Cultivate the art of communication

I had an unexpected encounter with an unhappy young woman this week. During our conversation, she repeatedly, and determinedly, told me, “I’m a good person”. 


Being a life coach, this experience started me pondering on the psychology behind her repeated claim. After all, it’s a subjective label. Not even everyone could agree that Mother Teresa was a good person. One person’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist. 

I found an interesting comment by Scarlet Putnam, Crime Historian/Criminal Profiler/M.S. in Forensic Psych, which confirmed my gut feeling:

“There are a lot of people that do this and it is always a red flag when they do. Typical, well-adjusted people do not feel the need to tell people what good people they are. That just isn’t a typical thing to do.

“Not everyone who does this is necessarily someone with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) but anytime someone wants to sit and tell you how great they are, you need to have your radar up. Maybe they are just arrogant, maybe they are just entitled, maybe they are just self-absorbed. 

“Or, maybe they have self-worth issues, maybe they have a major inferiority complex, maybe they have other issues. But whichever way it goes, this type of person carries the potential for a really bumpy ride, so just be aware and observant when you encounter people like this who you run the risk of being emotionally involved with, romantically or not.”

I constantly strive to learn and improve and I counter my own negatively-biased internal dialogue with daily positive, motivational affirmations. My years of coaching training have given me many tools and resources to help me to understand myself and the people I meet.

I am an introvert who dislikes social confrontation, but my training has equipped me to deal calmly with difficult conversations when they arise. Thankfully, they are rare (because “I’m a good person”?) but I always feel blindsided when it happens. 

Staying cool and calm externally draws amazing amounts of emotional energy, as my brain strives to understand what’s happening and let me respond appropriately. I have learned to protect my core. Age and experience have given me the knowledge to decipher all the information coming my way.

Notebook and coffee

The verbal and body language that people use communicates their state of mind. They may think they are explaining a list of your faults when these are all, in some way, a reflection of what’s going on internally with them.

By taking a mental 'step back' I could empathise with the vulnerabilities that were clearly being displayed by this young woman and consider her possible motivations.

We are each, always, dealing with situations and events that arise in our lives, but how those events are perceived by the people involved can be very different, depending on what’s going on in each of those lives.

Stay open-minded. Do not take it personally. That will help you to respond calmly and rationally when unexpected, challenging social encounters occur. 

Of course, it is always healthy to reflect on our actions and consider the merit of any criticisms received. If the situation is actually more about them than you, recognising this can let you draw a line under the event and allow you to move on. 

If there is some truth to their comments, that's an opportunity for self-improvement. What a kind gift, even if the wrapping is perhaps slightly undelightful.

Talking over challenging encounters with a life coach can enable you to gain a fresh perspective on any situation. 

I generally assist people to make mid-life changes of direction or plan what they want to do in retirement. Increasingly, these two aspects are combining as retirement is now often more of a “rewirement”. No one wants to retire and do nothing for two or three decades. New ways of thinking and acting are called for in this new, exciting phase of our lives.

Almost anything is possible! With the mortgage paid and the kids gone from home, this time is all about you and what you want. 

Sometimes that step-change can mean that challenging conversations need to be had - with partners, family or friends - to make sure that your future is how you want it to be. You deserve to have the life that you've waited for, and only you can make that happen, but it can be easier with support from a life coach.

I offer a free 45-minute, online exploration call so that we can discuss how l can help you. Contact me to book your appointment.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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