When Sharing Isn’t Caring

Recently, one of my clients had a client who was unhappy—very unhappy. The why’s and what’s of the situation are not relevant. What struck me is the way in which her client began her tirade (and I chose that word advisedly). It began:

“I need to share my truth.”

Pardon me?

As many of you know, I’m a longtime yoga practitioner—a journey (see how nicely I’m able to fall into new age speak?) that has included trips to ashrams and retreats hither and yon. So, yes, I can adopt the local patois as necessary. What irritates me is when people use the language of caring to mask a host of other emotions: anger, resentment, aggression……when people think that if they bookend their difficult/inappropriate/unconsidered emotions with a few new age phrases it gives them license to behave in lunatic ways.

Now, I am not writing about people who genuinely use this phrasing as an opportunity for an exchange of ideas and information. I am writing about people who abuse it—who adopt it as a way to absolve themselves for unacceptable behavior, past and present.

What can be done?

My first recommendation is to adopt the language being used. Seriously. I genuinely recommend saying, “I’m so glad you shared that with me.”

Having done that, however you must immediately move the conversation along to the facts at hand.

After all, kindergarten wasn’t all sharing circle and snack, it also included clean up.

In this case, my client did just that: she asked for specific examples of how her work had fallen short and requested benchmarks she would need to meet to keep her client happy moving forward.

The thing to notice at this point is whether or not the person you are dealing with takes you up on your request. Can they acknowledge your good intention? Are they able to truly share?

If they can’t—and you continue to be on receiving end of a monologue that includes their feelings while ignoring the facts–  I strongly recommend giving them a time out.

Frances Cole Jones