This was first published on ksl.com
One of the most common people problems that companies bring me to solve is office drama that has gotten out of hand.
The problems often start with two co-workers who can't get along, who finagle the rest of the office to take sides. Sometimes just one gossip-prone person who likes to stir the pot can ruin the atmosphere for the whole office.
Your first responsibility at work is to make sure you aren't the problem. If you are a person who often dislikes co-workers, gets bothered or offended easily, or feels the need to voice complaints to whoever will listen, you might be the problem in your office and this kind of behavior will absolutely hold you back in your career.
Here are some ways you can deal with office drama going on around you and make sure you aren't the problem:
Refuse to participate in gossip
Don't gossip about your co-workers even if it feels justified and you really need to vent. Find someone outside the office with whom you can voice your frustrations.
It is OK to dislike someone, but it is not OK for you to talk about that at work or encourage others to dislike them too. Practice compassion for any co-worker you dislike and understand they are doing the best they can with what they know.
Stop and get some clarity before you react to anything
Your immediate reaction to most situations will not be clear-headed. Calm down and take some time to determine the outcome you really want and the response most likely to create that outcome. If you need to respond, do so calmly and respectfully.
Give people the benefit of the doubt
You don't need to immediately assume negative intent. Most offenses aren't intentional or done with malice. Strive to be hard to offend.
Avoid people who start or spread ill-will
If someone in the office is prone to gossip or drama, stay away from them or walk away when it starts. This could make adversarial co-workers turn on you, but that's better than being part of the problem. Higher-ups can usually see who is causing the problems, and it won't be you.
Ignore most bad behavior
If it is a problem you can't ignore, have a mutually validating, private, kind, respectful conversation to address it. But for the most part, try to let most things roll off.
Don't take sides
If people are closing ranks around two co-workers, refuse to join either side. Encourage compassion toward all involved.
See everyone as having the same value
Everyone has the same infinite value on a unique classroom journey. Let them be where they are and hold back judgment. You have no idea what has happened in their life to create the place they are in now. Assume they are wounded too and that all involved deserve compassion.
Do not allow others to disparage, disregard or mistreat you, but hold these boundaries the right way with respectful conversation or by taking the problem to the right superior. Quietly document inappropriate behavior if necessary.
Don't react negatively to negativity
If you hear people are talking negatively about you, don't negatively react. This is a chance to either learn something and grow or practice knowing it doesn't matter what others say. If the negativity continues and needs to be addressed, have a private, respectful, conversation. But most of the time, just working on being the best you is the best response.
'When they go low ... go high'
Follow former First Lady Michelle Obama's advice: "When they go low, we go high." Keep taking the high road and showing compassion, maturity and respect to everyone, regardless of how low they go.
Remember: what other people do and say doesn't change your value
Another's dislike of you or the things you do doesn't change who you are. You are more bulletproof than you realize. They may try to ruin your reputation, but your best defense is to live so no one would believe them.
If a conversation becomes necessary, make sure you do it right
Find the right time, in private, and start by asking questions about how they feel and listening to them fully. Let them have room to fully share their point of view and honor and respect their right to that perspective.
Then ask if they would be willing to let you share your perspective and do it without being disrespectful or harsh. Know ahead of time what changes in behavior you are going to ask for moving forward. Ask if they would be willing to handle things that way in the future.
Take stock of your own behavior
We all must watch ourselves for inappropriate behavior at work. Watch for your ego's need to talk about other people or complain, and then choose to stay quiet. Strive to be a person who builds co-workers up, encourages them, and has compassion for their struggles instead of tearing them down.
If you are stuck in a job where inappropriate behavior and office drama abounds, consider recommending some people-skills training or executive coaching for the whole office to the higher-ups. If solutions still aren't coming, update your resume and start looking for a healthier workplace.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I often hear from readers who have to deal with someone in the workplace who is highly defensive and combative in their communication. This person might be a co-worker, employee, manager or even a client.
Everyone will have to communicate, at some point, with someone who is upset, offended and on the offensive, so I'd like to give you some tips on how to best handle these difficult conversations.
When a person comes across as combative or defensive in their communication, I believe one or both of the following things is happening.
