transformative communication

Conflict Without Casualties Blog Launches on PsychCentral

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?

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Drama-Based Storytelling Lowers Emotional Intelligence

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.


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Three Hidden Fears That Will Compromise Your Leadership Credibility

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.

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The Gift of Compassionate Accountability For An Undeserving Soul

I just got back from my first trip to China. I was there helping launch our Leading Out of Drama program through a new partnership with First Priority Consulting, one of China’s premier training companies.

The night before my departure I was checking in online for my flight to Bejing. I was asked for my passport, which I submitted. Then I was asked for my visa, which came as a total shock to me. I was completely unaware of the need for a visa, and did not have one. Panic!

I did some quick online searching and confirmed that indeed, a visa was required, and that there were no options for getting one in a few hours. More panic!

Feeling desperate, I texted Jeremy, the owner of First Priority and my host in China. I expected that the trip would have to be rescheduled until I could obtain a visa, meaning a series of costly consequences for everyone involved. Even more panic!

An hour later I received a Skype call from Jeremy. His voice was calm and reassuring, he empathized with my anxiety, and was ready to problem-solve. He promised he and his team would work with me to get through this together.

Fast forward two hours. Jeremy discovered a brand new provision just instituted in China; the 144 hour transit pass. This life-saving rule allows foreigners to spend up to 144 hours in China, visa-free, as long as they are continuing on to a third destination upon departure. While this rule let me off the hook on the visa issue, it did require some rapid re-scheduling of flights. Jeremy and his team of travel specialists set aside time in their day to help with all the arrangements so that I could still make my trip and fulfill the mission.

Although the crisis was averted, my negative feelings were not gone. I felt angry at myself for missing this critical detail. I felt embarrassed for my naive arrogance. As an American I can travel most places without a visa, so I just assumed without checking.

Despite my blunder, Jeremy and his team at First Priority showed me the real meaning of compassion – to struggle with others in a spirit of dignity. No guilt trips, no passive-aggressive comments, no questioning of my integrity or commitment. Just caring, creative, and consistent effort to work together for the greatest success of our mission.

Thank you Jeremy, for embodying the spirit of Compassionate Accountability. We are grateful for your partnership and look forward to many years of Leading Out of Drama programs in China.

Have you ever had a person like Jeremy in your life? Have you ever been that kind of person for someone else? Will you share your story of the transformational power in compassionate accountability?

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2018

Learn more about compassionate accountability and start your journey with Next Element.

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Opposites In Harmony

Our family loves the winter olympics. We’ve been glued to our TV every night watching the latest from Pyeongchang, rooting for underdogs, tracking the medal count, and watching our favorite athletes display their skills.

My favorite aspect of the 23rd winter olympic games has been watching North and South Korea compete together in some of the events, a symbolic and significant gesture of unity.

Yin-Yang symbolism was prominent in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. In Chinese philosophy, yin yang can be thought of as complementary, rather than opposing, forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Yin-Yang is about opposites in harmony.

Competition has not always meant a win-lose battle between adversaries.

Dating back before the 17th century, teams would come together to “co-petition” the gods for blessings.

The traditional playing field is a rectangle dissected by a line with a circle in the middle. It was believed that blessings would be brought down in the circle, thus making it the focus of the contest. The overall purpose was to advance the greater good of the community.

I believe it is time to bring that focus back. I invite you to help usher in a new era where differences are seen as assets, not liabilities;

…when people from other countries are welcomed instead of feared;

…when divergent value systems sign a potential to solve great problems instead of stoking bigotry;

…where conflict is an opportunity to create something new instead of cut people off;

…when we focus on the greater good instead of the greatest number of retweets.

This is why I’m passionate about Compassionate Accountability. Compassion and accountability are opposites that can exist in harmony. Using the principles of compassionate accountability people can engage conflict without casualties in a creative “co-petition” for something good.

Get started with these free resources.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, 2017

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Being Honest vs. Being Open

Being honest is not the same as being open. Sometimes it’s just the opposite.

“The kitchen is a mess.” vs. “When I don’t feel productive at work, I need things to be clean at home to feel in control.”

“You aren’t measuring up.” vs. “I’m afraid that I’m not perfectly fulfilling my obligations to protect others.”

“This is boring.” vs. “I’m anxious about taking responsibility for my own state of engagement.”

“It’s my fault.” vs. “I’m angry about how you are treating me.”

“I’m lost and don’t know what to do.” vs. “I need direction. Will you help me clarify what’s next?”

“You can’t handle the truth.” vs. “I am feeling exposed.”

Honesty is much less vulnerable then openness. Openness, more than honesty, builds trust. Openness is more authentic than honesty.

Honesty is often used as a defense mechanism to keep a safe distance. Openness rolls down the window between people. 

If you are honest with yourself, you’ll find that one or two of these six comparisons hits close to home. If you are open, you might share it with someone.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2018. All Rights Reserved.

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Openness Before Honesty: The Third Disruptive Behavioral Technology

This is part three in my three-part series on disruptive behavioral technologies that will dramatically improve relationships and results.

How do you feel when someone starts a sentence with “If I’m being totally honest,” or “May I be honest with you?” Are they lying the rest of the time? What have they been hiding?

It’s a setup. It’s a justification for them to share their opinion or feedback about you, while keeping themselves conveniently out of the hot seat. (more…)

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Stop Trying To Control Negative Attention Behavior: The Second Disruptive Behavioral Technology

This is part two in my three-part series on disruptive behavioral technologies that will dramatically improve relationships and results.

Most negative behavior is a symptom of an unmet positive need. Here’s the logic; if people don’t get their needs met positively, they will attempt to get those very same needs met negatively, with or without awareness. To learn more about this, read my series covering the six most common patterns of negative behavior and the unmet positive need. (more…)

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Disclose Your Motives: The First Disruptive Behavioral Technology

This is part one in my three-part series on disruptive behavioral technologies that will dramatically improve relationships and results.

Have you ever been asked to do something by your boss but given no context about why? Maybe you asked why, and were met with a response like, “Because I said so,” or “Don’t question me, just do it,” or even worse, being accused of insubordination.

One of the biggest trust-busters is lack of transparency around motives.


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Three Disruptive Behavioral Technologies That Will Dramatically Improve Relationships and Results

Disruptive technology is a game-changer because it changes the rules of the game.

Once in a while a new way of doing things comes along that doesn’t just improve things; it transforms them. Businesses are looking for disruptive technology and disruptive people, those who challenge the status quo, try new approaches, and re-write the rules of the game for breakthrough benefits.

When was the last time you encountered a Disruptive Behavioral Technology?  (more…)

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