This was first published on KSL.com
I work with many couples who are struggling to get along, handle conflict and feel safe with each other. When they tell me about the disagreements they have, I can always see some simple questions they could have asked that might have stopped the fight before it started.
It might help you apply this article to yourself if you could think back to a specific fight or conflict you have had in the past and replay it in your mind. Then imagine what might have happened if you had tried the suggestions below.
Conflict usually begins when someone says or does something that makes the other person feel insulted, criticized, taken from or disregarded. I call this the triggering incident. When these incidents happen, the other person then feels they must defend or protect themselves, and they often respond with a defensive response or counterattack.
The best time to stop a fight is right when the triggering incident happens — before you get defensive or make a counterattack. But it is difficult to stop and think clearly when you have just been offended.
Stopping at the triggering point is going to take some practice and some battling with your ego — because your ego always wants to react defensively or attack back. Your ego shows up to protect you any time there is a perceived threat, but it's important to remember your ego is fear-driven and not capable of love-driven behavior. If you let your ego respond from fear, you are always going to make the situation worse.
The other thing to keep in mind is that most triggering incidents are unintentional and driven by our own fears. When people feel unsafe they behave selfishly and carelessly, and most of the time it isn't really about you at all.
So here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you pause, get out of ego, get more information and respond to triggering events in a more mature, balanced way:
What am I feeling?
The moment a triggering incident happens, walk away, close your eyes, ask for a minute to get your head clear, or just pause and pay attention to what's happening inside yourself. What are you feeling? How did that trigger make you feel?
Don't stop asking questions here, though. You don't want to let your ego make these emotions bigger. Before you start ruminating about the offense, ask some more questions.
Am I applying meaning to what was said or done?
For example, maybe you're thinking: "My spouse making that comment means they don't care about me at all." Does it really mean that? Take the meaning away and just look at the content of the comment or action alone.
How am I perceiving this?
Ask yourself: Is there any way that I am hearing or perceiving this to be malicious while it wasn't meant that way? Do I have a tendency to feel insulted or taken from easily? This could mean I see offenses when they aren't really there; own it if this might be true.
You may want to ask the other person about their intent. Did they mean that to sound critical or judgmental, or is that just the way you are hearing it? Give them a chance to explain their intent. Ask this from a place of really wanting to understand the other person, not from a place of judgment where you are talking down to them.
Was it malicious?
Ask yourself: Do I think this person purposefully wants to hurt or offend me? Is there malice in their actions and do they intend harm? Or, do they love me and just say or do thoughtless things because they aren't paying attention?
What is going on with your partner at this moment? Are they tired, hungry, distracted or experiencing fear that might keep their focus on themselves? Could there be another reason they did this triggering behavior, one that isn't even about you and has no malice in it?
What do I want to happen?
Ask yourself: What do I want this day or night to look like? What kind of experience would I like to have with my partner today? Are there reactions to this triggering incident that will create what I want and others that would totally destroy what I want? Consciously choose a response that will create what you want.
How often does this happen?
Ask yourself: Is this kind of offense something that is happening often? Is the behavior creating fear about this relationship not working long term? Is that scaring me? If it is, then you must address the behavior, but you must do that the right way and at the right time. Think about the best time and place to have this sensitive conversation.
Then, make sure when the right time comes, you ask the other person if they are open to having a heartfelt conversation about the relationship. Get their buy-in to do this. Let them know that your intention here is to make the relationship stronger, not poke holes in it. You are not mad at them, and this isn't about attacking each other; it's about understanding each other better. Let them know you love them and give them some validation around all the things they do right.
Start the conversation by asking them questions about how they feel the relationship is going. Is there anything that concerns them or scares them? Is there anything you could do to show up for them better?
Spend time here listening to understand them, how they see things and how they feel. Honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. Ask lots of questions and stay here until they feel heard and understood. If you do this right, you will probably learn some things about your partner you didn't know.
Then, ask permission to share something that has been creating a little fear in you. Ask if they would be willing to listen and not get defensive, reiterating that your intent here is to strengthen the relationship and understand each other better.
Remind them that you love them, then explain the behaviors that are triggering you using "I" statements. Try phrases like "I feel," "when I hear this I experience this," "in my opinion," and "from my perspective."
Try to avoid "you" statements that feel like an attack. Tell them that when they say or do these things it triggers some fear in you and explain what your fears are. Own the fact that your reactions may be more about events in your past than they are about your partner in the present. Talk it through while staying focused on mutual understanding, respect and a desire to know each other better.
The people closest to you typically don't mean to intentionally offend you or put you down on purpose, but it does happen. If they intentionally meant harm, there are a couple of places it can go from there:
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
One of the most common people problems that companies bring me to solve is office drama that has gotten out of hand.
The problems often start with two co-workers who can't get along, who finagle the rest of the office to take sides. Sometimes just one gossip-prone person who likes to stir the pot can ruin the atmosphere for the whole office.
Your first responsibility at work is to make sure you aren't the problem. If you are a person who often dislikes co-workers, gets bothered or offended easily, or feels the need to voice complaints to whoever will listen, you might be the problem in your office and this kind of behavior will absolutely hold you back in your career.
Here are some ways you can deal with office drama going on around you and make sure you aren't the problem:
Refuse to participate in gossip
Don't gossip about your co-workers even if it feels justified and you really need to vent. Find someone outside the office with whom you can voice your frustrations.
It is OK to dislike someone, but it is not OK for you to talk about that at work or encourage others to dislike them too. Practice compassion for any co-worker you dislike and understand they are doing the best they can with what they know.
