Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

The hidden block to effective teams

Monday, September 25th, 2017

A team of cyclists - but how can you build effective teams?As a team leader, there are lots of things you can do to increase the performance of the people you manage. For example, if you want to improve your results you might start with making sure that everyone is 100% clear on your shared goals and objectives, so their energy is being directed to the same place.

You could look at how your team interact with each other. Boost connection, maybe by adding in informal meetings or group activities, to see if you can develop stronger bonds.

A third approach would be to focus on the individual skill levels of your team, with an aim of increasing each person's competence so that collectively, they perform better.

Ideas like this tend to be the focus of a lot of advice around building effective teams, and for good reason: All of these are great strategies.

But even when you've looked at each of these behaviours, it's common to feel like your team’s missing its “edge”.

Effective teams aren't built by behaviour alone

If you’ve managed people for any length of time you’ll almost certainly have come across this issue, even though it’s something that’s rarely discussed in leadership literature. Teams that look like they're doing everything 'right', and yet still aren't able to get past a certain level of performance.

  • It’s the team member who's irritable and impatient – because his marriage is breaking up, and he doesn’t know where to turn.
  • The individual who’s distracted and barely able to concentrate, because their intractable issues with their noisy neighbours are keeping them up at night.
  • The high flier who hasn't got their "mojo" back since a family bereavement brought conflict between their siblings that doesn't seem like it'll ever get resolved.

These scenarios can be difficult to tackle, because they're not really about how our people behave at work. We might not have the full picture about what's going on, and it's certainly not our place to ask. And even when we do have some of the facts, as leaders, these “personal issues” can feel as though they fall outside our remit. We might decide they're matters for HR, or facts of life that can’t be changed.

But the truth is, all the strategy in the world won’t help shift your results when your team members are not showing up in a way that's helpful to work.

Conflict makes most of us miserable, and miserable employees are uniquely ineffective.

How to address issues that go beyond the working day

In a competitive and complex marketplace, keeping home and work separate isn’t as simple as taking off your jacket at the end of the day. Getting great results means bringing your whole self to the table; being able to be flexible, adaptable and empathetic to others. Holding firm boundaries, and knowing how to negotiate and say no without sacrificing important relationships.

So often, the “unrelated” personal issues of our teams point to deeper challenges in how they’re able to show up. (The Spiral of Disempowerment™ shows how our trickiest relationships can become our greatest teachers). However well-hidden they might seem, these issues will almost certainly impact their performance.

So what’s the solution when it comes to building an effective team?

Let’s be clear: You’re certainly not expected to solve all of your team’s problems. If you’re thinking that their marriages, family relationships and community conflicts are none of your business, you’d be right. And it's also important to remember that these issues are a completely normal part of all of our lives. Everyone experiences conflict from time to time, and there's nothing we can do to stop that from happening.

What it might be helpful to consider is how you can support your team to react differently to those issues, in a way that can help them with any relationship they're in, whether at work or in their personal lives.

This is where War to Peace® comes in. It’s an experience that isn't so much about changing what you do (the way that a new communication technique or a different goal setting strategy might have an impact) as looking at the underlying way we show up. The behaviour changes flow from the deeper shift in whether we're living in a way that's at War or at Peace.

When we’re at Peace, we’re naturally more interested and helpful towards others, which invites the same behaviour to come back in return. And it's not about learning how to say certain things, or 'acting' a certain way  - you can’t fake being at Peace! One of the key differences about the approach is that we’re not doing it for other people. Instead, it allows us to be (effortlessly) the best version of ourselves no matter how someone else is behaving. That means we’re able to stop giving our power away and waiting for others to change, and start taking control of how we're being.

Can you see how this could have a more lasting impact on your team's results than trying to change their 'surface' activities and behaviours? How once you have a competent team in place, what they're doing at work might become less important than how they're doing it.

Over to you

    • Have you experienced this hidden block come up with people you manage?
    • How might your current team see better results with a whole-person focus on their communication styles?

Leave a comment below letting us know your thoughts.

War to Peace® workshops 2017-8

Our upcoming open-access October 2017 workshop is now fully booked (though if you’re keen for a place, feel free to join the waiting list in case of any last-minute changes).

Our recent War to Peace® workshops have all sold out well in advance, and so we're delighted to let you know that we we will now be running 4 open access workshops in 2018. The first of these will fall on on 2 March 2018, and you can click here to find out more and book your place.

If you don’t want to wait that long, it's possible to organise an in-house workshop for you and your team; simply click here to get in touch or call us on +44 (0) 20 8191 7072 and let us know what you're looking for. To be the first to hear about our new workshop dates, sign up for our once per month blogs posts containing tips and strategies for your relationship challenges.

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Manage teams? You might not have considered this hidden block to improving results, from @halcyonglobal

 

 

 

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When just one word can make all the difference…

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Maria was kicking herself. Hard.

“I should phone my mum more often, I know I should. If I phoned her more often, we’d have a better chance of understanding each other. I should just get my act together and phone her.”

Janet counselled her. “She should be phoning you! You should stop feeling so blooming guilty the whole time!”

