As the “Mean It” Madness continues, I’m delighted to share insights from sincere people around the world who have reached out to share their stories.
Today’s post is inspired by Cat Willliams a relationship counsellor and author of Stay Calm and Content. She shares how meaningful conversations start by telling yourself the truth.
If you have a story of where saying what you mean made all the difference, click here to share.
Start a More Meaningful Conversation
“He that undervalues himself will undervalue others, and he that undervalues others will oppress them.”
Many conversations break down because the issue being discussed is not the real issue at hand. Even when people are communicating “well” with “I statements” and the like, if the real issue isn’t surfaced, it can’t be addressed. Much energy is spent in such false dialogue. Truths remain unspoken and the undercurrent of resentment continues.
Cat shared that some of the hardest conversations are those in which we must apologize. It’s tough to admit to ourselves that we’ve done something wrong. It’s even more scary to face potential rejection if the apology is not accepted.
It’s far easier to convince ourselves someone else is to blame, and we start with a solid argument to ourselves. We soothe our egos, and our important apologies remain un-offered. As I heard Cat’s story, my heart tugged with a few folks in need of a call.
Leaders who are insecure are more likely to cover up their fears by limiting feedback and placing blame. What appears tough on the outside, may actually a false barricade to protect a fragile ego.
Cat shares a useful metaphor, if we think of ourselves as a car, our engine is our self-esteem. Many people don’t do the necessary maintenance and upkeep that needs to be done on that engine, and instead choose to focus on the engine’s exhaust, or the symptoms that surface in the form of emotions.
To ensure we’re dealing with the true issues, Cat encourages us to take time, and not rush to communicate. Here are several questions that can help you slow down and start a more meaningful conversation.
What am I really upset about here. Is the issue I’m reacting to the real problem, or is something deeper?
How is my confidence involved in this? Is there something I’m unsure or afraid of that’s making me feel insecure. In other words, am I dealing with the “engine” or the exhaust?
How have my interpretations played into the meaning here?,/li>
Are there other possible interpretations or explanations for what’s happening?
What do I really want from this conversation? What is the best possible outcome?
What is the most effective way to communicate my feelings?
How can I listen so I can really hear what the other person is looking to convey? How can I encourage them to say what they really mean?
This month’s Frontline Festival is an extension of Mean It Madness on Let’s Grow Leaders. You don’t need to be a blogger to share your story. Click here to share how saying what you mean has made all the difference. Thank you Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx for the great feature pic (above). Follow Joy @joy_guthrie.
Speaking with Sincerity & Kindness
Jon Mertz – This Difference, opens the Festival with, Uncomplicated Meaning. At times, we can over-complicated how to mean it. If it is wrapped in meaning, then to “mean it” should be simply natural and real. Follow Jon at @ThinDifference
Bill Benoist – Leadership Heart Coaching, brings us Active Listening One of the greatest gifts we can give another person is our undivided attention. When we focus on what the other person is saying rather than forming a response as the person is speaking, we are letting the individual know we value what he or she has to say. Follow Bill @leadershipheart
Bernie Nagle – ZunZhong, shares Speak With The V.O.I.C.E. Of Sincerity Credibility is the currency of Leadership. Draw the account down too far and you risk losing your team…and your job. A simple tool to help your remember how to use your VOICE.Follow Bernie @altrupreneur
Chery Gegelman – of Simply Understanding Blog shares her post, The greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage John was offered a position with another company. He accepted the position and relocated to take the job. In his first week in the new job John receives multiple warnings from co-workers and community members questioning the authenticity and sincerity of the people and the organization he is now employed with. What would you do? Follow Chery @GianaConsulting
Mike Henry Sr. – Founder of the Lead Change Group, shares Sincerity and Office Politics. Trust lubricates relationships and makes organizations and teams effective. This post outlines 6 ways to shore up trust and sincerity in a team or organization. Follow Mike @mikehenrysr
New to the Festival, Herwig W Dierckx, Great Business Life Stories, shares Medieval consultant jargon. A funny story on the over-use of business buzzwords and corporate jargon; in the hope to convince the reader to move to more authentic and clear leadership communication. Follow Herwig @HWDierckx.
