Tag Archives | communication

How Do You Deal With the Elephant? And Why It’s Important

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Just think about this for a minute. Think about how you react when faced with a situation where there is an obvious “elephant in the room.” You know what I’m referring to – unresolved conflicts, difficult conversations, hard feelings, anger, embarrassment, hurt feelings, touchy subjects, things that make you fidget internally (maybe externally too.)

It’s that uncomfortable “thing” that’s there, you can’t see it, but you can sure feel it.

How do you behave? What are you thinking? What’s your strategy for getting through the discomfort?

We pretty much fall into 3 camps.

The Evader“If I ignore it, it’ll just go away.” To this person the thought of conflict causes a great deal of anxiety. They prefer to leave it alone and live with the discomfort. Perhaps they’re afraid of the consequences, perhaps they simply don’t know what to do.

Either way they turn away from the elephant and try to pretend he’s not there – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t…

The Prompter“This must be resolved. It’s driving me nuts. I have to do something.” To this person anything unresolved or uncomfortable that’s left hanging out there is a source of great frustration and anxiety, a thorn in the side.

They can’t rest until the elephant is addressed…so they poke it to prompt a dialogue, sometimes with a gentle nudge to start the conversation, sometimes with a sharp jab to get the elephant’s full attention. Again sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t – resolution or escalation…

The Accepter “I really don’t need to address this.” This person believes either the elephant is not a big deal, it’s not their responsibility, there is nothing they can do to resolve the issue or it’s simply not the appropriate circumstance. This is different from avoiding or ignoring. This person accepts that the elephant is there, but has intellectually determined that it does not require addressing for whatever reason.

What differentiates this person from their cousin, The Evader, is that there is no anxiety, only acknowledgement. It certainly seems that this strategy would be less stressful, but there is a risk of evasion being masked as acceptance and a reluctance to act even when appropriate. It’s a balancing act and again sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

One is not necessarily better than the other; it’s often a matter of personality, priorities and communication style.

But the reality is that the way we deal with the elephant in the room is also the way we handle life in general. (Feel free to Tweet that.)

So the question to be asked is not whether your style and strategy is wrong or right, but whether it best serves you. Does it cause or alleviate stress? Does it help get the results you want or interfere?

Something to think about…

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Why You Need To Think Before You Speak

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Often we think we speak without thinking, words rushing out of our mouths before we even have a chance to consider the truth, intention, and value of them.

The whole point of words is to communicate something, some information, some feeling, and the intent and usefulness of those words is lost if we don’t consider them before we speak them.

Try to catch yourself throughout the day, with just a brief pause before you speak and ask yourself these three very simple questions:

Is my thought or my words true?

Is it really true? Do I know it to be true or could it be speculation?

Often we accept our thoughts and our words as truth before even really considering whether they are fact-based or simply conjecture.

Is my thought or my words kind?

Remember that old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Consider that. Sometimes we do have to express anger or disappointment, bring attention to a wrong, or argue our point. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still be kind, considerate, and respectful in our words. Words don’t have to be critical, mean, or judgmental to make their point, quite the opposite, that will cause people to shut down, turn away, or be defensive, none of which are conducive to real connection and communication.

Is my thought or my words necessary?

If what I’m thinking or saying isn’t useful or helpful then what’s the point? I’m just wasting my time, energy, focus and brainpower on thoughts and words that have no value.

It’s really very simple. Pause before you speak and ask yourself if what you’re going to say is true, kind, and necessary. If it’s not, try keeping it to yourself. Or even better let the thought go altogether, because it’s probably not serving you either.

Life’s too short to waste your words on something hurtful.

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Is Our Tolerance For Information Shifting?

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We used to read the morning paper, maybe watch the evening news, but in between we went about our business, doing whatever it is that we do, with only the occasional gossip break.

But now, information is coming at us 24/7…often with no filter or clear purpose. It’s just there, so much of it to sift through. Good, bad, interesting, repetitive, useful, useless, sensational, ridiculous, inspiring, disheartening.

The questions that interests me are…

How has our tolerance for information, both good and bad, changed?

How have we changed the way we absorb information?

And what has this done to our attention span and our ability to digest that information?

In other words, we know the way we consume information is changing, but is our tolerance and absorption changing as well?

I know for myself as someone who is surrounded by information on a daily basis, I have found a decreased tolerance for that information as well as a shift toward an increasingly shallow absorption.

Because information is everywhere I have to filter it…heavily. What that means for me is…limiting my “information channels” - I’m so plugged in to the internet, that I don’t really want information from the TV news or the newspaper or radio. In fact, I’ll turn the channel just to shut it out…it’s too much for me to take in.

