This was first published on KSL.COM
I have noticed lately that many of the men at work and in other meetings I attend interrupt me, cut me off, or talk down to me and the other women in those groups. I am just curious to know if you think there is anything we can do to garner more respect and/or change this? Should we say something when this happens or try to ignore it?
Women are often talked over, interrupted or shut down in conversation, especially in environments where they are outnumbered by men. A study from George Washington University found that men were 33% more likely to interrupt women than they were to interrupt other men.
Another study, from researchers at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, found that this even happens to female Supreme Court Justices, like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Researchers examined 15 years of court transcripts to see how often men, either justices or advocates, interrupted the female justices. Over the last 12 years (when women have comprised only 24% of the bench) female justices being interrupted by men accounted for 32% of interruptions, while female justices interrupting men accounted for only 4% of interruptions.
According to Jessica Bennett, a gender editor at the New York Times, it is not just men who interrupt women. Other women are also more prone to interrupt women, and people of color and LGBTQ+ people fare even worse. The sad truth is we subconsciously see some people as less valuable or less important, and this shows up in the way we communicate.
I believe the crucial first step is committing to see all human beings as having the same value and demonstrating this belief in how we talk to them. Every person deserves to be heard and respected. We must see all human beings as equals, listen without interrupting, and honor their right to think differently than we do.
Obviously, there are also situations where the opposite is true and women interrupt or talk over men. The point of the article is to make us all better at respectful communication.
Practical ways you can be part of the solution
1. Stop before interrupting someone. If you feel the urge to interrupt someone, ask yourself, "Do I just want to ask a quick question to clarify what they are saying? Am I going to invite them to continue afterward, or do I think what I have to say is more important than this person?" If the latter is is the case, choose to keep quiet.
2. Check yourself before giving advice. Before you advise another person ask yourself, "Is there any chance I am explaining something to this person that they already know?" If you think there is any chance they might already know this information, don't insult them by telling them. You could also ask them directly if they would be open to some advice?
3. Ask permission before you share an idea or suggestion, or give advice. Ask the other person if they are open to hearing your idea and give them a comfortable out if they'd rather not hear it. Respect the answer to your permission question and don't forge ahead without permission.
4. Don't use demeaning nicknames like honey, sweetie, love or babe. These are not appropriate unless you are dating or married to the other person, and even then ask how they feel about these terms and make sure they are seen as a compliment, not an insult.
5. Never correct another person's pronunciation or grammar.
6. Avoid sexist or demeaning jokes and misogynistic statements. Call out other people who use them. Explain to them why their behavior is wrong. Watch for situations that make women or other marginalized people feel uncomfortable and stand up for them.
7. Make a committed effort to listen to other people. In any meetings you attend, make sure all the women and marginalized people are respected and heard. Insist that others acknowledge and hear them out. Stop people who are interrupting them.
8. Believe women and what they say. Insist that others do the same.
9. Don't get defensive if a woman — or anyone for that matter — tells you that your words or behavior were offensive or hurtful. Be open to understanding that from another person's perspective things can look and feel different than they feel from your perspective. Apologize and ask questions so you understand what you should do differently in the future. Be teachable.
10. Be careful not to talk over other people. Don't dismiss others' ideas; and if you cannot wait to make a comment, at least politely ask if you can stop them for a second. Then, make sure you invite them to continue afterward.
11. If you are on a board, panel or team, insist that they include a well-rounded number of diverse people. Invite more women or minorities to participate and be included.
12. Teach young people that being feminine is not a bad thing. Don't use phrases like "you hit like a girl." Challenge stereotypes that place women behind men as the weaker sex. Encourage women and girls to see themselves as equal, smart and capable as men.
What to do if you find yourself being talked down to or interrupted
1. Don't take it personally. Interrupting says more about a lack of manners in the other person than it says about you. This experience doesn't mean you are less important or less worthy of respect; it likely means the other person hasn't learned to be aware of how their actions affect other people.
