Posts Tagged 'respect'

Your Feelings are Showing

Communication is often equated to finding the right words to express oneself. This may be sufficient for writing an email or a thank you note, Boredom in the officebut when communicating in person, there is a huge portion of your expression of which you are probably not conscious, and those you speak with don’t have to be super intuitive to pick up on these messages.

When I was a teenager, my mother told me, “Rolling your eyes or sighing are just as much talking back as a verbal argument,” and there were consequences for these expressions even without my verbally talking back. And honestly, when a coworker rolled his eyes in response to the speaker in a meeting, it felt just as rude as if he had verbally called her stupid. He wasn’t even aware that he had done that and now wonders why relations with that coworker are strained.

Unconscious communications are hard to hide for those of us without certain personality disorders. A coworker turns red in the face and scowls whenever anyone disagrees with her in even the most polite way. A customer service representative says he’s sorry he can’t help you and yet smiles as he disappoints you. You get the message loud and clear and yet may feel you cannot complain about the behavior because it isn’t overt.

We don’t always get the expressions right. The person scowling in the audience may be seriously considering what you say. The one who is smiling at your presentation may be thinking about last night’s date. But in most interactions, you really can’t fool anyone about your true feelings, and your true feelings are not always acceptable ones. How do you communicate without inadvertently offending people?

You can become hyper aware of your expressions and keep a lid on any which convey unacceptable messages, but this takes a lot of effort and you will probably forget and let the mask slip when you get absorbed in the business at hand.

When you do catch yourself sending a potentially offensive message with your expression, it can help to explain yourself. “If I’m scowling, it’s because I can’t figure out a foolproof way to implement that policy,” or, “I’m sighing as I try to imagine how we could do what you suggest,” or, “I’m sorry, that reminded me of something funny, I’m not laughing at what you said.”

If you really want to communicate constructively, it may be wise to cultivate a basic respect and patience for the people you deal with, so your expressions are less likely to convey contempt or anger. It isn’t a quick trick, but it is quite foolproof.

 

What is an Enlightened Interaction?

A friend recently questioned my term Enlightened Interaction.  “I don’t know what it means,” she said, “what does enlightened really mean?  Doesn’t every new ager consider herself enlightened?” she asked.I suppose there is a connotation of spirituality associated with the word “enlightened,” which could be construed as superior.  But when I use the term “enlightened,” I refer to awareness – spiritual or otherwise.

Dictionary definitions of enlightened suggest it is a state of being knowledgeable. Definitions include, “…freed from ignorance and misinformation,” and, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved.”   Spiritual enlightenment, then, is the ability to understand from a spiritual perspective.

Coming at our interactions in an enlightened state, means we are aware.  This awareness of others requires listening and seeing the other person without projecting our beliefs and motives onto them.

Spiritual enlightenment creates an awareness of spiritual truth.  In most traditions, this means seeing another as an equal and a unique and valuable individual.  The interaction based on this enlightenment is respectful and kind.

Intellectual enlightenment, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved,” creates an interaction grounded in awareness of reality.  This implies acceptance of others as they truly are and not getting confused by our fantasies and desires for the interaction.

An enlightened interaction, then, precludes any abuse, control or manipulation.  It is an honest interaction between people who are presumed to be equals, who strive to perceive and accept each other as they truly are.

This interaction is not the norm for most of us, but I’d like to think the next stage in our evolution would make it the norm.  Compared to dishonest or controlling interactions, enlightened interaction is satisfying and pain free.  If you cannot achieve enlightened interaction in a voluntary relationship, it is probably a relationship you should walk away from.

I hope this is…well…enlightening.

When the Pack Needs an Alpha Dog

There is a right use of power. Some of us are squeamish about exercising power. Perhaps we confuse power with control. It isn’t the same. There are times when it is necessary to exercise power or lose control. We rightly exercise power over those for whom we are responsible. It might be to protect a child or an invalid or to protect our rights from those who don’t respect them.

I once worked in a group which had a leader who was an information expert but not really a manager. This happens quite a bit when a great technical expert becomes a group leader but has never learned how to manage. It happens a lot in IT, healthcare, and sales teams. Technical experts are expected to know things and know how to do things. Managers need to know how to exercise power appropriately and relate to people.

This person left most decisions to the group of a dozen employees. I believe that group management can work. I must admit, however, that I have never personally seen it happen (or even heard of it.) If the pack has even one member who operates in a dog-eat-dog reality, it needs an alpha dog to see to the group’s welfare. The alpha dog can have a style that is participatory or he can be a hard core enforcer, but to be an alpha dog, he must influence group behavior. That requires power, not expertise.

