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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sometimes the best thing to say is NOTHING!

Another one of those social topics or techniques I had no concept of growing up because my family was loud, talked a lot and generally left nothing unsaid....

Even if it should have been.

It was a running joke that when all the Millers got together, it was a contest to see who could shout the loudest.

Partly as a result of this heritage, my "filter" for expressing myself was "No filter".

It took me about 50 years to realize this is probably not the right approach if you want to live a peaceful, productive and healthy life.

My son was always pretty good about knowing what to say and what not to say in critical situations so I started seeking counsel from him.

And the results of a healthy and active lifestyle, better nutrition, more sleep and less stress and the effects of aging seemed to have lessened my desire or need to talk so much and increased my understanding of listening and sometimes doing or saying nothing.

I've had several situations, encounters or interactions with people over the last year or so that has really illustrated how important it is to understand and practice this simple act of social elegance.

Perhaps ironically, all of these interactions have been with women.

I think it's most appropriately used with women than men because the interactions with women can often be more "feeling"  than fact based.

I'm a Problem Solver - I want to fix things and make them right.  To analyze the situation, figure out what's wrong and talk about and put into motion the things that are gonna make the situation better.

In a lot of cases involving intense feelings and emotions, especially if there's some history or precedent involved, the last thing the other person wants to hear is the solution to the crisis. They may just want you to "suffer" and take it.... feel a little bit of the pain and frustration they feel.

They own the pain and perspective of that situation and they want you to know what that feels like.

If you stand up like a racketball wall and bounce the pain back at them with your logic and reason, all they're gonna get is more pain returning with velocity and forethought.

And maybe also ironically, in most of these cases I'm referencing, in the end analysis, I really hadn't done anything wrong.

There was a history or a misunderstanding or just a need to vent that had absolutely nothing to do with me in particular and everything to do with the other person.

My approach with each circumstance was a little different but was always based on two ways of handling things:
  • Just shut up and listen.
  • If I said anything, it was to agree, console, support or accept blame, responsibility or at least complicity.
And in every case where the other person was just too jacked up emotionally to avoid getting jacked up emotionally myself, I just said "Hey, you have every right to be upset.  I understand but there is just no way I can talk to you about this right now. Can we talk about this again tomorrow?"

Every single freaking time I did that, I got some text or communication in follow up apologizing and thanking me for understanding.

And the situation was always resolved amicably.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.

And sometimes the best answer is....

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