2. Don't blame yourself or see yourself as weak or insecure. This happens because our entire society has been taught patriarchy as the social norm. You allow men to interrupt you because it is deep in your subconscious programming to see it as acceptable. It will take work and time for you to recognize every time it happens and learn to stand up for yourself. Have compassion for yourself during this time.
3. Whenever you are speaking to men, use confident words. Rose Kennedy, from the Atlanta Journal, encourages women to "speak with conviction using words like 'know' instead of 'believe' and 'will' instead of 'might." She says to "lean in and make eye contact," sighting a 1983 study that found men tend to interrupt women more often when they lean away or don't look at the person they're talking to.
4. Practice assertive body language. Do things like keeping your arms out to take up as much space in the room as you can. This is a power position and it changes how people treat you.
5. Be strong and confident without being defensive or overly forceful. You don't have to be angry and defensive to stand up for yourself. You can stand in your power and still be calm, peaceful and kind.
6. If you are interrupted or cut off, you have the following options to respond (which can all be done standing in your power):
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I am in a wonderful relationship. I feel very loved, and I love her. We respect each other’s differences and appreciate them. However, something has recently come up: my partner has started smoking socially. I am a religious person and she is not, but that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that she is a recovering addict and she’s been sober for two years, but I’m afraid she is going to use smoking to replace her old vice. Would I be controlling or rude if I told her I was concerned by her smoking? She is pretty stressed right now, and I want to help her, but I can’t stand thinking that she’s going to develop another harmful habit.
It sounds like what you're asking is how to give negative feedback about another person’s problem or bad habit without making them feel defensive or attacked. Here are some tips and a very soft approach to making these tricky conversations easier.
Treat the other person as an equal
When you treat the other person as an equal, you do not talk down to them. We all have a subconscious tendency to see bad behavior in another person as making them "less good" than we are, and we might accidentally come across as thinking we are "better" if we aren’t careful. It is important that you remember that even though you don’t have this problem or bad habit, you have others. You are not perfect. You have faults and flaws too. Make sure you see the other person as an equal and make them feel honored and respected for their right to be where they are. Remember, they have the same value as you. Don’t talk down or be patronizing.
Focus on gaining understanding
Go into the conversation with your only agenda being to gain understanding and make the other person feel valued. Don’t have an agenda around changing or fixing them; if you do, they will pick up on this and likely get defensive from the start. Go into this conversation with the primary goal of showing them you care about, honor and respect them. You can have a topic in mind — in this case, to understand more about their smoking — but with no agenda around it.
Ask for permission to approach the subject
Ask the other person if they would be willing to have a conversation about smoking so you can know and love them better. Go ahead and let them know the topic you want to talk about, but reassure them that you are going to really listen and will not lecture, push your opinions, or interrupt. Make sure they feel safe with you. If you have not been a good listener in the past, you might have to apologize for that and ask them to please give you another chance to show up better.
Ask non-judgmental questions
Ask them questions about what they think and feel around the topic but make sure the questions don’t sound judgmental. Questions like: "Why in the world would you want to smoke? and "Don’t you know how damaging it is?" are judgmental questions. Instead, try something like "I really want to understand about smoking, I guess I don’t really understand the appeal. Would you be willing to educate me and help me understand why you like it? I promise my asking is not from judgment, but just from wanting to understand you so I can support you better. Would you tell me about what it does for you?" Notice the lack of agenda in that? The other person is not going to be honest and share their feelings if they feel you are going to make them feel wrong or bad. They have to feel they have a safe place to share.
Don't agree or disagree
Don't agree or disagree with what the other person says. Simply listen and validate their right to be where they are and feel the way they do. Say things like, "I can totally see why you might feel that way. Tell me more about that." Remember, you can disagree with what they say or think and still validate their right to feel the way they do. If you strongly disagree with their views, bite your tongue and don’t go there yet.
