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.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My husband has a tendency to use sarcasm and teasing with our young children. Our daughter is not, in my opinion, thriving with the teasing and sarcasm because she takes what he says literally. If her dad says, “Clean up your toys, or I will throw them all away," then our daughter drops to the floor in tears and upset. She gets upset because she doesn’t know the difference between sarcasm and reality, and it causes her a lot distress. When this happens I come to her defense and get bothered with my husband’s behavior and we end up fighting about it. Do you agree this behavior is a problem? How can I explain to my husband why he needs to change how he talks to her? I worry about his relationship with our kids and I appreciate any advice.
The dictionary defines sarcasm as “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt; a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark." Obviously, this isn’t positive.
Sarcastic comments — though oftentimes humorous — can also be passive-aggressive, mean, cutting and often uncomfortable to the people receiving them. Sarcasm can be the “wit that wounds” and children can’t see the humor in it or understand it until they're older.
In an article for Psychology Today, Signe Whitson writes, “Sarcasm relies on a type of subtlety that most children under the age of 8 do not pick up on. While the majority of adult communication occurs non-verbally through gestures, body languages and tone of voice, children are much more apt to interpret words literally and to miss or disregard non-verbal cues.”
Whitson says sarcasm, when used repeatedly, is a form of verbal abuse.
“It is a passive aggressive behavior in which the speaker expresses covert hostilities in sugarcoated, 'humorous' ways,” she said.
Many kids don’t have the maturity or confidence to handle sarcasm or teasing well. It is critical that we think about a child’s comprehension level and their emotional needs before we use sarcasm or tease them. You may have to communicate differently with each of your children and mindfully choose words that validate, educate and encourage them.
Think about each child in your home and ask yourself the following questions:
You can be funny all you want, but if you do it at the expense of other people, they may not feel safe with you and may end up not liking you. This would be unfortunate with your kids.
My best advice is to slow down and pause before saying anything. Think about why you want to say what you are about to say. Is it love-motivated? Does it really need to be said? Does it meet this specific child’s needs? Take the time to figure out what each of your children need from you and decide how you should change the way you communicate to accomplish this.
If you are living with a sarcastic person, here are a couple of suggestions for dealing with them:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of www.claritypointcoaching.com and you can take her free Clarity Assessment on her website. It is the first step to understanding human behavior and becoming your best self.
This was first published on KSL.Com
I enjoy reading your articles on KSL, thank you for your insights on life, they are very helpful. I've had a situation that I'm wondering if you might have some advice on. Last night my in-laws came over, without warning, and said they wanted to talk to us about something. They then expressed concern that our son wasn't getting enough attention and that I needed to spend more time with my son.
We're still very confused and pretty hurt about this criticism. We feel like they overstepped their bounds. They are on business trips every other week and we don’t even see them much anymore. So, I'm not sure how they can think that we don't give our son enough attention. Additionally, I am working full-time and in graduate school, doing the very best I can to spend quality time with my son, so it was especially hard for me to hear them express these feelings. What do you suggest we can do about the situation? How can we heal from the pain this has caused us?
I think they may have overstepped too. If they wanted to give you some feedback or advice, they should have asked permission first. That might have been a more respectful approach. They could have asked if you'd be open to some observations or suggestions around your parenting and given you the chance to say "yes" or "no."
Unsolicited advice can sometimes be construed as an insult. So, it's understandable that you were offended to some degree. The problem, however, is that being offended isn’t going to serve you, your son, or your in-laws in any way.
I’d like to suggest another way to process this situation or any situation where you receive hurtful feedback because this can happen to any one of us.
The next time you receive hurtful feedback or criticism from someone, try following these steps:
— See if there is any merit or something you could learn or improve on. Is the feedback warranted and could you do better in any way? You can always look for a lesson in the experience even if you don’t think it’s accurate.
— Consider the other person's agenda in giving you the feedback.
— Read some of my past articles on forgiveness and work on seeing them as imperfect, struggling, scared students in the classroom of life — just like you. Remember, they have the same intrinsic value as you no matter what they do or say.
— Understand forgiveness becomes easier when you choose to see every experience as one meant to help you grow. If you begin to see them as perfect learning opportunities, then you may begin to see the people involved as your perfect teachers. Those teachers might push your buttons or bring up your fears and weaknesses to the surface so that you can work on them. This can be a painful process, but it's still here to serve you.
Hopefully, this process will help you see your in-laws as well-intentioned and help you let the part you consider insulting to roll off. I see these insults as poison darts — you can choose to let them hit you and hurt you or you can let them bounce off your force field of love, truth and wisdom. I recommend you let them bounce off and don’t suffer from them anymore.
If your in-laws do this kind of thing often, you might want to ask permission to give them some feedback. If they agree and are open, explain that you consider unsolicited feedback as an insult and you would appreciate them asking permission the next time they have some for you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a popular executive life coach and speaker. Check out her articles on forgiveness at https://coachkimgiles.weebly.com/apps/search?q=forgiveness and learn about becoming a life coach at www.claritypointcoaching.com
This was first published on ksl.com
I was visiting with a good friend the other day and he finally admitted that his life has been really hard lately and he and his family are going through things I had no idea about. We talked about how often people are pretending to be OK and when you ask how they are they say “fine,” but they really aren’t fine at all. How can you get people to tell you the truth about what they are going through instead of always saying “fine”? Is there a good question I could ask people that would get to the truth and open them up?
It was author Brad Meltzer who said, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” And he is right, especially today, when many people are struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders or health problems. No family is immune from these kinds of serious challenges. You can assume everyone you know has something painful going on that they aren’t telling anyone about.
