Friday, December 30, 2011

Talking It Out joos

"Anger blows out the lamp of the mind," said Robert Ingersoll.

It may be true. I heard a story about one woman who ran a classified ad in order to sell her brand new car. It had only 3,000 miles. "Like new," the ad boasted. "Mint condition. $75.00."

He laughed to himself, and said, "There goes the newspaper, making another mistake." But he decided to call the number anyway and ask about it.

"Is it really brand new?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Three thousand miles?"


"The price?"

"Seventy-five dollars," she answered.

"Seventy-five dollars! Lady, what's wrong with it?" he asked.

"Nothing is wrong with it. And, amazingly, you're the first to call. I suppose nobody else believes the ad."

He decided to look at it. She let him take a test drive. The car looked exquisite and ran perfectly. He just couldn't believe his luck.

"The car is yours for $75.00. Just drive it away."

He paid her and took the keys. "Please tell me, lady," he persisted. "You could have sold this car for $65,000, at least. What is going on?"

She told her story: "I bought the car for my husband on our fortieth wedding anniversary. Two weeks later he ran off with somebody else. Last week I got a text from him. They are in a resort in Miami Beach, Florida. The text said, 'Need money, sell car, send cash.' I did."

What do you do when you are angry?

Some people "act it out." They break something. Or they say something they later regret. They strike back. Or they sell the car for $75.00.

Other people "wait it out." Waiting it out seemed to be her husband’s strategy. Let her cool down – it will blow over. But the avoidance of conflict usually never ends well. It just doesn’t go away by itself.

Others "take it out." They kick the dog or scream at the kids. They lash out at the next unlucky person they come across.

Still others "fight it out." With friends and family, fighting it out becomes bickering. On a larger scale, it’s called warfare.

Of course, the best idea is to "talk it out." Nothing new here – we have to bring it up before we can get it out. But talking it out isn’t shouting it out. I think some people believe that if they just say it loudly enough, they can make it so.

Talking it out is about bringing it up – saying what needs to be said clearly, calmly and kindly. But it is also about listening. I think it’s interesting that the word "listen" contains the same letters as the word "silent." I know that I can’t listen when I’m talking. I can’t listen when I’m figuring out what I want to say next. I have to be still. I have to be silent.

And when I’m silent, something almost magical happens. Walls come down and I can begin to see my way through. When I’m silent I create space for something new to grow between us.

ACT IT OUT and your actions will become a block to good communication.

WAIT IT OUT and you just let it build up inside.

TAKE IT OUT and you cause more hurt and anger.

FIGHT IT OUT and you create winners and losers.

But TALK IT OUT and you can get it out. Be honest. Be clear. But, be reasonable. And then be silent. Let the magic of the moment ferment so that understanding can grow.

Maybe then you can keep the car.

-- Steve Goodier

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