Be open to making your own changes
If you want someone to hear you, listen to your views, and possibly change their viewpoint or behavior, you must first show them you are also open to changing yours (you might want to read that again). This is the crucial piece. If you are stubbornly dug into your being right, they are going to do the same. If they can feel that you are open to learning, understanding, and even being wrong, they can let their defenses come down because they are safe to do so. They likely will be more open, too. You may have to prove that you are this open by actually bending and admitting you are learning some things here that make you rethink your position.
Ask to share your views
After the other person has had awhile to really explain their views, and they feel heard and validated, then and only then can you ask permission to share your views. Ask them if they know that you love them and only want the best for them. Ask them if they know you are coming from a position of only love, not judgment. Very respectfully ask them if they would be willing to let you share some of your concerns about smoking and why it scares you. Let them know if they don’t feel comfortable hearing your views on this, that is OK too. This makes this a real question, not a rhetorical one. If they say they are not open to hearing your views, you must say, "OK, I respect that" and walk away. Your willingness to honor their answer builds trust in the relationship.
Follow 2 simple rules
When the other person is ready to listen to you, follow these two simple rules:
Love, encourage and validate
If a person feels you are trying to change them, they will always resist changing. If they feel your unconditional love and support, and if you express concern from love and caring (not judgment) and are willing to listen, understand, and even learn something you didn’t know, they will be more open.
The best way to get someone to change something about themselves is through encouragement and positive validation. You could watch for times that she makes good health choices and tell her how awesome she is that she cares about her health and makes those choices. Let her know you admire the way she quit her previous addictive behavior and that you really love and respect her for that (without saying anything about smoking). If you make these comments every once in awhile, she might want to live up to your highest opinion of her and decide to change her habits on her own because she wants to be that person that you see.
Remember, though, you must stay out of judgment and let go of the idea that you are right and she is wrong. Show up with total respect for her and her choices, and just focus on understanding and supporting her. This approach is not controlling or rude as long as you are sincere.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I had a client ask me about the anatomy of the argument they keep having over and over throughout their marriage. They have noticed that other couples say the same thing: they always argue over the same thing or around the same basic issue. So, I thought that maybe I would explain a simple way to take apart that argument and see what is really happening.
The first thing you need to understand is that fear is in play. I believe there are two fears we all battle with every day, and have done so since we were small children. They are the fear of failure (that I might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (that I am not safe). We all experience both of these, but each person has one that is more dominant.
Find the fear
When thinking about your most common argument, it’s important to figure out which fear is in play for each of you. Ask the following questions to determine which fear is dominant for you, and then for your partner.
Fear of failure questions
Fear of loss questions
Study the fight
The reason it is important to know a person’s core fear is that once you understand where their fear is based, you also know the key trigger that knocks them out of balance and brings out their bad behavior. Most of your arguments will be the same basic fear getting triggered.
People who are fear-of-failure dominant get offended when they feel judged, criticized, rejected, unloved, abandoned or insulted.
People who are fear-of-loss dominant get offended when they feel taken from, mistreated, disregarded, disrespected or like they are losing something.
Think back on your most common argument or disagreement you have with a person. Which one of the above offenses happened first? Someone started this argument when they felt one of those things. Can you see which fear was in play first?
When their first fear was triggered, the person reacted and behaved in a way that triggered the other person’s fear. Can you see which fear that was?
Whenever you react from fear, the behavior that results is almost always selfish and focused solely on protecting yourself. This behavior makes the other person feel unsafe. When you are so focused on protecting yourself, you are not going to be thinking about protecting the other person. It is important that you can see behavior that the first person displayed, or what they said that got the second person triggered, too.
What did the first person’s behavior make the second person feel? Did they feel ...
See the solution
It is critical to understand the anatomy of these arguments so you can see the solution. At the end of the day, you both just want to feel safe, loved, respected, admired and wanted by your partner. This argument is really about the fact that you don’t feel that way.
So, the answer to ending this argument for good is to learn how to make your partner feel safe, loved, respected, admired and wanted when they first get triggered.