Mike, Maria’s brother, chimed in. “She’s right you know. As our mother, she should be phoning us more often. It’s not like the phone only works one way. She should show us she cares once in a while and get in touch!”

That tantalising word ‘should’. How we like to judge ourselves – and others – by its standards. The moment the word is uttered, it adds weight to the opinion it accompanies by its assumption of an agreed social norm. But who says? Who says Maria ‘should’ phone her mum more often? Who says she ‘should’ stop feeling guilty? And who says that Maria’s mum ‘should’ show her children that she cares? Was there a meeting that we missed?

More often than not, when we use the word ‘should’ about ourselves or others, we are actually accessing an authoritative voice from our past. Next time you find yourself saying it, stop and notice whose voice that ‘should’ has in your head. Is it one of your parents? A teacher or a priest perhaps? Or is it the voice of the author of an article you have read?

The source of the 'should'

Of course, finding the source of the ‘should’ doesn’t make it any more right or wrong, but it does give us the chance to examine it for truth. If it is a message we absorbed critically when we were small, it might be that its guidance no longer fits our current reality, or perhaps it needs some modification.

Finding ourselves saying ‘should’ gives us an opportunity to discover what is important for us, and it also enables us to switch off the inner critic that so often clouds our perception. If Maria stopped to examine her statements, she might realise that the source of the ‘should’ has the voice of her domineering grandfather or her well-meaning friends. She might find this gives her some relief from the guilt as she sees that her ‘should’ is only the opinion of a small handful of people and not an unwritten law, and this relief might open her up to the possibility of replacing ‘should’ with ‘could’. She might then arrive at the conclusion that she could carry on as she has been doing, with the result of feeling estranged from her mum, or she could phone her more regularly with the hope that they become closer as a result.

A new course of action

Mike might realise that the condemning ‘should’ of his mother is his actually wife’s voice, who feels resentful that her mother-in-law doesn’t visit her grandchildren more often. He could choose to share her disdain, he could discuss the problem with his mum or he could plan some day trips to get his children and their grandmother together more often.

Once ‘could’ replaces ‘should’, there is an entirely different emotional weight to almost any statement – an element of choice and empowerment, rather than obligation and control – and with it comes many more possible courses of action.

Over to you

  • Take note whenever you find yourself using the word ‘should’. Whose voice is it? Is there any truth in it? Use it as an opportunity to uncover the assumptions that you hold.
  • What happens when you replace ‘should’ with ‘could’ in the statement you just made?

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from recognising some alternative reasons for other people’s reactions, our last open-access War to Peace® workshop for 2017 is on 13 October and we have just ONE space left. To book your place, click here.

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"When just one word can make ALL the difference to your interactions"

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Feeling disrespected or not listened to? 3 ways to change your experience.

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

So you are a decent, respectful person who doesn’t have communication problems with anyone. Except for that one person. They just don’t listen to you, they don’t value your opinion and you don’t feel respected by them.

But you’ve noticed that they don’t really listen to or value anyone, so it’s not personal, it’s just very tiresome, especially when you know what you’re talking about and they clearly don’t.

It is not uncommon to be someone who gets along well with everyone, to be known for your excellent communication skills and to encounter one person who just doesn’t get it.

Jon's story

Last year my colleague, Jon, who is known for getting along with just about anyone, was complaining to me about his new boss. Jon was passionate about his work, had worked in his organisation for over 15 years and was renowned as an expert in his field.

He was really aggrieved that his new boss talked to him as though he was an imbecile and had no interest in his thoughts or opinions.

Everyone agrees with me

In passing, Jon had subtly asked some other heads of departments about their experience of this man and was quite relieved to find that they all thought about him the same way - someone who was very much out for himself and not at all interested in anyone else’s opinions. They agreed that he definitely didn’t care about the organisation in the way that they all did.

Who is suffering?

Before Jon experienced War to Peace®, he spent a lot of time accusing and blaming his new boss for his dissatisfaction at work.  On the plus side, it felt good knowing that he was right about him (he knew lots of people who agreed with him after all), but this didn’t sustain him for long; he often dreaded going into work and couldn't see how things would change, as he felt that he’d tried everything.

Jon had seriously considered leaving his organisation but he had built up a long service with them and, in any case, he had to stay for at least the next six months otherwise he would lose his bonus.

Frustration, Deisel Demon
 
 

Help is at hand!

When Jon came along to a War to Peace® workshop he realised that the perceptions he held about his boss were creating his experience of him.

When he was seeing him though the lens of 'not listening to me', 'disrespectful', 'doesn’t care as much as I do', he realised that he hadn’t been helping his relationship with him at all. With a wry grin, he also admitted that he had himself failed to listen and been quite disrespectful to this new boss.  In fact, Jon eventually realised that the whole time he’d been focussed on how wrong his boss was being, he hadn’t been contributing much at all to the organisation he had claimed to care about so much.

With this newfound clarity, Jon emailed his boss, explaining what he had to offer and asking for a meeting to discuss his ideas. He was more than a little surprised when his boss asked if he’d like to go for a beer after to work to discuss them.

