A Little Less Passion, Please?

Can they see it?  No.  But there’s a reason it’s called ‘eyes glazing over’ — there’s an elusive, a visual-seeming cue they were supposed to pick up on, but you don’t know how to convey “you lost me” without interrupting or walking away or outright rolling your eyes.  And you aren’t about to hurt their feelings just because you think they might be… weird.

So you don’t care about _____ (fill in the blank).  You don’t know much about it, or don’t like it, and generally wonder what others get out of talking about it with you.  They sure don’t get to hear about what you’re passionate about.  They sure don’t get positive feedback.  They sure don’t get… YOU.

If you’ve ever felt like this in conversation with a neighbor, I would be surprised if it didn’t occur to you to resolve to avoid this (or them) in future.  As honored as you should perhaps feel that they’re investing their time in you, it feels more like you’re being used or not seen.  It hurts a bit, actually, beneath all the glazed-overness goo.  You want out, and if you stay, it’s so you have choices in future.  The name of the game now is ‘escape.’

Stop.

Have you ever been that person?
Have you ever learned later that someone’s “eyes glazed over” but you took all the cues the wrong way, and wish they’d stopped you?
Have you ever thanked a great friend for reaching out and touching you to let you know your own eyes had glazed over then your passion for a subject left them behind?  Wasn’t that disarming?

Well, it’s impossible to avoid going overboard altogether, but here are some tips for what to do when you’re not sure it’s happening:

♪♫ A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Compassion-in-Action, Please ♪♫

I know you have your moral imperatives, or pet peeves.
They’re what motivated you to slow down and…  ….   …to heave
a big sigh, turn to neighbors, turn to ‘just anyone’
so you could feel like your outreach could reach ‘everyone’.

But I don’t care if you dare live completely plastic free!
(You’re my personal hero!) I still dare you to be
patient…  <sigh>  …Very patient and wise.
Note the glazing of eyes.
Learn to chit-chat;
and to combat
only internal lies.

Lies like “everyone should” and “if only ___ then”…
If you love fiction so much then pick up a pen.
Pen a novel.  Is it novel?  Or are you just mourning
that this neighbor IS who you were destined to meet ever since this morning?

This neighbor’s so-called ignorance or insensitivity,
or their disinterest in what you find fascinating is exactly
what we need:
they’re divergent, see?
Is there diversity
in the society
you’d like to see?
Accept you’ll disagree.

But They’re Wrong!

…OK…  You needn’t suffer long.

  1. stop, breathe, “wipe the glaze off,” and listen to their tone
  2. ask about the feeling, ask them to help you hone in
    on the source of their passion, what experience they had
  3. ask what led them to share it with you…? why the tad
    of urgency(?) or trust in you(?) (instead of “why me?”
    try “what’s up in your life right now that you so want me to see?”)

Be surprised at the results.  Even if you can’t interrupt
if you guess at feelings, guess why they’re sharing, you might find they abrupt-
ly make more sense, or pause thoughtfully, or thank you for your letting
them bend your ear.
They may tell you here
“there’s more…” but they’re forgetting.

They’re so Quiet…

If you’re rambling, do the same thing for yourself:

  1. is (s)he quiet ’cause (s)he’s listening in spite of him-/herself?
    Breathe, stop (forego criticism!!) tell them
  2. “I get so excited
    (or upset or whatever the case may be) “when that topic is ignited.
    Thanks. I bent your ear
    — but how DID we end up here?”
    …insert awkward pause while they help you remember…
  3. “Ah!” share why this came up for you, allow yourself to feel tender
    asking them: “what, exactly, happened just now, did I loose you?
    I want to honor your thoughts, give you space, meet you–not abuse you!” 😀

Again, be amazed at your results, and try to remember:
You have us to lick your wounds with, so do it: dare be tender!

The best chief is not the one
who persuades people to his point of view.
It is instead the one
in whose presence most people find it easiest to arrive at the truth”.

~Mohawk Wisdom

If leadership is meaning-making in a community of practice,
then finding out what the meaning is of conversing at all – of connecting at all –
DURING the very conversations that, over time, become your shared language,
is a necessary skill for birthing the community of practice.
It is similar in importance to a parent’s skill at attending to an infant’s needs,
singing, muttering, or giving words to her feelings, and their own.

Gently interrupt, or at least take time out to ask yourself –optimistically– why you’re speaking/listening.
What could a higher good be in this sharing?
Is simple listening what is requested?
How is our allowing each other to be so very different good for each of us; humanizing?

This is leadership.  Welcome to the club.

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