Stop and get some clarity before you react to anything
Your immediate reaction to most situations will not be clear-headed. Calm down and take some time to determine the outcome you really want and the response most likely to create that outcome. If you need to respond, do so calmly and respectfully.
Give people the benefit of the doubt
You don't need to immediately assume negative intent. Most offenses aren't intentional or done with malice. Strive to be hard to offend.
Avoid people who start or spread ill-will
If someone in the office is prone to gossip or drama, stay away from them or walk away when it starts. This could make adversarial co-workers turn on you, but that's better than being part of the problem. Higher-ups can usually see who is causing the problems, and it won't be you.
Ignore most bad behavior
If it is a problem you can't ignore, have a mutually validating, private, kind, respectful conversation to address it. But for the most part, try to let most things roll off.
Don't take sides
If people are closing ranks around two co-workers, refuse to join either side. Encourage compassion toward all involved.
See everyone as having the same value
Everyone has the same infinite value on a unique classroom journey. Let them be where they are and hold back judgment. You have no idea what has happened in their life to create the place they are in now. Assume they are wounded too and that all involved deserve compassion.
Do not allow others to disparage, disregard or mistreat you, but hold these boundaries the right way with respectful conversation or by taking the problem to the right superior. Quietly document inappropriate behavior if necessary.
Don't react negatively to negativity
If you hear people are talking negatively about you, don't negatively react. This is a chance to either learn something and grow or practice knowing it doesn't matter what others say. If the negativity continues and needs to be addressed, have a private, respectful, conversation. But most of the time, just working on being the best you is the best response.
'When they go low ... go high'
Follow former First Lady Michelle Obama's advice: "When they go low, we go high." Keep taking the high road and showing compassion, maturity and respect to everyone, regardless of how low they go.
Remember: what other people do and say doesn't change your value
Another's dislike of you or the things you do doesn't change who you are. You are more bulletproof than you realize. They may try to ruin your reputation, but your best defense is to live so no one would believe them.
If a conversation becomes necessary, make sure you do it right
Find the right time, in private, and start by asking questions about how they feel and listening to them fully. Let them have room to fully share their point of view and honor and respect their right to that perspective.
Then ask if they would be willing to let you share your perspective and do it without being disrespectful or harsh. Know ahead of time what changes in behavior you are going to ask for moving forward. Ask if they would be willing to handle things that way in the future.
Take stock of your own behavior
We all must watch ourselves for inappropriate behavior at work. Watch for your ego's need to talk about other people or complain, and then choose to stay quiet. Strive to be a person who builds co-workers up, encourages them, and has compassion for their struggles instead of tearing them down.
If you are stuck in a job where inappropriate behavior and office drama abounds, consider recommending some people-skills training or executive coaching for the whole office to the higher-ups. If solutions still aren't coming, update your resume and start looking for a healthier workplace.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Believing your own views are right is a troublesome tendency that we each must watch out for. It shows up as an overattachment to our own ideas and opinions and the tendency to see other perspectives as wrong.
When you get overattached to your opinion, you also tend to look for reinforcement confirming that you are right. It's called confirmation bias and you are drawn to shows, articles and books that confirm your current opinion over things that challenge it. You subconsciously seek this confirmation because it has a positive effect on your self-esteem.
Feeling like you are right doesn't actually increase your value; it just temporarily makes your ego feel better than other people whom you see as wrong.
If people struggle to see value in themselves, they often seek what I call "group self-esteem." They align themselves with a group of people who see themselves as superior to another group, and because they are a member of this superior group they get a little self-esteem boost.
The temporary benefits
But again, thinking you are right is only a temporary ego boost because being right doesn't actually give you more value than the people on the other side. Many people believe their ideas, opinions and beliefs do make them the "good guys" and more valuable than people with different views and beliefs. You can see this happening all around us.
People need to believe that their opinions make them better than others for two reasons:
1. They need the self-esteem boost that comes from feeling superior to others
This often happens when they don't get enough self-esteem from their appearance or performance. So, taking a strong stand on their views becomes their "thing" that sets them apart and makes them feel valuable. These people will talk about and share their views liberally because it reinforces their sense of value. They are overly committed to being right because it makes them feel better.
2. They get a sense of safety from their strong opinions and ideas
Feeling sure about their views gives them a sense of solid ground to stand on. Their opinions and views can make them feel in control and provide some stability. Beliefs can create our sense of security in the world; the problem is that when we rely too heavily on our opinions for security, we can become stubborn and stop learning, growing or experiencing people and ideas outside of those views.
There are some benefits to being overcommitted to being right, but there are also some troublesome consequences from being this way. Here are a few of them:
1. You only see life from your own perspective
You cannot help seeing the world through your own lens — a lens that was created from all your past experiences and knowledge. Yours is a very unique lens, too, because no other person on the planet will ever have your upbringing, your family, and your life experiences. You are literally the only one who can see life through your lens.
This is important to understand because your lens is also not accurate. It is all you know and can see, so it feels accurate, but it is — and will always be — just your perspective. There is an infinite number of other perspectives from which things look totally different. This is why any number of witnesses can watch the same event and see it very differently. This is why witness testimony can be unreliable. People always see the world through their skewed lens.
Recognizing this and understanding that all you can ever see is your own skewed opinion, perspective, and views means being open to honoring and respecting other people's right to see the world from their perspective. It is also all they can see, and from their perspective things will look very different from yours.
There is great wisdom and compassion to be gained when we step out of judgment and our need to be right and experience, listen to and learn from other people's perspectives. If you only watch your perspective's news program and read books that support what you already believe is the truth, you will miss out on the richness of the human experience and all its diversity.
