This was first published on KSL.com
I have received many questions from readers about people or behavior that is described as “ego driven”. I want to explain what ego is, how to know when it is driving, and how to tame it and become more authentic, balanced and wise..
Some people think “ego driven” just means you are arrogant or conceited, but ego is actually more encompassing than that. Imagine an apple and the real you is the fleshy white part on the inside, but the skin that you try to keep shiny and free from bruises or nicks is the ego.
Your ego is who you believe you are or the face you show to the world. It is made of what you believe your story is, your image, along with your appearance, and your performance. It is the part of you that you compare to others, seeing them as either better or worse than you. Ego tries to protect the inner you from mistreatment and it is fragile, and behaves reactively to defend you too. Your ego image is always changing and rebuilding itself, trying to be what others would want, and yet it never feels safe or good enough. Your ego sees all people and situations as a threat.
The ego is not the real you though. The part on the inside, called your consciousness, is who you really are. This part has the ability to step back and watch the ego thinking and functioning in your behalf. You can actually step back and watch your ego run your reactions, behaviors and thinking. You can also talk to your ego and tell it to “settle down now or stop being afraid.” Or you can let your ego run wild and watch the emotions, stories and behaviors it is encouraging. Because you can sit back and observe the ego, you know it isn’t you.
Your ego isn’t bad, evii, or something to get rid of. It serves you as its goal is to protect you. The trick is becoming more and more consciously aware of your ego, so you can see when it is serving you and when it’s not.
Whenever your ego is experiencing fear and reacting to a situation with drama, emotion, selfishness, negativity, anger, shame, or control, you need to step back and make sure the rest of you agrees with that response. Your higher self (the real you inside the apple) is the source of peace, truth, and love. When you learn to tune into this part of you, you discover wisdom, compassion, and connection to everyone and everything.
If you wonder, in any moment, if your ego is driving or if you are functioning from your higher self. Ask yourself these questions:
Here is a simple process to check your ego at the door:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after speaker, author and master coach, who works with people and organizations to solve people problems and improve human behavior. Take the Clarity Assessment on her website to discover your own fear triggers.
This was first published on ksl.com
I liked your last article about conflict, but I wondered if you could give me more specific instructions for having really touchy conversations. I have a difficult conversation coming up and I am afraid of it turning into a confrontation. Can you help?
Lots of people think they need improved communication skills, but the real reason we struggle to communicate about "touchy" subjects is that our fears get triggered. If we start to feel unsafe in a conversation, we might get defensive and protective of ourselves and our views. This might happen when you feel insulted, dishonored or criticized (fear-of-failure triggers). This may also happen when you feel mistreated or like you might lose something (fear-of-loss triggers). These fear-related emotions have the power to turn a conversation into an argument.
Fear is all about ourselves and our needs. When we are triggered, we tend to show up selfish in the conversation and when you show up this way, it can make connection difficult.
To avoid this, here are some simple steps you can follow before and during the conversation.
1. Make a decision about what you want to happen at the end of the conversation
Do you just want to placate the other person and avoid conflict, but without real understanding? Or do you want to connect, understand and learn about the heart and mind of the other person? Would you like to increase mutual respect and compassion, even if you don’t agree?
Make sure your intention is not to win an argument or control the other person because they can feel this kind of agenda and it may create defensiveness. If you're hoping to have some influence over the person, remember you have more influence when there is a connection versus when you try to control. Clarify your goal and make sure it is love motivated and honors what they want too.
2. Remember your intrinsic value is not in question
It is the same as every other person’s, no matter how this conversation goes. You cannot be diminished or made less than anyone else. Remembering this will make it less likely that your fear of failure will get triggered.
3. See the other person as having the same intrinsic value as you
Choose to honor their right to be different and think differently than you. They have the right to see the world the way they see it. Don't talk down to them and don't allow yourself to be intimidated by them. You are equals — even if they are younger or older than you.
4. Clarify what kind of relationship you want to have with this person
What kind of connection, influence, respect or understanding do you want in the relationship? How do you want them to feel about you at the end of the conversation?
5. Clarify what the topic is and what it isn’t
Ask the other person if they would be open to discussing that specific topic. If they aren't, honor that. Decide together what the limits of that conversation should be.
6. Address the underlying what and why for each person
What is this conversation really about and why is this topic important to both of you? What about this conversation frightens you or the other person?
You might think about this before the conversation starts or you might discuss these concerns with the other person. Asking them what they would like to see happen in this conversation is a great way to start. If you start with the end in mind, you may increase the likelihood that it will go that way.
7. Take a minute and figure out what is relevant and what should be off limits
Consider setting some ground rules that would make the other person feel safer to have the conversation. Maybe bringing up past offenses should be off limits. What is considered "below the belt" in the conversation? What is acceptable and unacceptable? Let them know they can call you out, too, if you break these rules.
8. Set aside your agenda, thoughts and feelings, and focus on the other person first
Ask questions about what they think and how they feel and then listen. Ask clarifying questions if you need to and make sure you don't get triggered. If the conversation gets difficult, keep reminding yourself that you have the same value and that this is your perfect life classroom.
This important step is where you can show the other person that you value them by spending time listening and trying to understanding them. This helps validates their worth as a person and can make them feel safer with you. And the safer they feel, the more productive the conversation will be.
