Listen. Apologize. Solve. Thank.
Listen patiently. Listen attentively. There’s nothing frustrating like having a thought or ideas and having the listener ignore you or maybe not quite “connected.” Listen to what they have to say. Don’t be in a hurry to make excuses. Listen first. This sets the stage for turning the conversation more productive. Frustration can also be on your end later. How many times have you been frustrated at not getting all the information and realize, you were the one that didn’t effectively listen to all the facts? Listen patiently. Listen attentively.
Apologize for what happened. Don’t take it personally. It’s not likely something you did directly, but apologize anyway. More often than not, the listener needs to hear you recognizing what happened and to take responsibility. “I am so sorry!”
The next step is to actually solve the problem. That’s the least we can do. Create a systematic solution in a creative and loving way. Did you offend the listener? What could you do differently in future conversations? How can you make the interaction better and create a better understanding for the next time you need to have a crucial conversation? Most of the time the listener wants… wait for it… to be heard and apologized to (“Listen” and “Apologize.) No excuses. Listen. Apologize. Then solve the problem, going the extra mile whenever possible.
Thank them? Absolutely. Many times a listener will not say anything further to us, but if they bring something negative to our attention, that is an opportunity for us to get better at serving them. Yes, I said serving.
Proverbs 15: 31-33
“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.”
We should always be serving others with understanding. That alone deserves a “thank you!” That heartfelt gratitude on our part may be all it takes to turn them from frustration to acceptance and appreciation.
My wife, Noell, says a phrase all the time: “Would you rather be right or happy, because you can’t always be both!” We even have an exercise at The Journey Training about being right or happy.