What if you could pause right at the beginning of the argument, when the first trigger happens, and ask yourself:
Mary and John
Let me give you an example of how this works:
Mary and her husband John live on a tight budget and are very careful in stretching their paycheck to the end of the month. John opens the fridge and finds a bag of salad that has gone bad and has to be thrown out. He turns to Mary and in anger says "That is just great! Why didn’t you use this before it sat in the fridge and rotted? What’s the matter with you?" Mary yells back, "Why do you have to be such a jerk? You are the worst husband ever." The argument escalates from there.
Let’s take this one apart: This argument started when John got triggered by fear of loss. He was already worried about not having enough money this month, and seeing food go bad triggered that fear. But notice that he doesn’t see it as a money fear problem; he inaccurately sees it as Mary’s problem. So, he aimed his bad reaction right at Mary, insulting and verbally attacking her.
This, of course, triggered Mary’s fear of failure, as John was accusing her of being careless and wasteful. But instead of recognizing what John’s fear was really about (the money fear), she goes on the defense and attacks him back. Now, both John and Mary feel unsafe with each other and instead of addressing the actual fear issue, they have made the argument about each other.
The truth is that most bad behavior is a cry for help, love or reassurance because the person is scared of something; it’s always more about the person’s fears about themselves than it is about you.
People who are grouchy and rude and attack you for small mistakes, or right out of the blue, are usually battling a huge fear that they aren’t good enough; however, they aren't conscious of that, so they project their self-hate onto you, which is easier for them than facing it.
Many people who feel mistreated, taken from, or are easily offended are really angry at life for disappointing them. They can’t punish life for their losses, so they project the problem onto everyone around them. If you can start stepping back and looking at each argument through this filter, you will find they are easier to understand and resolve than you think.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My wife says that my sarcasm and sarcastic comments hurt her and my children, while I think they need to lighten up and understand teasing. Sarcasm has always seemed intelligent humor in my family and I think she is being too sensitive. Since we both read your articles we wondered what you would say about it.
Most sarcastic people consider themselves both intelligent and funny, but I am sorry to say I agree with your wife that it can often be mean. This is because sarcastic comments, though humorous, are usually passive-aggressive, mean and uncomfortable for the people receiving them.
The dictionary defines sarcasm as "the use of irony to mock or convey contempt" and "a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark." Neither of these definitions sound like validating communication to me.
You might see your sarcastic comments as teasing, but you must stop and think about how those comments really feel to the people in your life. Don’t think that by saying "just kidding" after a sarcastic remark it is now OK, especially if it was a hurtful comment. Most sarcastic people do see themselves as funny, but often they are the only ones laughing.
As a human behavior expert, I find it is always helpful to figure out why you are behaving the way you are. There are always reasons, beliefs or programs driving our behavior. When you understand why you feel the need to be sarcastic, you can then decide if it is really working for you.
Reasons for sarcasm
Here are some common reasons you might be sarcastic:
1. You fear you aren’t good enough, so you subconsciously put others down so you can feel superior.
The worse you feel about yourself, the more stinging your remarks toward others could be. People who don’t like themselves often put others down or tease them, in order to feel more important themselves. If this is your reason for being sarcastic, you may need some professional coaching or counseling to work on your self-esteem.
2. Sarcasm is also a way of asking for what you want when you are scared to ask for it directly.
You might crack a joke about your wife’s crazy shoes because you don’t know how to just say you don’t like them and wish she wouldn’t wear them. Instead, your sarcastic remark leaves your wife questioning what you really think. Were you joking or serious? When you don’t know how to say things in a kind way, you might make a joke, which probably hurts the other person, but it also creates a place where if she takes offense, it’s her problem, not yours. If you do this, you might need to learn some better communication skills.
3. Sarcasm can be passive-aggressive anger.
This happens when you feel taken from, insulted or annoyed by another person and you really want to get them back but know you can’t do that directly. Sarcasm is a way to take a stab at them without being seen as mean or bad. A joke feels like it absolves you of responsibility for their feelings. If this is your problem, you need to resolve the issue you are angry about. This passive-aggressive behavior actually makes you look bad too.
