Ever experienced this scenario...
A friend reaches out and asks to share an experience with you. Do you assume a role of "witness" and try to show up as your friend needs? By listening to understand. Being there as they need it.
Or, do you find that you get swept up or flooded by the message, emotion, and instead of "pausing" to understand and trying to be "objective" you respond by reciprocating with a like experience or furthermore you set a bigger, greater, more grandiose experience?
Do you Yardstick?
Do you try to measure up or outreach your friend...
Don't fret, this is a common occurrence and most often done automatically. It takes practice and patience to actively show up open and prepared when friends, family, or colleagues engage us in a conversation.
Have some grace with yourself as well. Often, we are not sure the role that our friends, family, or colleagues would like us to hold in the conversation. By default, we may "yardstick" in an attempt to reciprocate empathy and understanding.
"Hey Shirley, I'm feeling down today, I just paid my rent and that wipes out my bank account for the month." Shirley, "I get it, my dog got sick and the vet bill was more than a person pays for their house."
While Shirley was trying to show up for their friend and reciprocate their understanding of the situation, unintentionally, Shirley may have dismissed their friend's attempt at sharing and disclosing a challenging situaution. All the while, Shirley set out the "yardstick" to demonstrate they have a bigger problem. Which may have led their friend to second guess if Shirley was the person they should open up to.
Contrast that conversation with this attempt by Shirley..
"Hey Shirley, I"m feeling down today, I just paid my rent and that wipes out my bank account for the month." Shirley, "I'm sorry to hear that. How can I help? Is there anything I can do to support you?"
In this case, no "yardstick." Shirley focuses on their friends' challenges and offers space for their friend to offload the challenges and experiences.
Next time a friend, family member, or colleague initiates a conversation, pay attention to how you show up. Be mindful that you might default to measuring up with a like story or even a bigger story that lays down the "yardstick."
If you find that you may "yardstick" - no worries. Commit to showing up for others with a neutral mindset and be open to allowing the focus of the conversation to be on them.
Seek to understand how can I show up...