If this person is a co-worker, client, family member or boss, you will need to find a way to work and communicate with them without things becoming ugly. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that could make them feel safer and give you a better chance of having a productive conversation:
Work to be emotionally calm and balanced
If you go into a conversation scared about having it, the other person will get defensive before you say a word. Make sure you know your intrinsic value cannot change no matter what happens in this conversation. Remember, in the end, this will be an experience that will serve you, teach you or grow you. You are safe here. Throughout the conversation, keep reminding yourself there is nothing to fear. This is just a conversation and you are just going to try to show up for this human being and be kind.
Care about the person first and the topic second
Your only goal upfront in the conversation is to show this person they are important, cared about and worth listening to. If you have another agenda you need to accomplish, it must come after you take the time to show this person you care about them. If you take the time to validate their worth by asking questions, and then honoring and respecting their thoughts and feelings first, they will be less defensive when it's time to address the issue.
Have an exit strategy and a time limit
Set up this conversation when you have a very natural time limit (like with another appointment). Have an assistant or someone come get you at the end time to assure the conversation stays within these boundaries you've set.
Set some rules of engagement and pick your battles
Let this person know that because you are short on time, you only want to discuss one thing and clarify any issues that you don't want to talk about today. Know ahead of time what the most important issue is and be sure it's important enough to be worth the effort. Know exactly what you hope to achieve at the end. It helps to write these things on paper and get clear of your intention ahead of time. Make sure that making this person feel cared about and heard are your first and foremost goals.
Establish the enemy is an issue, not a person
Sit on the same side instead of across from each other. This makes it feel like the two of you are against an issue or problem, not against each other. Clarify that you want to find a way to create a win for all involved.
Calm their fears with validation and reassurance
Make sure you have validated them and talked about all the things they do right first. They need reassurance before you tell them anything negative. This should help quiet the fears that usually drive bad communication behavior.
Ask a lot of questions and listen
The most important part of a difficult conversation is the beginning, when you make it all about them by asking what they think and feel about the issue. Spend as much time as possible here. The deepest way to show you value, honor, and respect another person is by listening to their views, fears and concerns, and really respecting their right to feel the way they do. If possible, see if you can ask enough questions that you can get them to tell you everything you had wanted to say. It's always better if they figure it out without you telling them.
If you are personally attacked, don't defend yourself
Instead of fighting back against a verbal attack, ask more questions like, "Tell me more about that?" or "What makes you feel that way?" Dive into the attack instead of fighting against it. Just because they think this about you doesn't make it true. Listening to their views doesn't diminish you. Let them get it all out and share all their thoughts and feelings about you. They may be shocked to find you open instead of fighting back. Show them you can handle an attack and are still not scared. None of this affects your intrinsic, unchangeable value.
Put yourself in their shoes
Try to see things from their perspective and look for common ground you can agree on. Don't try to convince them of anything. Focus your attention on trying to understand them. Even if you cannot possibly understand their views, the fact that you are trying will come through.
Use 'I' statements, not 'you' statements
When you do need to share your views, make sure you use "I" statements and focus on your own perspective, observations, thoughts and feelings. Avoid attacks that start with "you" do this or that. Instead, say: "In my opinion," "I have observed," "I feel," "I believe." You are always entitled to your perspective and it's harder to argue with.
Be realistic about what to expect
Realize that people who are deep in a state of fear are only concerned with one thing: their own safety. They don't have the capacity to show up for you, but they might be able to do what you ask of them — if you ask in a respectful way and focus on only future behavior. Use statements like "Would you be willing to do this a little differently moving forward?" or "Next time that happens, would you be open to handling it this way?"
These tips will give you the best shot at a productive conversation, but there are some people you just won't be able to work well with. Don't take this personally. It is not about you.
If this is the case, you will have to avoid dealing with them as much as possible or take the problem up the chain of command. You can also use this opportunity to work on yourself and grow. Try working on staying calm, strong and confident in the face of attacks. It's great practice.
You can do this.
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
SALT LAKE CITY — There are always people in your life who you take issue with or who rub you the wrong way. There may even be some humans you just can’t stand.