I prefer short and to the point! If the article is more than a few paragraphs, I skim it, more than 700 words, I won’t even bother to read it usually…unless I’m extremely intrigued…or I just love the way the author writes. Why do we need to use 1,000 words, when 100 will do?

I have very little tolerance for:

Rehash - I’ve heard it before…Let’s face it, most of what we read is nothing new. It’s just a re-hash of the same old information with a new title. I don’t need to waste my brain space on something I already know.

Blah-Blah-Blah – As I said above…Get to the point please!

Sub-standard – If you can’t spell or string together sentences properly…don’t write. If you can’t use intelligent words and express yourself clearly…don’t try to report the news (Eye candy does not interest me – a brain does.)

Celebrity license – For heaven’s sake, don’t publish a book – that you probably didn’t even write – and expect me to be interested just because you have a recognizable face or name. I’m really not that interested in your life…

I have to work harder than ever before…

I find that since information is coming at me at such volume and speed, I have difficulty thoroughly absorbing and digesting it, let alone actually using it in any real way. I have to consciously force myself to slow down and pay attention, to re-read and take notes even.

I’m definitely more discerning, less tolerant and less likely to absorb at a deep knowledge level. I’m not giving up on information…not at all…I just know that I have to be more conscious about what I put into my brain.

And now I am getting perilously close to that line of too long, too much, too unfocused…

So I’ll say…Thanks for reading.

How has your tolerance, intake and absorption shift? Or hasn’t it?

 Please feel free to leave a comment or share on our Facebook page!

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Mini-Mission: Learn the Language

We all know that there are many different types of communication, each of us have our own language, our own way of expressing ourselves…and it may not be…in fact it often is not, the way those around us communicate. This is a problem…a big problem.

And that is never more true than with love, empathy, understanding, anger even. This is not only true in our romantic relationships, it’s true in parent/child communication, friendship and in the workplace as well.

not listeningMost of us grow up learning to express ourselves in the language of our parents, for good or bad, it’s what we know. Seldom do two people in a relationship of any kind speak exactly the same “language.” I’m not talking about English vs. Italian here – though we might as well be – we’re talking about the way we express and receive ideas and emotions.

In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains the five types of expression and perception that are the five “love languages.” According to Chapman, people feel loved, appreciated, connected when a partner or loved one expresses love in the language that is natural to the recipient. If not, the message isn’t received.

(If you’re interested in applying this in the workplace, you might want to read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, also by Chapman.)

The Five Love Languages

1. Words of Affirmation – This is truly the verbal type of expression. Compliments, words of encouragement, appreciation or kindness are what’s most meaningful to the person who speaks and hears this kind of expression. Insults, undercutting and criticism are most damaging.

2. Quality Time – Attention is the name of the game; complete, focused attention. Truly being there and listening, connecting, spending time in conversation and activity. Eye contact and body language are also important.

3. Gifts – Not necessarily costly material gifts, though those are always nice. In this type of language it is truly the thought that counts, the effort, the consideration. A gift is a kind and thoughtful gesture that says you are valued. It is a symbol that represents appreciation, love, friendship or thanks.

4. Acts of Service – Doing something useful, helpful or considerate is the key here. Ease a burden, lend a helping hand; something as simple as vacuuming the floors, washing the dishes or running an errand at home, or getting the coffee, making the copies, or taking the difficult phone call at work.

5. Physical Touch (not in a sexual manner) – A hug, a pat on the back, holding hands, a touch on the arm. It’s physical connection and contact that this person speaks and responds to. This is especially important and can be particularly difficult for the person who did not grow up in an environment of physical affection.

Mini-Mission:Learning the language

There are two parts to this equation…What language do you speak? And what language does the other person respond to?

(It can also be a combination, but usually there is one more predominant than the others.)

How do you like to express love, appreciation, or kindness to others?

What makes you feel valued?

Conversely…

How does the other person express themselves?

Or what do they complain about not receiving or needing?

Get On the Same Wavelength

If one person expresses through “Acts of Service,” but the other needs “Quality Time,” they’ll both feel frustrated. Such is the case with my husband and I. He needs my time and attention, I need him to do the dishes. I show my affection in a way that he appreciates by sitting down and asking about his day. He shows affection in a way that I appreciate by making my coffee every morning. Little things that make a huge difference.

This week take some time to think about which type of “language” you and those you care about speak and respond to?

Your thoughts? I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment or share on our Facebook page!

Just joining us… Find all of the Mini-Missions here…

 

 

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A Better Life is Within Your Reach…The Mission Begins…

Let's Do This!What if someone told you that you could change the quality of your life just by making one small change each week. Would you do it? I mean who doesn’t want to have a better quality life – live better, work smarter, be happier and all that goes along with that.

