(Image Courtesy of http://www.aroundtheworldl.com)
The other day during a conversation with someone close, I noticed something about our interaction. It was a simple conversation, nothing too deep or seemingly important, but a pattern revealed itself.
The pattern was simple: I jump to offense.
Let me explain. This means that my mind appears to be on a quest to find a way to be offended at what someone else is saying. By quest, I mean that my mind considers this its highest priority and will devote both time, energy, and resources to ensure the quest’s success.
Here are a few examples:
“It is getting kind of late for sending out Christmas Cards”
My Jump: So are you saying that I should have sent these out?
“It would be nice to do more interactive things at the next holiday with everyone”
My Jump: So they expect me to plan this then be responsible for meeting everyone’s idea of what is fun?
“We need to make sure we are attentive to the bottom line”
My Jump: So they are saying that I am overspending?
There are risks in jumping to offense, just like the risk of jumping off a cliff. It is dangerous and there is unseen peril just beyond the lip. Luckily I am beginning to notice this pattern as it occurs (or shortly afterwards).
I realize that I need to retrain my mind to see the warning sign on the edge of that cliff before I go off jumping. Picturing that warning sign helps, but also explaining to the person I am talking with if it begins to happen.
Here are a few tips for my fellow jumpers:
- Recognize your bent toward Jumping to Offense.
- Understand that Jumping to Offense is dangerous, for you and others.
- Slow down and listen, don’t respond right away.
- Ask clarifying questions, make sure you understand what the other person is saying.
- If you do jump, climb back up and reconcile with those around you.
- Repeat steps as needed.
Where are you Jumping to Offense? Take a few moments to think about where you could, as my grandmother always used to say, “look before you leap.”
P.S. I am going to print out this photo and put it where I can see it every day.