Jon discovered that they shared far more in common than he could have thought (both were huge fans of poker nights) and that his new boss wasn’t such a bad guy after all. In fact he felt a little guilty when his boss shared that he had been finding it hard to settle in his new home, as his wife and kids were still in the process of relocating from abroad and he was missing them, along with the social circle he'd built up in his home town.

Over to you 

1.  Consider the times you have done the very thing you are accusing them of.

I know, you are a great listener and wouldn't ever disrespect someone in the way that they do (and that one time you did, you had extenuating circumstances), but just spend some time thinking about what you needed or wanted when you were doing this.

2.  Question the validity of your beliefs about them. Ask yourself ‘what else could their behaviour mean?’

If someone appears not to be listening to you, it may be that they are needing to be heard. Or it could mean they are having a tough time and they are distracted. Have you thought that it might not be anything to do with you at all? 

3.   Consider how much you are allowing this person to influence how you are being or behaving.

How much control are you giving away by allowing your perceptions and experience of this person to dictate how you react to them? Are you really being the person you want to be when you do this?

A final word

The next time you feel disrespected or not listened to, simply recognise that your feelings are coming from you (from the perceptions and beliefs you hold). When you apply this principle, just see how easy it becomes to override your judgment about someone and discover a new way of experiencing them.

If you would like to learn more about how to achieve the relationships you want without the other person needing to change, come along to one of our award-winning open-access War to Peace® workshops – the next is on 13 October and we have just 3 spaces left. If you have a team and you feel they could benefit from experiencing this work, we run in-house War to Peace® workshops globally throughout the year. Get in touch with us here.

Need convincing? Click here to see what other people are saying about their experiences of War to Peace®

Add your voice to the conversation

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Photo credit: Demon Diesel

5 steps to stop conflict in its tracks

Monday, June 26th, 2017

You don’t have to be psychic to know when there’s conflict brewing.

There are some rare occasions when an argument or altercation arises out of nowhere. Most of the time, however, we have a sense that we’re not seeing eye-to-eye with someone a long time before the situation erupts.

A crystal ball: You don't have to be psychic to stop conflict in its tracksLittle niggles and irritations can easily mount up, especially when it’s someone you spend a significant chunk of your time with. A member of your team you work with daily is likely to rile you more quickly than that irritating person you only encounter at a quarterly meeting. (If it’s someone you share living space with, things are likely to come to a head even faster.)

Most of us don’t enjoy conflict, so despite our best intentions we tend to ignore our intuition when it comes to preventing it. We might decide to ignore it, hide the way we're feeling, or hope the person will change. Or we take the opposite tack, and decide we’ll approach it “head on”, reasoning that things need to come to a head so that we can “clear the air” by telling them directly what we'd like them to change.

The truth is, neither of those paths is satisfactory when it comes to effectively preventing or resolving conflict. There are far more effective ways to address conflict before it escalates – here are five steps you might want to consider to make that process flow a little easier.

1. Listen to your gut

If you have a sense that someone’s frustrating you, pay attention to it. You’re probably not hiding your feelings as well as you think and once you’re beginning to experience irritation with someone, you’ll almost certainly be giving off subtle indications that can exacerbate things.

Notice your physical response: do you feel tongue-tied, sweaty-palmed, or does your pulse race when you speak to them? Sometimes it’s just a feeling that you want to avoid talking to someone, or a sense that there’s “something going on” under the surface of your interactions. Take note – and be ready to start taking action.

2. Identify the issue

What’s at the crux of the matter? A general feeling of annoyance can feel hard to take action on. So a powerful place to start might be by asking yourself how you’d like the other person to change their behaviour. Maybe you feel as though they’re patronising you, acting more helpless than they seem, or being outright confrontational.

Is there something in their attitude that’s frustrating, or a specific behaviour you’d like them to change? Do you feel angry, resentful or upset when you interact with them?

3. Be Honest

Deciding that the other person’s just unreasonable, putting it down to a ‘personality clash’ or burying your head in the sand isn’t the answer to preventing things from getting worse. We might think we're hiding our feelings well, but most of the time the other person will sense that something's getting in the way of clear communication. Perhaps it's inconsistency, when we're submissive one day and assertive the next. Or it might be subtle signals unconsciously demonstrating that we're not connecting with their message, or respecting how they communicate.

The Spiral of Disempowerment® shows us that a breakdown in communication can easily deteriorate further. So try to be honest with yourself about how you feel, including everything that you've experienced.

4. Do the work

Knowing what it is you’d like to change opens up opportunities for you to reflect on how that need is showing up for you. We know that our ‘stories’ – our version of events – frame situations and can actually trigger the behaviour we’re trying to avoid. (That might sound counter-intuitive, but when we're immersed in our feelings, tiny changes in our attitude have a surprisingly big impact on the people we are seeking to change.)