Well, this year, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, along with hopefully many of my “reader friends,” (yes, that’s you.) We’re kicking off a yearlong series of weekly mini-missions, (we’re all busy after-all,) broken down into manageable chunks – smarter choices, actions, steps we can take improve the quality of our lives one week at a time. Practical. Do-able. (If you’re thinking you’re life is already pretty good, I challenge you to raise the bar!)

Here’s the thing: I bet quite a few of us know what we need/want to do to have the lives we envision. We’ve heard the experts, read the tips, seen the studies, bought the books even, but we already have so much going on…and there’s just so much information and advice out there. It’s just too much…too much to take on.

The more we learn about goal achievement and change, the more we discover that our greatest odds of success are achieved when we make small incremental changes in our lives and build, build, build.

The problem is that for many of us that path to growth, (personal or professional,) seems too slow. I don’t know about you, but I can be very impatient, I want change NOW. But, that said, I think you and I are both smart enough to recognize that it’s wiser to use the strategy that works…even if it takes longer, than to find ourselves in the same place week after week, year after year…because significant change takes too much time and energy.

Let’s bite the bullet and get it done…week by week, bit by bit, we can make those small changes that are standing in the path of a Better Life…a Better You…and a Better Me.

Over the course of this year we’ll tackle things like –  Health and Wellness( Fitness, Energy, Stress,) Money Management,( Earning, Saving, Financial Stewardship,) Developing the Potential of Your Mind,(Attitude, Shifting your Mindset, Expanding your Knowledge and Skills,) Cultivating more Positive and Meaningful Relationships, (Deeper Connections, Better Communication, Expanding your Social and Professional Networks,) Organization and Time Utilization (Focus, Organization, Action, Planning, Being Productive, Follow-thru,) Fulfilling Worklife, ( Success, Rewarding Career, Balance,) Responsible Living (Environment, Community, Contribution,) and Life Juice, (Joy, Happiness, Passion, Creativity, Fun, Gratitude, Meaning and Purpose.)

You don’t have to tackle them all of course. Pick and choose…take what you need…try what you like, but as with anything in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. (I’ll be doing it right along with you and I can’t wait to compare notes…)

*Speaking of notes…Got ideas, problem areas or requests for what you’d like to see in upcoming weekly missions, feel free to drop me a line or post on our Facebook page. (Just joining us…Find all of the Better Life Mini-Missions here…)

Now, to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite authors, Danielle LaPorte…

Life’s Too Short, Let’s Do This

Mission #1:  Rest…Sleep…Zzzs… Let’s figure it out once and for all.

There’s a reason this appears on nearly every list of goals, resolutions, things to do, habits…because it’s the foundation of everything else we do in life…and most of us are still doing a terrible job of it.

It’s not just about getting more sleep (we’ve heard that before,) it’s about knowing the best sleep solution for us personally. The problem may very well be that we don’t really know how much sleep we need, or what sleep pattern works best for us, let alone how to get it.

This week take the time and effort to figure it out. Don’t make any other changes. Just experiment with how much sleep works best – make it a priority just for this week. The good news…not everyone needs the often-recommended 8 hours, many do just fine on less, and some actually need more. Moreover, it might not even be the amount of sleep; it might just be the pattern or timing.

Tactics to Try:

Go to bed 30 minutes early – you’d be surprised at what a difference it can make.

Squeeze in a 20-minute nap during lunch.

Shift your sleep pattern – For example, instead of going to bed at 11:30 and getting up at 6, try going to bed at 10:30 and getting up at 5:00. You might be able to get more done in the early AM anyway.

Trouble falling asleep? Try some wind down tactics – do some yoga, stretching, meditate, read a boring book, whatever calms your mind.

You know the drill…avoid caffeine, alcohol, news, electronics, and work close to bedtime…

There are many over the counter sleep aids that might help – natural and pharmaceutical. This may be a temporary solution, especially if you’re going thru a stressful time.

If you’re truly suffering from insomnia or chronic poor quality sleep, this is the time to make an appointment to see your doctor. Prescription sleep aids should be a last resort…but that said…you have to sleep. And a sleep study may uncover an underlying issue.

Sleep really does affect everything from attitude to weight to productivity to brain function.

We are just now discovering that sleep deprivation actually shortens our life span!

Just experiment. You may actually not need to change your sleep habits as much as you think.

This will not be easy for me…and it may not be so easy for you. My days are filled and I imagine yours are as well…and when I do get down time, I really want to decompress and read (my favored leisure activity,) but in all honesty, I need the sleep more.

So let’s give a try…you and me…

What are your sleep issues? Obstacles? Do you know how much sleep you need? Can you remember a time when you felt well rested?

Leave a comment or share on our Facebook page!

(Just joining us… Find all of the Mini-Missions here…)

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