“You’re too sensitive. You need to loosen up. You seem offended; you want me to leave? You acted like this yesterday, too. What’s wrong with you?” I overheard this conversation while I was seated at an outdoor cafe. The gal had walked up to a couple of gents having lunch and started in on her assessment of how she was being received. She was clearly a mutual “friend.” But in my eyes, she certainly wasn’t acting like a one.
Her message: You shouldn’t be who you are. You should be different. You should respond the way I want you to when I interact with you. Otherwise, something is wrong with you.
Her conclusion: The way you are is wrong, and I don’t like it! You need to change.
She ended her visit with a parting, “I love you.” Smile, smile, kiss, kiss.
My response: Really? If you love him, or even like him, then start acting like it. Accept him for who he is and don’t expect him to adjust his behavior to meet your expectations. Meet him where he is. At the very least, be sensitive to the response you are eliciting and respect it.
The communication skill here is to focus on the reaction you are receiving rather than the response you think you should be getting, and then assess your own behavior. Spin it on its tail – “Hmmm, you aren’t responding the way I’d expected or hoped. I’m getting an unfavorable response to the manner in which I’m engaging with you.” Stop. Look. And Listen. Think – Maybe I need to adjust my approach in communicating with you if I want a different experience instead of pounding on you and then telling you how you should respond.