Posts Tagged ‘choices’

When you just can’t help yourself

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Your words aren’t making things better, and you know it. The conversation is escalating. You can feel the tension in your facial expression, and see the impact your words are having on the other person. But you just can't help yourself making things worse. So why can’t you seem to stop digging yourself deeper?

There’s a part of you that knows you’re not helping yourself. You’re certainly not going to look back on this and feel proud! This interaction is costing you, and it doesn’t feel good.

And yet there’s another part of you just can’t seem to stop. After all, you’re so worked up it would look kind of ridiculous if you were to just stop and admit you’re in the wrong.

What happens when you just can’t seem to help yourself – even when you know you’re fuelling the conflict?

Sometimes, the one you’re at War with is you

In a recent flare up with my partner, I found myself in exactly this situation. I knew I wasn’t in a great place, and I also knew exactly what I could do to help shift my mood. I could have taken a break, gone for a walk, listened to some music that would have put me in a better place. And yet, I found myself making excuses – that I “didn’t have time”.

If I was really honest with myself, I’d have admitted that I actually didn’t want to stop being angry. I knew I was behaving in an absolutely vile way, to someone who I really love and care about. I also knew I didn’t want to stop and change how I was being. I was seeing red, and lashing out – and like a child having a tantrum, I was refusing to listen to reason.

Then, something funny happened.

The power of taking a break

My partner left the conversation (and who can blame him? Being in the firing line is never fun!). I was on my own, and after about 5 minutes I realised all sorts of emotions were coming up.

I felt terrible. In fact, I moved straight away into a sense of deep guilt and self-criticism. “You’re a terrible person” I told myself, “How could you have said those things?”.

(Perhaps you’ve felt something similar, if not with a partner then a colleague, or someone innocently trying to help you – like a waiter or shop assistant.)

I felt a deep sense of guilt, and it made me realise that what had been underlying my outburst all along was this feeling of self-loathing. I’d almost go so far as to say that I’d engineered the situation that had triggered my bad behaviour so that I’d have an outlet for these feelings.

Put like that, you might be thinking it sounds like the actions of an emotional teenager – but it’s something more of us do as adults than we’d like to admit.

You are not your behaviour

But beating yourself up when a conflict is over doesn’t help the issue, and here’s why. If we could accept ourselves fully, we’d realise that our behaviour isn’t us. It’s just a symptom of how we’re feeling at the time. And the same goes for your thoughts – they’re not who you are.

Think of a time when you behaved badly and said things you later regret: perhaps by being angry, judgemental or critical.

There would almost certainly have been reasons for the “symptoms” you displayed.
I’m guessing you were either in physical or emotional pain. By emotional pain, I mean you might have been exhausted, hungry, sleep-deprived, grieving or hurt. All the times we’re not at our best.

So if you know you’ve behaved in a way that you later regret, there’s no need to become entrenched in guilt or shame. You can certainly own any harm or hurt you’ve caused, but you can also extend empathy to your past self. Under different circumstances you would have handled it better. When we can show ourselves compassion for bad behaviour, we’re able to do the same for those around us – and it can really change the way things are.

How to stop before it goes too far

One of the most challenging things about these moments is that when they’re going on we’re often very disconnected from what’s really happening. At War to Peace® we call it being “in the Red” and it’s a state where we have very few resources at our disposal.

So here’s something to play with – next time you become aware that you’re getting stuck behaving in a way you know you’re going to regret, just stop and give yourself 5 minutes.

Don’t try to change anything else about the situation, “talk yourself down” or admit you’re in the wrong. When you’re worked up, that can feel like the furthest thing in the world from where you’re at.

Instead, take a few minutes alone just to connect with how you’re feeling. Drink a glass of water, if you can, and let yourself tune in to what you’re feeling. Frustration? Anger? Sadness?

You might find this simple pause allows you to connect to a more resourceful part of yourself, without doing anything more than pressing “pause” for a few minutes.

Try it and see how it goes.

Time to change the script?

