I used to be a big lacrosse player. And I loved it so much that after practice I would drive over to a school in my neighborhood and throw a ball at a stationary wall over and over again.
The ball would bounce off the wall and I would run wherever it went trying to catch it.
Over and over again.
Repeating the same skill. The same process.
What was different about this repetition was that while it looked like I was doing the same thing again and again I wasn’t. Sometimes I would throw the ball at a slightly higher angle or lower, from close up or far away. Each time – I changed my interaction.
I could also say that if I did stand in the same place each time, practicing the same throw, again and again – it wouldn’t be the exact same throw, as I’d be shifting, learning, changing to get the right outcome.
Shifting and changing is something we don’t do much of in conversations. Often we stick to a phrase, or perspective and we don’t budge. We say the same things again and again even when we see that our words aren’t having the impact we’d like or really aren’t helpful.
We wonder why others aren’t listening to us, or paying attention. We blame them for not understanding what we’re saying or caring.
Over and again by having the same interactions in the same ways we put ourselves in a powerless position.
But if we shift how we interact within the conversations, maybe saying something kind instead of hurtful, asking a question instead of making a demand, stopping ourselves from focusing on the person and instead the direct experience or the problem, we move into a more empowered stance.
We’re no longer stuck in the question of “why someone isn’t x” and have moved into the questions of “how can I”
- How can I see this interaction differently?
- How can I approach this conversation differently?
- How can I change my reaction to this situation?
- How can I learn from this interaction?
When it feels like you’re saying the same thing the same way again and again – acknowledge it. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Simply become aware of what you normally repeat that isn’t getting the result you desire. Then choose to shift and open up the conversation. Move away from the default question of why isn’t x happening and instead ask yourself one of the how questions above.
By asking these kinds of questions we add space to our conversations. And adding space to our conversations brings clarity and creativity.
It’s once we create room that we find new ways to approach and potentially solve old issues. It’s like what Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”by