When someone tells you something, do you tend to answer “I know”? Or do you say “I understand” “Ah ha!” “Oh I see”?
What about “yes, but”? Or are you more the “yes, and” type?
When you notice your instinctive responses, and when you force yourself to act differently from them, you are punctuating your own chain of thought. For example, instead of saying “I know,” change to “I understand,” and observe the changes in the interaction and how you feel.
This may sounds trite, but that tiny little gap you create for yourself makes a meaningful difference. This is not only an exercise to sound nicer. It is a practice to slow yourself down. They are mechanical cues for you to work on a new skill – self awareness. The new phrases, or a new hand gesture, are like speed bumps for cars. They slow you down.
I didn’t make this up. This is a combination of the “naming” technique and the “pointing/calling” system. Meditators name their distractions as they work on their concentration; Japanese train operators’ pointing-and-calling system is known to reduce workplace errors by up to 85 percent.
I know. All these sound a bit … Wait, I mean I understand!