It is important that you take stock of these people and why you have strong feelings against them. Maybe they did something that offended you, or they just have personalities that irritate or annoy you. Whatever the problem is, these people are triggering you for a reason, and figuring out the reason behind those triggers is important.
The people who rankle you hold clues about your beliefs, judgments, shame and inner pain. They provide opportunities for you to learn about yourself and heal. But in order to use these experiences to heal yourself, you have to recognize that they aren’t just annoying people; they are perfect teachers in your classroom.
The most important thing they do for you is show you the limits of your love. You are a loving person with love to give to everyone around you, right up until you get to THOSE people. Then, you hit a limit. Your love doesn’t extend that far. This is a place where some really amazing growth can happen if you are willing to ask yourself some questions.
What does the person represent?
Think about one of these teachers in your life who is showing you the limits of your love. Then ask yourself the following:
This is where the work starts
Now you get to explore the part of you that feels unsafe by the trait, behavior or fear this person represents. Why do you feel "not good enough" or "not safe" in the world if that trait, behavior, or fear is in play? What healing needs to happen for you so you can heal that part of you?
You may want to find some professional help from a coach or counselor for this work, but whatever you do you cannot keep projecting the problem on and blaming this other person for the way you are being triggered. They are only in your life as a teacher to help you see the place you need to heal so you can work on it.
This idea may be one you have to process and think about before you believe it’s true or worth the work. It will always feel easier to keep blaming and shaming someone else. Your ego will really want to keep making it about other people and their issues because this feels safer. The problem is that teachers will keep coming and this problem will not go away. It will keep showing up until you are ready to work on you.
Everyone you dislike holds a secret of healing and help for you if you are willing to look for it, but there is something else even more helpful they can also give you.\
Learning to love yourself
Another crucial thing you must understand about the people that bother you is they also show you the limits of your love toward yourself. You can only love yourself as much as you can love your neighbors, and you can only love your neighbors as much as you can love yourself. You may not be aware of this connection or want to believe it, but I believe it’s true. If you hate the darkness in yourself, you will hate every bit of darkness you can find in others. If you are hateful toward others, you similarly won’t be able to love yourself.
As long as there are people whose darkness (bad behavior or faults) seem to you to make them unworthy of love, there will also be parts of yourself that you will also see as unworthy of love. It’s like there are two options when it comes to love, and you are going to have to choose one. If you don’t consciously choose one, you will subconsciously choose one, so you have to choose. The two options involve how you determine the value of all human beings.
Option 1 – People can be not good enough. This mindset means you see human value as changeable and something that must be earned. This means life is like a test and you gain points or lose points based on your appearance, performance, property and what others think of you. This also means that some humans have more value than other humans and that judging who is better or worse makes sense. If you choose this option, you will gossip, judge and criticize other people because you need to see them as worse than you to feel better about yourself. You will also battle a terrible fear of not being good enough (and have low self-esteem), no matter how hard you try. You will always find people who have things about them you don’t have and you will never feel good enough. You will also see all human beings as different from you and you will feel separate from them, and this will encourage you to make more divisions and groups, trying to find some group identity that would give you a sense of safety (even though that safety comes only from hating or condemning other people). Can you see this happening in our world right now?
Option 2 – All people are always good enough. This mindset means you see human value as infinite, absolute and unchangeable. This means all humans (without exception) have the exact same intrinsic worth and there is nothing anyone can do that gives them more value than any other human being. There is also nothing you can do to have less value than any other human being. No matter what anyone does they have the same intrinsic worth as the rest of us. This will make you feel connected to the whole human race and you won’t need to form groups and declare some people better or worse. You will understand that we are all equal but different. The more you allow every human being around you to be a struggling, scared student in the classroom of life — just like you — the more compassion you will have for yourself, too. When you allow others' value to be unchangeable and you see them as good enough and worthy of love, even when they are flawed, this also lifts your worth. You will start to have stable, solid self-esteem because there is no possibility of failure. Life is a classroom, not a test, and mistakes create the lessons we need to learn, but they don’t change our value. This mindset makes you feel safer with others and could literally create more peace on Earth.
You get to decide about 20 times a day, which mindset you will choose. Every time you are tempted to judge or find fault in another person you are choosing a mindset. If you choose condemnation and judgment, you must understand you are also choosing that for yourself. If they are not good enough, you aren’t good enough, either. The option you choose for them you also choose for yourself. You can’t have it both ways.