4. You may feel angry at life for the disappointments or abuse you have suffered.
Sarcasm can be a way to take out your anger about disappointments or vent your frustration. The more your life goes wrong, the more biting your remarks toward others could get. If this is your problem, you need to change the way you see your life experiences so they make you better, not bitter.
5. If you were made to feel small as a child, you may be trying to feel superior now.
If you were teased in a cruel way, put down, or made to feel small or unimportant as a child, you may be subconsciously trying to feel superior now. You may look down on other people and jokingly jab at them as a way to feel powerful. Again, if this is your problem, you may need to improve your self-esteem so you can show up with more love.
6. You might like to get attention by entertaining those around you with humor.
If this is true, you probably need this attention to validate your worth because, again, you might have low self-esteem. You might need attention so badly you will sacrifice other people to get it. Fear creates very selfish subconscious behavior, but this can be fixed. There are lots of ways to be funny without hurting other people.
How to be less sarcastic
Just take a minute and honestly ask yourself if any of these reasons or problems could be behind your need to be sarcastic. Then, ask yourself the following questions:
You can be funny all you want; but if you do it at the expense of other people, there will be consequences. People may never feel safe with you. People may start to dislike you. If the people on the receiving end of your sarcasm are your friends and family, the cost for your humor may be high.
How do deal with a sarcastic person
If you are living with a sarcastic person here are a few suggestions for dealing with it:
I realize if you grew up in a sarcastic family, your programming for this teasing runs deep. You are going to have to stay committed to working on this to make this change but keep at it. It’s worth it.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares the different ways we argue, forgive and apologize — and how to honor each other's needs.
According to Gary Chapman, the author of "The Five Love Languages," each of us have a specific way we give and receive love. Likewise, we have a way we apologize and forgive best.
In my book, “The People Guidebook: For Great Relationships,” I explain how your unique values and fears make you different from other people and drive your behavior. In putting these different ideas together, I discovered there are four different ways we argue, forgive and apologize in communication with other people.
Read the “fighting styles” below to figure out the style that works best for you so you can see the pros and cons of it. You may also want to figure out the fighting style of your spouse, another family member or friend, as this will help you to resolve conflict and have difficult conversations in a way that works for both of you.
The 4 fighting styles
1. Long communicators with connection needed
These people are long talkers and always have lots to say, so they can argue or converse about a problem for a long time. This is fine, unless they are fighting with someone who is a short communicator (who can get easily overwhelmed or worn out by long talkers).
Long talkers often have a tendency toward a victim mentality and sometimes struggle to accept any blame or responsibility for a problem. They usually see themselves as the injured party. These people can get mean and ugly if pushed in an argument (which can be scary for less passionate and/or quieter people).
These people usually have lots of friends and highly value their connections. They often cannot resolve something and move on until they feel a close, caring connection has been restored. It’s easier for them to accept an apology after the person has taken responsibility for the slight or asked for forgiveness, or they have received validation about their feelings and feel cared for and reconnected again
2. Long communicators with restitution needed
These people are long talkers who need a person to restore their loss before they can let things go. They are very good communicators who can keep arguing for a long time. They are so good with words that they can twist the other person’s words around and use them against that other person.
These people tend to be very opinionated and stubborn. They have very black-and-white, right-and-wrong thinking styles, with no room for gray area. They are also very logical and practical (meaning not very emotional and sensitive) in how they see things. They can struggle to understand another person’s feelings if those feelings don’t make sense to them.
These people struggle to accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has made some kind of restitution or major change in their behavior. If they feel taken from.
3. Short communicators with validation needed
These people cannot do long, drawn-out arguments, so don’t subject them to hours and hours of conversation. If you talk too much, they will start to shut down and will often say anything they have to just to make the conversation stop. If it doesn’t stop, they will pull back or leave. Don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work through the issue; it just means they can’t do it in one sitting.
