Monday, May 3, 2010

Oh, I See...O I C

Meeting with a client this morning got my creative juices flowing. There's so much information out there and sometimes it is hard to remember tips / tricks unless you have an acronym. Sometimes when we have an 'aha' moment and something clicks for us we say "Oh...I see." so, between these two things I have a simply acronym to help you remember ways to engage with someone when there is conflict:

O (be objective)
(be inquisitive)
(be compassionate)

When there is conflict and we recognize how our body is responding we can then identify how we are feeling and completely change our response and the dynamic of the interaction. You know that feeling you get when someone confronts you or engages in a conflict? That tight throat, scowling brow, clenched teeth, tight shoulders, fast heart beat, etc... Those are physiological symptoms that tell you to prepare for 'battle' (fight or flight). If you can catch yourself when those visceral feelings kick in and divert yourself, you will minimize the conflict, come to a faster resolution and feel better about the interaction.

When you first feel those physiological indicators put a name to it. Anger, defensiveness, anxiety, fear, protectiveness, etc. By simply acknowledging this you are giving yourself a voice and it will help you with being compassionate. Being OBJECTIVE means stepping out of yourself on some level. How you become objective is by identifying your emotion.

At that point ask questions. Being INQUISITIVE helps you understand where the person is coming from and what they want. You can actually cut the interaction in half by asking "what do we want to get out of this in the end." You can ask or reflect it back when you find yourself feeling those physiological cues again because that may be a sign that the interaction is getting off track.

When you know what you're feeling, can identify it and can ask questions you are then able to be COMPASSIONATE. This means you can say things like; "You must be really frustrated.", "You seem really passionate about this.", "You seem really excited.", "You seem really angry." Often people will tell you "no, I feel...." or "yes!" Either way you have information to understand that this nasty conversation really isn't 'about you' even though you may play a part. Have compassion and reflecting the emotion you see or how you are feeling as if it is their feeling also minimizes the escalation.

Try it. It's important that when you commit to doing this that you recognize that you are retraining yourself and your thought processes so it won't be perfect. It takes time, I still have to correct myself.

Also, the other person may need to have that contention and may be really thrown off or feel like your attempts are just because you are acquiescing. The reality is, you've just learned a new way to be in conflict that doesn't feel so icky.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Keeping love alive with my boyfriend...I mean husband.

I recently read an article titled "I've got my husband and kids, but how do I get my 'boyfriend' back?"and a few things came to mind based on the women, couples and families that I have worked with over the years. On top of the list is 'perspective'. Not just that this article and a number of articles like it focus on the negative feelings and what we are lacking but also how the perspective we choose influences our daily behavior in our relationships.

One thing we know is true: "If mom isn't happy, no one is happy." However, life is so fast paced these days and full of To Do lists that we often neglect to cultivate our own happiness and to carve out time in our To Do lists for self care and couple care. When you first have a boyfriend things are new, exciting, spontaneous and a lot of attention is paid to yourself and your boyfriend. As time goes on in the relationship we settle in and pay more attention to every day life tasks, but we are still taking care of ourselves and our relationships.

Down the road comes your marriage and if you choose, children. Distractions, the business of life, careers and social events. We are no longer focused on taking care of ourselves or our marriage. Marital satisfaction can diminish if we let go of simple things that we once did for ourselves and our partner. People will often then even say they aren't happy or are counting the days until they are out, forgetting that their happiness is their responsibility. As that is the case, when someone leaves a marriage they take with them the same behaviors, belief systems and thought processes and act them out in their next relationship. Don't misunderstand me here, this is not to say that there are times where divorce is justified or necessary.

The point is that we can create our own happiness and behave in ways that bring back that boyfriend. Making small efforts. If your children and your pets are more excited to see your husband than you are after a long day begin choosing small ways to behave in a way that lets them know you still care, love them and want them there. It may even mean that there is quiet time for 15 minutes while mommy and daddy check in (alone) at the end of the day before the business of wrapping up the night gets underway. Shaping your behavior creates happiness for you and in turn brings happiness back to you
(true for men too, only that's not what the article was talking about) .

I'd love to hear your suggestions on one or two things that you will choose to do differently beginning today!