Pearls Before Swine

Everyone wants their truth to be heard. I often notice myself or others getting uneasy waiting for an opening to insert an opinion into a conversation, sometimes bouncing in the seat like a third grader. We want OUR feelings to be taken seriously, and OUR thoughts to be considered. As a coach, clients visibly appreciate the process of being fully heard and discovering insight and deep meaning in their thoughts and feelings.

However, when in disagreements with a co-parent, my clients often stumble and make things worse for themselves by getting defensive or imposing their thoughts at the wrong time. The intensity of a conversation can make it very difficult to be patient and mindful of how to reach their goals. They may not yet have the skill of waiting for the right time or appropriate manner to say their thoughts and feelings. Their co-parent then tramples on what they say, and the situation worsens. They blurt out their truth at the wrong time, and it is like “casting pearls before swine.”

You’ve heard that saying, right? Well, it comes from the Bible in the New Testament Book of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 6. Of the several interpretations of this scripture, I look at it as an instruction to not put precious treasures where they will be mistreated.

Rather than speak up to someone who is not willing or able to hear you, take a step back and rethink your motives and intentions for voicing your opinions. Set up the right conditions to be heard. There’s a good chance your “pearls” can be received with the respect, honor and dignity you deserve.

In the context of relationships, this means:

do not disrespect yourself by putting your defining thoughts and
feelings – your truth - out where they will be disregarded or ridiculed.

Here are some coaching questions I might ask so clients can learn to pay attention to when their truth will be respected rather than trampled:

  • How do you know when your (partner, co-parent or child) is hearing you?
  • How can you ask for a conversation so you will be heard?
  • Can you tell me a time you knew your (partner, co-parent or child) was hearing you? How did it feel?
  • What cues can you look for to know the other person is willing and able to hear you?
  • Is there someone else to whom you could speak your truth and be heard?

Defensiveness is the enemy of being heard.

Defensiveness is a universal and natural reaction to feeling misunderstood, misrepresented, or disconnected. It is a close cousin to criticism and blame. Seldom do defensive comments invite connection, openness and acceptance. Defensiveness is a sign the conversation is going nowhere. It is a way of throwing “pearls before swine.”

Harriett Lerner, PhD, Author of The Dance of Anger, says in her Psychology Today on-line post,

“when we’re feeling defensive, we try to do everything in one
conversation, as if it’s the last one we’re ever going to have.”

If we are feeling defensive, that should be a warning sign to STOP the conversation and do one of these three things:

  1. Breathe deeply, use comforting self-talk and focus your attention to the other person. Be confident you will find a good time to respectfully insert your own ideas.
  2. Acknowledge you aren’t willing or able to hear what the other person is saying, and ask to restart the conversation at a later, specified time.
  3. Quit trying to say your truth to this person. Choose another person to share your thoughts with who will demonstrate respect for your views.

Rather than speak up to someone who is not willing or able to hear you, take a step back and rethink your motives and intentions for voicing your opinions. Set up the right conditions to be heard. There’s a good chance your “pearls” can be received with the respect, honor and dignity you deserve.

My affirmation: I stand in my truth without the need to force it on anyone.

Let me know how I can support you further before you cast your "pearls before swines."

Posted in March 2018.

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