“Dismissing or minimizing someone’s feelings, ideas, or experiences, because you don’t feel the same, is arrogant and harmful to relationships. Acknowledge and support; don’t dismiss.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
When it comes to relationships, the litmus test regarding what is essential or relevant to listen to is humanity, not agreement. Too many people run the thoughts and upsets of others through their lens rather than simply hearing and acknowledging the other person’s experience. Your role is to be supportive and understanding, not judgmental, challenging, or dismissive, of another person’s experience. It is not supportive responding to a person’s upset by saying:
- “You’re too sensitive.”
- “That’s silly—that shouldn’t bother you.”
- “Why do you make such a big deal out of things.”
Dismissive comments are endless, and the results are the same: the person sharing their experience, thoughts, or feelings feels dismissed and anything but supported. Absolute equality means the experiences of one person are as meaningful as those of the other person. You don’t get to determine whose feelings matter or don’t. If your partner states they’re hurt, sad, or overwhelmed, tune in, get curious, and be supportive. Don’t try to fix it, dismiss it, or challenge it. If they’re telling you something matters to them, then IT MATTERS.
Healthy relationships require that everyone feels as though their voices and experiences matter. Make sure you treat the experiences of others as though they matter—even if your thoughts and feelings are different. Not everything is about you or even related to you. Take a step back from how you would feel in a particular situation and instead take the time to listen to what others are feeling.
Challenge: Remove dismissiveness from your communication. Don’t minimize another person’s experience because you wouldn’t feel the same way. Hear what others are telling you, acknowledge their feelings, and if pertinent, repair any damage your actions may have caused.