Times when someone pulls you aside to tell you about being hurt by the things you’ve said / done are rare.
As you currently scan your memory for times when those close to you have done that, try remembering how you felt.
Those moments of unadulterated authenticity seem to cut through the social fabric of the current moment. There would be no more social filters to soften reality’s bluntness. In such a case, another individual would look you in the eye and tell you that you’ve hurt them.
As the recipients of those truthful remarks about our behavior, we can scramble to figure out how to react in the face of their presentation.
Much too often, our defense mechanisms get tuned to ‘autopilot’ as we focus on the dissection of facts and falsehoods. In an effort to protect ourselves from the “macro” of the situation at hand, we have a tendency to dive into the specifics of what we’ve said, whether we were right to say it, and why what we said shouldn’t have hurt the individual expressing pain.
That approach of acquitting ourselves of guilt is an unwise one. Pain is seldom curbed by reason; especially if that pain is rooted within a shaky logical foundation. If the goal is to limit pain, the desire to argue against someone’s authentic feelings isn’t bound to lead you toward the achievement of that goal.
A fact you’d have to swallow, is one which dictates you to have caused someone else pain notwithstanding how you reason yourself out of doing so. Your management of the situation in which an individual tells you how you’ve hurt them can improve more than just the relationship you have with them. Rewarding, and encouraging, those who tell you how you’ve hurt them can result in you personally benefiting from the situation.
This article aims to explain why encouraging others’ honest and direct recitals of how you’ve hurt them is the right approach to take.
Combating Secrecy Entails Training Those Around You to Express Frustrations
The most obvious advantage of being open and encouraging while listening to someone’s recital of being hurt by you comes with allowing them to have their feelings heard and adhered to. Since you’d be the source behind their pain, a satisfying itch for them to scratch would be to address you face-to-face.
Allowing someone to address how you’ve hurt them face-to-face will do well to curb their desire of publicizing what you’ve done. You’ll limit the chances of the individual in question speaking to others behind your back about the actions you took and the words you said to deliver pain.
A person-to-person conversation develops a certain bond, especially when that conversation’s subject is a sensitive one. Your understanding, apologetic, and encouraging reaction to someone’s recital of being hurt by you will allow them to leave that conversation with a certain respect for you. That sense of respect will be rooted in you not being defensive in the face of the things they’ve told you about yourself. They’d feel as though all their points have been heard and most importantly, delivered / understood.
A lack of a defensive response on your end will motivate them to feel a sense of closure for the situation at hand.
Acting in ways which are the opposite of understanding, apologetic, and encouraging would entice the individual you spoke with to propagate their point so it’s heard and understood. They’d not only feel wronged by your initial words and actions, but they’d be surprised at how impenetrable their attempts at communicating honestly are with you.
The natural next step for someone who doesn’t feel a sense of closure is to look for it elsewhere. Especially since their vulnerability would have flown over your head, they’d have a stronger desire to tell their story to someone who’d listen.
You Will Be Rewarded for Being Understanding in the Face of Volatile Moments
You’re likely familiar with the mental processes which transpire in those who block themselves from being vulnerable around others. An individual who attempts to mask all of their vulnerabilities has likely been taken advantage of prior. Their attempts to never show any vulnerabilities are often a response to either one or many traumatic attacks on their vulnerable traits.
Someone expressing how much you’ve hurt them will inherently need to expose a vulnerability of theirs that you’ve served to exploit. For instance, a person who asks you to stop mentioning their ex-boyfriend will have to unveil the fact that it’s a vulnerable subject.
Perceive the people who directly talk to you about how you’ve hurt them as brave, because it takes bravery to expose a vulnerability. A favorable reaction on your part will thereby feel akin to taking a breath of fresh air after leaving a fuming sauna. The individual confronting you will feel a distinctive sense of relief, and their publication of a vulnerability would seem to have been worth it.
By serving to protect that vulnerability with your calming and welcoming reactions, you’ll entice the individual in question to be counter-intuitively thankful. They’ll feel a sense of respect for your decision to be sensitive to the vulnerabilities they expose about themselves.
An Education on How Even the Most Righteous Actions Can Deliver Legitimate Pain
As someone reading articles such as this in your spare time, you’re likely a strategic thinker. You seek to learn what actions are best to take in certain social situations. Control over others isn’t necessarily what you seek. Balance is more like it; to be an arbiter of a peaceful sense of social order.
Life’s surprises are most painful when all evidence points to there not being a reason for their existence.
A flat tire is most surprising if you’ve made the walk around your car whilst tapping each tire with your foot the day before. Everything can seem fine and all the tires can appear to be in working order. History would thereby point to there being no reason to expect the worst on your way to work the following day. But alas, you’d now be crouched on the shoulder of the highway in your nicest pair of dress pants.
Discovering that we’ve hurt others is sometimes surprising for the same reasons. We may have grown used to particular allowances for our humor’s boundaries around our group of longtime friends. As we meet new people and visit new places, the things we do and say can often elicit unanticipated reactions from our audience.
Your encouragement of others’ tendency to remind you of your potential wrongdoings will bring with it a fruitful opportunity for self-improvement. Your openness, encouragement, and empathy in the face of being told how much of a jerk you may have been in times past will allow you to grow accustomed to – and expect – such surprises. You’ll begin to realize just how many factors play a role in how you influence others socially. Every precaution you take will never seem to be enough, and your respect for extraneous factors’ ability to fog up the lenses of perception will grow.
You’ll be able to act on that information, along with simply being scared by it. Encouraging a solid stream of such discourse seems to be a wiser strategy than blocking it out. Encouraging others to tell you when you cause them pain works to cultivate a mutually beneficial and deeply satisfying habit.