It’s hard to hear from anyone ways in which you can change or be a better person.
No matter how it’s said, chances are you’ll feel criticized. For myself, there are factors that change how I feel about what is being said.
Is it coming from a friend that knows me well?
Is what they are asking me to change an easy fix or does it require an overhaul of my personality?
Do I value this person’s opinion or insight?
Will their suggestion bring better changes in my life? Or just make their life easier?
Is what they are asking even warranted?
When a friend you value, tells you that you’ve hurt them with your comments, actions, or attitude you have a decision to make. Do you listen even though you may not agree or choose to ignore them? Do you take into consideration what they’ve said? How do you decide if it’s something legitimate that could be playing out in different areas of your life or if it’s an issue that was specific to a situation or person that’s not likely to come up again? Is the person just angry at you and choosing to unleash an undeserved attack?
We can find many excuses to not listen to what someone has said to us. I’ve had to look at many of these moments in life that I’ve created for others and that others have provided for me. I’ve learned that a lot of what people have expressed to me was legitimate and it gave me an opportunity to be a better person and friend. For the most part, you need to remember that if you are hearing the same thing over and over again it’s probably true and it’s probably you! If you’re not sure ask someone. Most people won’t tell you if you do something they don’t like, especially if they are not invested in your life– they will just avoid you and so if you are fortunate enough to have people in your life that point these things out, take advantage of it by listening.
Sometimes in these situations, when people point out things I need to work on, I want to over-examine and over-explain my position to the point where it can appear that I’m not receiving what I’m being told. I think it’s in my personality to try to articulate my reasoning for my actions as a part of building a bridge of communication. I don’t always agree to why people think I do the things I do, but I work hard to accept their thoughts about how my actions impact them and it’s been valuable in my relationships. I heard it best said- do you want to be right…or in right relationship? I think if you have to be so logical and correct all the time that you’re willing to throw away a friendship then you have a problem.
Trying to act like I’m perfect or have no room to grow will only hinder my progress as a person. I gravitate to people that have done the work of listening and changing in their lives. They are some of the kindest, open and funny people that I’ve met. In contrast, there are people I’ve met who can NEVER be told they do anything wrong no matter how nicely you say it. They are people who are hard to work with and draining to speak to. They are usually lonely difficult people who struggle with close relationships and always look outward to blame others when interpersonal issues arise.
It’s not just about listening to what is being said you also have to take steps to be better. Those of you who know me personally know that I can be a chronic interrupter. Because I have friends who have pointed this out to me in the past, it was easy to acknowledge because I know it’s true. I’m conscious of it now. The hard part was to hear how my interruptions hurt others or made them feel devalued. My knee jerk reaction is to tell them “Of course I care about you and what you’re saying” but it doesn’t matter what I intended if that is what they are feeling. I have other friends that don’t mind my interruptions and find them funny. Either way, it’s something I’m constantly thinking about when I’m in conversations with friends that have brought it up. I try to be mindful when I’m speaking to new people or people who are more sensitive to my interruptions. I’m happy to say that I’ve become a better listener so that I have SOME people in my life that don’t think I’m an interrupter at all!
If you want to grow as a person
- Find people you can learn from
- Stay around people who challenge you and tell you the truth
- Don’t avoid the pain of correction, it’s worth it
- Learn how to be vulnerable and honest with others about what you need from them
Blind spots can get in the way of your growth but if you want to thrive as a person you need to become self-aware and reflective and not afraid to know the truth about yourself.