How to Use Silence with Others

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Photo by the author

Silence is something more of us should do.  The more social media that I read, the more I think that humankind has a need to be heard, to always respond.  Despite the need to respond, we don’t always want someone to give us feedback.  Feedback is sometimes the hot button that just makes a person clam up.

The opportunities around silence are immense.  

  • Silence from others, allows us to process what is affecting us.  Immediate feedback only disrupts this process.
  • Silence communicates a respect when you are listening.  It allows others to know you are present with them, not discounting what they are saying.
  • People in pain, don’t need automatic response.  They need presence.
  • Silence keeps us from sometimes saying something we should not say.  It keeps us out of hot water.

Knowing when to be silent and when to respond.

  1. Respond when the person appears ready to accept your response.  Keep your eye contact focused on the other person.  Keep a safe but engaged distance
  2. Silence means you are processing what is being said.  Respond only when you are expected to respond, ask questions, configure your language to reflect what is being said
  3. Responding is not always necessary.   Respond in ways that you would like others to respond to you.  Take time to focus on other’s immediate needs.

Asking permission to respond is a respectful transition.  The other person will let you know when they are ready to receive your response.  Then they will be ready to complete the transition.

10 Ways to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

 
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Like the flower that blooms in the Spring, it takes the right conditions to break through the ground.  Breaking through personal obstacles is really no different.

The Rut: Anything that is keeping you stuck from where you’re desiring to go.  

Other ways that describe being stuck:

  1. I’m in a job I dislike
  2. I’m not moving forward in my role 
  3. I can’t get ahead of the bills
  4. My boss doesn’t seem to recognize the contribution I make
  5. I feel blah all the time 

Recognizing you’re stuck is 50% toward the solution.  Some don’t even see they’re stuck until a crisis hits. Being stuck wasn’t something that happened once or twice, it’s something that progressed over time.

10 Ways to move beyond stuck

  1. Look at what is actually not stuck: Leverage those resources
  2. Identify your supports – or seek out support
  3. Look at self sabotage – ways your choices are making it harder to succeed
  4. Ask yourself: What does being stuck really mean…what does it require me to do?
  5. What one tipping point do you need that would make the difference?  
  6. Are your expectations holding  you back?  Are they the right ones?
  7. Are you doing more, or expecting more?
  8. What do I need to do less of, and more of?
  9. Learn, expand.
  10. Understand that struggle is making you stronger

Not moving down a desired path doesn’t mean you aren’t moving.  It means something is taking a different direction unintended.

Moving beyond a challenge requires concerted effort to understand the patterns around you, many of which need discovered.

Work through being stuck by identifying the pattern in operation, then choose a set of new patterns that may lead to different results.

5 Ways to Make Things Better Everyday

  

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When you have a lot of demands, it is inevitable that “self delaying” or procrastination creeps in.  It seems the more you do, the more things are still there.  Remaining focused on important things becomes quite a chore when you’re so busy being busy.  How do you make things better when it seems all you’re doing is chasing your tail?

  1. Reflect on why things are not better. It may your mindset.  Things may actually be OK,  but you are simply unsatisfied with the repetitive patterns in your life.  A lack of satisfaction and reasons for it, is the first path to explore to make things better.
  2. Look at what is sapping your energy. How you are managing your energy on a daily basis is another key answer in making things better.  Are poor habits, overeating, lack of activity, avoidance behaviors or sleeping impacting you? These are valuable clues to self improvement.
  3. Engage a improvement plan, act on something everyday.  Making things better may require you to implement one courageous act everyday.  Just that one deliberate act puts you on the path to better results.
  4. Adjust your mindset. Be faithful to yourself and act.  Self-talk, personal affirmations and rewarding yourself for making a piece of your life better, is important for keeping motivation high.
  5. Generate everyday change by documenting what is better.  Just a 15 minutes at the end of your day noting your personal victories creates the mindset for the next day.  Keeping these accomplishments in front of you gives you the momentum for the next day.

Making something better is a daily adventure.  Resolve in 2016 to make a daily effort to improve something small everyday.

The 4 Stages of Influence

Influencing others is a humble and respectful enterprise.

   
Influence is an easy to understand but hard to implement strategy in interpersonal relationships.  The opposite is ‘resistance’, and a close cousin is ‘change’.  The confusing thing is that the meaning of influence sometimes gets mixed up with ‘manipulation’, a less than desirable behavior.

Influence is generally regarded as the ability to change something or someone because you’ve built the trust needed to make it happen.  Influence just ‘doesn’t’ happen, so how does it occur?