These people don’t like mean, ugly, personal attacks or fighting that is loud and scary. These are quieter people who would rather avoid conflict. Angry criticism makes these people feel very unsafe. They need lots of positive validation before and after anything negative is mentioned.
The secret to engaging with these people is laying the ground rules before you engage. Tell them three things: how long this conversation will last (i.e. “30 minutes and no more, I promise”), how painful this is going to be (i.e. “I promise this is not an attack and you will get to give me feedback here too”), and what you are going to ask for in the end (i.e. “In the end, I am only going to ask you to change one little thing”). If you set up rules of engagement and stick to them, short communicators are more likely to stick with you and work things out.
These people cannot accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has given them some positive validation about how good they are. If they feel like a failure at the end, they will struggle to forgive you.
4. Short communicators with restitution needed
These people cannot do long, drawn-out fights or arguments because they don’t have the patience for them. They are more likely to tell you off and then leave. Don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work through the issue; it just means they can’t do it in one sitting.
These people can get mean, ugly, loud and scary, but they won’t stay in that emotional state for a long time. They will explode and then cool down. This behavior can scare quieter people who would rather avoid conflict. Sometimes it will work best if you will let them explode and be mean, and then let them cool down before returning to the issue.
The secret to engaging with these people is to establish rules of engagement. Tell them the same three things from above: how long this conversation will last, how annoying or emotional this conversation is going to be (try to stay logical and practical), and what you are going to ask for in the end (let them know it won’t be asking for much).
These people cannot accept an apology until the other person has taken responsibility for the slight, asked for forgiveness, and has made some kind of restitution or major change in their behavior. If they feel taken from, apologies won’t matter until the loss has been restored or they see you have really been acting differently.
This information might be a game-changer in your relationship, because arguments and difficult conversations are only productive when both parties feel respected, heard, understood, and honored for their right to be them. You want to practice the Platinum Rule to treat people the way they want and need to be treated (not the way you want to be treated).
Don’t assume that the way you show up and handle yourself is the right way. It’s just a different way. Everyone has the right to be wired the way they are wired. Respect that and honor their differences and you can easily resolve most problems.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I read your article last week about members of some religions not being comfortable with non-member neighbors. I wish you would tell me how to tell my family and friends that I have decided to leave the religion I grew up in. I started attending another church this last year and I know my family isn’t going to be thrilled about that, so I have been hiding it. But it shouldn’t be this big a deal, right? I don’t know why I am scared to tell them, but I am. I know it’s fear, like you always say, but how do I get past it and just get them to respect my choice. Any advice that would help me?
I have received this question a couple of times before, so it’s time to answer it. And you are right, it is a fear issue. Some people have compared the fear around this, as close to the same fear an LGBTQ+ person experiences coming out of the closet, as it brings up similar fears of rejection from friends and family. The first step is to get clear about what you are really afraid might happen when you break this news. See if any of these fears resonate with you:
Here are some things to think about that might help:
Some of those fears are unlikely to happen. If they are really your friends, most people don’t care which church you attend. If they do care and can’t love you where you are, they aren’t really your friends. There are also new people around every corner, and changing your friendships now and then isn’t all bad.
What others think about your choices, your intelligence, or your values doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t change anything about you. You are still you, with the same unchangeable value. Opinions are just flimsy thoughts floating through the heads of other people, they have no power to do or mean anything — unless you give them power. Don’t give them any power.
Decide that the only opinion that matters about your life is yours. No one else has to live with those choices. They may have thoughts about your choices but, in the end, they won’t think much about your life. They have bigger problems in their own lives to worry about.
When you make a decision that other people disagree with, you have two options when you interact with those people: You can approach them afraid of rejection because of this difference — and you will probably be defensive, quiet and tentative about being around them — or you could approach them the same loving way you always have. You can stay in trust that your value is the same as everyone else’s no matter what you do. You can then stay in a loving, outgoing, open state where they will feel your love, not your fear. The way you approach your friends and family will determine the way they respond to you and your news. If you are the same you, it makes it easier for them to be the same them too.
