I have to admit. I was (still am?) the obnoxious person who argued for the change in that feature because it “was the right thing to do.” Or that we should do things this way because it was more efficient. I still tell my husband to go this way because it’s faster. When Esther drives me somewhere in a rental car, I can make her nuts because I tell her where to go, when to turn on the signal, the whole shebang. Some of that is about control because with my vertigo, I have much less control over anything. Sometimes it’s because I am convinced I know the Right Thing To Do.
People used to tell me all the time that I “shouldn’t care so much.” Oh, that’s an infuriating statement. Why should I care less? This is my job or my life. I am supposed to be less professional? Care less?
One possible interpretation of the situation is that I already had my Transforming Idea and was onto Practice and Integration, and had not brought the other people along with me. They didn’t see the same problem I saw, so they were still in Old Status Quo, or were still in Chaos. Another possible interpretation is that I was a jerk. Another interpretation is that the problem I saw didn’t exist. (Ouch!)
If we agree that maybe there was a problem and I did see a solution, I had already had my Transforming Idea. What I didn’t have was a way to show or explain that idea to other people so they could see it easily. Looking at them like they were stupid was not helpful. Telling them it was obvious was not helpful. Step-by-step instructions were not helpful. Arguing for an idea, stuck on a position is not helpful. All of those things tend to be obnoxious.
Instead, as I have matured just a little over the years, I have learned to explain my principle behind my position. “Oh, here’s the problem I see. Here’s why it bothers me. Here’s what I want to do about it. How does that affect you?” Then I wait (well, when I remember to wait) for the other person to talk.
I wish I could tell you I was perfect at this. I remain a work in progress. But when I explain what I see, my reality, it helps the other person see what I see, and helps them understand why I am so concerned.
I haven’t heard “Don’t care so much” or some other horrible phrase like that in years. Thank goodness. The last time I heard it I wanted to throttle the person. And then I realized they were trying to be helpful. I thought of sailing, a good single malt scotch, and a massage. It didn’t help. I left the room. When I calmed down, I thanked them, and explained that telling me not to care doesn’t help me. Letting me explain why I care so much does.
If you find yourself getting wound up about something, check a few things:
- Are you getting stuck on a position?
- Have you explained your principle behind your position?
- Have you explained what is affecting you in specifics, with examples? If it’s a gut feeling, can you explain any more than your gut?
- Have you explained what you want to do about the problem, not just leaped to a solution?
- Have you explored several solutions?
- Have you asked how any of your solutions have affected the other person?
I almost always get stuck on a position, so I rarely have to proceed down the rest of the list. You might have to have your own checklist that’s different from mine. Make sure that your checklist includes the other person.
When you’re going through change, you may well want to hang onto things you know. You may want to change things you can see need to be changed. You will care—deeply. Telling someone not to care is not helpful. Hearing that you shouldn’t care so much is not helpful. If you hear it, try a little checklist like this. If you’re tempted to say it, try a little checklist like this. Scotch is tempting, but is a short-term band-aid. Look for the principle behind the position on both side, at least as a start.