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June 2008

If you've been reading my Laser Coaching Tips! for awhile, then you know I really like quotes. To me they are just little bits of wisdom that seem to show up for me at just the right moment. For instance, "People say what they say and others listen how they listen."

Have you ever said something to someone and meant one thing but they hear another? Or, have you not realized what you've said could be misconstrued from someone else's "discourses?"

The Merriam-Webster definition of the way I am using discourses is this, "a mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete contexts (as history or institutions)."

A more simplified explanation of discourses is how we came to be who each of us came to be. For instance, I am an American woman, grew up in the 50's and 60's, lived in 11 different places (cities, states, countries) before I was 20 years old, had 6-7 siblings, my mother was Irish Catholic, my father was Hungarian Jew, I graduated out of high school when I was 16, I have attended one college and two universities for a BSN and an MBA… discourses. These are where I draw my reasoning and the way I may "automatically" assume that when I say something, someone else may be listening the same way.

Can you see that someone from a home town of AnyTown, AnyState, USA, may have a completely different perspective than I when I speak? Even if I look into my immediate family, who was very much in the same living situations as I, they hear me from their own discourses; they are different ages, went to different schools, had different friends and how they hear me is not always the same.

When I notice that someone has been offended by what I've said, I pause to examine how what I've said might be construed. How might it have been listened to from someone else's discourse? This does not mean that I change who I am being for someone else; however, it gives me insights into how I may "leave" someone in a conversation - or how they have "left" me. If there has been a misunderstanding, I then have the opportunity to "clean it up" or have a conversation with that person to make sure that we are hearing the same thing. Think of meetings you've been in or situations where people have gotten upset and you've wondered what's going on with them. Could it be that this is an example of, "People say what they say and others listen how they listen?"

Your homework is this: if a conversation is going someplace other than what you hope it to be, stop, breathe, think and examine how what has been said could be something other than what was intended. And yes - please report back to me.

Happy summer!

Patricia

Patricia Hirsch, MBA, Master Certified Coach and Chief Empowerment Officer with Design Your Life Coaching