Try speaking your truth to someone in your life that you know is very loving and accepting first. Follow the procedure below to speak your truth lovingly with each person in your life:
Reassure them that you are going to be fine and you would really appreciate it if they could trust it will work out fine in the end and focus on their love for you instead of their fear. Tell them you really want to maintain a close relationship with them and you know this can and will happen if you both focus on love instead of fear.
The funny thing about religion is there is no ultimate source of absolute truth about God or the afterlife. Even though people say they know their truth is the truth because they feel it’s truth, they can’t prove it. This means we are all choosing a belief system that feels right to us. We cannot prove we are right or that anyone else is wrong. So, we should allow each person to follow the dictates of their own heart and should not push our beliefs on them, nor should we try to make them wrong. You might remind them of this truth and ask them to set aside any fears and trust that we are each in the perfect classroom journey for us.
If you are rejected (which I highly doubt you will be), choose to see even that experience as your perfect classroom journey. It would be a great growth opportunity and a chance to focus on owning your own value and not caring what others think.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after corporate people skills trainer and is the founder of www.12shapes.com the latest social science for families and businesses. She is the author of the book Choosing Clarity on Amazon.
This was first published on KSL.com
We have friends in our neighborhood who recently told us they had left the church we both belonged to. We have always had much in common — kids the same ages, and similar beliefs — so this feels really awkward. We still love them and respect them choosing what is right for them, but it’s like there is a huge elephant in the room when we are together. It feels awkward, so I admit we haven’t reached out to do things with them as much. This is bothering me because I assume they think we don’t want to be friends with them anymore because of their choice. That is really not the case, but I don’t know how to interact with such a huge elephant in the room. There are so many topics that feel off limits now, I feel like we can’t talk about what is going on in our lives, since so much is ward or church related. I also know they drink alcohol now, and since we don’t that also makes socializing awkward. How do we continue a friendship, regardless of this change? Do you have any advice for this situation?
I am sure it is awkward for them too, because all differences create fear and discomfort. This happens because we are subconsciously programmed to see the world always in comparison, in terms of better or worse. We compare every single thing in our lives — people, houses, jobs, teams, races, religions, sodas, etc. The problem comes because comparison assumes that if two things are different, one must be better or more right and the other less or more wrong. Because of this, any difference make us feel unsafe.
As human beings, we have a hard time letting different be just different, with no inherent value, or "better" or "worse" attached to it. The trick in your situation, or any situation where you discover differences, is to remind yourself there is nothing to fear; there is no better or worse, there is only different. Seeing the situation this way means you will show up with more love than fear.
Think about what you are really afraid of if you socialize with them:
I recommend you work on the three things described below to help eliminate the fear, then call your friends up and invite them to do something with your family and show up exactly the same as you always have. There is nothing to fear from differences.
Here are three ways to lessen the fear:
You might want to talk about the elephant in the room up front. Tell them you love their family, and what church they go to, or what they believe, makes no difference to you. Tell them you would love to get together just like you always have, but you have concerns about saying the wrong thing, mentioning your church or accidentally offending them.
Ask what they would feel most comfortable with. Talk about whether you are comfortable with drinking or not. Should you make a rule to leave the religion and church topic out (there are plenty of other things to talk about)?
Tell them there is no judgment from you, whatsoever, because everyone gets to choose their own path and truth. Tell them you respect the amount of courage it must have taken to be true to their beliefs. Ask for forgiveness up front, if you accidentally say something about the church. They are probably equally anxious about hanging out with your family because they fear judgment.
Addressing this right up front takes the elephant out of the room. Then relax and just be normal.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a marriage, family and relationship coach. She is the founder of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com She is an entertaining speaker and certifies people interested in being life or executive coaches.
