Reframing Conversations

A while back, a friend wrote a great post about how she’s no longer going to say sorry. OK, before you think that sounds like a jerk move, she’ll still apologize for those times when she’s an asshole, accidentally thoughtless, or breaks a commitment. But, she’s not going to say sorry for things she’s just not sorry about. It’s an interesting concept and the post has been rattling around in the back of my mind ever since.

A short time later, I ran across a post that talks about replacing the word sorry with thank you. This is another interesting concept and finding this article may have kick-started my brain on its own. But, finding the two so close together had a real eye-opening effect on me. The universe has a way of surfacing what we need when we need it. And finding these articles came at a perfect time.

The struggle is real, yo.

Although I’ve never been professionally diagnosed, I’ve battled depression my entire life. There are many levels of depression and for the most part, for me, depression has been a low hum in the back of my mind. But, from time to time, the dial gets cranked way the hell up. For the past two years, that dial has been fluctuating wildly.

One of the “fun” side effects of depression for me is Imposter Syndrome. That nagging fear that at any moment, everybody in my life is going to find out that I’m a terrible human and have absolutely no skills whatsoever. My wife and kids will surely leave, my boss will fire me on the spot, and every friend I have will immediately block me from their lives. It would be embarrassing for me to tell you how much time I’ve spent worrying about these things.

I tell you this for two reasons;

  1. It actually feels good to talk about it. Because not talking about it means keeping everything bottled up inside and that just makes me feel worse about everything.
  2. I came to the realization that when I’m struggling with Imposter Syndrome, the way I talk to people can change drastically.

Watch your tone, Mr!

I’ve mentioned it before, but 2017 was a really tough year. It’s no surprise that my Imposter Syndrome was running rampant throughout. But for the past several months, I’ve really been focused on centering myself and paying attention to how I feel. One of the things that I’ve been hyper-aware of is how I communicate when writing emails. What I’ve noticed is that how I’m feeling dictates the tone of my email. Here’s an example that happened last week.

A lady contacted us about getting an estimate for a project. I needed to ask her for additional information before I could get her what she wanted. I popped open my email and started typing the following:

“If you wouldn’t mind, could you please tell me a little more about…”

When I read it back before hitting send, I had to ask myself, why would she mind giving me more information? She’s looking for info from me, and for me to give her what she needs, there’s something I need. There’s no reason for me to start the email this way.

I know this probably seems minor, but this isn’t just about being passive. This is the Imposter Syndrome rearing it’s ugly head. This is me feeling like I’m being a bother. But, by being mindful and paying attention, I rewrote the opening line as:

“Please tell me a little bit more about…”

The difference is subtle. The client likely wouldn’t have noticed either way. But I noticed. And by making that one simple change, on that day, in that one instance, I won. When you’re fighting something like  Imposter Syndrome, those little victories make all the difference.

 

 

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