2. You don't learn anything
A funny thing happens when you think you're right in your opinions and views: You stop asking questions and you stop learning. You subconsciously believe you know all there is to know, so you don't care what else is out there. It is only when you are willing to question what you know, and are truly open to being wrong, that you can learn. Wise people know that the more you learn, the more you understand you have more to learn.
There are always going to be more questions than answers. Being willing to question your views and knowledge makes you intelligent, a perpetual student, and ensures you're always growing. True wisdom is always questioning what you think you know.
3. You don't connect with people
If you are overly committed to your own opinions, you will miss opportunities to connect with other people — primarily because they won't share their perspectives with you. They can feel that you aren't open and don't provide a safe place to share, so they will keep their views to themselves.
There are billions of amazing humans out there with interesting stories and experiences, many that are beyond your ability to comprehend. Because you have never experienced life in their shoes, you don't know what they know. The more different they are from you, the harder it can be to cross the divide and connect with them; but when you do, you grow in incalculable ways.
This is why people say travel to faraway places changes you. Taking time to get to know people, who are vastly different from you and honoring and respecting their right to their views — even if their views bother or offend you — will help you gain compassion and wisdom. Spending all your time with people who agree with you gets you nowhere.
4. You don't experience love at the highest level
I personally believe — though I am open to being wrong about all of this — that differences are a perfect part of our life's journey because they stretch our ability to love others and ourselves. Differences trigger fears in us and push us out of our comfort zones. Think about some people in your life that you have a hard time loving or even liking. What are the differences that create these feelings? For some reason, your subconscious mind that has decided these behaviors in these people make them unworthy of love at some level.
The problem with letting these feelings go unchecked is that as long as you see their faults as making them unworthy of love, you will also see your own faults — though they may be different ones — as making you unworthy of love. You literally cannot love yourself except as you love your neighbor. If you stay in judgment of them, you will also stay in judgment of yourself. If you want to truly love and accept yourself, you must work on seeing every other human being as equal in value and worthy of compassion. You may never understand their perspective or behavior, but you know that's because you cannot see the world through their lens.
Being open to understanding and learning from other people takes you to a higher level of love and creates a wiser, more open and beautiful way of living. But you cannot get there if you are stuck in your need to be right about your current views.
Opinions vs. morals and values
I also want to say that opinions and views as I have addressed them in this article are different from your morals and values. Morals and values are beautiful choices you make about the rules you want to guide your behavior choices. They are still made from your perspective, but they are the consciously chosen systems to live by. What you want to avoid is pushing your value systems onto others — because they have the right to choose their own — and being closed off to changing your values as you grow and learn.
You could choose to stay open and question everything including your values, your views, and your opinions, and constantly measure them against love. There are so many dimensions to the human experience, and nothing is ever fully black and white, but love for yourself and other people may be a good measure in choosing values that create positive things in your life.
These are, of course, just my perspective and ideas, but I do like the results that are created in my life when I choose to see life as a classroom — purposefully designed to stretch my compassion and ability to love. I also appreciate the comments to my articles that challenge my ideas and premises and I am always open to being wrong.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
We often get so caught up surviving day to day and working down the never-ending to-do list that we forget to relish being alive. You might want to pick one of these things each week and work on it.
Here are some ways to make your life more amazing:
1. Let go of what other people think about you and your choices
You will live in a prison if you make your choices around what other people think. Ask yourself: How could I allow myself to be more true to me and claim the right to live my life?
2. Start fresh every day
Let the past and mistakes from yesterday float away as water under the bridge. They can provide lessons, but they are nothing beyond that. You get a fresh slate every day and the chance to be a new you. Practice giving this to yourself every morning.
3. Stop putting off what you really want to do
Life goes by fast; just ask an older person. You can't wait to start living later. What can you do today to live big now? Stop saving your favorite outfit. Buy those shoes. Plan the trip you really want to take.
4. Create a long bucket list
I recommend to my clients to not stop until there are over 150 things on their bucket list. This way they have to start crossing things off; there are too many items to wait to get started.
5. Don't judge or gossip
Allow every human you meet to be on their unique journey, learning lessons just for them, with the same infinite value as the rest of us. Don't waste time or energy comparing or putting them down to lift yourself up. The more you choose compassion and allow them to be on an equal plane as yourself, the better you will feel about yourself.
6. Forgive everyone — including yourself
Make forgiveness a way of life. Life is too short to hold on to anger. Mistakes are lessons in your classroom journey. That's all. They don't affect our value; human intrinsic value can't change. Also, remember your ability to forgive others is usually tied to your ability to forgive yourself.
7. Distance yourself from negative people and relationships
Don't waste precious hanging onto people who are dishonest, critical or don't add value to your life. You don't have to dislike these people; you just love them ... from afar. Life's too short to let other people take your joy.
8. Help other people
Helping others feels great. Spearhead a humanitarian cause or find a way to volunteer. You get what you give in the world, and the universe will reward you when you serve others.
9. Meet new people and make new friends
Try to connect with a new person every day. Everywhere you go there are amazing people who could enrich your life. Watch the caliber of people you hang out with. Raise the bar and meet people who are living their best lives. It will inspire you.
10. Travel and try new things
Nothing broadens your understanding of yourself and life more than travel. Go somewhere new — even if it's somewhere close by — and meet the people there, eat new foods, and have an adventure.
11. Declutter and minimize
Decide not to make life about things, but having experiences. Get rid of everything that doesn't bring you happiness. Clean your closets and see how little you really need to be happy.
12. Keep learning
Always be open to new ideas and being wrong. Add to your bucket list all the things you'd like to learn and start knocking them off the list, even one a month.
