November 21st, 2011
When you’re right you know it–yes? Are you sure? Have you ever been so certain and then later you discovered your perception was off? Let’s focus on what is going on below the surface. Why do we tend to make other people wrong? To get the “prize” of certainty. It’s almost as if our subconscious mind is ringing with: “You’re wrong, so I’m right. Good. Now, I can feel safe.” We’ll use the H.O.W. process:
Honor that both you and the other person can be right (in some manner) at the same time. Really? Let’s say that Susan and Mark are arguing. She says, “Stop yelling at me.” And he responds, “I’m not yelling.” They can both be right. He may be talking at a “medium” level compared to the household discussions he grew up with. And she may be hearing his tone as “harsh.” In her family, the big wrongdoing was raising one’s voice. Only later in a couple’s therapy session, Susan and Mark can give each other the benefit of the doubt. Mark says, “I’m sorry that my tone was intense.” And Susan can say, “I realize that I might be extra sensitive to how loud somebody talks.”
Become aware of your own uncertainty. Let’s face it. Uncertainty hurts or at least feels terribly uncomfortable. So what do we do? We just refuse to “sit with the uncertainty.”
We may subconsciously jump to a conclusion: “Someone must be to blame here. And it can’t be me.”
Instead, try something different. Pause. I remember being in a coaching session with my own coach. She suggested an idea, and I paused. A moment later, I replied, “I don’t know how to do that yet.” The idea was for me to just “take a look” at a new possibility.
Over the years, I have heard people say, “I don’t see how that would help.” That may be so, but an innovative solution is likely to stir things up and cause some discomfort. Just because we can’t see the value of something at this moment, it does NOT mean that the other person is wrong. Perhaps, we just haven’t arrived at the point to see something new or to get on the same page.
When leading a team producing a film or book, I often say, “I’ll ponder that.” This is my method to avoid instantly dismissing a new idea. It’s also my way to own my personal uncertainty. Team members have told me that they appreciate that I do NOT “shut them down.” They appreciate that I will hear them out.
Learn to welcome the surprises of life. Two things can happen: 1) you’ll adapt or 2) you’ll be pleasantly surprised and delighted. And welcome that other people have varying viewpoints.
Each of my 8 books available on Amazon.com [free chapters available here] was much improved because I welcomed the input and guidance of two editors per book.
The top successful people I know welcome coaching and constructive feedback. Listening to feedback can be tough. After working with the editing comments for a section of a book that I’m writing, I can feel worn out. But I know that my openness to making improvements truly serves my readers. So I endure receiving tough, constructive comments.
Here’s the important point: you cannot grow and improve if you make an impenetrable barrier between you and new ideas and other viewpoints.
Instead, make yourself stronger and improve your performance at various tasks, when you don’t default to making someone else wrong.
Focus on Honor, Own, and Welcome.
* * * photo with this article by Tom Marcoux * * *
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