So ask yourself how you're being in this interaction, and consider how you can take a different approach. It's important to remember that this isn't just about what you do, but about how you're showing up, so know that if you're feeling resentful, angry, intimidated, irritated, hurt, manipulated, shut down etc. it will be sensed on some level by the other person, no matter how well you think you are hiding it. The good news is, you don't need the other person to change in order for you to feel differently.

5. Move towards being at Peace

Being at Peace means returning to your natural, effortless, best self – without the headspace that's taken up by your ideas of what you'd like to change about the other person. It’s this transformation that will bring you the clarity, peace and calmness to be your best self, and can completely turn relationships around before they become outright conflict. In our War to Peace® workshop you'll experience the simple process you can use again and again to move out of conflict before it starts, and enjoy greater influence, clarity and productivity as a result.

It’s very natural to want to avoid conflict, or alternatively to feel as though things need to “come to a head” before we make changes. But being aware of how you are being before direct conflict arises is a much saner and smarter way to manage your relationships. In business, you’ll avoid derailing interactions at an inopportune moment. And, personally, you might be surprised, once you've worked on your own internal dialogue, how little you need the other person to change in order for you to have an easier relationship.

Over to you

  • Is there someone you avoid talking to when you can, or who you find yourself running over conversations with in your head after you’ve talked to them? Maybe you’ve found yourself offloading to a mutual acquaintance, seeking support from someone else who finds them difficult? It's great you've noticed this. Know this is a sign that you have been / are being triggered by this person, and means that you are allowing them to influence you to move away from being your best self.
  • Where are the “trouble spots” in how you are being, whether at work or at home? If you're struggling to answer this, just notice and firstly write down all your labels / thoughts about them. Then be honest with yourself about your feelings and external behaviours e.g. I feel resentful, I feel hurt, I feel angry, I withdraw, I get aggressive, I pretend I'm okay when I'm not, my tone of voice changes when I speak to them, I feel 'on edge', I can't find the right words, I try to out-smart them, I feel intimidated etc.
  • Consider new, more helpful labels for the people you're struggling with. What other labels could you give them or their behaviour (in your head or on paper) that would bring out the best in you? e.g. if you view them as over-critical of you, you could choose to see them as someone who cares about you (even though you find the way they are currently communicating this triggering); if you see them as "irritating" you could choose to see them as someone who is helping you to develop the skill of patience. Start experimenting with these labels to see how you can bring out the best in you when you next interact with them.

Need a hand? Or know someone who does?

Our next War to Peace® workshop takes place in October. These public events only run twice a year at the moment so if you’re interested in gaining the skills to manage all kinds of relationships, don’t wait to book your place. Click here for full details and to grab your spotPlease note, we have just 5 spaces left.

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You don't have to be psychic to know when conflict's brewing. 5 steps to stop it in its tracks, via @HalcyonGlobal

 

 

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Photo Credit: Christian Schnettelker/Flickr

When they just won’t change: the art of effective influence

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Bring to mind someone in your life whose behaviour you’d like to change.

Maybe someone you work with is hopeless when it comes to deadlines; their slack attitude is impacting your ability to set your own schedule.

Or it might be a family member – someone who manages to gently undermine anything that happens to you, and cast you into a role you’ve long since grown out of.

You want them to do things differently, but how? After all, you’re an intelligent person – there’s probably plenty of approaches you’ve already taken to change how things are.

When you’ve tried everything

Frustration: when they just won't changeIt can be the most frustrating thing in the world. You’ve tried everything you know to get them to change: from taking the moral high ground and leading by example, to confronting them with the impact of their behaviour or even resorting to just ignoring them.

And yet they’re still there, sapping your energy and churning your stomach whenever you think of the next interaction.

Often, when we’ve tried to do everything we can to change someone’s behaviour, that’s the crux of what’s stuck. We’re in the mode of trying to do things differently, when what will cause a shift is at a much deeper level.

It’s not about what you’re doing

The truth is, people’s behaviour does change, sometimes drastically, depending on the situation.

You might have noticed that the colleague who’s perpetually behind with their deliverables suddenly switches things up when a new manager arrives on the scene. Or rolled your eyes when your never-satisfied sister-in-law becomes the picture of supportive encouragement when someone new arrives on the scene.

Maddening as it can be to see the person whose stubborn refusal to change you’ve been wrestling with turns into sweetness and light, it demonstrates a really key foundation of our War to Peace® work : the way we are being around people influences their response to us.

In other words, what's important isn't what you’re doing to change their behaviour, it’s how you’re doing it.

Back in the driving seat

Influencing people to change is most effective when we start by looking at the way we show up in our interactions with them.

The good news is, recognising this puts the power back in your hands. You’re not relying on them to alter what they're doing, but thinking about how you can rewrite your own role in the situation.

To create that change, you’ll need to look at two things:

1. Your emotional state – the way you feel about them, and the emotions that come up when you interact with them.

2. Your beliefs and perceptions: the way you are viewing that person and their behaviour (e.g. the labels you give them in your head or even verbalise to them).

Take a sheet of paper and make a few notes under each of those headings. So if we’re thinking about a perpetually incompetent colleague, your emotions might include frustration, anger, resentment and exhaustion (with continually trying to get them to pull their socks up).