If you’re fed up of feeling like you’re stuck in conflicts you can’t seem to change, or just find yourself slipping into bad habits from time to time, why not come along to one of our workshops? Refresh your understanding of what causes conflict and learn simple techniques for transforming the way you communicate, whether you’re dealing with the most challenging people in your life, or the loved ones who bear the brunt of your pent-up emotions. Our next open-access workshop is in October. To book your place, click here.
Over to you

If you’ve ever found yourself in the midst of an awful argument, being perfectly aware that you’re not at your best but feeling oddly unwilling to stop it, I’d love to know: what usually snaps you out of the spiral and back to being yourself again? Share your insight in the comments.
War to Peace® workshops
Our award-winning War to Peace workshops happen a few times per year in London and our final one for 2018 is happening in October. Places are very limited so if you want to join us, book yours now. We also run in-house workshops and programmes for organisations all over the world, so if you want your people to thrive and work better together, click here to get in touch or call us on +44 (0) 20 8191 7072.
To be the first to hear about our new open-access workshop dates, and get free monthly tips and strategies for your relationship challenges, just leave your name and email address below.

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©Halcyon Global 2018

Can you change a habit of a lifetime?

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Can you change a habit when it comes to challenging people in your life? I’ve noticed something happen time and again in the War to Peace® workshops I’ve held over the past decade.

A man's hands: Can you change a habit of a lifetime?Here’s what goes on: We break for lunch, and the participants head out to grab some food and headspace from the deep work we’ve been doing, becoming aware of how we’re being in the relationships in our life.

Some people decide to lunch together; others take a sandwich across the road to the park and recharge amid the ancient oaks, or explore the neighbourhood cafés.

We regroup for the afternoon session, and that’s when I notice it.

There’s almost always one participant whose face has changed entirely, almost beyond recognition.

Maybe they started the day with a worn, tired expression, and suddenly they look relaxed and awake. Often before I’ve asked them, they’re bubbling over to tell me what’s happened.

The reason is always the same: an internal shift when they’ve suddenly realised that a relationship in their life that they’d thought could never change suddenly feels different.

Can we really change the habit of a lifetime?

This kind of shift in perspective might seem far fetched until you’ve experienced it. And it’s definitely not “magic”, even though it can look like that from the outside.

The fact is, most participants don’t come to the workshop thinking about the really big relationships in their lives.

(Usually, the goal is to resolve something far closer to home: a dispute with a colleague, a neighbour, or a boss.)

But the tools we share are both practical and powerful, and once you become aware of what they can do, all sorts of new possibilities open up. You can read about Gordon's experience of exactly this here.

When we experience what it really feels like to be at ease with someone whose behaviour is challenging to us, without letting them off the hook, it’s inevitable that we begin to look at some of the bigger stuff.

That’s the change I notice on the faces of the people who come back from lunch with a totally different way of thinking about their dad, or their daughter, or their ex. Nothing about the other person has altered at all. What has shifted is how they’ve been able to move their focus from what the other person is doing, to what they themselves can do.

A real shift in what’s possible

There’s a huge freedom that comes when we are no longer waiting for someone to change or make amends in order for us to feel better.

Instead, we start to take ownership of our interactions. We’re not giving our power to the other person and so we’re able to be our calm, creative, resourceful selves.

We have more energy, more compassion, and greater capacity to focus on the things and people that matter to us (instead of the ones who drive us crazy).

What I love about sharing this methodology is that it can apply to any relationship we need it to. Big and small, from the people who’ve known us our entire lives to the new maddening hire in the office.

In the decade that War to Peace® has been around, thousands of people have come away from our workshops with a method that will help them navigate challenging and sensitive interactions in every area of their lives.

Curious? Find out for yourself

Our first public workshop of 2018 is on 2nd March and we have just 4 places left, so if you’re wavering, now’s the time to book! Click here to get your ticket and find out if you can change the habit of a lifetime. (And you have nothing to lose with our Wise Investment Guarantee, which offers you a full refund if you’re not satisfied*)

And to be the first to hear about our new workshop dates, sign up for our monthly blog posts containing tips and strategies for your relationship challenges.

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Can you change a habit when it comes to how you experience the most challenging people in your life? We're sharing the unusual experience we've noticed in several workshop participants

 

 

 

*Our Wise Investment Guarantee

If you leave one of our workshops and don’t feel better equipped to deal with the people you find difficult we will willingly refund your money. We believe wholeheartedly in what we do, we know it works and if it doesn’t work for you, we wouldn’t want you to pay us. If you are not satisfied with your experience, just return your course materials to us, give us some feedback on how we could have made it better for you and we will give you a full refund.

