then you went oh, I forgot about a board meeting. That was two and a half hours long, which is ridiculous.

[BILLY]:
And an hour into it I was going crazy.

[BRANDY]:
Then you should’a just gotten up and left.

[BILLY]:
Like, this thing needs to end; we’re going over pointless data. This could have been done in a short email. I’m frustrated, I come home frustrated after a long day. I feel like I’m drowning in obligations. And then I hear from the person I seek comfort from, that, you know, where are you? And I’m trying to show up, and I’m trying to be here, and there’s so many moving parts. And now that’s me complaining because I am privileged, and we’ve looked at the data and the statistics. When you have two working parents, the bulk of the work still statistically falls on the mother just because of old patriarchy and there’s not an equal division and I’m trying, but I still fail.

[BRANDY]:
So, I was sitting at home working, trying to have deadlines met with three kids whom I love, and they’re doing the best they can in the situation, they really are. I’m looking for reprieve and you tell me you’re going to be home at six. And I have probably 40 emails that I need to answer and I can’t answer because every time I go down to write a sentence, it ends up like, okay, so and so I need you to be at da, da, da, da, da, toilet paper, poop, because Poppy’s… our daughter, Poppy, is all over us. And she’s talking and she needs mom and they’re stuck at home. So, I’m looking forward to that six o’clock reprieve so not I can sit and watch TV, so I can finish my work. And then I have a study group that I missed. So, it was culminating, right. And all this stuff happened. The big thing is you didn’t listen to me. I just needed to vent, I needed to get upset and say I’m frustrated. I’m overwhelmed. I need help. I need help. And when I do that you shut down because you take it personal.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. I take it personal, and I think that’s where… the misstep; I internalize it and go to my own insecurities of you’re not enough, and unworthiness, and you’re dropping the ball, you’re failing, that old stuff. And when we talk about it, you know, a lot of it goes back to our childhood and not being enough for… When I’m my most confident, secure self, I can walk in and step up to the plate and listen and hear. My window of tolerance had shrunk.

[BRANDY]:
And mine too.

[BILLY]:
And my stress level had gotten to a point where I withdrew, you blew up.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah.

[BILLY]:
And we stopped listening and learning from one another. But what I hear you say today in my calm, regulated self is Brandy, you were overwhelmed, you were frustrated. I’d come in a lot later than I said I was going to be which would be frustrating. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would be frustrated too. I’m so sorry that I put my obligations above yours and didn’t take time to sit down and hear you out and just be there and be present and work on a solution if that’s what you wanted. And if not, if you just needed to vent, just to listen.

[BRANDY]:
I think leading up to it, we didn’t communicate this week, right, like…

[BILLY]:
I shut down for a couple days.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah. And you said, well, I just forgot about the board meeting. Well, I get that, but I had obligations too. And you didn’t say, oh my gosh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had that. You committed to that too. And it’s just, it feels like all the time your work and your priorities are number one, and I have to constantly readjust my plans and what I have to do. I run… I mean, I don’t run, I hate to say that word. I work at an organization that is still working 40 hours a week. And I’m doing it with three kids at home. And it is getting frustrating. The poor kids are frustrated, you know, they get tired of mommy saying, just go in there. We have paid I don’t know how much to prime video this month because I’m like promising them every video they can watch, just while mommy’s on this Zoom, can you do that?

[BILLY]:
And another thing on top of that, you haven’t just put them in front of the TV. You know, I came in the other day briefly to get a bite to eat and our son’s on his Teleconference with a speech therapy teacher learning how to pronounce his R’s. And you remembered that, you had that on our calendar, and you made sure he made it. And I realized in that moment, there’s so many things that you’re doing to keep this machine going that is our family, and I thank you for that. And I appreciate you. And I’m sorry for when I don’t ship that.

[BRANDY]:
Thank you. Okay. So, anyway, enough feeling… enough with the feeling stuff.

[BILLY]:
Those darn feelings.

[BRANDY]:
Thank you for saying that. That’s all I needed. I think that’s all I needed, was validation and understanding that hey, Brandy, you were burning at both ends, too. And I see that, I see you and I hear you. That’s it. But if we would have communicated that week, more than we did… So today is about active listening. And it’s so funny because it’s something that we’ve found on a handout that I use when I worked with teachers, and then I’ve used it at work, the reason…

[BILLY]:
You brought it into my grad class for pre-practicum for counseling students, because I believe it’s so necessary in counseling, in relationships, to be a good active listener; it’s the crux of everything. It’s the crux of solving conflict, validating another human being, especially the one you care the most for in life. Thank you for teaching it to me.

[BRANDY]:
Well, I need it. I’m a bad listener. I’ve always been a bad listener. And I know that it doesn’t bode well for me, especially when I have employees that need to be heard. And I’m not good at it. And you’re not good at it outside the chair, outside of your therapy session. And I think that’s part of it is… and I think we’ve said this before, too, is that you spend all day long listening to people and you’re so good at it, but when you come home, you’re done.

