Why are you telling me?

We live on a steep hill. Apparently, it’s a great road to ride your bike up.  Nice and steep and really hard. It’s also a nice road to ride your bike down – super fast.

The other day, when I was getting into my car which was on the road at 5.45 am to go to a breakfast networking event, a middle-aged man on a bike was huffing and puffing as he made his way up the hill.

Now our road is so steep that it is truly much easier to get off your bike and walk it up the hill than ride it.  So you have to be very strong and fit to ride up the hill.

So I called out to the cyclist and said “you’re really strong” because there’s no way I could ride my bike up the hill and he was going so slowly there was plenty of time for conversation.

He responded by telling me that he wouldn’t be able to get to the top of the hill today because he had to go to work. He said a couple more things, and then I was on my way, and the conversation was over.

I thought to myself that the information about his not being able to get to the top of the hill was probably not relevant.  So why did he tell me? Well, I surmise that it was important to him. He had started justifying what he was and wasn’t going to do. I had given him a compliment and he countered with a reason as to why he wasn’t really strong.

There is always a reason for us to say something. We might be trying to impress someone, get noticed, demonstrate that we are a friendly person, hide our embarrassment, educate someone or show them that they had made a mistake.

If someone comes to you and starts talking and won’t stop, chances are they want attention. They might not feel valued in the workplace or at home.

Everytime someone says something and you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself what are they trying to achieve by telling you this information?  It will help you to find the right question so that you get to the cause of the problem. And the other person will be valued and respected.

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