How to move forward when you can’t forgive what they did

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

In our last blog we talked about our individual “Christmas movies” – the scripts or patterns it’s easy to find ourselves falling back into when we’re around people who push our buttons.

a shot of espresso: how to cut through conflict when you can't forgiveIf you’ve been to one of our workshops you’ll know how easy it is to get entrenched in the same old warring positions. "How on earth can they still be so selfish?" we ask ourselves when that one family member shows their true colours once more.

It's one thing to let go of little slights or lapses of judgment. But when we've experienced the same behaviour for years or even decades, it can feel impossible to forgive them and move forward.

If, despite your best intentions, you’re looking back on some of your interactions in the past weeks and feeling unhappy with what occurred, read on. Like a shot of espresso, it's time to bring clarity to the emotional hangover and find out how we can shift the conflicts that linger, once and for all.

When you can't forgive

At War to Peace® we believe in looking at the underlying way we’re being; considering our “operating system,” which determines how the things we say and do come across.

And when we look back on interactions that we’ve felt disappointed with, something curious emerges. The operating system that we use to look back on what went wrong can be oddly similar to the conflict we’re wishing was different.

For example, the operating system of “I wish you were different” applies to the other people who have riled us up, but it also comes out when we criticize ourselves for the things we didn’t say, or the way we behaved.

However badly someone else has behaved, the person I’m usually equally struggling with is me: either for what I did do (got triggered, flew off the handle, gave into their demands) or what I didn’t (tell them what I really thought, stood up for myself, apologised…)

This is how we manage to continue to be at War long after a challenging interaction with someone. Our sense of injustice and annoyance continues into the way we remember them, talk to ourselves and others about what happened, and create the perfect conditions to continue that conflict when we next spend time with them.

Changing the system

So how can we move past this mindset? Are certain deep-rooted conflicts destined to be in our lives forever?

When we're not ready to forgive and forget, it can seem as though there's no way out of the situation. And if we believe that the only way to feel better is for the other person to do something – like apologise, change their actions, or admit they've behaved abysmally – that might well be true. Try as we might, there's nothing we can do to change other people. This is what lays at the heart of our difficulty with the people we find so challenging - the amount of time and energy we have dedicated to this, either in practical terms or with the amount of space we let them occupy in our minds.

What we can do to shift things is to start with what is within our control. And, whilst we typically allow ourselves to cling on to the thoughts we're having about them, our own mindset is something we do have control over. And if we can begin to move that, even by a tiny notch, we open up space for things to be different.

So if there's a sticky scenario leftover from Christmas that's been playing on your mind, we can start by focusing our attention back to us:

I invite you to the possibility that you behaved the best way you could, given the situation, all the circumstances and in light of the history or any emotional baggage you carried in to the interaction.

Might it be possible to let yourself off the hook, just a little? After all, you did your best in that moment. In a perfect situation, things might have been different, but this is real life and one thing our relationships never are is perfect. It's also worth noting that you probably hadn't eaten as healthily as you would typically, you may not have had as much good quality sleep and you may have had more alcohol than you would typically - all of which tend to result in us having less emotional resilience and tolerance. It's also the time of year where we typically feel we should be with our family members and close friends, and all our made up 'shoulds' about how it's meant to be are playing out, which can pile on the pressure. So perhaps it's time to let yourself off the hook if you are feeling in any way self-critical.

If, on the other hand, you truly believe you were perfectly behaved and it really is all them, perhaps you could spend some time imagining what might be going on for them that led them to leave behind their best self over the holiday period. Perhaps you don't know their whole life circumstances at the moment, perhaps they are burdened by some unimaginable stress that you know nothing of and they don't feel able to share it with anyone yet. It perfectly okay if you are not ready to forgive them yet, but perhaps you could consider that even though it feels really personal and you have all the evidence in the world that it is, it's only about you if you allow it to be.

We can never know exactly what another person is going through, what triggers they are experiencing or how hard they are trying to overcome their own inner battles. So, without any knowledge to the contrary and even though they fell short of your expectations, perhaps they did the best they could under the circumstances, too.

Looking at what's ours to change

If this feels like you're letting someone off the hook, it actually isn't - it doesn't mean you're condoning anything they've said or done, it just means you're freeing yourself from the burden of resentment. This isn’t about condoning poor choices, or letting people get away with things.

