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Why You Should Be Really Grateful To The Friend Who Always Challenges You

Why You Should Be Really Grateful To The Friend Who Always Challenges You

It may seem obvious, or not so obvious to some, a friend or lover who challenges you is likely much better for you than one who always agrees with you or tells you you’re right.

 You complement each other.

Their strengths and your strengths will likely be different and will therefore complement each other. Are you great at organizing and planning, but suck at pulling the actual trigger on projects or big decisions? A friend or partner who isn’t as wobbly about taking command will inspire you to push forward, trust your gut and make decisions you might otherwise waffle on for months or years (or god forbid-a lifetime!). And you can help them by being an organized planner, when they know exactly what they want to do and are ready to do it, but could use a little more research, or a better thought out plan.

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For example, you might be the type of person who wants desperately to do something else with your life, but feels obligated to stick with the profession you have because you went to school forever and racked up student debt. You feel that you should be ‘grateful’ to have a steady paycheck. You may have researched a hundred programs that you’d like to take to attempt the new career change, but you never pulled the trigger on starting any of them. If you have a friend or partner who wants the best for you and isn’t afraid to be honest with you, they will encourage you to pursue your dreams. You may make a move sooner than you would have without them.

They stimulate our growth.

People don’t learn and grow by surrounding themselves with those identical to them who parrot their opinions, beliefs, likes, and dislikes and buffering themselves to the outside world. People learn and grow when they are stimulated or caused to stop and question things or to stand up for their own beliefs in the face of differing opinions.

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When we have to explain why we believe what we believe or want what we want, it forces us to face why (or if) we truly do believe or want what we tell ourselves we do. Often, when questioned these things over time, we find we don’t feel as strongly about these things as we thought). Yet, if left unquestioned, we tend to cling to old beliefs or ideals for no other reason than it’s what we’ve always known.

You get honest feedback even if you don’t like to hear it.

They’ll give you honest feedback or well meaning advice when you are making stupid decisions or can’t see things clearly for whatever reason (post-lust, heartbreak, or tragedy) instead of letting you barrel ahead to make decisions you will later regret.

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Like when you maybe texted a friend telling her how much you wanted to buy that oh-my-god gorgeous $400 dress even though you were broke, asking her if you should buy it. She knew you were trying to save up to pay off your school loans and that you shouldn’t be splurging now, but she still told you ‘sure you go girl! you deserve it!’ The end result -you regretted the purchase. Maybe you’ve had done it anyways, but you might not have made such an impulsive decision had it not been condoned and supported by your FF (False Friend aka enabler!)

There is a limit of course to how much of the time it’s cool for someone to question, argue/disagree with, or throw challenges at you. If someone is simply a difficult, argumentative person who tries to prove you wrong in a mean spirited ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ way, that’s not a recipe for a good friendship or happy relationship. But, as long as they’re doing so with good intentions, or because you are important to them and they don’t want to lie to you or let you do things (or not do things) you’ll regret doing (or not doing) later, it’s healthy.

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Whether you listen to them or not, you know that you can trust this kind of person to be honest and you’ll undoubtedly learn new ways of doing or looking at things thanks to them. And vice versa.

Are you a friend like this? Do you have a friend/friends like this? Share this with someone who challenges you or who you challenge.

Featured photo credit: Matthew Wiebe via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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