13. Give more than you receive
The idea here is to give more value than you receive in everything you do. Blessings and good fortune follow when you give more and work harder than others.
14. Live in the moment
When you spend "now" worrying about the future, you miss experiences and people that are important today. Be present and don't miss what's in front of you.
15. Let go of your expectations
A lot of the suffering we experience comes from resisting what is. Set goals and intentions, then stay in trust that however things end up, you can learn something from it. Allow the universe to flow and take you places on occasion. Be open to being surprised by something even better than you would have asked for.
16. Have more fun
Let your inner child come out and jump in puddles, walk on curbs, jump cracks, and play whenever you get the chance. Laugh and find things that light your spark.
17. Live in gratitude
Be grateful for everything you have and all the problems you don't have; both of these are important to note.
18. Don't let fear stop you from doing anything
Recognize when you are holding back for a fear reason. Make a list of all the love-motivated reasons to do this thing. Choose to always make a love-motivated choice rather than a fear-driven one
19. Value experiences over things
Save your money for a trip over buying a new car or other expensive item. Give experiences as gifts and spend time with the people you love instead of buying them things.
20. Be yourself and find your joy
Spend some time alone in a place where you can let go of social expectations and just have fun. Make lists of things that make you happy and light you up. Make time to do these things even if — or especially if — others think they are dumb or pointless or that you aren't good at them. What did you like to do as a kid? What activities make you feel fully alive? Make time to bring these into your life in a bigger way.
Be true to your beliefs and values, even if others won't approve. You only get one shot at life and you can't live it for other people. Make a list of things you might be doing to please others or society. Double-check if these things really work for you and are consistent with your value system. Do you dress a certain way because it's socially acceptable? Does it bring you joy? What other changes could you make to live on your own terms?
Be committed to creating some joy every day, even it's a few minutes to watch something funny and laugh. Be in charge of your happiness and responsible for bringing joy into your life every day.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
About a year ago I found out my spouse had not only been looking at inappropriate things online, but she has also been leaving comments on posts and videos of other men. It has completely destroyed me. I feel betrayed. I feel like I'm not good enough. She, of course, says that it meant nothing to her. But when I try and tell her how much it has hurt me, she doesn't get it. We have been fighting over this for over a year, and the only way to stop fighting is for me to just act like I am over it. I AM NOT OVER IT! In fact, I'm still sick about it. But the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe I am the one overreacting over it. I'm so lost and confused. ... Can you please help me? She did delete the app she was doing it on, but I feel like the damage is done and I don't know how to move forward.
I'd like to address your question by giving you a procedure you can use whenever you get offended or have a fight or a problem with anyone in your life. This is especially helpful when trust has been broken and you don't feel emotionally safe with your partner.
In a situation like this, you only have two options in response. It is very important that you understand the consequences of each option and make a conscious decision about which is right for you. If you don't make a conscious decision, your brain will make a subconscious decision by reacting and you will probably make the situation worse, not better.
Here are your two options:
1. Respond from a place of fear
Understand that you cannot show up in love and fear at the same time. If you choose fear, your love goes out the window and your focus is on protecting yourself. This means your behavior will be selfish. You will not do or say things that show love and compassion for the other person; you will say and do things that make you feel safer.
The other person will feel the selfish energy around what you say, and they will likely not feel safe or loved by you. They will then focus on protecting themselves, too, and they won't be loving toward you. If you both show up in fear often, no one will be giving any love and it's less likely that the relationship will work.
2. Respond from a place of love
This means you choose to respond with love toward yourself and the other person. You can only access your love and respond this way if you have first chosen to trust that you are safe. You will need to trust that the universe is on your side, that your value can't change, and that you cannot be "not good enough." This will help you have the capacity to choose to show love, compassion and forgiveness to the other person.
When you respond with love, you can choose to allow the other person to make mistakes and still be worthy of your love because you want the same grace for your mistakes. You can forgive their past behavior completely, seeing it as just a lesson for both of you and not part of who they are. Choosing to forgive and love the other person is likely to make them love you more and create the best outcome.
How to respond from a place of love
Having said that, the love option isn't easy to choose; fear is a lot easier. Fear comes naturally with no effort whatsoever. Choosing love and forgiving the other person can feel much harder, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.
It's important to note there are some situations when the loving thing to do is love yourself enough to leave. If you truly believe the other person has no intention of changing or improving, you might feel leaving is the best thing for you. Only you are entitled to know if and when you have reached this point. Trust your heart and you will know. This is also a love-motivated choice, not a fear-motivated choice.
You may also want to work with a coach or counselor on your self-esteem. Work on letting all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value as you and giving up judging other people and seeing them as less than you. This is the secret to feeling more worthy and loveable yourself. If you see faults and mistakes in others as making them less, bad or unworthy, your own faults and mistakes will also make you feel less, bad and unworthy. If you let every other human make mistakes and still be worthy of love, you will start to see that you are too.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
Most couples say the words "I love you" on a regular basis, but often they don't really mean it.
They might just say "I love you" out of habit or because they want to look like a loving spouse even if aren't acting like it. In the latter case, they are quick to find fault, be annoyed, or criticize the other. There is fighting and defensiveness on a regular basis, and the crux of the problem is usually that they don't feel safe and aren't sure that their partner truly loves them.
I challenge you to commit to loving your partner more fully by understanding what it really means when you say "I love you." Those three words are not a state that you are magically either "in" or "not in." They don't represent a feeling you have for someone; they represent a choice and a commitment. Loving another person is a choice you make over and over, every day.