This was first published on KSL.com
My spouse and I argue about the same things again and again. It is like we are always having the same fight; we just take breaks of agreeing to disagree in between rounds. We have been to marriage therapy and have learned communication skills, but here we are in the same boat. Can you give us anything different to try?
Many people experience a fight that’s always the same issue again and again. This happens when both of you have dug into your position and keep defending it, and neither of you is open to learning, understanding or changing because that would feel like losing the argument. In an argument, your egos are only interested in protecting, promoting and winning for your side. Ego also wants to be right and have the other person be wrong.
The truth is, until you learn to set ego aside, stop defending yourself and communicate with the purpose of understanding the other person and their perspective, learning something new, or creating new solutions you haven’t thought of before, you are going to be stuck here.
Here are some ways to become more open, more creative and more productive when you argue:
1. Know your value isn't in question
Remember this argument is just a perfect classroom experience and your value isn’t in question, so there is nothing to fear. When you choose to see the fight from the perspective that you are safe and have nothing to fear because your value can’t change and your journey is perfect no matter what happens, you won’t get so defensive. In this place you can actually focus on giving love, understanding and validation to the other person because you don’t need anything. This requires practice.
2. Listen to learn
Instead of trying to win, try to understand and learn something you didn’t know before. When ego takes over you only care about being right, being better or getting your way. You are basically selfish and defensive. Instead, try this: Thank your ego for trying to protect you, but tell it you are going to try something new and see if you can learn something about the other person you never knew before.
This will require asking lots of questions, without any agenda other than understanding. If you are sincere about this intention the other person will feel that, and they might actually feel safe enough to really talk to you. Make a commitment to listen for more than just planning what you will say next. Listen with the intention of learning and you will be amazed at how much you didn't know about the other person.
3. Fight as a team
Instead of fighting against each other, make it the two of you — on the same side, as a team — against the problem. Stop trying to convince the other person you are right and pull them to your side. Instead, ask them if the two of you, together, could try to find a new solution.
Get out some paper and brainstorm solutions to this problem. Allow yourselves to bring humor in and get creative. Get online and look for solutions others have recommended. Write down places you could go for help. Don’t stop until you have thought of 50 crazy, creative, new ideas — with none of them being the places you started from.
4. Identify your core fear
In my experience, it’s either fear of failure (not being good enough) or fear of loss (feeling threatened or unsafe in the world). If either you or your partner is fear-of-failure dominant, meaning there is a subconscious tendency toward people-pleasing and insecurity, that person will need a lot of validation around their worth, their performance and their thinking.
If you give a fear-of-failure dominant person a lot of positive feedback, they will feel safer and will be better able to communicate in a productive way. If they feel insulted, criticized or judged, they won’t feel safe with you and will probably stay very defensive.
If either of you is fear-of-loss dominant, meaning you have a subconscious tendency toward feeling mistreated and taken from, that person needs control, reassurance and help making things right, done or clean to feel safe in the world. If you can give a fear-of-loss dominant person these things, they will be better able to communicate in a productive way. This can be a game changer when you get it.
5. Cure the core fear
Become the cure to your partner's core fear every day. If you make sure they feel safe in the world every day — by constantly giving them the kind of validation, praise, help or control they need — they will feel safer with you, which means less defensive and less on edge. It will also mean when you argue, it likely won’t be as tense, scary or mean. If you do this right, your partner will be more likely to support you, too.
6. Learn their values
Figure out what your partner values most. Do they value:
The reason couples have the same fight over and over, is because that one issue is the one that triggers both of your core fears. When your core fears get triggered your very worst behavior comes out, and that usually perfectly triggers even more of your partner's fear. It quickly becomes a vicious cycle.
The couples I work with find the solution is very simple: Become the cure, not the cause, of their fear. Learn how to make them feel safe with you and you can talk through anything.
I also recommend a time-out rule that works like this: If either of you feels they are getting triggered and ego is showing up, you can call time out. You both agree to stop, not say another word, and walk away until you can get balanced and in trust and love again. Then you can continue the discussion. Give that a try.
You can do this.
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.