Your beliefs and perceptions might include: They’re doing this on purpose, they’re lazy, they think I’ll always pick up the slack for them, they’re irresponsible… let it all out!

Writing a new story

Once you’ve offloaded those thoughts and feelings, wait until you feel more grounded and balanced. The process of venting on paper may have achieved this for you, or you may find it helpful to go for a walk, listen to some of your favourite music or engage in one of your hobbies. Then it’s time to question the thoughts you have about the person. Are they all true? Can you be sure? Is there a stress-free reason for you to keep believing those things about them? How could you rewrite each of those thoughts with a different slant?

For example, your colleague might be so terrified of letting you down that their nervousness and desire to please means they can't complete tasks properly or articulate their thoughts clearly. They might be ultra conscientious, to the point where they’re spending way too long on each task. Or they’re struggling with something difficult in their life that they don't feel they can share with you.

How would those new stories change the way you interact with them?

You might feel that everything you’ve written down is totally justified. After all, they’re the one with the problematic behaviour!

But allow yourself to play with the idea that those thoughts can be shifted or changed so that your interactions with them become easier for you. And notice how attached we become at expecting that others should operate in accordance with our beliefs, and how little understanding we sometimes have about their values and motivations. Challenging the helpfulness of holding on so tightly to those thoughts and beliefs about them is a key step towards allowing our best selves to emerge – and that’s where the deepest changes in their behaviour will arise.

Peace doesn’t mean pushover

Being “at Peace” doesn’t mean being a pushover, or letting down your boundaries - far from it! If you experience our War to Peace® process in one of our twice-yearly live one-day workshops, you will experience how your interactions can become effortless, even with the people you currently find most triggering and challenging. Know that when you’ve tried everything in your toolkit to get someone to alter their behaviour, it’s usually a signal that there’s something deeper going on below the surface – and that’s where War to Peace® can help you. For more details and to book your place on our next workshop in October, click here.

Over to you

Which relationships are niggling at you right now? Do you feel as though you've tried everything? Is there anyone you’ve noticed just “won’t change”, whatever you do? These are great early warning signs of going to War with someone and holding on to some unchallenged thoughts and beliefs about them. Remember, if you're wondering why you should do the work when they are clearly the problem, know that doing this work enables us to have freedom from the war zone that occupies so much of our head space and energy. And the feedback we receive all the time is that when we do this work for us, it invites completely new and more helpful behaviour from them - effortlessly.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from learning how to feel better about their relationships with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace® workshop in London on 13 October. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 8 spaces left.

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The art of effective influence: how to shift the behaviour of someone who just won't change

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Photo Credit: Naaman Saar Stavy/Flickr

Are you ‘sh****ing’ all over the place? 3 steps to breaking the habit.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

That’s ‘should-ing’, in case you were wondering…

Sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves aren’t we? We tell ourselves we shouldn’t have said that, we should be better at something, we shouldn’t have eaten that, we should have been kinder to someone, we should have understood something that we didn’t – our list of ‘should-ing’ all over ourselves is endless.

'Should-ing' on ourselves

What happens when you listen to that voice that tells you should or should not have said or done something? I’m betting that you do one of the following:

  1. Start justifying in your head why you did / didn’t do or say it
  2. Have an argument with yourself
  3. Beat yourself up
  4. Declare to yourself you will never do such a thing from this day henceforth (until you do, then you repeat 1-3)

Productive, eh? Super unhelpful too!

Situational 'should-ing'

This is what happens when we believe that something should or should not have happened e.g. we get fired, someone we care for gets sick, a rail crash occurs, we didn't get the pay rise we were expecting etc.

What typically happens when we believe that something should or should not have happened is that we feel bad. It can feel like our day (week / month / year / life) has been ruined because of this external thing. But is this really true? Can we know for certain that this isn't exactly what was meant to happen? That in fact something good may come out of this situation if we search for it?

The thing is, when we 'should' about it, it doesn't make the situation any better and it doesn't make us feel any better, yet we still allow these 'shoulds and 'should nots' to go unquestioned in our minds, leaving us feeling like a victim of our circumstances.

'Should-ing' on them

You might be okay with should-ing all over yourself, or about external events, but what ‘shoulds / should nots’ do you hold about other people?

A commonly held should is that “people shouldn’t lie” or “people should always be honest”. What happens when someone doesn’t live up to this should statement and they do lie or they are not 100% honest with us? Well, it’s likely that we will judge them, feel disappointed by them and may end up in conflict with them.

Whilst it may feel good to know that we'd never do something like that (unless of course we have one rule for us and another for them, I mean sometimes our circumstances were such that it would have been impossible not to, right....?), if we leave our sh****ing ways unquestioned, we may be inviting the very thing from people that we say we hate.

Just take a look at our FREE Spiral of Disempowerment Tool™  if you would like to see how this can play out in our relationships.