It might be more powerful and keep us more accountable if instead of saying "I love you," we said: "I choose to actively love you." Then, we would be reminded that loving someone involves behavior way beyond having fond feelings for them. Love is something you do, not just something you feel. Feeling love toward someone is easy, actually loving them is hard work.
If you read this article or send it to your spouse, please do not make it about pointing out the areas where you think your partner is weak or lacking. Focus instead on where you can improve your own behavior and show up with real love for your partner.
Also, I am not suggesting that you must do all these things perfectly. That is not possible for any of us. However, this is a good standard to work toward, and any effort in this direction will improve your relationship.
When you say 'I love you,' it means …
I actively see you
As your partner, I see the parts of you few people get to see — both the good and the bad. No one else will know you at the level I do. You have flaws and faults, because we all do, but I choose to see the good, valuable, worthy and even amazing parts as who you are. I choose to see your intrinsic value and that it cannot change. I see the divine, true, loving parts of you and show you every day that I see you.
I choose to admire you
You don't have to be perfect to have my admiration. I choose, every day, to admire your efforts, your values, your work, your good qualities, and the way you show up and keep trying even when you're struggling. I choose to focus on the best qualities you have, not your faults, because that is what real love does.
I choose to accept you as you are
I choose to love who you really are, with your strengths, talents and habits that I admire, as well as your weaknesses, faults, mistakes and habits that drive me crazy. I accept that you don't think like me or behave like I do. You don't see the world the way I see it. You are wired differently than I am and value different things, but I accept you this way. I do not think you need to change to earn my love. You just need to be who you are.
I choose to be here for you
I choose to support you, cheer for you, listen to you and do whatever I can to make your life better and happier. I don't carry responsibility for your happiness (that is your job) but I will show up and be there to help wherever I can. I do things for you and am your biggest fan.
I choose to respect you
I respect and honor your right to be where you are in your classroom journey. I respect your right to think and feel the way you do, to experience and live the way you do. When you are upset (even if I don't get it) I honor and respect your right to have the feelings you have. I never purposefully talk down, insult or degrade you in any way. I speak kindly and never make you feel small, broken or messed up. If I get bothered with you, I talk to you in a respectful way (like I would to a peer or friend). I may not do this perfectly, but I am committed to the effort.
I choose to trust you
This means I give you the benefit of the doubt, let most of your mistakes go, and always assume the best of you. When you disregard me, I assume it was not intentional. I choose to trust that you love me. This is critical to making our relationship work. If I see unloving behavior in you, I assume it comes your fears about yourself. I talk to you about this from a place of love and compassion. I know that I only have two choices when trust is broken. I can choose distrust, which will doom the relationship and drive a wedge between us, or I can choose to trust you, which will give us a chance. I choose to trust you.
I choose to trust that if you don't love me anymore you will speak up and tell me that. I won't expect you to stay in this relationship if you no longer choose to love me. Until you say those words, I will trust that you do love me and mean what the words say.
I choose to listen to you
I may not always do this perfectly because I get caught up in my own agenda sometimes, but I choose to work at being a good listener and trying to truly understand you. I strive to give you my attention and care about what you think and feel. I know this is a critical part of a good relationship and I choose to be a partner that can set their ideas and opinions aside and listen. If you ever feel I am not listening, kindly ask me if I would be willing to listen and I will remember my commitment.
I am honest and authentic with you
I tell you the truth, even when it is hard. I am true to myself and allow you to really know the real me. If I make a mistake, I own it and get help if I need it. I do not hide things from you or lie about what I am doing. I am an open book and allow you to know the real me on every level.
I choose to forgive you
We both make mistakes and will, on occasion, hurt each other. I choose to forgive you and allow you to be an imperfect, struggling, scared, human in process, just like me. When you mistreat me, forget to think about me, or miss things, because you were focused on yourself, I choose to forgive you. I choose this in advance. We will mistreat and disregard each other; it's going to happen. When it does, I will talk about my feelings and then forgive you. I commit to letting the past go and always giving you the chance to do better.
I have written many articles on forgiving your spouse because it is so critical to the relationship. Click here to read some of them.
It's important to note here that you should never allow any kind of abuse. If abusive behavior is happening, that person doesn't love you. You don't emotionally or physically hurt someone you love. Seek some help and support immediately.
I am loyal to you
I don't need romantic attention from other people. You are my person. I think about how I can make you feel admired, respected, appreciated and wanted every single day. Showing you my loyalty is a priority in my life and I don't do things that would hurt or harm you.
I take responsibility for myself, for you
I won't make you responsible for my self-esteem or happiness. I don't blame you if I am unhappy with myself or life. Those are my responsibilities. I own the responsibility for my thoughts and actions. If I have issues or choose behaviors that hurt you, I will be responsible and seek help to fix them. I will not look for faults in you to justify my bad behavior.
You won't ever love your partner perfectly. You will both make mistakes and mistreat each other, but if you keep coming back to showing up in these ways and love each other at this level, you will create a pretty wonderful relationship.
You may want to read this article on a regular basis to keep your commitment to love fresh in your mind.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I often hear from readers who have to deal with someone in the workplace who is highly defensive and combative in their communication. This person might be a co-worker, employee, manager or even a client.
Everyone will have to communicate, at some point, with someone who is upset, offended and on the offensive, so I'd like to give you some tips on how to best handle these difficult conversations.
When a person comes across as combative or defensive in their communication, I believe one or both of the following things is happening.