The 4 Stages of Influence 

Those that influence the best are those that have the most humility.  

  1. Letting yourself be influenced by others.  When you open yourself to learning, listening and replying, you have begun the process of influencing another.  Going where someone is communicates their importance to you.
  2. Engaging in trusting actions.  It’s hard to influence others without being trustworthy yourself.  This step takes patience and time.  If you’re rushing this, then you’re likely engaging in subtle manipulation.
  3. Having a valued skill or behavior. A component to influencing another, is having knowledge, skill, or behavior that others legitimately value in some way.  Using this in ways that help others is often the glue that builds your ability to build influence and build confidence in your actions.
  4. Showing humility.  Those that influence the best are those that have the most humility.  A person that makes a lot of noise around themselves, creates a shallow outcome of manipulation.  Influencing others is a humble and respectful enterprise.  One meant to build others up, rather than build one’s ego.
  • Which steps may you be using? Which ones are absent as you work with others?

Ways to Drive More Positive Change in Your Life

  
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Change is seen as the enemy and something that must be dealt a response, often reactively.  Creating change is a lofty topic to be sure, but the intent should always to create the change you want to prevent unwanted change, and also to make things better.

Examine change everyday. Your heart knows what needs to change.

Unless you’re spending a great deal of time in denial, avoidance or procrastination, your heart informs your mind about what should be different or better.  Many if not all of us stay in this zone of self-denial. Examining and checking in with yourself daily is the first step toward an honest appraisal.

Five “first steps” toward driving change:

  1. Just start opening yourself up to the things you automatically feel are wrong.  They may be big or small, but they are there.  Just write them down and define them. Pick one word that defines the area for change.
  2. Work toward a plan.  Use a personal journal.  The more you write about something, the more your heart informs the mind, and enables your ability to problem solve.  We are often what we think.
  3. Use imaging.  Use your capacity to imagine what desired change looks like everyday.  Do this in conjunction with walking exercise, or quiet time.
  4. Work your plan slowly, with small steps. Realize it will take time.  The secret is actively doing something.  Getting imperfect results is a sign that change is happening.  You’re building momentum.
  5. Reevaluate weekly, or daily if necessary.  Become a “tweaker” that makes small adjustments.  Learn more and get more skills or feedback if you need to.

After a while your heart will tell your mind whether your on the right track.

Quick Ways to Reestablish Focus

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These days, focus can be quickly swept away in the flurry of demands and people issues that present.    The more roles you participate in, the more you know how to do, and the more effective you are, there are corresponding demands on your time.

This doesn’t have to be the result.  Reestablishing focus, is about managing what happens around you, either on a prevention level, or in the ways you take future steps to decrease the problem from happening again.  The way you maintain your focus is about making sure that your “overload” doesn’t hamper taking the next step.  The ways you maintain your focus, or reestablish it, may surprise you, because they are normally things we have within our direct control.

5 Ways to Reestablish Focus:

Maintain good sleep hygiene: This means good rising and retiring times.  It also means not burning the candle at both ends. Stress creation is often a function of poor sleep, disrupted sleep, or habits of staying up too late.  Poor sleep is a major contributor and byproduct of mental health issues.  Addressing sleep is often the first step taken in treatment – obtaining better sleep, builds an individual’s ability to deal with real situations in their lives with more strength.

Watching what you eat: Although this is not an article on dietary issues and weight loss, the food choices we make, can contribute to the ways we handle emotional issues.  Poor decisions with eating – inconsistent times, eating the wrong kinds of foods, and over-eating, can all impact how we mentally handle decisions around us.  Eating heavier foods, and too much food, can lead to insensitivity, and a tendency to internalize problems, rather than working them through.

White Space: What type of time do you set aside to do what you need to do? Often a source of poor focus is being over committed, and over-scheduled.  In other words, we bite off more than we can choose, and think we are wonder-people. Building ‘white space’, or time spaces in your schedule, gives you the leverage you need to do other things that feed your ability to focus.  This may include reading, journalling, reflection, listening to music, specific project planning, or prioritizing a project.

Keeping Active: This can be anything from walking to your car, taking the steps, playing with your kids, or planned exercise. The intention and follow through with some type of physical activity (not the amount) is what clears the cobwebs from your mind.  It allows our minds to filter through what’s important, and choose your next focus.

Recording What you Do: If you have a problem you want to address, or need to ‘Get Focused’, start naming it, recording it, and measuring it.  This is how you find the patterns. Keep your productivity tools to a few essentials, and don’t get over focused on using technology.  You can have a lot of ‘tools’ that never get used in effective ways, because there are too many of them. Choose the tools that feel most comfortable and go with those, record your accomplishments, and what you are doing.  It will create a better awareness of where you need to go.

