Can You Hear Me Now? (Entitlement and Feeling Heard)

A standard pattern for "how to take criticism" and "how to deal with conflict" generally acknowledges that we ought to listen and acknowledge and that people tend to ease up once they feel they have been heard.

An anti-pattern occurs when you feel that you must be heard in order to ease up. In my experience, when I want to be heard, I will tend to feel angry and upset if a difficult conversation drags on and I have not arrived at feeling heard and acknowledged.

It isn't pretty and I'm just going to call this out for what it is. In a moment like that, if my focus is on being heard, I have adopted a posture of entitlement. I am acting entitled to being heard and acknowledged and requiring that it occur in a manner that I recognize as authentic. Yuck!

It's so fascinating to me that the very same thing that is effective when granted to another with generosity, listening and making it clear that you have heard them, is ineffective when I desire (or expect) the same for myself.

Let's consider what happens when two parties in a difficult discussion both think that it's important to hear what the other side has to say, but neither party wants to be the first to listen. Those discussions go nowhere. They go in circles. They maximize suffering for all involved.

The standard pattern works only when granted to others because, in order to break up the log-jam, Leaders have to go first. We, as Leaders, must take the responsibility to act on this understanding that conversations go badly when no one wants to listen first. We have to act on our desire to minimize the conversations that feel pointless and upsetting.

And as for whether we are heard at all, that must be left to trust that we will get to say our piece after the other party has spoken about their concerns and had them acknowledged.