I love this message from Roger Schwarz. I’m publishing it here in full. If you’re stuck for a gift, this is THE one.
The gifts I’m talking about aren’t tangible – no iPods, gift cards, or chocolates. These are gifts of understanding, learning, and connection.
Unfortunately, some of the most valuable gifts you are offered in conversation come horribly wrapped. They look bad, sound bad, and can even feel bad to open. Because we judge the gift by its wrapping, we don’t like to open these gifts – and we are poorer for it. Imagine you’re having a conversation with a direct report about her performance and she says, “I would have achieved all my goals this year if I had support from you.” If you ignore the comment, simply disagree, or say, “We’re here to talk about your performance, not mine,” you’ve just rejected the gift you’ve been offered. If you want to open the gift, try saying something like, “I thought I was supporting you. Tell me more; what are you thinking I was doing or not doing that didn’t support you?”
If you want to get better at recognizing and open gifts, look for times in a conversation where the person says something that bothers you, confuses you, or that you disagree with. These are powerful opportunities for learning.
As you get together with family and friends in the coming days, be generous in your conversations. Look for gifts you can receive and ways to respond that deepen your relationships.
Best wishes for the new year,
Reprinted from Fundamental Change: “Written and edited by Roger Schwarz, Copyright © Roger Schwarz & Associates, 2008. All rights reserved.”