If this person is a co-worker, client, family member or boss, you will need to find a way to work and communicate with them without things becoming ugly. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that could make them feel safer and give you a better chance of having a productive conversation:
Work to be emotionally calm and balanced
If you go into a conversation scared about having it, the other person will get defensive before you say a word. Make sure you know your intrinsic value cannot change no matter what happens in this conversation. Remember, in the end, this will be an experience that will serve you, teach you or grow you. You are safe here. Throughout the conversation, keep reminding yourself there is nothing to fear. This is just a conversation and you are just going to try to show up for this human being and be kind.
Care about the person first and the topic second
Your only goal upfront in the conversation is to show this person they are important, cared about and worth listening to. If you have another agenda you need to accomplish, it must come after you take the time to show this person you care about them. If you take the time to validate their worth by asking questions, and then honoring and respecting their thoughts and feelings first, they will be less defensive when it's time to address the issue.
Have an exit strategy and a time limit
Set up this conversation when you have a very natural time limit (like with another appointment). Have an assistant or someone come get you at the end time to assure the conversation stays within these boundaries you've set.
Set some rules of engagement and pick your battles
Let this person know that because you are short on time, you only want to discuss one thing and clarify any issues that you don't want to talk about today. Know ahead of time what the most important issue is and be sure it's important enough to be worth the effort. Know exactly what you hope to achieve at the end. It helps to write these things on paper and get clear of your intention ahead of time. Make sure that making this person feel cared about and heard are your first and foremost goals.
Establish the enemy is an issue, not a person
Sit on the same side instead of across from each other. This makes it feel like the two of you are against an issue or problem, not against each other. Clarify that you want to find a way to create a win for all involved.
Calm their fears with validation and reassurance
Make sure you have validated them and talked about all the things they do right first. They need reassurance before you tell them anything negative. This should help quiet the fears that usually drive bad communication behavior.
Ask a lot of questions and listen
The most important part of a difficult conversation is the beginning, when you make it all about them by asking what they think and feel about the issue. Spend as much time as possible here. The deepest way to show you value, honor, and respect another person is by listening to their views, fears and concerns, and really respecting their right to feel the way they do. If possible, see if you can ask enough questions that you can get them to tell you everything you had wanted to say. It's always better if they figure it out without you telling them.
If you are personally attacked, don't defend yourself
Instead of fighting back against a verbal attack, ask more questions like, "Tell me more about that?" or "What makes you feel that way?" Dive into the attack instead of fighting against it. Just because they think this about you doesn't make it true. Listening to their views doesn't diminish you. Let them get it all out and share all their thoughts and feelings about you. They may be shocked to find you open instead of fighting back. Show them you can handle an attack and are still not scared. None of this affects your intrinsic, unchangeable value.
Put yourself in their shoes
Try to see things from their perspective and look for common ground you can agree on. Don't try to convince them of anything. Focus your attention on trying to understand them. Even if you cannot possibly understand their views, the fact that you are trying will come through.
Use 'I' statements, not 'you' statements
When you do need to share your views, make sure you use "I" statements and focus on your own perspective, observations, thoughts and feelings. Avoid attacks that start with "you" do this or that. Instead, say: "In my opinion," "I have observed," "I feel," "I believe." You are always entitled to your perspective and it's harder to argue with.
Be realistic about what to expect
Realize that people who are deep in a state of fear are only concerned with one thing: their own safety. They don't have the capacity to show up for you, but they might be able to do what you ask of them — if you ask in a respectful way and focus on only future behavior. Use statements like "Would you be willing to do this a little differently moving forward?" or "Next time that happens, would you be open to handling it this way?"
These tips will give you the best shot at a productive conversation, but there are some people you just won't be able to work well with. Don't take this personally. It is not about you.
If this is the case, you will have to avoid dealing with them as much as possible or take the problem up the chain of command. You can also use this opportunity to work on yourself and grow. Try working on staying calm, strong and confident in the face of attacks. It's great practice.
You can do this.
I have recently found several of your articles and have loved them! I think they provide great insight and point of view. I have been trying to find one if you have one regarding "saying no and not feeling guilty." For example, if I get invited to a friend gathering and I respond with "no," but then feel guilty/manipulated into going or being a bad friend afterward. Are there any tips you have regarding it?
The first thing you must do is understand why you feel guilty taking care of yourself and choosing what you want to do. You have every right to make choices that make you happy. Why would you feel guilty for doing that?
5 fear-based beliefs
Most people find they have one or more of the following fear-based, subconscious beliefs. Do these feel like something you might believe?
1. "If I say no, then I am selfish."
You might have a subconscious belief (possibly learned in childhood) that says if you take care of yourself at all, it makes you a selfish, bad person. You may believe good people should sacrifice themselves to make others happy, but this is not true.
The truth is, self-care is wise and healthy, and you must take care of yourself or you will soon have nothing left to give. It is wise to balance taking care of yourself and taking care of others. In order to maintain this balance, you must say no and choose your happiness half the time.
2. "If I disappoint other people, I will be rejected or judged."
You might have experienced this at some point in your life, so you believe this is a rule. The problem is it's not a rule; it's a belief — which means it's not a fact.
Most people can handle hearing "no" without punishing or rejecting you for it. If they do reject you for it, they probably aren't the kind of person you want as a friend. A real friend will support you in doing what's best for you.
It's important to note that you may have taught the people in your life to manipulate you because you always feel guilty when you say no. You may have created these rules of engagement. The good news is that you can change the rules any time you want. You can retrain people in your life to "get over it" when they get disappointed on occasion. You can also say no with love and respect, and most people can handle it and will still love you.
3. "I can't handle confrontation, so it's easier to give in."
This subconscious belief might have come from a bad experience in your past. You may have decided that in most situations, it's safer to sacrifice yourself than risk a fight. The truth is, you can usually enforce boundaries in a kind way that won't lead to conflict.
