Three little words. Not "I love you" obviously. Something else. Something less easy to think and feel. Something you should definitely say more.
I'm blessed to have a wise fairy godmother of a mentor, who happens to also be an award winning film maker and journalist. I met her because five years ago, she took a chance on a fresh out of school foreigner with too-long hair (me) and gave said haircut-avoider her first proper job. Since then, working alongside and for her, I've basked in the glow of watching her power house her way through life, in the most graceful way imaginable. Though she's at a professional level where Devil Meets Prada type behaviour is entirely possible, perhaps even expected, hers is a presence that is both commanding and gentle. She nurtures others and doesn't take no for an answer. You want her on your side and you want to be on her team. You want to earn her admiration and respect. As Sophia Amoruso would say, she's an ultimate Girl Boss.
There are many Girl Bosses out there, and I urge you to seek out yours and study her, David Attenborough style, as intensely as you would a window display at Celine, or a super hot shirtless Idris Elba look-a-like running through Prospect Park or a truly excellent piece of winged eyeliner mastery from your tricksy bestie (these are my examples, yours may differ). Anyway, I digress. I noticed that one of the things my own Girl Boss had mastered so well was negotiation and listening. Even when presented with ideas in turn misguided or ridiculous, or even in the face of outright hostility, she always kept her cool. In fact, she had a magic ability to make people feel heard, while firmly letting them know what was up. That was when I first heard her say those magic words.
"Help me understand"
Help me understand why you think that's the best option. Help me understand why you're feeling frustrated. Help me understand how to make this situation better. Help me understand.
Wowzas. Such a subtle, magical phrase, firmly placing you smack bang wallop in the centre of a perfect venn diagram of strength and humility. A little breath for you as you work out your options, a little moment of compassion and patience for a colleague or friend or stranger. I'm telling you, even if the person you find yourself with is being a downright A-grade a-hole, this magic phrase always manoeuvres you into a position of strength. I've placed it firmly in my repertoire and have watched it work magic on everyone from curmudgeonly car rental dudes to conversations with Time Warner Cable call centre staff (surely a pit of hell Dante missed) to (ahem) beloved husbands. Help me understand. Learn it. Use it. And, on a side note, don't forget to let your Girl Boss know how much you appreciate them. Which is what I am going to do, right this second, by pressing 'publish'. I'm curious, do you have an inspiring Girl Boss in your life? What has she taught you? I'd love to hear.