It seems to me that we all want to be “right” as opposed to being “wrong” when we talk with someone; that someone might be a spouse, one of our children, a coworker or colleague, or the gas and electric company.
But is being “right” or “wrong” really what builds relationships and connectivity with others?
My premise is that being “right” produces a different feeling than being “connected” AND that it is better in the long run to experience feeling “connected” than “right.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, when you’re talking to that aforementioned utility company or the phone company and your money is involved, you definitely want to be right!
But, if we are honest with ourselves and courageous enough to take a look, we’ll find that, in many other circumstances in our lives, it would have been better to have felt connected than right.
Take marriage, for example.
The next time you have an interaction with your spouse, take note of the PROCESS of how the two of you communicate with each other.
Oh, sure, we’re all tuned in pretty darn well to the CONTENT of the conversation, which, interestingly enough, is closely related to the idea of who is “right” or “wrong”.
The process, on the other hand, takes into account the STYLE of communication (tone, timing, eye contact, touch), as well as other factors like the INTENTION or agenda of the communication.
If you’ve studied my LVAC model at all, you know that if we follow the acronym and Listen, Validate, Ask open-ended questions, and Comment last, we get a different feeling than when we Comment first with our opinion or what we think is “right”.
That feeling is what I call the Spirit of LVAC; it’s the spirit of paying attention to the process and therefore the connection between you and the other person, more than focusing solely or even primarily on the content and who is “right”.
So, in short, think content=Comment=right vs. wrong, whereas process=Listening, Validating, and Asking=connection.
Try to remember that the next time you engage your spouse or your kids, or anyone for that matter.
Well, okay, maybe not the phone company.
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, “Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand a Few Things First)