LISTEN and PAUSE
Person A: (sharing their thoughts) "I think I'm going to start collecting dice!"
"What do you want to do that for?"
"You've got enough clutter."
"That's a silly thing to collect."
"Mice are horrible smelly creatures, before you know it you'll have a hundred of the stinky little blighters running around chewing through the wire cables everwhere, and you never even looked after that stick insect I got you last year, all that trouble I went to making that cardboard box house --" etc etc etc
"Why? Are you going to use them all?"
"Is there money in that?"
"You can't make a career out of collecting things."
"Where are you going to get the money for that?"
"I knew a guy who collected stuff, became a horder, awful mess - there were rats everywhere and one day the cat disappeared, and then the council --" etc etc etc
"I collected rocks when I was younger but then I grew out of that"
"Don't expect me to tidy them up all the time."
"Not with my money you're not."
"You're always coming up with crazy ideas that never amount to anything."
"What do you want ice for? You're not keeping it in your room. Are you doing something strange in there?"
<shakes head sadly>
PEOPLE WHO LISTEN AND PAUSE, AND THEN RESPOND:
"Dice? That's a nice idea. How did you think of that?"
"I have a couple you can start your collection with if you like."
"Oh yeah? Great!"
"Do you have any now, or are you going to look for some?"
"Like old dice from op shops? Or new ones?"
"Do you want me to look out for some when I'm in the shops?"
"You're an interesting person!"
"Did you say mice?" "Oh! Dice! Cool!"
"Do you think you might display them, or keep them in a box or something?"
<nods head encouragingly>
You know - two of the saddest things about the people in the first group up there?
They don't learn new stuff because people don't dare share their thoughts with the unkind, reactive person in the first place. Or if people do share their thoughts, they tend to shut down pretty quickly, or unfortunately become unnecessarily defensive when they get "attacked" (because it feels like the reactive person is attacking).
They tend not to develop trusting relationships due to their manner of thought/communication.
And when they don't learn NEW stuff, they actually keep cycling through the same OLD stuff in their brain - they become the "complaining old man at the pub"* who goes on AND ON about the state of the roads, the council, the government, the education system, the hospital waiting lists, bad service in shops, the price of petrol, the unfair distribution of wealth, different religions, people he just "can't understand" ...**
Why can't he understand them? Because he doesn't LISTEN and PAUSE, even when people are kind enough to TRY to get their view across. HE WON'T LISTEN.
Do I expect him to AGREE with everyone. NO! Do I expect him to CONGRATULATE and ENCOURAGE everyone with all their decisions and choices? NO!
But what would be nice, for everyone including himself, would be for him to LISTEN and PAUSE, and respond thoughtfully. That response might be in agreement, it might be a question, or it might be putting their side across - respectfully. Or just stay respectfully quiet - that is also a perfectly acceptable response.
*complaining old man at the pub is interchangeable with the whining/dogmatic/domineering/controlling/thoughtless person of any gender at the tennis club/smoko room/sports group/kitchen table etc etc - i.e., an unpleasant person of any age in any location.
** whilst any of these topics may be valid topics of complaint, I am speaking here of the person who, for the most part of their lives, chooses to (or is in the habit of) going on and on and ON about these sorts of topics ALL THE TIME whilst never absorbing someone else's view.
Do you know someone like that? What do you do about it? Let me know if you have a way to deal with this.