Something I’m Working On: Avoiding “Equating”

Hey there, hero!

In trying to help people, I’ve noticed I’m doing something that I need to stop doing.

I do want to help, but I don’t need to always “tie in” someone else’s experience to my own.

It’s called equating.

I’m trying to stop, because I can do better.

Hope this helps!



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  1. I like when someone says “well, what has worked for me…” instead of “what you should do is…” I find it easier to take advice if it is presented anecdotally instead of as an order. Then there is more of a take it or leave it quality.

  2. Hi David,
    This absolutely makes total sense…and I do it too. The fact that you brought this up helps me to be more aware of doing it myself. I’ve noticed this when talking with others how annoying it can be…and I don’t want to be that guy either. Person A will share a story or event similar to the story person B just told, and it can see like a “one-ups” kind of thing, when I think most of the time it’s just following the thread of the conversation. It doesn’t make it any less annoying, especially when it’s that ONE PERSON who always has a better story (bigger stronger, faster). You know the type. Re-directing a conversation to be about oneself is probably never a good idea. I am going to be much more aware of doing this myself because you brought it up and made me aware of it again. Thank You!!

    BTW…if it was me, I would…. uh…. never mind.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on equating, something many of us are guilty of 🙂 Very thought provoking as I realized I did exactly that to a friend just last night and now that I think about it, i thought I was being empathetic. Now it makes me wonder what would be the right response for someone who’s on the other side of the conversation that needs me to listen or if it were me and the person began to equate their own experiences with mine. I’ve been the recipient of equating and it is quite annoying but I don’t want to be a rude as the person doing it by say “hey, this is about me!” although I have done just that. What are your thoughts?

  4. This is great advice and I never knew it had an actual label-equating. I do this alot myself so thank you David for sharing. On the other hand, I tend to value this advice from personal experience from people I have come to respect and look up to for guidance where needed. So David, feel free to equate with me any time you wish! I value the well worn paths you have made and the wisdom that comes from it. And thank you as well for being sensitive to this in your life and wanting to benefit others. I really like how you model being teachable as a teacher. Thanks for this. Great start to my day.

  5. Thank you for bringing this up! It’s lovely to know that I’m not the only one working on this. I find it difficult because I truly value other people’s experiences and stories, so it took me awhile to grasp that it was irritating to most people. I try to breathe and say to myself “Just listen, just listen, just listen” if I notice I’m about to jump in with a “me” story. But, if I have a glass of wine under my belt, all bets are off! 🙂 That being said, please, everyone, share your stories with me. I usually learn something from them and enjoy the tale and I appreciate that you are willing to share something personal with me.

  6. I feel that your new approach will ultimately be more productive. It’s also nice when a person identifies something in themselves that could be improved upon. Good for you David.

    Having said all that, it does sometimes help when person A can relate to what person B is saying, which I would say is not the same as equating, but it helps to choose your words carefully. And I can relate to equating. I’ll try and be more mindful myself. Thanks for the food for thought.

  7. Well, this struck a chord. It might have something to do with personality types. I’m more analytical than empathic touchy-feely. When faced with a problem, I immediately think a solution is needed—and the best way to solve a problem is to use experience to use what’s worked before.

    The human condition is not necessarily a problem to be solved.

    I will try to be alert for this. Thank you.

  8. wait… no! When you said, “You know, for me, when I leave comments below videos…” I perked up and thought “What? What happens?” Then I saw you were joking and making fun of yourself. And frankly, my first feeling was disappointment. “Oh. I wanted to hear about you leaving comments below videos.” That’s sort of the premise of listening to these videos. “What would David do?”
    I guess this is a very different case from my talking to you as a friend about something difficult I’m dealing with. And that situation certainly calls for listening and holding space for the other person to express what they have to say, and perhaps for them to explore what it is they think. Certainly you don’t want to cut off that possibility. BUT. If I come to a person I trust and admire to talk things through, in addition to wanting that active, compassionate listening, I usually want to take advantage of their experience.
    I see nothing wrong with offering – (once you’re sure that the person has said and explored what they need to) – with offering, “Are you interested in hearing my experience of a similar situation?” or even, “Are you open to some advice?” or “What would be most helpful for you?”
    Don’t stop telling me what you do, David! I like hearing it! That’s kind of what watching these videos is all about for me.