Once, while participating in a labor union executive board meeting, I witnessed as two distinct sides formed at the table when finances became the order of business. At issue: a proposed expenditure put forth by Brother X.
The meeting quickly heated. Some felt the expenditure unwarranted. Eventually, a man rose to his feet and spoke in defense of Brother X. Unfortunately, Brother X had by this time stopped listening to words, and heard only the man’s tone, which was elevated. Brother X blew-up at the man defending him.
After the dust settled a bit, I nudged Brother X. “He was defending you, dude.” I whispered.
I worry that I did not take away enough from that incident. On occasion, I find myself instantly bristling at the tone used by someone I am conversing with. Sometimes, the way a question is asked will trigger a glint of anger in me. Maybe a heavy tone (often only perceived) used in a conversation “feels” like a direct challenge to me. This is especially true if I have been “stewing” over the subject of discussion.
Unfortunately, I tend to respond in a glaringly negative fashion. Following the conversation, I may reflect back and realize that a simple bit of advice was being rendered or a plain statement of fact was being made. A question might have been worthy of asking. Sometimes, upon consideration, I realize I am, and always have been, in contract with whatever the point expressed. I jumped off the cliff because I listened to—and misinterpreted—the tone and ignored the words.
I would like to stop this behavior, but there seems no exact place where I might begin.