9. Ask permission to share your ideas
Once the other person feels validated and heard, ask for permission to now share your thoughts and feelings. If you have something you really need to share, asking permission might sound like, “Would you be willing to let me explain my beliefs, fears, or concerns with you?” or, “Are you in a place where you can hear my beliefs and still know that I honor and respect yours?” You might ask for no interruptions for a specific amount of time. You might also remind them of your intention and ask them to keep that in mind as you share. When you ask permission before sharing, you show the other person that you respect them. This, again, can make them feel safer with you. If both parties feel safe, conversations go much better.
10. Honor their answer
If they respond negatively and do not give you permission to talk, you should honor this and say “I respect that, no problem." This is important if you want to build a relationship of trust and could help this person be more open in the future.
If they respond positively and give you permission to talk, there are a couple of tricks to making sure you share without offending.
First, use “I” statements over “you” statements. This means you should speak about what you think, feel, see, believe and want instead of criticizing them. When you start with “You are…” or “ You do this…”, those comments may come off as an attack and trigger defensiveness. Instead, try "I feel..." or “I believe this…”
Second, focus on future behavior instead of past behavior because when you focus on the past, it can create frustration since it cannot be changed. You do, however, have some control over future behavior, so asking for different behavior next time is much more palatable.
If they have more to say, go back to step No. 7 and work forward from there again. Repeat this until you can thank them for taking the time to help you understand their thoughts and feelings. You may or may not reach an agreement or resolution, but if the goal was connection and understanding, my hope is that you accomplished that.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the author of three books, including Choosing Clarity: The path to fearlessness available on amazon.com She is a sought after people skills trainer and speaker, and a master executive coach www.claritypointcoaching.com
This was first published on ksl.com
Most of the questions readers submit to me are about resolving conflict with other humans. The trick to resolving conflict lies in taking the problem apart, understanding the triggers each person experiences and the bad behavior those triggers might create. This process is what I call an emotional autopsy because it allows you to understand the motivation and emotions underneath the surface that may cause the problem. This also gives you the power to calm the emotions and deal with the actual problem.
Think about the last fight or argument you had with someone and follow my process by asking yourself the questions below. See if you can identify the underlying cause of the conflict and how to resolve it in the future.
1. What event or situation started this conflict or problem?
Can you follow it back to the original issue that may have triggered a negative emotion and made each party behave badly? This issue could stem from something that has been happening for a long time, or something they've experienced their whole life. We're going to call the person who was triggered by something that created the conflict Person A. We'll call the other party Person B.
2. What negative emotion showed up in Person A because of the triggering event?
Did they feel insulted, rejected, unwanted, unimportant, unappreciated, not good enough, controlled, pushed, defensive, protective, or mistreated? Do they have a story about how the situation has made them feel the emotions they've experienced in the past? What is that story?
3. How did Person A behave because of this emotion?
What kind of behavior or language showed up as a result? Did Person A pull back from Person B, try to control them or have walls up to protect themself? Did they get defensive, say something insulting or do something equally triggering to Person B? What does that behavior look like?
4. What negative emotions were triggered in Person B as a result of Person A’s behavior?
How exactly did Person B feel mistreated? Did Person B feel unappreciated, taken from, unwanted or rejected? It's important to identify these emotions and what might be triggering them. If they're ignored for too long, they may continue to cause conflict in Person B in other situations.
5. What kind of bad behavior showed up when Person B reacted to their emotions?
What did Person B’s unbalanced behavior or language look like? Did they try to understand Person A, or did they react just as badly?
6. How might have Person B further triggered Person A?
What emotion might have showed up in Person A now as a result of Person B’s reaction? What might Person A and Person B be feeling at this point? Being clear on this will help you step back and see how the emotions might be driving the conflict more than the original issue.
7. What does each person need in this situation?
What could you give the other person that might help quiet the emotion that is causing the conflict? For example, if you know and understand that no one can diminish your value, you may feel less threatened by conflict and can create a safer space for those around you. Then, you may be able to better work through problems by giving the other person involved in the conflict what they need to feel safe and help them want to resolve the issue at hand.
8. Go back to the original emotions that showed up in steps No. 2 and No. 4. Are these emotions that Person A and Person B experience often?
Is it an emotion they've experienced throughout their life and in many different situations? Sometimes, people and situations can trigger certain emotions in people, but they're not the real cause. The real cause may be something that happened in that person's past and certain situations might stir up emotions and reactions in them.
9. What does someone who may carry these emotions around need?
Remember, bad behavior may be a request for love, validation or reassurance. You might not want to validate or love a person who is behaving badly, but if you can see that it isn’t really about you, conflict resolution can get easier. You can't fix another person and you aren't responsible for their behavior, but if you can quiet the negative emotions in them during conflict, then you can more easily deal with the problem at hand. You may also need to enforce boundaries to protect yourself from certain people, and that's OK, too.
If you choose to see life as a classroom, it means every conflict or emotion is part of your classroom journey and is meant to serve you. Knowing this might make some people problems less difficult and increase your capacity to resolve conflict with others. The more you practice this process, the easier it may become to see conflict accurately and resolve people problems more maturely.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after master life coach who is provides coaching and help to anyone struggling with people problems or relationship conflicts. She also trains and certifies life coaches in her system with new classes starting soon.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
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.