We are on this planet to evolve, grow and learn. Every experience you have here serves that purpose, even feelings of dislike toward other people. Take the time to pay attention and think about these interesting people in your life, I promise it will serve you.
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — Along with being a life coach, I also provide people skills training to companies and organizations. I have been thinking lately about some of the bad workplace behaviors that can annoy co-workers, ruin the atmosphere at work, or even sabotage your career.
Here are 10 common annoying workplace behaviors to watch for:
1. Do you have trouble accepting feedback?
In the workplace, it is critical that you are open to any and all feedback that could help you learn and grow. Feedback cannot diminish your value as a person (because nothing can). You are the same you with the same value as every other person, no matter what feedback you get. Great employees accept constructive feedback and even ask for it. Being confident enough to receive good feedback can even launch you forward.
2. Do you complain about the company or organization?
Do you have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong in everything around you? If you aren’t happy with yourself, you might tend to focus on the bad in others to distract yourself from your own faults or misfortunes. If you don’t feel safe in the world, you will also be on watch for anything that doesn’t seem right. If this sounds like you, get some help to work on your self-esteem and your sense of security in the world. Then fight the urge to verbalize everything you think. Try talking less, listening more and focusing on the positive.
3. Do you hesitate to speak up and take risks?
Both a fear of failure and a fear of loss can cause you to keep your ideas to yourself and just do the minimum to stay under the radar. This tactic might feel safe, but it won’t open doors for you. Also watch for feeling entitled to promotions just because you’ve been there awhile. Promotions are given to those who take initiative, stretch out of their comfort zone, and go above and beyond the call of duty.
4. Do you lack confidence?
If you don’t believe in yourself and are afraid you don’t cut it, others will pick up on this and won’t believe in you either. If you can tell this is your challenge, seek out some professional help to change the way you determine your own value.
5. Are you overly dramatic, emotional or unprofessional at work?
If your insecurities cause tears, breakdowns, yelling or other emotional scenes at work, this can also hold you back. This behavior is unprofessional and makes people lose respect for you. If you bring your personal problems to work, you may need to get some professional help to work on this. Don’t expect your co-workers to be your therapists.
6. Do you struggle to get along with other co-workers?
Your ability to create good relationships is what drives your value at work. If you create people problems or always end up in the middle of them, this diminishes your value to your employer. If you lack people skills, I suggest you seek out some training to improve them. Improve your communication skills and learn how to handle tough conversations with kindness. A good life coach or counselor could help you.
7. Are you late or undependable?
If you are always running behind, your co-workers could start to see you as irresponsible and someone they cannot count on. If you struggle with this, set your watch, phone and other clocks ahead of the actual time and be committed to becoming punctual.
8. Do you get bothered or offended too easily?
If you are on the lookout for mistreatment, even at a subconscious level, you will find it. We always find what we are looking for. Great employees have thick skin and can let a lot of small offenses and irritations go. They learn to not take things personally and understand that most of other people’s behavior is about their own fears and not about you.
9. Do you take credit for other people’s work, or are you a know-it-all?
Be someone who is quick to give credit where it is due, show gratitude, and let other people shine. Employees who don’t need the spotlight and can encourage others are more likely to be promoted. Watch yourself for being a know-it-all and talking too much. Don’t dominate conversations or always "one-up" another person’s story or comment. These behaviors can drive co-workers crazy. Make sure this isn’t you.
10, Do you create more problems than you solve?
If you create more problems than you solve, your days as an employee at your company could be numbered. Your employer can’t afford to keep you on staff if your drama affects productivity. If you want to rise through the ranks, focus on what you are giving and contributing to productivity on a daily basis. Be a problem solver, not a problem creator.
A few other really annoying behaviors include spending work time on your cellphone, calling for pointless meetings, eating smelly food at your desk, stealing food that doesn’t belong to you from the office fridge, being messy, or trying to sell co-workers your latest MLM products. These are annoying behaviors you definitely want to avoid.
If you can see any of these behaviors in yourself, I strongly encourage you to change them. If you have to deal with annoying coworkers who are behaving badly, here are a few suggestions.