[BILLY]:
Well, and that’s back to self-care and boundaries, you know, when I burn at both ends too, and I spend all my emotional energy at work, then that’s not fair to my family. So, I’m learning.

[BRANDY]:
And I do the same thing,

[BILLY]:
Whatever profession you’re in, we have to be mindful of that.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah. And I do the same thing. I’m listening or trying to, and when I come home, our four year old who probably wants to talk more than anyone and be heard, she gets the least of me, when I think a 30 second check in with her would be great. But anyway, this is from Boston University. It’ll be on the show notes. It’s a very easy, quick guide. And I have to constantly remind myself of this because somebody will come in my office and I’m in the middle of something and I don’t want to talk. And I think, but wait a minute, they need to be heard. They need to be heard. And I have to practice this and there are some times they come in and I’m terrible at it, and start giving my opinion right away and start talking at them and telling them what I think they should do. And really, they need to be heard, just like I need to be heard, and you need to be heard and our kids need to be heard. And so, it looks different for every relationship, whether it’s a work relationship, a partner at home, children, friends, I’m really bad at friends, sometimes I just call them, and I unload on them. And then I forget that I didn’t even ask them how their day was. And the truth is, I didn’t care about their day, I just needed to get this off. That’s not a good friend.

[BILLY]:
So, how do you do this?

[BRANDY]:
It’s very easy. And it’s simple things to remember. And I always want to leave our listeners with easy takeaways that they can do. Just easy things that they can say; when I get done with this conversation and somebody calls me, here are a couple things that I can do and so, active listening, I think you have to start with understanding that your whole mission in active listening is to listen with intent to understand the other person. That’s it. Your job is just to listen, to understand what that person is saying to you and oftentimes, and I know you’re very guilty of it, I don’t want to call you out, but I’m totally calling you out.

[BILLY]:
I love how you… Yeah, that’s good.

[BRANDY]:
And me too, just not as bad as you. But me too. And I have to notice that when you’re doing it, I step back because I see myself in you. And I go, oh shit, I do that too.

[BILLY]:
Sometimes we can see in others what we can’t see in ourselves.

[BRANDY]:
Absolutely.

[BILLY]:
So, go ahead and tell me what I do, so you can know more about yourself.

[BRANDY]:
That’s right, is interrupting people when they talk, because I have something I have to say.

[BILLY]:
What are you talking about? I don’t know what you’re…?

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, there was a time that… and I’m ashamed of this, like this brings shame on me. We were at lunch with a couple. Our pastor of our church, he and his wife. And we’re talking and I was getting very passionate about the things I was saying, and you kept interrupting me, and you kept interrupting me and I couldn’t finish my sentence. And here’s where the shame part comes. At one point, I was so frustrated with you because I couldn’t finish anything I was saying, you kept interrupting me. I like, looked at you and went, shhhhh, and put my finger over your mouth, and went, just let me talk. I shushed you…

[BILLY]:
You shushed me in a restaurant.

[BRANDY]:
In a restaurant, and put my finger over your mouth, in front of our first lunch with our pastor and his wife, and I know they looked at me like, holy, they got some stuff to work out.

[BILLY]:
We do.

[BRANDY]:
We do because we both have this personality. And it was like, I was so mad at you. I’m so glad that I shushed you and I didn’t stick a fork in the side of your jugular because I was like, I can’t even get a word out, Billy. And it was my subject that I was passionate about, it was what I was dealing with. It was talking about child abuse and you kept interrupting me. Oh, and I’ve shamed over that. Like, I cannot believe I shushed my husband. I’ve never shushed you and put my finger over your mouth and then the one time I do it’s with another couple and I was like, just shame came over me.

[BILLY]:
But I needed it. And I was doing a lot of, probably, mansplaining.

[BRANDY]:
Yes, you were.

[BILLY]:
And over speaking. I grew up with a lot of that and it’s not what I want to be in the world. Oh, old habits die hard. So hard, but.

[BRANDY]:
Okay, so, quick tips.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. How do we do this thing called active listening?

[BRANDY]:
It’s so easy, but it’s so difficult.

[BILLY]:
Let’s tell em. They’re hanging on, they want to know.

[BRANDY]:
The first thing is just listen more than you talk, which sounds so simple, but it’s the hardest thing to do. And the second one…

[BILLY]:
Well…

[BRANDY]:
You little doody-head.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, I just jumped right in there. I’m gonna go ahead and let you go with it.

[BRANDY]:
Thank you. The next one is let the speaker finish before you respond. How easy is that, Billy?

[BILLY]:
I actively just showed them how to not do that. That was my plan.