If you are respectful and kind, yet firm, you can handle these issues with strength and love. If they do turn ugly, you can excuse yourself and refuse to participate until the other person can speak to you with respect. If you have people in your life that cannot handle an occasional "no," that is their problem, not yours. You must maintain a healthy balance and not feel guilty for doing so.
4. "Other people's happiness is more important than mine."
You may have learned as a child that sacrificing yourself or putting your happiness last makes you righteous. This is not true. It actually makes you are acting like a doormat and it makes people lose respect for you. You are the same in importance as everyone else. You have to see yourself as equally important or others won't treat you like you are.
5. "Pleasing other people means they will like and value me."
This is, again, not necessarily true. Sometimes even when you sacrifice for people, it won't make them value or appreciate you. They may even lose respect for you because you don't take care of yourself. They could treat you worse and take your sacrifices for granted.
Occasionally, saying no — especially to the people in your house — means they are more likely to appreciate it when you do say yes.
Which of these fear-based beliefs might be driving your fear of saying no?
Create new beliefs
The incredible thing about finding the faulty beliefs behind your behavior is that you can now change those beliefs. They may be deeply ingrained in your subconscious programming and hard to change, but your conscious mind is stronger and you have the power to choose, in any moment, a different belief that will immediately change how you feel about the situation.
You can write some new beliefs (in your own words) and claim them as your truth moving forward. You might want to put them somewhere you can see them daily and work on consciously choosing them whenever you are tempted to people please.
Here are some new beliefs that might serve you more:
Create new boundaries
You cannot change any behavior until you change the beliefs that are driving it. You can also use your new beliefs to help you write some new boundary rules that apply to specific situations. Write these new boundary rules down on paper, don't just think them. Writing them down makes them more concrete.
Here is an example of great boundary rule:
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — I had a reader write to me recently complaining about a friend who is always talking about the hard things going on in their life. Their question revolved around when it was justified to complain about your life and have a friend listen and show up for you, and when it becomes an issue of playing the victim card to get sympathy love and might not be a positive thing.
Talking about your struggles and woes is not necessarily a problem. For some people, it is the only way they learned to get love. They might subconsciously play the victim card without even realizing it; and when friends listen and show they care, it probably does make them feel cared about, important and loved.
The only problem is that there can be a cost to this behavior that you might not realize you are paying. While friends and family care about you and feel sorry for you, they may also be losing respect for you.
Before I get into how to check yourself and make sure you aren't in an unhealthy victim mentality, let me just say how important it is to have supportive friends and family around you — and to share your difficult experiences with them. Everyone needs that kind of support, and there is no shame whatsoever in talking about your struggles and getting support, help and love from the people in your life.
Your sharing or complaining only becomes a problem if you are sharing for one of the following reasons:
I have a dear friend who is battling cancer, and I love how she shares the challenges and hardships of the experience with me but never misses an opportunity to ask about my life and my challenges too. She never uses the hardship to manipulate others, and she always acknowledges that other people have it worse.
She shares her experience and lets her friends support her, but she has never had a victim mentality. I have to say, though, there are days she is very entitled to a good long pity-party cry — and occasionally she has one, as they are healthy and called for.
Here are some other ways to watch for victim behavior and change it:
Write it down
Write a description (on paper) of what your mindset and behavior would look like if you are playing the victim: How would you show up? How would others see you? What kind of energy would you be putting off?
Write about the payoffs you might get from rehearsing your struggles and stories. Are the payoffs so great they are worth possibly losing the respect of other people? Write about the ways you might be seen as weak, complaining or needy. Are there ways you share your experiences without coming across with these descriptions?
Examine your past
What stories about your past might you talk about too often? Do you have any beliefs about your life always going bad, or bad things always happening to you? Do you believe, "no one cares about me"; or "no matter how hard I try, things always go wrong"; or "people should let me off the hook for bad behavior because of how bad I have had it in the past"; or "I will never get anywhere no matter how hard I work."
Own any victim stories and beliefs you have and figure out why you might hold onto them. What do they give you when you believe they are true? What do they cost you? Is there something else (more healthy) that you could replace those beliefs with? Rewrite some better beliefs and post them somewhere you see them daily.
Explore letting go
Figure out who you could be if you let go of the victim identity. What would your mindset be? How could you respond to life if you saw yourself as strong, blessed, capable, fortunate and whole? What if you see yourself as a champion instead of a victim? This may take a while to clearly see yourself as a victor, but you can do it.
Write down the qualities and attributes you want to embody. How do you want people to see you? What qualities do you want to be known for? You cannot become something you can't even see. The first step is to get clarity on what you want.
Stop the blame game
Stop blaming others or circumstances for the way you are feeling. You are responsible for how you feel. Emotions do arise that you can't control; but once they arrive, you do have the power to process through them and choose your mindset. (Unless you are suffering from clinical depression or an anxiety disorder, which can make choosing your attitude difficult to impossible to do by yourself. Seek help from a medical professional.)
Most of us do have the power to choose our perspective, and our perspective determines how we feel. If you don't know how to use that power, you may need a counselor or coach to help you learn how. It is a skill and can be taught to most people.
Change your perspective
First, choose gratitude. In the very moment you are dwelling on what's wrong in your life, there are many things you could focus on that are blessings. Your blessings always outweigh the challenges. You may need to start a gratitude journal to help you focus on the good every day.
You can also work to change your perspective about how life and the universe work. Most of us have a subconscious belief that the universe is a dangerous place where we can lose, get hurt, or be cheated and unfairly treated. We see the universe as "against" us, messing with us, and even trying to trip us up. With this perspective, we are always a powerless victim who is blown about by chaos and bad luck.
