Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Less is More

In personal disputes with others, I am learning that less is more.  Though I still have this compulsive tendency to want to answer and explain and refute every single point or every single accusation... in verbose detail... with charts and footnotes... something has been happening to me over the last year or two.  What happened?  I finally started listening to myself.

See, everyone has this "sixth sense" that picks up what is not said by people.  It reads body language.  It reads tone.  It senses emotion and tension.  It sees the big picture.  It isn't always 100% accurate, but it is pretty good.  This part of you contains your internal reactions.  These reactions are triggered for reasons, real reasons -maybe not always reasons that pertain to the current situation, but real reasons nonetheless.  And when you start to listen to this part of you, funny things start happening.

First of all, you pick up things that you wouldn't normally pick up.  You can pick up when, for example, someone really has no desire to listen to you.  You can also pick up when the person's accusations were thrown out there only to make you feel bad, manipulate you, and throw you off balance.  Therefore, if you listen, you can ascertain when to save your breath.  You can understand pretty quickly when it is not about facts, not about evidence, but about them getting you to do what they want.

Why play into the hands of someone who wants to throw you off, who wants to put you on the defensive, who wants you to feel like you need to answer all of their questions and give an account to all of their accusations?  Why play into this kind of game?  I can think of no good reason.

This doesn't mean you need to write them off.  That is up to you.  But you have the freedom to choose because you can transcend the game.  You can confront the game and say something like, "Whenever you are done, let me know," or you can choose to walk away, "No thanks.  I'm not doing this."  No explanation required.  Why spend 30 futile minutes trying to explain something they probably can't see to begin with?  That is just playing into the game, again.

Unfortunately, there is the downside to this.  People won't like you.  See, people who play these games (and we all do) are used to expecting others to go along with it in order to "make nice."  Most people aren't even aware of when they are being emotionally manipulative.  They aren't aware of their ploys because, to them, that is normal.  That is how they handle things like anger due to feeling rejected.  It is unconscious.  So, when you don't play into their game it will only incite their anger more.  They will accuse you more -they will especially accuse you of being uncaring (because, to them, people who care will play into the game... they always have).  They will play victim more.  They will guilt-trip you more.  You will definitely be a bad guy...  But you just saved yourself a whole lot of headaches, conserved some very useful energy, and resisted enabling someone's emotional head-trip.  You're welcome.

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