We all know the type: That person who offers up opinions when we’re least willing to hear them, almost like they are able to sense when we are in a vulnerable moment and know just when to pounce.
When this happens our brains go into fight or flight mode before our attacker even opens his mouth., Our instincts take over whether we walk away or not, and we essentially check out of the conversation before it begins.
Well, here’s my (albeit unsolicited) advice on what to do the next time that happens:
Recognize your instinctual reaction to shut out the person, and stop it.
Pretend you’re listening to someone else if you have to.
Listen and absorb what he or she is saying, even if on the outside you appear to be focused on something else.
Recognize it as an opportunity for improvement.
You’re probably wondering why on Earth I would advise this. Well, chances are that if you’re a halfway decent person you aren’t going to immediately walk away from the conversation anyway. It’s also likely that listening to what he or she has to say will be less time-consuming than coming up with an excuse to leave, or otherwise arguing the point.
It actually takes more brainpower, not less, to shut someone out. Shutting someone out also negatively affects your brain chemistry from that moment forward, even well after the conversation is over. Have you ever noticed that engaging in even the smallest negative behavior actually affects your mood? It’s the opposite of the old adage “smile and you’ll feel better”. By bashing that person in your mind or, worse yet, voicing those opinions to a friend or coworker, you’re allowing him or her to affect you well beyond the moment of advice giving.
Further—and I know this seems ridiculous—you might actually hear something beneficial. Most likely you’re under the impression that you’ve heard it all before from this person. But if you already hate what he’s saying before he even speaks, you probably never actually listened in the first place. At the very least you’ll walk away with a different perspective.
Q FOR YOU: When is the last time you reacted poorly to unsolicited advice and later wished you'd heeded it?