The reason we keep these challenges to ourselves could be that we fear judgment, criticism and looking bad. Some of us might not want to burden others with our heavy or dirty laundry, and we might not want pity or sympathy either. It just seems wiser and more practical to say we're "good."
If you want another person to open up and confide in you, then you are going to have to create a place that feels safe enough to do that. The other person has to know there will be no judgment and trust that you'll keep what they tell you confidential. They also have to know you won’t try to fix it or give them unsolicited advice, because that may not what they need.
What they might need is validation of their worth despite what they are going through. They may need validation about how tiring and difficult their challenge is and that it makes sense that they're struggling. They also have to know you will listen and not tell them what they should be doing differently.
Before you try to get another human to open up and tell you about their pain, you must be committed to honoring their right to be where they are and letting them know they still have absolute, infinite worth. You have to be prepared to validate without advising, fixing or giving them your take on the issue. In other words, it should stay about them, not about you.
Here's what I'd recommend saying when talking with a friend and have a hunch they aren't fine:
“If I could promise there would be no judgment and only unconditional love and support, would you be open to telling me about the hard stuff you and your family are going through? I promise I will just listen and be here. I’d really love to be that kind of friend to you.”
If they still don’t have anything to say, then that's OK. At least then they know if they ever do want a friend you are there. It sometimes helps if you are willing to open up and talk about some of your personal challenges, especially if you think they might be going through something similar. Your vulnerability and authenticity may encourage them to do the same.
If they do trust you enough to open up, then just listen. Don’t tell your story and how you got through. Don’t agree or disagree with anything they say (that would be making it about you). And don’t give advice or suggestions. One question that might help is, “What is the worst part for you?” When you ask that, you give them permission to go deeper and vocalize the depth of their pain.
If you really feel you can help and have some advice that could make a difference for them, ask for their permission to share it first. You could say something like, “Would you be open to a suggestion or idea around solving this? I don’t want to assume anything or infer that I know better, but if I had one bit of advice would you be open to it, or would it help you more if I just listen and be here?” In other words, give them a safe place to say “no thanks" if they choose.
You can do this.
Visit www.claritypointcoaching.com to learn more about Coach Kim Giles and take the Clarity Assessment, that helps you see where your fears and values are creating good and bad behavior in your life and relationships.
This was first published on ksl.com
I’ve been traveling internationally recently and have had to communicate with many people who don't speak English. Some have given up trying to communicate the moment they realize we don’t speak the same language, while others refused to let the language barrier stop us from trying to understand each other. They act out certain words or look them up on their phones as we try to connect.
This experience has had me thinking about how often we struggle to communicate with others, even when we do speak the same language. We might struggle to understand someone who we are different from, grow frustrated, and give up.
To help with those communication barriers, I'm offering five unconventional suggestions that could help you better handle conversations and conflict with your spouse, friends, coworkers or relatives — especially when your differences make it hard to understand each other.
1. Make sure you treat the other person as an equal
While traveling, I watched many of my fellow travelers treat bellmen, waiters, and other local people as less than them. We might see this happen all around us, but we often miss the ways we do it to our own spouse, children, family members or co-workers.
When you approach a conversation from an elevated position, the other person can feel it and it may affect the quality of the interaction. The first step to improving your conversations is to check your importance and value scale. Make sure you speak to every person as an equal in value and importance. For instance, if you're mad at someone, keep in mind that you, too, make mistakes. When talking to them, treat them as an equal with the same value, no matter their mistakes or differences.
2. Honor and respect their right to be different
We must honor the fact the other people have had different upbringings, different teachers, different experiences, and a completely different classroom journey in life. It's no wonder they think differently and have different views. You must honor their right to have those views and to have their views respected. You don’t have to agree with them, but you should be willing to hear them — without judgment — if you want to improve your conversations.
When your family members or coworkers, think differently, try asking questions and listening without agreeing or disagreeing because both make the conversation about you and not them. Instead, do try to respect their right to their feelings and opinions and don’t be so quick to share your views. Be a patient listener. This shows people you value them as they are and, in this case, they will be much more open to communicating with you.
3. Stay interested and curious
When traveling abroad, you can’t help but notice all of the differences. And when you notice those difference, comparison might start to occur. When you start comparing, you are quick to subconsciously see foreign ways as either better or worse than your way. This is human nature, but it leads to judgment and not appreciation, tolerance, or true exploring of the different way.
Instead, approach every difference from a place of curiosity about what you could learn from the other person. Ask more questions and truly listen. Become someone who spends more time listening than talking, and your conversations will become rich and connected. You can still hold to your beliefs and opinions while you also connect in a respectful way with others.
4. Be respectful and courteous
Courtesy is a universal language and you feel it every time someone holds the door open for you, says sorry when they bump into you, or covers their mouth when they sneeze. It is respectful, considerate, polite behavior and should be the hallmark of our interactions with others.
Unfortunately, we are often more courteous to strangers than we are to family and friends. Are you as courteous to the people you live with? Do you make sure you are courteous to strangers? Being courteous creates friendship and connection before a word is even said. When we do this at all times, our conversations are more authentic and caring.
5. Remember: Positivity and humor break down walls
Humor can be the fastest way to connect to someone who speaks another language. Doing something silly might break that ice and connect you faster than anything else. I once signed up for a river rafting excursion in India, not knowing that in their culture, this activity is traditionally only for men. The men on our raft did not seem happy to have two ladies aboard. It was awkward and uncomfortable, at first, because everyone’s walls were up. But that changed the moment we started splashing the men with our paddles and they realized the water fight was on. Fun, humor and positivity make quick friends and start wonderful connections.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the authors of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your shape at - app.12shapes.com
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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.