Difficult people and the lessons they facilitate can bless you, educate you and help you grow. Life is a classroom and everything that happens here can be a springboard to amazing growth, even the really hard things.
Think about some people who aggravate you, try your patience, irritate, anger or upset you. We all have some people who push our buttons, and the first step to resolving these difficult relationships is to recognize they are here as perfect teachers. When you see them as such, and you embrace your experiences with them as lessons, you will be surprised how much less aggravating they become. (Note: In this article I am just addressing how to deal with garden variety difficult people, not situations that involve abuse.)
Pick one of these difficult people to think about as you read this article. Ask yourself these simple questions:
Viktor Frankl, who wrote "Man's Search for Meaning" after being a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II, said, "In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning." If Frankl could choose to find meaning in his horrible suffering, I believe we can do it too. He also encourages us to see the difference between necessary suffering and unnecessary suffering. He said, "Unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic." When pain becomes self-inflicted, because the event is long over, growth happens as you let it go.
The important thing is to recognize that difficult experiences in your life have the potential to bless you. Here are some possible benefits or blessings that come from dealing with difficult people:
When you feel threatened or defensive around someone, this is your clue that there is a part of you that needs reassurance that you are safe and loved and that other people can’t diminish you or your life. They can only teach you and help you grow. At least, you have the power to see them this way, with this perspective, if you want to.
When you choose to see difficult people as teachers (not jerks), you will find you have the answers and the power to rise above the fray and deal with them in a confident loving way.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I have heard from lots of people who are worried about family holiday gatherings and dealing with difficult relatives.
We all have some complicated family relationships that can trigger tension, defensiveness and fear because of what they do and say. During the holidays it is difficult to avoid these relatives, so it's helpful to work on becoming more resilient and "bulletproof" before these parties happen.
Note: The following advice is not advice for dealing with abuse or trauma. This advice is meant for people who have some annoying, rude and disrespectful relatives who say hurtful things or treat you in a judgmental way. If you are dealing with abuse, trauma or really toxic people, avoiding family gatherings might be the best call.
For the rest of your people-problem situations, I have one powerful truth that can help you to stay balanced around your challenging relatives and hurtful things they might say this year.
'I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts'
A Course in Miracles lesson says: "I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts."
This is a tricky concept that might take some thinking to understand, but it means it is not someone’s words that hurt you, it is the thoughts you have about their words that hurt you.
If someone makes a hurtful remark to you — something that triggers pain — it can feel like a poison dart fired straight to your heart. It will sting for sure, but how long it stings and how badly it stings is something you do have some control over.
Do you ever let a dart stay in causing you pain all day or all week? How often do you pull the dart out and throw it on the floor so you can move on, but then later pick it back up and stab yourself with it again and again — for months, years, or even decades? It’s over and it happened a long time ago, why do you still think about it when it just causes you pain?
When the event is over and you are still feeling the sting, it has become a self-inflicted injury. You have the power to stop the stinging if you can change the way you are looking at what the other person did. If you can change the way you look at it, you can change how you feel.
This is high-level emotional intelligence, and it might take some work to get it right. So don’t be discouraged if you are not here yet. The more you read, practice and learn, the easier it will get. This is not victim shaming, though, because the fault does lie with the other person; however, at some point, you have to process the situation and decide to stop letting it hurt you. You have to take your power back. You do this by thinking about words, thoughts and opinions that come from other people. What are they? What are they made of? What power do they hold?
They are nothing. They are wisps of ideas drifting through people’s minds and out their mouths. They have no form and no matter. They do nothing. They mean nothing. They have no power unless you give them power.
Your thoughts about what the person said or did are what create the sting, and you are so powerful you can create that sting from almost nothing. This is especially true if you have some deep negative beliefs about yourself in play — beliefs you have had since you were a child. These old subconscious beliefs are your open wounds; they are spots where others can barely touch you and it hurts.
I have a deep fear that says, “I am not good enough.” Because I have had this fear my whole life, it is my problem. It belongs to me. But just like an open wound, it's a place where it’s very easy for other people to hurt me.
