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This Is Why I Pause Before I Speak

A visualization that helped me grow thicker skin.

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I have recently started to pause before responding. This is new for me. I'm starting to think this pause might be the most important moment in the conversation.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

It's in this brief moment of quiet that I like to imagine the following...

I like to my imagine my view of the world is always obscured by a tinted box. I can't see clearly because of this box. It is my own self-interest.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Additionally, all of my experiences are like filters that fall into place and further obscure my vision. Everything I view is seen through this very unique set of filters.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

The same is true for everyone. Thus in any conversation, I'm dealing with someone who sees the world quite differently merely by virtue of the fact she's had different experiences.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

So before I speak, I need to take a second to consider how these filters are affecting my opinion.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

And before I interpret what she says, I need to consider how her experiences might be vastly different than mine.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Let's use my home state as an example. I know I can't think objectively about it. I tend to get defensive when people badmouth it. (For you, it may be your favorite musician or book or whatever.)

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

If I don't pause to consider our respective filters, I often react emotionally when someone shares a negative opinion.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

But if I do pause and think about our respective views, I'm less likely to be offended and more likely to respond with grace.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Not only that, but the conversation takes on a much different tone if we relay our respective experiences. I can probably relate to being bored on a highway, and she can relate to great childhood memories.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

While not a perfect fix, I have found this little exercise has vastly improved many of the conversations I have! What strategies have you found helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

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