Happy New Year! I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to all of my subscribers. I appreciate your support, your comments, and this remarkable community of people who care about better communication and more compassion at work. In keeping with tradition, here are the most read posts from my blog in 2019.
I do a lot of keynote presentations. I get between 45-75 minutes to engage and audience, inspire them to try something new, and give them practical nuggets they can use immediately. I’ve learned through experience that the best keynotes don’t try to cover too much material; one main message and one or two key takeaways.
I’m a guest on a lot of podcasts. Although we might cover a lot of content in 30-45 minutes, one of the most common wrap-up questions I get asked is, “What is one thing our listeners can do right away to bring more compassion to their lives?”
Here’s my answer, my one nugget that will make the biggest difference.
If you apply just one thing from my presentation or interview, do this: Disclose your emotional end-game.
Most of us want to feel happy, secure, safe, confident, connected, respected, competent, or valued. This is the emotional end-game, our emotional motives. These are OK. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel happy or connected or competent.
Much of what we do every day is in service of these motives. When they are threatened, we step up our efforts.
Very rarely, though, do we tell anyone about them. We argue in meetings, inexplicably advocate for certain outcomes, maneuver relationships, and engage in all sorts of passive-aggressive or passive-avoidant behaviors in service of our emotional motives. All while keeping the end-game secret from others.
Why we hide our emotional end-game
- Afraid that others won’t care about it
- Worry that others will reject us for it
- Don’t believe we deserve to get it
- We’ve trained ourselves to avoid emotions
Why it’s the right, best thing to do
- It’s the truth, so be honest
- It lets others help you
- It builds trust and connection
- It leads to better decision-making
- It cleans up communication
- It stops passive-aggressive and passive-avoidant behavior
Compassion means treating yourself and others as valuable, capable, and responsible. Disclosing your emotional end-game is the compassionate thing to do.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2019
A colleague brought my attention to a recent Dear Abby post from September 22, 2019, titled “Veteran Appreciates Action More than Words.”
This veteran had a negative reaction when someone says, “Thank you for your service.” His struggle was that given all he had experienced and suffered, that phrase rang hollow.
What’s the difference between leadership and manipulation? This two-part series explores this very question using Donald Trump as the case study. In Part One I introduced the topic and shared three of the six tactics that skilled manipulators use to get what they want. Here are the other three, along with positive leadership lessons.
I get a lot of requests to write about Donald Trump’s personality. Let’s start with an update to two articles I wrote in 2016 during Donald Trump’s campaign for president.
Trump is good. I mean, really good. When it comes to imposing his will on others, without their awareness or permission, Trump is one of the best I’ve ever seen in this generation. Webster defines manipulation like this:
Manipulation is to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.
As a parent, I am often tempted to compare my children to each other. Sometimes they even try so suck me in with the question, “Who’s your favorite?”
It’s natural to compare people to one another. It’s human nature to look around and see what others are doing. If you’ve ever made an example of someone, you have used comparison to try and achieve something. While the motives might be positive (encourage, motivate, set an example, leverage a role-model), the consequences are often negative. Here are some reasons why comparing your employees can backfire.
Do you live with silent “inhibitors” in your life, those ingrained beliefs about what you should or shouldn’t do? “Work before play,” “Don’t have too much fun, “Never take credit.” Over time, without even realizing it, these inhibitors infect our lives and can really hold us back.
That’s why I am so grateful for the Ten Permissions given to me by Taibi Kahler, award-winning psychologist, developer of the Process Communication Model (PCM®), and a father-figure/mentor for me. Permission is one of the most important and valuable gifts we can give ourselves and others. These have helped me through many stuck points and sleepless nights. I’d like to share them with you.
I’m delighted to announce the launch of my new blog, Conflict Without Casualties, on PsychCentral, one of the world’s most visited sites for mental health and wellness resources.
The Conflict Without Casualties Blog will focus on helping people:
- Unlock the positive potential in conflict.
- Transform their relationship with conflict through the practice of Compassionate Accountability.
- Achieve greater effectiveness, happiness, and satisfaction.
I post once a week on Tuesdays. Check it out, tell a friend, and if you have topic ideas for me to write about, I’d love your input.
One more step to help build cultures of Compassionate Accountability one person at a time. Will you join us?
Buy the book and get a free Drama Resilience Assessment.
Storytelling is fundamentally human. Stories give meaning to our lives and make connections between people and across generations. Stories can also mislead us in ways that reduce our ability to think clearly, respond thoughtfully and seek the best obtainable truth, especially when emotions run high. In his TedX talk, Tyler Cowan, an economist, warns us to be suspicious of stories that oversimplify the messiness of our lives in exchange for media hype.
When I can’t sleep at night it’s usually because I am trying to solve a problem. On the surface the problem appears pretty basic, like responding to a dissatisfied client, finding a more efficient way to reach our target market, or discerning which vendor to use for our CRM. These aren’t my real problems, though. These are just daily tactical challenges relating to something deeper. Down deep, I have two basic fears; being incompetent or unworthy.
At the end of the day, what I worry about the most is that if I disappoint the customer, can’t find more business, or pick the wrong vendor, I will be seen as incompetent or unworthy.
Please don’t think that I am racked with anxiety or depression. I sleep pretty darn good most of the time. When I do worry, though, this is what it’s about. And, I have little or no data to back it up. My team supports me, believes in me, and recognizes my contribution on a daily basis. I generally get positive feedback from customers. Even when I don’t deliver in spades, they accept me for who I am and forgive my failings.
There are three basic fears that all humans have. Some of us are pre-disposed to one or two of them more than the others.
- Fear of being unworthy
- Fear of being incompetent
- Fear of being weak
The problem is that when I start to worry about how others see me, I stop focusing on what I can control; bringing my best self every day. And, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Giving energy to these fears undermines my credibility in several ways:
- I second-guess myself, which leads to herky-jerky decisions and waffling
- I become more needy of affirmation and try to steer focus to me and my ideas instead of the best ideas
- I compromise my own needs and boundaries to keep the peace or keep people happy rather than taking good care of myself
- I overcompensate and get involved where I shouldn’t
- I get defensive quicker, and it’s confusing to my team because I don’t disclose my hidden fear
- I don’t ask for help because that would appear weak
- Humility is replaced with arrogance or self-deprecation depending on the situation
- I’m more distracted and less productive
At a recent staff meeting, Sandy on our team disclosed feeling anxious and afraid about the status of a project she was managing. The project had dragged out too long and she felt it was time to bring closure. Her fear was that by doing so, she may have missed something that would come back to bite us later and then she would be perceived as incompetent and unworthy. Instead of giving in to that fear, she shared it, asked for support and asked for a commitment to move forward and accept the uncertainty without fear of recrimination.
It was an empowering moment for the team and for Sandy. Instead of seeing her as incompetent, we saw her courage and self-awareness. And as a team we had the opportunity to face our fears, support each other, and make a new commitment to move forward in unison. I can’t even imagine the time and energy that Sandy saved herself and the rest of us in the long run. She could have continued to second-guess, strive for perfection, check and re-check with little or no return.
As for Sandy’s credibility; it just went up a notch in my book.
Leadership is a personal, messy, vulnerable, and uncertain journey. If you’d like to explore your capabilities as a leader in a safe, curious, and accountable space, give us a call.