These other people are completely responsible for any unkind things they say or do, but I am responsible for my original fear issue that makes their comments hurt me so much. I am also responsible for the thoughts I have that intensify and prolong the hurt.
Your ego thinks stabbing yourself with these old darts for decades is a good way to protect you from further pain. It thinks the constant stabbing will remind you to protect yourself from that person in the future, but the cost for this perceived protection is decades of pain anyway.
Instead of allowing thoughts that make mean comments hurt longer than necessary, practice the following:
1. Trust that your intrinsic value as a person is infinite and absolute.
Nothing anyone says or does can diminish your value. No matter what happens to you, you still have the same value as every other person on the planet. When anyone makes an unkind comment, remind yourself that it doesn’t have any power and changes nothing. You are still intact and fine. Imagine the dart bouncing off and landing on the ground. Then, leave it there.
2. Trust that every person around you is in your life for your own good.
Everyone who surrounds you is there for one reason: to help you grow and become stronger, wiser and more loving. Some of these people help you by pushing your fear buttons, to give you a chance to work on your insecurities and issues. When you see them as teachers in your classroom who are giving you chances to practice being strong and loving, you won’t take their comments as personally.
3. Remember that thoughts or words other people say about you are irrelevant.
These words mean nothing and do nothing. They are wisps of energy that are immediately gone and have no power to sting you. You can only have pain if you think about their actions stinging you. Instead, send them on their way with this thought: “Thanks for giving me a chance to practice being strong, but I am done with that lesson and moving on.” Send them on their way (figuratively) with a blessing and hope for their own growth and learning.
4. Focus all your energy on being the love in the room at your family gatherings.
Find others around you who need validation, love and support, and spend the whole party giving these things to them. Turn your party into a focused, giving love session instead of a minefield of offenses and insults. Go into it with a mission in mind and don’t let anyone knock you from that focus.
Love works miracles because you cannot do love and fear at the same time. If you are focused on love for other people and yourself, you don’t have time to be offended.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I am very frustrated with my mother and some of her answers to things. I find that she lies or tells me things she doesn’t mean all the time. I just want her to tell the truth, even if it’s not what I would like. I think she tells me what she thinks the right answer is, instead. Like when I ask if she is going to go to something, she says no probably not, then she ends up going. Or she says she will talk to my sister about something and then she doesn’t. I have asked her repeatedly to just be honest, but this keeps happening. How can I get her to be honest?
This might be happening because she doesn't feel safe enough with you to tell you the truth. Before I explain how to make her feel safer, I want you to understand some things about human beings. I believe, there are only two types of people on this planet:
1. Fear-of-failure dominant people
2. Fear-of-loss dominant people
All fear-of-failure dominant people are severely challenged at speaking their truth, they avoid confrontation, shy away from conflict, and prefer to keep everything and everyone peaceful, no matter the cost. Because of these tendencies, they are often doormats and their tendency to people please can cause a lot of relationship problems.
All fear-of-loss dominant people are very good at speaking their truth, they usually win in confrontation or conflict, and they don’t mind a good argument. Because of these tendencies, they scare the crap out of group one.
From your email, I am fairly confident you are the latter group and it might be hard for you to even imagine why speaking the truth is so hard. It’s always difficult to understand people who are vastly different from us. But fear of failure dominant have a strong subconscious program that says, “It is safer not to speak up.”
Here are two reasons some people lie:
1. They might want to avoid responsibility, trouble or punishment.
2. They don’t feel safe enough to tell you the truth because they are afraid of your reaction.
It sounds to me like your mother is a fear-of-failure dominant person who is terribly afraid to speak her truth to you about some of these issues. This might be because you have had a tendency in the past to react badly, react selfishly, question her motives, argue with her decisions, and otherwise dishonor her right to be where she is and want what she wants.
It is not your job to fix your mother's problems with fear, people-pleasing and lying. But you could do some things to improve the relationship and start making her feel safer with you.
You can do that by doing the following things. (These suggestions would also apply to any relationship where you want the other person to feel safe with you.)
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of 12 Shapes Inc. and the host of a podcast Explain People on iTunes. She is a sought after coach, speaker and corporate people skills trainer.
