“When it comes to human nature, there are as many mysteries as there are revelations.” So said The Grasshopper yesterday.
It seems the essence of the message is that “people will surprise you.”
That should come as no surprise.
We have been attempting to classify people from the dawn of time. There are many personality models that have surfaced over the years – too many to mention – and they all tend to want to sum us up in a sentence.
I find these personality typing systems helpful in a global sense. They help me quickly home in on the personality I’ll be interacting with. They get me in the ballpark. But after that, it becomes a bit more unpredictable.
That’s when the ability to respond comes into play. That means we can’t remain on a step-by-step path when another steps out of character. If we do, the interaction comes to a halt and there is no communicating going on.
Reminds me of an old talk show technique. Pretend that you have a guest that you haven’t prepared for and their topic is one you’re not familiar with. After you introduce them and ask your first general question or two, you then go to what I call “the last sentence mode.” That means that you formulate a question on the last thing they said. “Yes, this car of the future comes with a 4 barrel ashtray.” “So, I’m sure our viewers/listeners are curious, what is a 4 barrel ashtray?”
This keeps the communication going as you respond to each new surprise.
People won’t always react the way your preferred typing system predicts they will. When they throw you a curve ball, that’s when to throw away the manual and reach for a response. That means you’ll have to let your conditioned reaction go by so you don’t swing and miss. When you recognize the curve, wait for a response that’s not pre-programmed and offer it instead. It keeps the communication going and prevents it from devolving into chaos.
Responding keeps you flexible. You’ll succeed more often when communicating with others when you opt out of rigid reactions and offer flexible responses instead.
Dr. Dave Dobson told his students to respond to a critical remark (a surprise) in this fashion:
1. Ask a question in response to the remark.
2. Ask with genuine curiosity.
3. Ask the question in “neutral.” (That means to take the implied “screw you” out of your voice).
This allows the communication to keep going and gives you a much better chance for a productive outcome than had you offered your initial reaction.
I don’t think the mystery of human nature will ever be solved, so when a person puzzles you, make sure to respond.
All the best,
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