When a technical expert is rewarded for expertise with a promotion to management, her experience is all…well…technical. If this person develops leadership skills as well, then she can exert power. If the technical expert is not a leader, he will not perceive the exercise of power in the work group, so he may not see that there is an enormous difference between participatory management and no management at all. The manager who won’t manage is usually a good employee who wouldn’t dream of dropping the ball in any of his technical tasks, but who fails to even see the ball in his managerial role.

Political power governs the group with no leader. The workplace becomes a series of Survivor episodes and the games tie up energy that could be used productively. If there is no management at all, the group will either get nothing done, or accomplishment will be on the backs of one or two of the group members. Staff may like but will not respect the manager who doesn’t manage. Eventually they will feel resentment.

Employees suffer a lot of unnecessary stress from not knowing how a decision will go and from competing for time and assignments which should be doled out equitably. They feel open to the manager’s judgment but do not feel protected or supported in any real way.

When this team leader says, “Here’s what needs to be done. You all figure out how to do it.” He walks away having no idea that all hell just broke loose behind him. Manipulation takes the place of management, and all sorts of dysfunctional behavior occurs.

The tough nut takes the plum assignment; the narcissist takes a prolonged break; and the dutiful pick up the pieces while trying to avoid being bossed around by those who did none of the real work.

The same scenario plays out in a family in which the parent will not parent and allows minor children to make decisions. The appropriate use of power can steer the family or workgroup into constructive and cooperative behavior. This doesn’t mean being a drill sergeant or throwing your weight around.

Unfortunately, use of power cannot be learned from a textbook or even an MBA program. It must be learned by doing and practicing. When I coach new managers, I teach them to imagine that power is a visible force so they can direct it appropriately.

They soon learn that their imaginings are quite real. Power may be invisible but it is tangible to most of us.

More Sins of Omission – Hiding your Light Under a Bushel

 

Good people often feel that they are promoting good when they simply avoid doing wrong. The new age movement promotes this by preaching non It takes courage to shine brightly.judgment without understanding the concept, and suggesting that inner peace means passivity.

When the enlightened practice non judgment and inner peace, they act, or refrain from acting, from a state of being centered.  Ghandi practiced passive resistance and love, certainly, but his was acourageous stance which he discerned would avoid violence.  He was not passive to avoid action.  When I am passive or non-judgmental to avoid taking a stance, it is a cop out.

More than most people, I understand the power of the unseen and what can be done with energy.  I practice a number of energetic or mental techniques which are invisible and yet quite profound in their results.  But if I see someone drowning, I think it is more appropriate to go physically to their rescue than to send them good energy.  If someone is trespassing, and doesn’t listen to reason, then litigation may be more appropriate than love.  (If you are capable of litigating lovingly, then that’s even better.)

Bullies, abusers, those who lack empathy, sociopaths without conscience…none of these people respond well to good energy.  People who cannot relate to or connect with their fellow humans are often quite oblivious to the energy of others.

In dealing with these selfish forces, those of us who are good should be positive forces for good, rather than passive lumps who are satisfied with simply not being bad.

What does it mean to be a positive force for good? It involves using power appropriately.  We all have god-given power to wield.  It was not bestowed upon us to be hidden or to atrophy from disuse.

Positive goodness may involve speaking up, enforcing boundaries and not allowing trespasses, protecting our dependants, and taking action to promote positive outcomes.  Positive goodness almost always involves courage and risk taking.  It certainly takes discernment to stand up for what is right without continually focusing on what is wrong.

Positive goodness almost always creates a kind of magic in the life of the person who practices it.  Whether you win or lose your particular challenge, the courage you practice and the boundaries you fortify put you in a wiser, more centered place.  From this state of being, your energetic influence on the world is huge and beneficent.

The prize is that you shine more brightly as your true self and experience deep joy rather than fleeting happiness.

Interaction with the Enlightened

The 1st Dalai Lama

When I coach people, I tend to learn only about their interactions with people who are aggressive, abusive, or just plain weird.   But there are those who have enlightened interactions with others and we can cheer and encourage ourselves by appreciating such people and modeling ourselves after them.  Most of us can cite someone who has made us feel singularly special and understood.