[BRANDY]:
That’s perfect. That was the do’s and the don’ts. That was wonderful. Thank you for doing that. So, listen more than you talk. Let the speaker finish before you respond. And it is frustrating for somebody like me who wakes up at a [unclear], and moves at a fast pace, and has a lot of energy, to be married to this beta male who talks very slow. And so, I’m waiting for him to finish but he’s still in the middle of a sentence because he goes to the next… so I’m always waiting for him. But what I’m not doing when I’m waiting for him to shut up, basically, is I’m not listening to understand what he’s saying. And so…

[BILLY]:
What are you listening to do?

[BRANDY]:
I’m listening with intent to understand, and not come up with the next thing I want to say.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. Because I think that’s often what we do. We listen to respond. Like, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say in response, instead of letting their words kind of marinate, you know, in our intellect and taking them in and absorbing them. One of my favorite stories from John Gottman, he was on the Dax Shepard podcast, and he told of an exercise he did with his wife one day, where she needed to unload some things and she said, are you really ready to listen? And I’ll paraphrase, it’s not exact, but he sat down with a piece of paper and he likes to write out and he began to write, and he said he wrote out for an hour what she was saying. And then he didn’t respond, he took it and he read it and he took the words in until he was able to empathize and come back to her and articulate back to her, to her level of understanding that he knew what she was saying. And I don’t have that kind of patience. But I have at times.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, you did it the other day. We were sitting in the kitchen talking about something, and I kind of… I don’t talk forever, like, I want to get this out and then move on, because I don’t like to stay with one thing for very long. And I got it all out and you listened, and you said, okay, so are you saying this? And you repeated it back to me and it was exactly what I had said in three sentences. And that is one of the active listening skills, of clarifying. You asked me, is this what you meant? And after my five-minute rant, you did it in one sentence, and I went, yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. You went, okay.

[BILLY]:
So clarifying is very important when it’s inviting the speaker, the person you’re talking to, to explain some aspect of what they’re saying, to make sure you’re really getting it like so what I hear you telling me is that you’re very frustrated being here at home and overwhelmed and with the kids, instead of defending why I think I’m being attacked. So, clarifying, not defending.

[BRANDY]:
And then paraphrasing. We’re not going to go into every one of these; there’s lots of them, and you can look at it and choose the one but the paraphrasing to me is the most important because when you listen with intent to understand with your partner, if you can paraphrase what I said to you, and I’m okay with what you said to me, I’m done with the conversation. So, if I’m arguing, or if I’m telling you, I’m just so overwhelmed right now, and you say, so what I hear you saying is you need help at home. No, that’s not what I’m saying. Please try to understand me. I’m saying this, and then you go, so you’re just mad at the kids all the time. No, that’s not what…

[BILLY]:
Well, that’s antagonizing, that’s manipulative.

[BRANDY]:
No, I’m not saying that.

[BILLY]:
Yeah.

[BRANDY]:
I’m not saying that. I’m saying you’re just not listening to understand. I don’t think you were being antagonizing or manipulative.

[BILLY]:
Well… But you’re trying to fix… you know.

[BRANDY]:
Yes. You’re trying to fix something and I don’t need you to fix; I just need you to paraphrase what I’ve said to you, in the way that when you say it back to me, I go, yeah, that’s exactly what I meant.

[BILLY]:
Well, and that’s the way we get children to understand and sometimes, as an adult male, I need to be treated.

[BRANDY]:
No. Well, yeah.

[BILLY]:
With my son, and I’ve learned this from Brandy, is she’ll sit him down, and she’ll say, now, repeat back what I told you. You know, you don’t need to hit your sister with the plastic bat, now repeat back. So, to make sure he gets the message. Now, we’re not talking in those ways. But if you can explain back to the person they can say, no, no, no, that’s not what I was saying. What I was saying was… You re-clarify, you re-paraphrase till you get to the point where you fully understand what they’re bringing to you. This will defuse so many arguments; you’re listening and learning. You’re not withdrawing from the conversation. You’re not blowing up and defending yourself. You’re not shutting down and stonewalling. You’re not letting your ego get engaged and blowing yourself up. You’re just staying right sized, in the moment, with another human being in front of you, trying to absorb what they’re telling you because you care about them.

[BRANDY]:
And even if you don’t care about them, you need to pretend you do. I mean, that’s the truth. When you’ve got work relationships, family members, in laws, cousins, whatever it is, neighbors, you have to practice this with everyone. Doesn’t matter if you care about them or not. It’s the right thing to do.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, well, one of my favorite phrases in recovery and it’s said many different ways, but you don’t think your way into the right acting, you act your way into right thinking. So, it’s behavioral, not cognitive. We’ve got to get out of our head. When you act in these behavioral ways, your thinking will begin to change, and you will become more compassionate towards other people in your life.

