Rude, I Guess

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I did tashlich on Rosh Hashonah. I cast all the sins I could remember
out onto the waters. But now since the High Holidays and
conversations with other people, I feel like I did not even realize how
insensitive I may have been towards others in the past year. I don’t
usually think of myself as a narcissist, but from the comments people
have made about me being self-centered to the point of clueless about
their feelings, I feel like I need to a better job in the year to come. I
asked for forgiveness, but I want to change. How?

Rude, I Guess

Dear Rude:

For a start, focus on listening a whole lot more and talking a whole lot
less. That’s harder than it sounds, but an excellent practice. You may
need to commiserate more with their misfortunes and crow less about
your own happiness. Concentrate on asking people questions rather
than giving them advice. Ask How did that make you feel? And What
do you think you’re going to do?

For friends where it really matters, beyond the act of forgiveness, tell
them honestly that you are seeking to make a change in how you
communicate and that you want their help. Make it clear that if they
give you negative feedback that you won’t jump down their throat with
both feet or fists. Practice more humility than, say, any presidential
candidate. And spend at least a chunk of time each day being quiet,
whether you call it meditation or housework. No music, no news, no
TV. Just be quietly in the moment and paying attention. That’ll help
you when you’re with people later.