The quieter you become,
the more you are able to hear.
--- Ram Dass
What I often call ‘Male-Answer Syndrome’ is to try to fill any gap in conversation with words in order to attempt to resolve any problem immediately. Many people, particularly men (although many women have picked up this quality as an unfortunate bi-product of their struggle to climb the corporate ladder) waste mega-joules of valuable energy attempting to fix others’ problems.
What other people truly want is not to hear solutions (e.g. “Have you tried this?”) but compassion and understanding (e.g. “What you’re going through must be really difficult. I would be having a tough time with it too”).
This kind of admission of your own vulnerability may make your stomach churn—yet if you can’t genuinely own up to your own challenges and insecurities, how can you expect others to? The risk of such behavior is to end up in a make-believe Pleasantville where all the actors try to appear perfect and fill the space between them with endless dialogue devoid of real depth or learning.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).