The truth about 'should-ing'

Our shoulds come from our beliefs, which are filled with some common misconceptions:

  1. Our beliefs are the truth
  2. The truth is obvious
  3. Our beliefs are based on factual data
  4. The data we select are the true facts

The reality is very different, as shown in Peter Senge’s Ladder of Inference:

Slide1

So the things that we believe to be 'facts' and the ‘rights and wrongs’ of life have actually been developed through our lenses of culture and experience, which have resulting in us making assumptions and drawing conclusions that we believe to be true. The more times we climb the ladder, the more entrenched this belief becomes and the more factual and real it seems to us, as the reflexive loop means that we are unconsciously searching for evidence that we are right.

Knowing this can help us to question some of the ‘shoulds’ and 'should nots' that are no longer serving us.

How to overcome your unhelpful 'should-ing' ways

Spend some time this week noticing the times you ‘should’ on yourself or others and:

1.  Ask yourself, who made up this 'should / should not' rule and is it serving me?

If it is one of your own and it’s working for you, well great!  Just notice the times that it doesn’t serve you in your relationship with yourself or with others.

So, for example, if you notice yourself in conflict with someone, it is likely that they have said or done something that you think they shouldn’t have and it’s worth seeing whether applying your ‘should’ belief to someone else works as well as it does in its application to you e.g. it could be that someone learned to lie from an early age because they learned that truth telling had violent consequences. Perhaps for them, telling lies was the only way to survive and it is still serving them in some way that we don’t know about.

2.  Ask yourself - is this ‘should or should not’ really true?

Imagine some occasions when it would be better if they had, for example, lied. If this is one of your shoulds and you hold onto it very tightly, it maybe that it would be very difficult to ever surprise you (e.g. with a party or the perfect gift) or it maybe that no-one will ever want their children to be near you around Christmastime for fear you may tell them the ‘truth’ about Santa.

3.  If your shoulds are not working for you, then make up a belief that does!

Spend some time making up the beliefs that do work for you. We say ‘making up’ because, as we know from the Ladder of Inference, all the beliefs from which our shoulds and should nots derive are made up, so we may as well choose the ones that work well for us.

One of our favourites beliefs at Halcyon Global for when things don't go the way we planned them to is: “It’s as meant”. We don’t know if this is true or not, but the whole time we believe that anything should be different to how it is, it causes us distress. We have no more evidence of the 'should's' validity than this new 'it's as meant' belief, so go on, make it up and see what is available to you when you believe it.  

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from learning how to feel better about their relationships with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace® workshop in London on 13 October. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 8 spaces left.

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“3 ways to stop you from 'sh****ing' all over the place. Break this habit today!”

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Photo Credit: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

Two words you might never want to say

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

“Why do you always spend too much money?”

“It drives me mad that you never spend any time with the kids!”

“You’re always late.”

“My boss never appreciates the care and attention I put into my work.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

‘Always’ and ‘never’ are such black-and-white words aren’t they? They’re defining and clear. How much easier it is to pigeonhole someone if they ‘never’ clear up after themselves or are ‘always’ rude?

Yet people aren’t black and white: we are a million shades of grey according to mood, circumstance or method of communication. Black or white are in fact pretty rare states in the human condition, but to make our thought processing easier, our minds collect data about the people around us and draw quick conclusions in order to make sense of the world and to help differentiate amongst the greys. Behaviours are exaggerated to fit a pattern that we see emerging, and then labels are formed.

In our War to Peace workshops, exaggerating and using these words is one of the ‘Unlucky 7’ signs that you may be at War. Noticing that you are using ‘always’ or ‘never’ about a person you are finding difficult (or about yourself) is a warning bell that you need to stop and examine the evidence.

Rachel’s story

Rachel was feeling very low about her relationship with her young son. In particular, she found his high energy and need for interaction exhausting and she felt that she couldn’t keep up. This left her feeling both guilty and angry. When Rachel described her son’s behaviour to the group, she used phrases like ‘he always makes such a noise tearing around the house’, or ‘he never stops!’ She was equally damning of herself when she talked about her own behaviour in reaction to his, saying ‘I never play with him anymore’ and ‘I always shout’. Rachel was at War both with her son and with herself.

Working with a partner at the workshop, Rachel began to examine how much truth was behind the statements she had made. She realised that her son did have calmer moments: they enjoyed snuggling up and looking at his magazine together on a Saturday morning; he enjoyed baking with her; and that he was always engaged when she and her husband read him his favourite book at bedtimes. Rachel also realised that, although she wanted to make the games longer and more frequent, she did play football with him once a week. And that there were plenty of times when she would talk, sing and giggle with him with no shouting whatsoever.

Rachel’s feelings towards her son’s behaviour softened and became much less defensive, and she was able to stop feeling guilty about her parenting too. This enabled her to work on actively finding opportunities to have fun with her son at an energy level they were both comfortable with, which has led to much a happier place for them both. Not ‘always’ happy, nor ‘never’ cross, but at a much better place in between.