Being Sincere With Yourself
Alli Polin – Break the Frame, offers Find the Courage to Be Yourself Too many people seem to have a game face and think that if everyone is playing the game, they have no other choice. Why not say what you mean and show the world who you are? Follow Alli @AlliPolin
Barbara Kimmel – Trust Across America, shares, Ten Trust Busters Are your actions ethical? What impact are they having on others? Is unethical behavior just “business as usual?” Follow Barbara @BarbaraKimmel
Skip Prichard – Leadership Insights, shares Do What You Say You’re Going to Do What’s one trait that all successful people have in common? They do what they say they will do. Whether a small thing or a big one, consistently doing what you say you will do is the foundation of success. Follow Skip @SkipPrichard
New to the festival, Bob Whipple,The Trust Ambassador brings us , 7 Ways to Improve Your Integrity Before we can learn to trust others, we must learn to trust ourselves. Sounds simple, but many people exhibit low integrity in their own life. Follow Bob, @Rwhipple
He was the poster-child for passive aggressive (at least that’s my side of the story). In an effort to keep the peace, I’d tried to shake it off. I’d kept my mouth shut, and encouraged my team to take the “high road.”.But the high road was getting bumpier with time.
I realized I needed to take a bit of my own advice; but frankly, I was worried about the political ramifications.
And then the best kind of truth-telling realization. What kind of role model am I if I advocate for ditching the diaper genie, only when it feels safe? I had to address the scene.
I had to address the scene.
I confronted Mr. Passive Aggressive. I shared my concern about the tenor of his emails, the endless digging for problems, the data sent over my head without a chance to review… Calmly, carefully, but truthfully. And held my breath. My truth.
We connected and he responded. Of course, he didn’t MEAN to come across that way, after all, he’s just trying to help. We’re all in this together. His truth.
There was my window: “I would LOVE your help…THIS is what would be most helpful”. We spent over an hour discussing our common concerns and joint goals. We got specific on what matters most and how we could help one another. Our truth.
Then he shared with surprising candor, “But I have to say. I can’t change the way I communicate. My emails are not intended to be aggressive, I just get really fired up. This is how I communicate with everyone.” His truth.
Somehow that statement also felt like progress.
I responded, “Thank you for letting me know so I’ll be prepared. Here’s what I can assure you, I will never send you an email with that tone.” My truth.
You guessed it. The tone has improved. All the other support we discussed is playing out. The business is better off. We’re both in a better place.
When we respond by being passive, we quietly encourage continued aggression.
6 Ways to Deal with Passive Aggressive Behavior at Work
Ditch the Diaper Genie– I’ll never know if he was really “just trying to help” or if there was an ulterior motive. I’ve decided that just doesn’t matter. When your gut tells you somethings wrong, something’s wrong, even if it’s just a miscommunication. Truth speaking encourages a truthful response, even if it’s not something we want to hear. Better to get it all out in the open.
Listen to Understand- Somethings going on underneath that wacky behavior. Do your best to understand the person and their scene. Get to know them as a fellow human being. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re doing the best they can.
Take the High Road – Taking the high road has nothing to do with rolling over or shutting down. It’s about not emulating the passive aggressive behavior. Resist the urge the fight fire with fire, or take the offensive. Stay true to your leadership values and role model what must be done.
Stay Calm – Responding in an emotional way will only bring on the passive response, leaving you looking like (and feeling like) the fool. Nothing’s more intimidating to someone trying to manipulate you then a calm, clear-headed, overview of the situation.
Be Specific – Avoid speaking in general terms. Track specific behaviors that feel wrong to have as examples as needed. It’s hard to argue with the facts
Ask For What You Need – It’s hard for someone to work against you after they’ve agreed to help you. Resist the urge for lofty platitudes like “I really need your help.” Or, “I need your commitment to work as a team.” Instead said, I could really use your help with addressing X issue at the meeting on Tuesday.
Strong leaders stand up to passive aggressive behavior, model healthy communication–for you and for your team.