Communication essentials: the little things

Have you ever left a meeting, hung up on a call or walked away from a conversation thinking, that went well … only to later start (over)thinking about one particular interaction? Like, maybe you laughed too loud. Or a point you made was taken the wrong way. Or thought someone suspected you of implying something else.

I have. I do this a lot actually. I find myself looking back on conversations that switch from ‘went well!’ to ‘I feel bad that they may have thought I meant this … when I meant that.’

I’ve read (and heard) people talk about that it’s our brain tricking us into thinking that way. We are conditioned to think negatively out of a sense of survival and protection, so our brain goes back through the conversations and dwells on something causing us to remember that conversation differently than it actually went. In fact, if you asked the person you were talking to, they would probably be caught off guard to the point you would end up making them feel uncomfortable.

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t make this go away. It allows you to recognize it and then dismiss it. I’ve caught myself doing this a few times; I quickly recognize it, then tell myself, ‘you’re overthinking this one.’ Instead of worrying about one small part of a conversation, I’m instead left with a positive experience of an interaction that likely went just fine.

Remember to tell your brain not to sweat the small stuff … before it becomes big stuff.