Instead, you can choose to believe the universe is ultimately on your side. It is a wise teacher, constantly using what happens to create your perfect classroom journey. You could believe that everything that happens is used to grow you and make you stronger, wise and more loving. Things don't happen to you, they happen for you. At least, you could choose this mindset if you wanted to and you would find your outlook would be more positive.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — I work with many couples who experience conflict in their relationships and who want to change that. Often, these couples fight over small things that hinge on misunderstandings of intent.
Most of us don't take the time to understand "the why" behind another person's behavior or their intent before we react. We don't ask questions about why our partner did what they did. We must start doing this if we want a healthy relationship because the intent matters.
When we don't know someone's true intent, there will be many unintentional slights, misunderstandings and assumptions of wrongdoing when wrong isn't even there.
Seneca, the author of "Moral Essays" said, "A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer." The same could be said about an offense: People can do the wrong thing for the right reason, and it changes the thing.
If couples can learn to stop before getting upset or offended, and take the time to ask questions and really understand why their partner behaved the way they did, they can nip most conflicts in the bud.
But this means watching yourself for anger and stopping yourself before you say or do anything. It means deciding — in the moment — to ask kind, understanding questions to get more information before you jump to conclusions or add meaning to their behavior.
Let me give you an example. Sally had asked Tom to pick up something at the store for her on his way home from work. He forgot the item because he was in a rush and had left work deeply upset about something his boss had said. When he got home and Sally realized he had not done what she asked, she was upset and felt unimportant and unsupported. She took the offense personally and got angry at Tom for what she viewed as mistreatment.
What I want you to see in this example is Sally's reaction to the events came from intent she was assuming or applying to what happened. Tom forgot to stop at the store for her. Those are the simple facts. She added meaning and intent to the facts by telling herself forgetting meant he didn't listen, care, want to help or support her.
Those were not the real reason he forgot to stop. Tom forgot to stop at the store because he was preoccupied with fear about his own situation and he inadvertently let it slip his mind. This had nothing to do with Sally and how he feels about her.
I can understand her frustration, though; and if this was something that happened a lot, it might have other meaning attached to it. But this one time, his intent wasn't malicious or about her.
In a recent article, I suggested that when someone offends you, you should try and figure out which of four possible reasons might be behind the behavior. The four most common reasons people behave badly are:
If you still feel justified to have an angry and reactive response, you might stop and ask yourself why you want to be angry. What is the intent behind your anger? The why behind your reaction is just as important as the why behind theirs.
Asking kind questions with the purpose of understanding and getting to know this person feels very different than asking defensive, accusatory questions. Here are some examples.
"Why did you not do the one thing I asked you to do Tom?" That is an accusatory question that doesn't show a desire to understand.
A better question might be: "I noticed you forgot to stop at the store, are you OK? What's been happening today?"
The most important skill a couple can have is the ability to have mutually validating conversations that are focused on understanding each other. Unfortunately, a lot of people listen with the intent to reply, not the intent to understand.
The key to communicating in a way that validates both parties and leads to understanding and compromise (instead of conflict) lies in following a few simple rules.
Don't speak down to your partner
Never speak down to your partner from a high horse position, where you are the good one and they are the bad one. If a conversation starts this way, it will never end well. Remember that you both have the same intrinsic value and deserve to be respected. Always speak to your partner as an equal and in a respectful tone. Let them know that you are not coming from a place of judgment, just a place of wanting to understand and know them better.
Don't start with your feelings
Never start the conversation with all your thoughts and feelings. Start with asking questions about what your partner is thinking and feeling. Set your thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas aside in the beginning; you will get the chance to share them later on. If you start by listening, your partner will be less defensive and they may actually feel safe enough to share with you.
Understand your partner's core fear and core value system
I have mentioned them in previous articles, but their core fear is either fear of failure or fear of loss; their core value system is either connection, tasks, things or ideas. If you understand how your partner is wired at this level, you can usually see the intent behind their behavior.
Tom, in the example above, might have fear of failure as his core fear. His fear of failing at work may have had him so consumed that he forgot everything else. Or maybe he values connection most and was so upset about the bad conversation with his boss that a task slipped his mind. He just values people more than tasks. Understanding your partner at this level could be a game-changer.
Focus on your partner's feelings
Ask kind, supportive questions about what your partner was feeling when the offense happened. Make sure these questions aren't an attack or pointed at making them wrong but are instead focused on understanding them. Spend the time to explore their state of mind, thoughts and feelings. You might be amazing at what you learn that you didn't know.
Remember intent matters
Remember intent matters, words matter and tone matters. Choose carefully.
Ask to share your feelings
Ask if your partner would be willing to let you share where you were and what you were thinking and feeling. Don't assume your partner should listen to you; ask them if they are willing and able to really listen and understand you. Ask if they would be willing to not interrupt and let you fully explain your side before they say anything. Ask for exactly what you need from them to make you feel heard and understood.
Use 'I' statements
Use "I" statements not "you" statements. Say things like, "I believe, I think, I feel, I experience, I react to, or in my opinion. Avoid saying, "You always," "You never," "You didn't care or try." As you can see, "you" statements feel like an attack. Keep your comments all about yourself and don't talk about your spouse. Let them speak for themselves.
Practice makes perfect
Repeat these steps until you gain understanding or come to a compromise.
Try this week to ask more questions and pay more attention to intent. Show your partner that you can give them the benefit of the doubt, and that most of the time offenses are unintentional. Give them room to be distracted, self-focused because of fear, and sometimes miss things. Be willing to forgive most garden variety slights in favor of a healthier, happier relationship.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.