I'm probably part of a tiny minority in the United States, but I have a confession to make: I'm not a football fan. I don't know a lot about the game (despite my sons' best efforts to teach me) and, truth be told, I don't even want to. There, I've said it.
However, as I think more about communication—and I blogged about that last week—I think football can be instructive. One thing I do know about it is that those who play defense in the game try to block any moves forward by the other team.
I don't know about you, but I do plenty of that in my communication with others. And, honestly, it just doesn't work well if you want good relationships. Think about it.
When you have a discussion with your partner or child and a difficult topic comes up, do you find yourself defending your position? Me too. And how does that work out? Not so well, does it? If you do that and the other person does that, what's the likelihood of moving forward and finding any common ground? Right! Zero to none.
Lately I've been trying to drop my defenses and do a better job of listening, really listening to what the other person says—and to the feelings that lie underneath that person's comments. Big surprise. That works so much better, and we get through even the most difficult topics much more easily. It really moves the conversation forward—and thus moves the relationship forward—when you and I quit playing defense.