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****Take up your share of space—no more, no less.**** Conceptually, two people can only take up a finite amount of space. If you take up too much of that space it invites others to battle you for their fair share or to resentfully cower in small corner you’ve left to them. On other hand, because nature abhors a vacuum, if you take up too little space, it invites others to expand and overpower you. Hold your head up, offer good eye contact, but keep your muscles relaxed. Slamming your truth into someone’s face invites them to instinctually recoil and/or come out fighting; never putting your needs out there for someone else to consider almost guarantees that you’ll be overlooked, stepped on, or pushed aside. Be willing to contribute whatever it is you have to offer.
**** Recognize that there can be many different “truths.”**** In most cases your perspective is neither right nor wrong, it is simply what your particular vantage point allows you to offer. Rather than working with assumption that you have nothing to offer, or that you hold only perspective of value, trust that each person may be only one who can offer their particular “truth.” If you leave your perspective unsaid, or drown out someone else’s voice, you will have short-circuited process that creates understanding, buy-in, and higher levels of creative thinking. When it is necessary to supportively confront someone you can use “I” messages to take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, and actions. (A frequently used formula for “I” messages includes following four parts: 1) I think / feel…2) when you…3) because…4) I want / need…). Avoid drawing unnecessary lines in sand, or “making someone wrong” just because you have different perspectives.
****Take your words directly to person who needs to hear them.**** Don’t count on people to read your mind or assume that they “should” already understand your perspective. Regardless of whether you’re frustrated with investors, your boss, colleagues, staff, customers, or someone on home front, grumbling with people who aren’t in a position to effect change will only leave you feeling more powerless and/or resentful. Rather than blaming them for your unwillingness to express yourself, find a way to language and deliver your message in a timely and effective fashion to person or people who need to hear it. Use a third party as a sounding board if intense emotions or previous attempts at communication have you wanting to skip issue altogether. (Ensure that your goal in talking with this neutral party is to bolster your ability for communicating directly and not simply to gain an ally!)
****Remember that “telling your truth” also involves listening.**** Nothing makes it easier for someone to hear what we have to offer than our own willingness to really listen—and sometimes doing so first allows other person to clear out their own systems and have space to consider what we most want them to hear. More than just keeping your mouth shut and impatiently tapping your foot, genuine listening involves making a real effort to understand other’s perspective. Ask clarifying questions or paraphrase to communicate back to speaker your understanding of what’s been said.
****Use levity, humor, sincere praise and acknowledgment when appropriate.**** When we let things stay unnecessarily serious, intense, or oppositional people grow tense and impatient. Be bearer of light in your organization—be willing to deal honestly, openly, and directly with issues that need to be discussed, yet take opportunity to appreciate life and each other at every opportunity!
for a free subscription to Vantage Point, an E-zine for trailblazers in lfe and business, go to www.highest-vision.com.
Susan J. Schutz founded Highest Vision in 1999 as a reflection of her deep conviction that professionals can be attentive to their “bottom lines” while also creating lives worth living and businesses that contribute to the good of all.
For a free subscription to Vantage Point, Susan's bimonthly E-zine for trailblazers in life and business, go to www.highest-vision.com.