At the very pinnacle of enlightened interaction, in my book, is the Dalai Lama.  Do a Google search on images of “Dalai Lama with…” and see him with various important people.   Of course, there’s his beaming, joyful face, but what’s really fun is the looks on the faces of those around him.

www.dalailama.com

Here is George W. who looks solemn and uncomfortable even at baseball games, for heaven’s sake.  But this is a different George W.  He is grinning from ear to ear and the smile extends to his eyes and body language.  He’s very much enlightened by the Dalai Lama’s interactions.  These photos give me great hope.

Now see His Holiness with the Prince of Wales.  Charlie’s British aristocracy has slipped askew like an ill fitting hat.  He is as red in the face as a newborn and his smile is broad enough to show his molars!

Oh, my goodness! The Dalai Lama is holding Charlie’s hand! What is going on here?  Something in these interactions seems to cheer these people and cut through the B.S. in short order, so we see them as their mothers probably saw them.

After half a century of keeping a stiff upper lip, the Prince of Wales would not completely thaw within fifteen minutes unless … well … unless he felt safe;  unless he felt respected; unless he felt that someone was relating to him on a profoundly personal level!

Clearly, the enlightened interaction occurs in the present moment and the other person must be feeling accepted and loved or he wouldn’t be grinning like that.  But I accept and love people all the time and they rarely react so positively! What is the difference?

Consider what the Dalai Lama is not doing in his interactions.  I’m just making a guess here but I’m willing to bet my IRA that His Holiness is not even a little bit concerned about what other people think of him.  (He’s wearing an orange flowing outfit in the land of somber business suits, after all.  And he’s not wearing a two foot high mitre to make himself look imposing, either.)

If an important state leader flinched when the lama reached out to hold his hand with interlaced fingers, I’m willing to bet the lama did not take it personally any more that you would take it personally when a child resists your overtures.

If a head of state looked grumpy when first meeting the Dalai Lama, I’m quite sure the lama did not think, “Oh no!  I can tell he doesn’t like me.”

I believe the joy in these interactions results from one person being totally present for another.  This presence precludes self consciousness and allows one to truly see who the other person is.  When I am able to practice really being here in the moment with another, my interactions are  much more rewarding.  To what little degree I have learned to be present, I experience a bit of the magic of an enlightened interaction.

I’m hardly in a position to fully understand someone like the Dalai Lama.  But I think that being  profoundly present with another person, in the moment, allows a connection with the essence of that person.  Connecting in that way is love and it feels wonderful, I know!  Just look at George grin!

Why assertiveness training does not work very well

Assertiveness training usually focuses on ways of expressing yourself through language; speaking in ways that are assertive without being aggressive. It may give you helpful strategies for certain situations, but it will not make you an assertive person.

Assertiveness training involves learning a communication pattern that expresses your feelings without disrespecting the other person. So, when you want to say something like, “Jack, you idiot! You left the headlights on and my battery is dead. Drive me to work so I won’t be late!” Instead you would say, “Jack. When you leave the headlights on in my car, it drains the battery and leaves me with no way to get to work on time. I’d like you to give me a ride to work.”

This is a far superior way to verbally communicate to Jack. He will be more likely to give you a ride to work than to become angry at you for calling him an idiot. However, using language in this way will not, in itself, make you assertive.

On the other hand, if you are an assertive (not aggressive) person; that is you are in an assertive and powerful state of being, you will automatically use forms of language that are respectful rather than hurling undue blame at others. And, you won’t have to think about it, read about it, or practice it.

If you are not really in an assertive and powerful state, you will fool no one with your assertive language. If you are not truly assertive, you will have a tendency to set limits and yet not follow through on them. Then when others take advantage of this, you may get angry and aggressive or be passive aggressive.

Anger is not assertiveness. The powerful may get angry, but anger will not make you powerful. If a pedestrian angrily stomps his foot and yells at you for exceeding the limit as you fly past him…who cares? He has no power. But a policeman has been given power by your locality. He doesn’t have to get angry because you broke the law. He or she simply climbs in the cruiser and pulls you over to receive a citation and a bill for the appropriate fine to be paid.

Power comes from within. The bad news is you cannot convince anyone by pretending or using a certain means of speaking. The good news is that we all have power we can call forth if we learn how. And practicing a powerful state will, eventually call it forth. This power is more physical than intellectual and cultivating it will make it easy to assert yourself.
See my page with tips for encouraging respect for some easy ways to cultivate your personal power in ways that are respectful of others and encourage others to be respectful as well.


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