I don’t know about you, but I often get frustrated in conversations when the other person simply will not slow down long enough to hear what I have to say.
On a number of occasions lately, I have had the opportunity to work through these types of conversations with other people. We both wanted to be heard, and both of us were talking.
In reflecting on the situations, I recall some things I learned as a practicing engineer. I remembered concepts from the physical world that paint a clear picture by way of analogy for how we can better connect and communicate with others.
Imagine that you have a sealed container of some kind. It could be a pressure cooker on the stove or a carbonated beverage bottle on a warm day. They both demonstrate my point.
The sealed container has pressure in it greater than the pressure exerted on it by the environment. As a result, venting the container causes the liquid inside to vent out of the container.
If you want to put something new into the container, you can either let what’s inside it vent to reduce the pressure before pouring in the new contents or you can push the new contents in at a high pressure.
The first approach takes a little patience, but it doesn’t take much energy.
The second approach can seem faster in the moment, but it takes lots of energy and it creates the risk of rupturing the container.
I think that people are sort of like the containers in my example above.
When they have pent up emotional pressure inside (anger, frustration, pain, etc.), they have to vent what’s inside of them before they can receive any new information. They have to be heard and understood before they are ready to hear and understand.
Keeping this thought in mind, here’s a communication tip for you. The next time you are confronted by a really agitated person, give them a chance to vent before you attempt to deliver your message. Once they relieve the pressure inside of themselves, they just might be willing to listen to what you have to say.