[BRANDY]:
I think the majority of arguments and the majority of, I don’t know, frustration…

[BILLY]:
World conflict.

[BRANDY]:
It just comes from not being heard and not being listened to. And I know for me, in the way my brain thinks, I need to move on. I don’t like listening to people very much because I don’t have… my mind is going in so many different ways, I have to stop. And one of the things that I’m not good at, it’s why I don’t like yoga, it’s why I’m not good at meditating, is I don’t slow down and reflect. And that is the part that I need the most help on is reflecting. And when someone is sitting in front of me, including you or our kids who I love more than anybody, I still am thinking, the more they talk on about this thing, like Poppy was talking about a princess house the other day, and she just kept talking and talking. She really wanted me to hear her. And I was like, Uh huh, uh huh. I had to stop, and I said, Poppy, that sounds great. And I talked to her about it, and then she was done.

[BILLY]:
Yeah.

[BRANDY]:
And it’s the same thing when I’m in front of people, I have to stop and reflect, and reflecting is the part I need the most work on. But it’s trying to understand; just stopping and reflecting, what are they saying? What are they feeling? What is the content? And just let the other person know that I am trying to understand their message and their perception. And that is my weakest, weakest spot. But I think before we can clarify, before we can paraphrase, before we can do any of that, we have to stop and reflect and really ask ourselves, what are they saying? What are they saying to me? And you can say that in a conversation; okay, give me 30 seconds just to think about what you’re saying real quick. Understand, you can perceive their emotions very quickly if you just stop. You can see their body language; you can hear the tone and you just give yourself that 30 seconds. For some people it may be more. For me, it’s like 15 seconds. Just really quick. What are they feeling? What are they trying to say to me? And then I can go, do I need to clarify? Do I need to paraphrase? Should I summarize? What skill do I need to use?

[BILLY]:
And I think one of the biggest across all of these; if you’ll do this, it’ll supercharge this skill. You hold it without judgment.

[BRANDY]:
That’s tough.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, just remove judgment. Allow it to be neutral, what they’re saying to you. When I personalized it the other day, and I took it on as a personal failure, and it was about me, I made it about me and not about you; you were needing to be heard. But I made it all about me and about what I felt and went to self-pity, shame. That’s what leads into the withdrawing and going inside myself. If I could hold it without judgment, and here’s a human being I love and care about that’s needing to be heard. Let me hear what she has to say. It’s a very Buddhist principle of removing the attachment from the statement and just allowing it to enter into the air, process the words…

[BRANDY]:
Reflect.

[BILLY]:
Reflect on it, take it in. And, you know, we’ll give this cheat sheet. It’s so easy. But oh, I think it’s so important when it comes to fostering connection between people, it is mandatory when it comes to resolving conflict. You will never fully mutually resolve a conflict unless you employ active listening because someone’s going to be left feeling resentful, unheard, they’re going to have to [unclear], unless you put the stuff in play. So, man, this is a life skill anybody can use.

[BRANDY]:
And it’s something we have to practice, it’s that muscle memory of practicing and I’m…

[BILLY]:
I don’t know that you ever get it.

[BRANDY]:
No, I mean, I don’t know; some people may, they may be the best. And we have friends that are fantastic listeners and people that really take this in and that’s great for me.

[BILLY]:
It doesn’t come naturally for me.

[BRANDY]:
There’s so much in my life that I have to work on, and just work on constantly. This is just adding it to another list. But if I can do three things like, that’s it, just take away three things like, you can read this. It’s two pages. It’s a handout, it’s very easy. But if I can take away and practice three things when I listen, then I’m good. And the first one is, listen more than you talk. Just listen more than you talk. For me, my next one is let the speaker finish before I respond, like that’s the next one. And then my third one is reflecting, for me, these are my three takeaways. I have to reflect so that I know where to go after that. Because once I reflect, for me again, in my experience, and how I listen, I want to talk before that other person’s finished, I want to finish their sentences. And then I don’t take the time to reflect and listen through the intent to understand; what are they saying, what are their emotions, where do I need to go, how do I stay neutral? If I can do those three things, I’ve just beat myself in listening forever, your three things may be different.

[BILLY]:
Well, my three things are those three things, and then just adding on top of that, that layer and that blanket of withholding judgment.

[BRANDY]:
Which happens in the reflection stage.

[BILLY]:
Yeah. Just remove judgment from the conversation and allow it to be heard. Hold it lightly. Don’t take myself too seriously. And that’s the biggest thing. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Because I spent two days withholding, withdrawing, and spending unneeded energy on disconnection from the person I love most in the world. You don’t have to do that today. Open up to the people you love and care about, the people you work with, that it’s hard; fake it till you feel it, sometimes.

[BRANDY]:
Fake it till you feel it.

[BILLY]:
Hey, y’all have a great day, and we enjoyed being with you. Have a good one, guys.

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