This was first published on KSL.com
I love the way you make understanding people’s behavior simple, because there is a lot of behavior I cannot understand. I have a relative who is such a control freak she can’t even come to a family gathering unless it’s going to be her way. She bosses everyone else around and tells you exactly what she thinks about everything, even your life and family. She has no filter and no qualms about speaking her truth, and it honestly drives me nuts. How can we get her to stop being so controlling and obnoxious? How do I deal with such a control freak when her behavior is making me crazy?
I have explained before that we all — every person on the planet — battles a fear of failure (insecurity about our value) and a fear of loss (insecure or unsafe in the world) to some degree every day. We all have both fears, but we are all a little more dominant in one or the other.
The control freak you are describing is a fear-of-loss dominant person. I know this by her bad behavior. People who feel unsafe in the world need control to make them feel safer. They also tend to be opinionated and feel the need to share their opinions because this also makes them feel safer. In her mind, all of this controlling, opinionated behavior is actually an attempt to be helpful. She means no harm and is trying to create an environment that would be best for everyone. She is trying to help, but I understand why it doesn’t feel that way.
When a fear-of-loss dominant control freak gives unsolicited advice, suggestions, or correction to a fear-of-failure dominant person, it comes across as criticism, insult and control. Fear-of-failure dominant people get very triggered by those things because they add to their already debilitating fear of not being good enough. We (I am a fear-of-failure dominant person, too) often feel attacked, insulted and controlled when these people try to help us. This can feel very annoying.
The trick is understanding this isn’t about you at all. They aren’t seeing you as less valuable or wrong at all. They are controlling because they don’t trust people, the world or life to keep them safe. They think they are only safe if they control it all.
You might try allowing them control as much as possible with things you don’t care about, and then set loving boundaries on the things you do care about. You could also decide to let them be annoying and controlling and just not let it bother you. Stop being annoyed and just be at peace with what is, allowing them to be who they are until it crosses a boundary you can’t live with.
When a control freak is crossing your boundaries or making you feel disrespected or controlled, here is a good procedure for confronting the issue:
1. Find a private opportunity to talk to them
Don't embarrass them in front of anyone else. Ask if they have a few minutes and are free to chat.
2. Ask them about the situation that bothered you
Ask what they thought and felt about it. Give them a chance to express all their ideas and opinions first. If you don’t do this, they will have trouble listening to you. Letting them have the floor first and asking lots of questions will make them feel valued and cared about. They will begin to feel safer with you, which lays a great foundation for a difficult conversation.
After you have spent some time listening and honoring their right to think and feel the way they do, you should ask some permission questions to create a safe space for you to speak your truth.
3. Ask permission questions
Examples of permission questions are:
If they say no they aren’t able to give you that, say “OK, I respect that” and walk away. This shouldn’t happen because you earned this reciprocation by listening to them. If they say yes and are ready to listen, use the following rules to make sure you handle this right.
5. Use “I” statements
It's important to use "I" statements and make sure to only talk about your own perspective, feelings, ideas, concerns, observations, opinions and thoughts. When you talk about your feelings, opinions and experiences, no one can really argue with you. You have the right to see the world the way you see it and feel what you feel. But if you start using “you” statements, it starts to feel like an attack and makes the other person feel defensive.
Try statements like:
If you keep talking about how they behaved in the past, they are just going to get defensive and frustrated because they cannot change or fix the past. If you focus only on their future behavior, this is something they can control. Ask them next time this happens, if they would be willing to handle it differently. I demonstrated this in the example above.
Practice in your head a few times before you have the conversation in real life. Practice to find the perfect permission question and the perfect things you will ask for moving forward.
If this person does get offended by your feedback, that is not your problem. Your job is to speak your truth in the most loving and respectful way you can. How they process the information is none of your business. If they get offended and choose to be mean back, remember nothing this person says or does affects your value and however it goes, it will be the perfect classroom for all involved.
Fear-of-loss dominant people can be scary to talk to because they are fearless, strong, opinionated and often aggressive. For a fear-of-failure dominant person who is already scared of being insulted, wrong or judged, this is really scary. But you can be bulletproof and strong if you trust in your infinite value and perfect journey.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of the 12 Shapes Relationship System - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your fears and your shape at - app.12shapes.com
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.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.