Posts Tagged ‘assumptions’

Could you be (unintentionally) making things worse?

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

small__2271763055Richard was perplexed and annoyed. For the past few months, his colleague Julie had been moody, unhelpful and would barely look him in the eye. In meetings with other people present, she was as animated as she had always been, but if he was talking she would resume her sulky look. Richard had spent quite some time trying to work out what could be wrong, but Julie disappeared as soon as there might be an opportunity for him to talk to her about it.

Talking about his situation at an in-house War to Peace®workshop at work, Richard stopped and sighed. He admitted that he could really do without the hassle and stress of dealing with Julie right now. He told us that his wife had been diagnosed with cancer and he was having problems sleeping, as his wife would often have violent coughing fits and he would lie awake worrying about their future. When he went into work, he could really do without the added complication of a sulky colleague to deal with. Richard clenched his jaw and muttered, “I’ve just about had it up to here with her. I’ve tried to understand and she just avoids me. Sometimes I just want to yell at her!”

Another participant in the workshop cleared her throat and put up her hand to speak. She had struggled with whether to share this, but she had heard Julie talking to another colleague about her worries that Richard didn’t like her and didn’t think she was pulling her weight in the department. She had complained that Richard had been withdrawn for some time, and seemed distant and irritated. Julie was convinced it was because of her work and it would only be a matter of weeks before he got her fired.

file8061347830293Suddenly it was clear that Richard’s situation was a great example of the Spiral of Disempowerment™, which reveals to us our (often unconscious) role in the conflict. It shows how our perceptions, beliefs and emotional state invite from the other person the very behaviour we want to change. So Richard's worried, tired demeanour as a result of too many broken nights had been misread by Julie as a sign that he was irritated by her and dismissive of her work. Julie had felt rejected and defensive, which had meant that she behaved in a disconnected, sulky way with Richard. Her behaviour was then perceived by him to be obstructive and unhelpful - he felt first irritated and then dismissive, and so the cycle went on.

Just being able to see the situation from this viewpoint made things immediately clearer for Richard and he felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from him. He saw a different story from the one he had held previously, and he understood how Julie could have misread his behaviour at work. He vowed to talk to her about what he was going through at home so that she could understand the situation too.

A fortnight later, he emailed to tell us that the work environment was much easier. He had chatted with Julie and she had been very supportive - and was feeling relieved too, now that she knew her job wasn’t in jeopardy. They had both been amazed at the power of their own assumptions about the other to affect their feelings and behaviour. Richard now keeps a printout of the Spiral of Disempowerment™ by his desk to remind him to check how much he has unwittingly invested in any conflicts that arise.

Over to you

If you are in conflict with someone at home or at work, download the Spiral of Disempowerment™ tool and work through it. It’s a great way of seeing the part you play in the situation. If you need more help, come and join us at our next open-access War to Peace®workshop.

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

If you know someone who would benefit from our award-winning War to Peace® work, our final open-access course for 2018 is on 5 October. To book click here. And if your team could benefit from an in-house workshop, contact us here.

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photo credit: KristopherM via photopin cc

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