Non-Defensive Listening in the Middle of Conflict

man listening to upset wife

Although our “key moments” are difficult to face and handle, they bless our lives because they are the means by which we grow. They give us an opportunity to interrupt old patterns and act from a new set of principles. Here’s an example from The Hero’s Choice. Think about Hal’s interaction with Kathy as he entered their bedroom one evening, intent on making things right and communicating with his wife in a new and better way by practicing non-defensive listening.

Non-Defensive Listening

Kathy was propped up on the bed, a pile of tests lying on the bedspread.

“Mind if I have a seat?” he asked, timidly.

She shrugged, making no move to put down the test she was correcting.

He sat on the love seat in the bay window facing the bed. As he opened his mouth to speak, he realized just how much humility was going to be required to accept personal responsibility. He would have to give up his pride, his need to “win.” Abandon his self-justifying thoughts and the urge to defend his ego. Earlier in the day, this had seemed like an exciting idea, but at the moment, he felt vulnerable. He wanted to turn and walk away.

Staying When it Would be Easy to Run

“I owe you a huge apology for not calling Sam and my father today.”

Kathy rolled her eyes.

“I know you’re mad at me, and I can’t blame you.” She continued looking down at her test. Several seconds passed before he spoke again. “Do you want me to leave?”

Kathy tossed the test from her lap onto the bed and glared. “I knew you wouldn’t call your father. The moment I left this morning. Words! That’s all they were.”

“That was wrong of me, Kathy. I know that. I made a promise and didn’t keep it.”

“You and your phony promises. And now you think you can come in here and apologize to me and, presto, everything’s supposed to be okay. Well it’s not.” Her expression was stern and angry.

Hal closed his eyes and nodded. He waited.

“You have no idea how concerned I am about our family.” Kathy’s voice blared. “We have about enough money in the bank to get us through the next month and that’s it. And the worst part is that you don’t even care. Every time I try to talk to you about it, you just blow me off.”

Hal looked up. “I want you to know I do care. I care that we’re almost out of money … and I care how worried you are.” He studied her face carefully and continued, more slowly. “You must feel completely powerless. It’s up to me to do something about our financial situation, and I don’t seem to be taking it seriously.”

“That’s right.” Kathy sniffed, grabbed a tissue from the bed stand, and dabbed her eyes. “I can’t talk to you about it without you getting defensive or leaving.”

“I see that.” Hal regretted profoundly the way he’d been acting. “But I’m not leaving tonight … and I don’t want to be defensive.”

Neither spoke.

“I’ve been very insensitive to you, Kathy. I’ve been so wrapped up in myself that I haven’t thought about how my being fired has affected you and the kids. I know you’re really worried.” He gave her a slight smile. “What would you like to see happen? What would feel good to you?”

A Turning Point

You may remember, if you’ve read the book, that this was a turning point for Hal. The eventual outcome of the evening was a new level of wholeness within Hal and a new found trust in his relationship with Kathy.

However, it is not easy to get to this level of personal responsibility and communication. Many principles were at play as Hal deliberately created a new dynamic in this key moment with his wife–awareness, accountability, breaking old patterns, a clear vision, a willingness to make new choices, humility, love, persistence. Natural tendencies, old habits, fears, pride, and lots of payoffs tug at us and pull us back towards our lesser selves and weakening ways of interacting.

But at some point, if you expect different outcomes in your relationships (or, for that matter, any area of your life), then you have to make new choices. New choices equals new results. The same choices equals the same results. My formula for success of pretty simple: Make better choices, get better results.

No hype, gimmicks, magic formulas, or false promises.

Stop waiting for “out there” to change and accept full responsibility for the quality of your life. Simple. Not easy. Better choices are often private but very heroic choices.

Workbook to Deepen Your Learning

By the way, that is precisely the reason I created the workbook as a follow up to the book. The Hero’s Choice Workbook: A Toolkit to Live Your Best Life Now! will move you beyond understanding the principles taught in the book to practicing them and making them real in your life. After all, you don’t really “know” something until you can live it.

I haven’t done any promoting over the past several months of writing my newsletter. But I want to do so today, because I know that the workbook ($24.95) will give you the tools to live your life from a better, more empowered place.

Here are a few titles of lessons from the workbook:

  • Living Your Purpose
  • Identifying Your Guiding Principles
  • The Power of Vision
  • Leveraging Your Motivation
  • Understanding Your Key Moments
  • Challenging Your Thoughts
  • Living from Intentionality

All together there are 18 lessons plus Quick Study Guides, Exercise Sheets, 19 downloadable audio files, special meditation files, as well as bonus audio files on key moments and scarcity and abundance.

As most of you know, the book is about living from the inside out–recognizing that happiness and success are more about making good choices whatever the situations and events you’re facing. When you choose to live from the “inside out” and make the “hero’s choice” as you step up to your challenges, you discover your true identity and find not only success but joy, love, meaning, and fulfillment. Not easy, and an incredibly worthwhile journey. Buying the workbook is a statement of your commitment to that end.

Click here to learn more or order a copy of the workbook.



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