The key to better focus, is about centering on things that change your body’s response to its environment.  It is about recording what you want, finding patterns, and then locating where you need to go.

Recognizing Personal “Drift” In Our Lives

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Like the constant pounding of the surf, we may find ourselves being “pounded”.  Numerous demands, and pressures may take their toll.  For many, the solution is to engage in “personal drift.”  The results of this can lead to more problems than the original pressures that created it.

The precursors to “drift” – 

  1. Overcommitment
  2. We’re too over-involved in things that don’t really matter
  3. We’re being confronted by things that overwhelm us, or scare us emotionally (we’re in over our heads)
  4. Lack of skill – we don’t know what we’re doing
  5. We have lost our passion

The “drift” – What happens:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Engaging in easy, but inconsequential activities or projects
  3. Falling short on our requirements of our job
  4. Engaging in destructive personal behaviors
  5. “Emotional Amnesia” – we disconnect

The drift is subtle, slow and happens without much fanfare or notice.  Co-workers, family members, and others around us notice our tendency to be distant, irritable, insensitive, and not at our best.  Our workplace may notice a slow drift away from the standards of practice that we were accustomed.  Our emotional amnesia becomes a constant defense against the outside world of the pounding surf.  It is hard to extract ourselves from this pattern.

With many the results are:

  • Poor health, constant illness, and emotional resentment
  • Missed opportunities in life

Ways of recognizing when you’re drifting: Ongoing self assessment.  There are countless ways to self assess, and many of them are basic.  Journaling, using a Moleskine, obtaining regular feedback, and exercise are just the common approaches.  Others can include the following simple self assessment:

  • What standards do I subscribe to?
  • How do I feel?
  • Where am I, in respect to where I want to be?

In other words, the solution is right in front of you.  Pulling up the blinders periodically is a great place to start.  The questions are really internal.  We already have the answers inside us, but are sometimes too afraid to ask them.

4 Ways to Recognize Your Mistakes



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The saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know…” means that people don’t have enough awareness to know how they are making mistakes.  This may be true in some instances, but many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do.  Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

Many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do. 

Pattern Recognition – Many mistakes are repeated cycles or patterns of problem behavior. The problem behavior often happens over and over as if it is a sequence of actions made up of faulty thinking.  We can’t help ourselves, we use the same faulty logic, and repeat the same behaviors – hoping things will change.

Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.

The solution lies in recognition – Much like the patchwork of buildings in the photo above, there is a pattern.  Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  Obviously, if we can begin to realize we’re not getting the results we want, then we begin the journey of correcting our mistakes.

Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.  

The ‘pain’ of mistakes increases your ability to recognize a different path can lie ahead.

4 Ways to recognize your mistakes

  • Self-Reflection: Write or journal about the ‘repeated’ sequences and poor outcomes you’re receiving – there is purpose and a reason behind the mistakes.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are given to us to learn from. 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

  • Exercise Humility: Ask someone close to you if they see a problem pattern – what do they see?
  • Ask Yourself: What am I doing repeatedly to get the same result?
  • What do others do to get different results?

Repeated sequences create similar results.  What behaviors in your life may be repeated mistakes?


Guidelines for Working Through Personal Conflict & Doubt



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Personal conflict impacts everyone.  There are competing concerns, dilemmas, and contradictory thoughts that create stress and doubt.

Conflict is essentially a ‘Wish’ and a ‘Fear’.  What we wish for has a corresponding fear.

Stress and doubt can be enduring and stifle productivity and healthy choices.  The ways conflict impacts us can lead to:

  1. Missed opportunities 
  2. Avoidance
  3. Unhealthy coping behaviors 
  4. Not fulfilling our capacity 

Moving beyond doubt – Realize that your strength is that you can name the fear that drives your conflict.  The fear keeps our capacity to act at a standstill.  

Learn to confront your fear – is your fear based on the past or failure?  Is it a realistic fear, or are you simply avoiding something that you need to move ahead on?

Many ‘wishes’ to move ahead are squelched by the fears we create. 

Refusing to acknowledge our fears, or doing something about them will result in a self-perpetuating cycle of indecision and doubt.

Moving through doubt- 

  1. Identify what you really want
  2. Write down the fears that led to conflict with what you want
  3. Write down the reasons why you think what you want is so important 
  4. Consider whether the fear is worth the time you’re putting it it
  5. Identify what evidence you have for the fear 

The fear you have means something, and explains more about your perceived weaknesses, or about unmet needs