It’s truly another level in your life and career when you can comprehend and embrace the fact that it’s not about you. Surely much of this comes with maturity and hard lessons learned along the way. For me, it’s often a moment when I’m inclined to take something personally, that things get real and almost calming. Seriously, think about that meeting, dinner, or family gathering. You were listening to someone (because it’s polite and you have visions of your mom popping you with a wooden spoon if you speak out inappropriately) who is almost annoying in your mind…when you realize, it’s not about you.
Recently, I spoke at a local women’s forum. My natural audience is in dentistry, but it’s always interesting to watch how a group reacts when I ask a question or for their input on something I share from the front of the room. It was interesting that once these ladies recognized that I asked because I truly wanted to know, they were eager to respond. My dental audiences are no different. It’s strange how I’ll ask a question and the audience initially won’t respond. Not because they are being rude or disrespectful or can’t relate, but often because people don’t ask because they really want to know. They’re used to people talking “at” them, and asking rhetorical questions.
We have all witnessed people ask out of habit. You’ve seen it with moms and children or even trainers; “You need to do your homework. Okay?” or “This is how we will handle the issue of clients who are not compliant. Okay?” Then they barrel off into their next comment, never really wanting or waiting for a response.
In my speaking business, calls are a large part of what happens before I ever get to the podium. My role in our practice with a patient is often about learning their concerns and desires. I’ve learned in the process, that when I get someone who has this need to “verbally vomit”, it’s generally not about me. Even in those moments when a call might be so disengaging – all “telling” versus asking or engaging, the need is theirs – not mine. When a patient might share how they “hate the dentist because the last dentist hurt them and didn’t stop even when they felt it”, I know that the experience is theirs and not mine. Therefore, it’s not about me.
Rather than getting upset or taking these things personally at this point in my life, it’s most important to recognize how important it is to pay attention to the audience. The audience might be a patient, team member, family member, someone on a conference call, or an audience in the traditional sense of the word. I’m thankful that so much of what I am blessed to share, teach, or model for others is about being curious and learning to ask and engage others. Whether it is in my role as podcast host in The ProPractice online learning community, professional speaker, comprehensive care coordinator in our practice, mom, grand mom, or spouse, I pray I’ll continue to remain curious enough to truly “hear” and understand that it’s not about me.