Over to you

  • Be on the lookout for ‘always’ and ‘never’ creeping into the language you use to describe others’ behaviour or your own, and notice how these statements make you feel.
  • Examine the evidence behind those statements. Could you prove them in a court of law?
  • Find a recent example of when that statement wasn’t true – when they weren’t late, for example. Notice how this new perspective shifts your feelings. Incidentally, if you start making excuses for why this example doesn't count, know that it's normal to do this when we are at War. Take a deep breath and try using our Spiral of Disempowerment™ tool.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from learning how to feel better about their relationships with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace® workshop in London on 13 October. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 9 spaces left.

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Is it you or is it them?

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Alison had experienced some tough office politics a few years ago and came to a recent War to Peace® workshop feeling very stressed. She had left that troublesome organisation but wasn't faring much better in her current company. She was now in her second role and explained that she had the constant worry that people were thinking the worst of her and talking about her behind her back. This made her edgy and defensive, which affected both her relationships and her productivity at work, thus often making her fear become a reality.

During the workshop, Alison described a recent situation at work. She explained that there has been an error in the numbers she'd been given to present at a recent meeting with senior members of staff. It was a minor mistake, she said, and easily rectified, but Alison couldn’t shake the worry that her colleagues thought her incompetent and she remained furious with the person who had made the error, even though she herself felt this was an overreaction.

When she saw three of her colleagues talking in hushed tones a little later, she became convinced that they were talking about her and she felt the familiar feelings of dread settle on her, accompanied by her defensive, reactive behaviour.

Perhaps it's nothing to do with you...

Alison explained that she often found herself reliving work incidents in her mind and re-experiencing the associated emotions of stress, shame and anger. The incident with the inaccurate figures and the subsequent worry was just an example of something that was happening on a very regular basis and bringing Alison into a mire of negativity.

Inspired by a question in the Pathway to Peace exercise at the workshop, Alison began considering the possibility that what people were doing and saying had nothing to do with her. This helped her to try something new. Each time she found herself interpreting a colleague’s perceived mood as having something to do with her, she would write a list of all the other reasons she could think of as to what else could be going on for them. For example, the staff members talking in a whisper could have been one of them sharing a personal problem, hand-325321_640talking about an illicit affair one of them was having or discussing a delicate health matter instead of talking about Alison’s presentation. The boss frowning this morning may have had more to do with the sun being in his eyes or the fact he had a headache than with the quality of Alison’s work.

By listing the many reasons that her workmates might be reacting the way they appeared to be, Alison lifted the heavy burden she'd been carrying on her shoulders. It also helped her to become less self-absorbed and consider that her colleagues may also find work challenging at times. This gave her greater capacity to focus on what she could do to help them and, at the same time, feel much less edgy and defensive. As a result, not only did her mood lighten considerably at work, her relationships with her colleagues become much more lighthearted and easier to deal with, meaning she was far more able to be the productive and competent manager she had always wanted to be.

Over to you

  • Could you be unfairly blaming yourself or others for what you perceive people to be thinking or doing?
  • What other reasons could they have to behave in that way?
  • Consider how these other possibilities could change your response to a more helpful one.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from recognising some alternative reasons for other people's reactions, our next open-access War to Peace® workshop is on 3 March 2017 and we have just three spaces leftTo book your place, click here.

 

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photo credit: CEBImagery.com via photopin cc

Are you in need of an emotional detox?

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

The holidays. How were they for you (really)?

If you had a brilliant time, that’s great. However, if your irritation at family members over the festive period has rumbled on into January and you’re finding it hard to shake off, you’re not alone.

On the War to Peace workshop, we talk about what we are ‘feeding’ our emotional state. This might be nourishment (self-care, laughing with friends, meditation etc), or it might be junk (late nights, gossiping, addictive behaviours etc), and what comes out, in terms of emotional resourcefulness, is pretty much a reflection of what goes in.

At Christmastime, our emotional state – and our bodies – tend to get fed lots of rich food and alcohol, high expectations (both our own and others’), and, often, a personal space filled with visitors, decorations and presents galore. It’s a potent mix, and one that can be overwhelming on its own, before adding in a potentially tricky relationship or two. No wonder so many people are at War over Christmas!

Of course, there are plenty of ways to deal with a warring state of mind, but if you find yourself on the other side of Christmas, battle-scarred and bitter, read Caroline’s story and see if it can help you to bring yourself – and your relationship with the ones who have irked you - back to being ‘at Peace’.

Caroline’s story

Photo by Barry Solow

Photo by Barry Solow

"My dad and stepmother came to visit for a few days over Christmas. My stepmother is always ‘high maintenance’ so I prepared by shopping and preparing food in advance (often a sticking point) and arranging plenty of ‘escape’ times with my husband so we could get a breather. However, she seemed determined to push every button going: moaning, complaining and criticising everything from my weight to my parenting skills. Although I started off coping well, by the end of her visit, my emotional resources were at an all-time low and I cried with relief when they drove away.

However, a few days later I realised that I was letting her ruin the rest of my holiday too. Over the New Year and beyond, I found myself telling anyone who would listen about how awful she had been. Each time I told the story, I wound myself up further and further until I felt as angry as I had done when she was criticising me. But she wasn’t even there anymore. I was doing it to myself!

