Whether it’s meeting a new person or talking to someone in our family, there is a point at which (even well-intentioned) questions can come across as uninvited criticisms. How do we walk that fine line while trying to learn about someone else or draw it ourselves when someone else has stepped over our own boundaries?
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Hello, hello, thanks for tuning in to this new series of the BBXX podcast. We wanted to bring you more content, specifically more BBXX original content. And we’re using this as a chance to experiment with different topics, different formats, short format, longer format, casual interviews, more formal interviews, and a bit more fun stuff. So this new series will bring you mainly content from what I am referring to as the food for thought series, which explores different terms and terminology, or questions that might be particularly relevant to now, it might elaborate on something specific from one of our main interviews. Or it might just dive deeper into question that people have been asking me or that I’ve been wondering about myself. But we’ll also include things from fun ratings and reviews for books, movies, other podcasts, etc. To live interviews, and informal interviews with more people, perhaps such as yourself, talking more about personal narrative, and personal experiences that have shaped ourselves, our lives and our relationships. Because as much as there is to be learned from us from BBXX, or any expert, we have just as much that can be learned from all of you, and from each other. So the other day, I found myself thinking I had become a bit frustrated with an interaction I had with somebody.
And I found myself thinking about the difference between curiosity and criticism. When approaching an interaction or conversation with another person, whether it’s giving feedback, whether it’s trying to understand a new concept, or a concept that’s foreign to us that we’re not familiar with, whether it’s a confrontation, an argument, or getting to know somebody on a very basic level, there are ways that we can ask people things, there are ways that we can respond with which really come from a place of curiosity and a tone of curiosity. And I always stress that, particularly in confrontational cases or in arguments. Curiosity is one of the most important things. Because the fact of the matter is going into whatever argument or situation in general, we never know, go back and listen to our episode with Nick Eppley. We never know what the other person is thinking. We make a lot of false assumptions. We feel like we know what they’re thinking. But we don’t. And the research actually shows that the closer we are to the person, the better we know them, the more likely it is that we are making false assumptions and over estimating how well we know what they’re thinking or feeling.
And so truly approaching things from the standpoint or the understanding that you don’t know anything and wanting to explore the matter, asking questions, really just trying to get a roadmap, and you know, kind of a look into their mind through asking. And so that’s one way that we can navigate any kind of interaction, that kind of innocent curiosity that comes off as not being aggressive that comes off as genuine interest. And then I think there are ways that again, in arguments can come off more aggressive. If instead of saying, talking from I in how I feel this, I need this. If you’re talking about the other person. That’s criticism. That’s not curiosity, if you’re telling them what they feel you’re telling them what they did, rather than asking them how they felt asking them, what from their perspective it is they did or how they made you feel. That’s curiosity versus criticism. And so the funny part about all this is, my interaction wasn’t even confrontational. It was somebody asking about BBXX. And I didn’t know this person, and I didn’t particularly need to give them my time. And I think actually how much I open up about BBXX, I’ve realized is something that, to me, it’s an intimate topic, because I think it is so much a part of who I am. And my passion and the time and energy and blood sweat and tears I put into it is kind of like your family baggage, not to mention that BBXX is probably created as a result of all my family baggage. But it’s not something that you just right off the bat with a total stranger, you decide to dig into and open up and let them dig around and figure out whatever they want. It depends on what their intentions are. It depends on how well you know them, how will you want to get to know them, and really the way they go about it. And so this person, really just straight off the bat, I had told them I didn’t really feel like talking about work several times before actually another day, the first time I had met them. And then this time, it clued into not wanting to talk about it again. But they kept pushing. So I eventually answered and tried to be vague, because I really didn’t feel like getting into a whole spiel, I wanted to this was on my time off after a long day and really wanted to be outdoors and with friends and engage with my other friends and talk to the people I was there to see, rather than this person I had no relationship with I didn’t know and frankly had no idea if I ever was going to see them again or wanted to.
And so trying to navigate how much time and energy want to invest into a stranger and the favors you’re doing them by opening up for the sake of their curiosity or criticism in some cases, versus wanting to have boundaries and engage in ways that make you feel better. And so they eventually pushed to where the vague answers weren’t standing up and weren’t really making sense. And I was given the choice of basically lying and making stuff up, which just felt weird. Or I kind of said, Okay, well, I guess my only choice is to lean in and kind of gave them this whole explanation and about what we’re trying to do blah, blah, blah. And he just looked at me and said, Do you have any idea how difficult that would be? And how many years and how much energy that would take to pull off what you’re trying to do? And I just looked at him in total disbelief and said, Yeah, you know, actually, I do? I do, because it has been a couple years and all of my time and energy.
And so instead of that kind of being this clue, he then kept pushing and was like, Well, how are you making money in the business model and the business model and all these questions. And I didn’t feel as though this person was approaching it from a place of curiosity, his tone, how swiftly he had a rebuttal for every answer I gave him and kind of poked holes in it or just had his kind of rally back prepared. Didn’t feel like he was giving it any time to sink in. They didn’t feel like exploratory questions. They felt like questions meant to measure meant to be compared to whatever picture he had in his head or system he understood for what this should look like or how it should work. And in the end, I told him, I’m really sorry, I just don’t want to talk about this. And I’d really love to engage with my friends who I haven’t been able to see in a long time pretty Coronavirus. And he made me feel bad. He looked at me and was like well I told you all about my work and you know now you you’re not willing to share that doesn’t seem fair. And I really went home later that night and I couldn’t get this experience out of my head.
I felt I don’t want to say It all felt tainted. It tainted the rest of my evening, it tainted my own perception of myself and my company. And it just wasn’t a pleasant experience. And I realized that you really have to be careful when you are asking other people, any sort of interaction, it’s stranger fighting with a family member, a pleasant exchange with somebody at a coffee shop, we really have to be careful how we go about things, and really do a check on our own perspective, recognize that we know nothing and how we approach things with curiosity and make sure it doesn’t come across as criticism. And the craziest part of this all is that I imagine, it wasn’t his intention in any way to make me feel criticized. His goal was to better understand something he didn’t know. And then he said, maybe he was trying to better understand it, because he was curious, he may have been authentically curious, but he did not approach the matter from a place through the lens and through the voice of curiosity, in a way that in the end, he probably walked away from and thought nothing of it. And I was left thinking about this over and over again. And so I really just wanted to point out the subtle but extremely vital difference between curiosity and criticism. And also just remind people of our right in our ownership over our own boundaries. And if by telling someone, you don’t want to talk about something, they don’t respect that they make you feel bad, or you don’t want to do something or engage in some sort of behavior activity, go somewhere, talk about something, whatever it is. And if they don’t respect that, even before, if you tell people you don’t want to, and they don’t respect that, let alone if you then go out on a limb to engage with somebody and give them your time, energy, sacrifice, whatever it is. And then even after that, if they don’t respect your boundary and the sacrifice you’re making, or your power and your right to disengage at any time, then those are not the people that you want to surround yourself with. If people don’t make you feel good if people actively don’t respect those boundaries and bring negative energy and make you doubt yourself and what you’re doing and these sort of things. Those aren’t the people who are curious, and those aren’t the people who you should give your time energy and your own curiosity to exploring further relationships with.
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