Eventually, my husband – who had been as upset as I had – suggested that we continued to talk about the experience if we needed to, but with some guidelines. We would only talk about it with each other and rather than judging my stepmother's behaviour, we would just let off steam about our own feelings. Finally, we agreed that each discussion (or vent!) would be a maximum of ten minutes. A few days later, we found that we had stopped talking about it.

When we were creating allies by moaning about her to other people, we had been inadvertently fuelling the fire that she had started. When we stopped, but gave ourselves permission to vent occasionally, the flames of our anger died down quickly. I felt able to send my stepmother a chatty email a few days later, and my husband and I have discussed ways of keeping contact with her in a way that we now find manageable. By shifting our attention away from complaining about her behaviour that we could do little about to what we could do something about – our feelings and future arrangements – we regained perspective and were able to be at Peace again."

Over to You

  • Could you be giving someone else power over your feelings by replaying a bad situation over and over in your head and in your conversations?
  • What parts of this remembered situation do you have any power to change?
  • What could you do to stop being 'at War'? What will you do?

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you know someone who would like to stop being at War with a family member, colleague or friend, we are running our next open-access War to Peace workshop in London on Friday 3 March. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 4 spaces left.

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Down in the Trumps? Here’s what you can do…

Monday, December 5th, 2016

There’s an old Chinese ‘blessing’ (that’s actually a curse) which goes ‘May you live in interesting times.’

I think we can safely say that, given world news over the past few months, we are most definitely living in ‘interesting times.’

photo credit: torbakhopper <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/32029534@N00/22788646788">WE ARE CALLING YOUR BLUFF, DONALD TRUMP -- DENOUNCE THE KKK PUBLICLY, scott richard</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>

As I write, the most recent of events that may be classed as such is the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This, just like the Brexit vote that preceded it, has brought about a lot of hurt feelings and conflict. And these conflicts are felt not just in Parliament, the EU or the White House, but in homes, friendships and places of work across the globe.

Because in both cases, public opinion was split almost 50/50.

In both cases, there was a lot of vitriol and harsh words spoken on both sides.

In both cases, the decision that was voted for had an awful lot riding on it and all options had huge repercussions.

In both cases, hearts were broken and hopes were dashed for around half of the population, whilst the other half rejoiced.

And in both cases, loved ones disagreed, media shamed, people on social media clashed violently with words and on the street people clashed violently with fists and other weapons.

On a micro and a macro level, people are at War – with people that they know and people that they don’t. Whichever side they voted, there are raw emotions and recriminations. People everywhere are gathering allies, building up thought armies to protect their own views and do more damage to ‘the enemy’. When we are at War, we are unresourceful, belligerent and separated - and it feels horrible, albeit self-righteous.

So, if the news upsets you, what can you do?

One of the tenets of War to Peace® is to ‘Control the Controllables’. Whether or not you think Brexit is a good thing, or that Trump is the worst choice for president, the harsh reality is that you are unlikely to be able to do much to change that fact.

We do not have control over external events – especially ones that involve people voting in their millions – so campaigning vigorously for a recount or similar will be almost certainly a waste of energy.

What we do have control over is how we feel about events – our emotional state. Whether we are at War or at Peace over events, our emotional state will greatly affect our level of influence and the actions we take.

If you are at War about an event, you will likely feel some or all of the following: angry, righteous, powerless, slighted, indignant, upset, overwhelmed or hurt. Actions taken from this place will be informed by these feelings and may include harming others or ourselves at worst,  or being argumentative and grumpy at best.

If you are at Peace about an event (and this doesn’t mean that you agree with it), you will feel more at ease, empowered and resourceful. Even if you are disappointed, you will have mental clarity, you won’t take it personally nor will you catastrophise. If fact, you will have far more capacity for thinking about what actions you can take that will be helpful to you and others, such as spotting opportunities to strengthen and build systems, people or values you believe in.

We can also learn how to quickly change our emotional state - imagine being able to feel entirely differently in a heartbeat whenever you want to? If this appeals to you, come along and experience it for yourself at our next War to Peace® workshop.

Whilst it's unlikely as individuals that we can change the fact that we are living in ‘interesting times’, we can at least choose the way we feel about and experience those interesting times. And when we are at Peace about them, we can make a difference as individuals, by being able to be in the same room as Aunty Ruth / Tony from accounts / the loud-mouthed man on the train (whose opinion is very different from ours) without exploding internally or externally, which sets us up to be able to both hear - and influence - those we most disagree with.

Over to you

Are you at War about something at home / at work / in the world? How does this limit you?

What is one 'controllable' that you can pour your energy into instead?

Want more support?

If you want to get more insight about the role you are playing in your relationships that aren’t working the way you would like them to, you are invited to take a look at our FREE Spiral of Disempowerment tool™.

And if you would like to experience our award-winning War to Peace® workshop, where you will genuinely learn how to stop undermining your relationship success, our next public workshop with spaces is on 3 March 2017 (just 7 spaces left).

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"Down in the Trumps? Here’s what you can do…"

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©Halcyon Global 2016

Photo credit: torbakhopper