Rather, it is an invitation to focus on the things that are within our control, to take back our own power, and to maintain our integrity (by our own definition of what this is for ourself) with whomever we find ourselves interacting.

This is the starting point of the simple strategy we cover in the War to Peace® workshop. If you haven’t yet participated, we’d love to welcome you to one of our open access sessions so that you can dive deeper into the power of this approach to transform relationships at work and at home.

Having the tools to change our operating system means we can set ourselves up to succeed rather than fail. Relationships with even the most difficult people – like family members who we know are never going to change, or colleagues who really push our buttons – can shift drastically with this change in mindset.

It allows us to access resources that just aren’t available when we’re stuck on the same old script – and can result in utterly unexpected turnarounds.

A simple way to change

War to Peace® is a very simple process, but it’s award winning for a reason. If you’re ready to experience how to move past challenging relationships once and for all, the first open access workshop of 2018 is on 2 March.

Our workshops sell out fast so we suggest you book now if you know this is something you’d like to achieve this year! Click here to find out more and book your place.

And to be the first to hear about our new workshop dates, sign up for our monthly blog posts containing tips and strategies for your relationship challenges.

P.S. pass it on!

If you know someone who might find this article helpful, let them know. Share it by using one of the buttons below.

 

 

Tricky interaction over the festive period still playing on your mind? You're not alone. @halcyonglobal shares a simple way to move things forward when you're struggling to forgive.

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

Photo by James Thomas on Unsplash

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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©Halcyon Global 2017

Photo Credit: Christian Schnettelker/Flickr

The missing piece of the puzzle…

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Who is annoying you at the moment? Is it other drivers, people who take too long to get to the point, people who are aggressive and short-tempered? What about people who don't do what they agreed to?

It can have quite an impact on us when we have expectations of people that are not being met, especially when our expectations are in line with a broadly accepted idea of what's okay and what is not. It can be particularly frustrating if they are behaving in a way that you wouldn't ever.

The urgent email

This blog was inspired by a War to Peace workshop participant, who shared a powerful story with us of how a senior executive in his organisation had sent an email to someone (let's call him John), asking him to take urgent action to resolve a customer issue. He copied in around 50 people to the email. Two days later, John hadn't replied and it was the talk of the organisation, with people judging John harshly for not having responded or actioned the email.

The originator sent a more vociferous email, stating in no uncertain terms what was expected from John and copied in a further 20 people.  Two days later, John wrote "Sorry I haven't replied to your email, my wife died two days ago. I'll reply to you as soon as I am able".

This story touched us deeply and the participant said it had led him to always asking himself the question, what part of the picture am I missing?

Jigsaw puzzle by Jean Vargas

Photo by Jean Vargas

When else might we be missing pieces of the relationship jigsaw?

Another War to Peace participant shared how his experiences has helped him to consider what pieces of the puzzle he may not have sight of:

The terrible driver ~ Gordon's story

Gordon let us know about one of his experiences after learning the War to Peace methodology. He was driving along the motorway on his way to work. He was about to pull out of the middle lane to overtake the car in front, when he noticed "a maniac in a black BMW" over taking and under taking the cars behind him. 'Bloody idiot!' he said out loud and was about to gesture to him through the window when he remembered a story he had shared at a War to Peace workshop.

Gordon told us how he had been on his way to a funeral and, not knowing where he was going, was following a friend in the car in front. A couple of times, he has nearly lost sight of the friend in front, so had made some last minute manoeuvres. "The gestures I received from other drivers suggested I had inconvenienced them!", Gordon recalled "I was trying to get to the funeral on time, trying to keep up with the person in front of me and wish I could have somehow let the other drivers know my predicament - that I wasn't driving like this on purpose."

It suddenly occurred to Gordon that perhaps 'the bloody idiot' BMW driver had a reason for driving erratically - maybe he was en route to get to see a dying relative in hospital or had just received some terrible news. "As soon as I had that thought, I stopped being irritated by the other driver and it allowed me to drive well myself."

The difficult work colleague ~ my own story

Everyone struggled to work with Jeff. He was bad-tempered, accusatory and a bit of a liar, often refuting that he'd agreed to action certain things when it came to giving an update. If you had a meeting with Jeff, everyone sympathised before you went in and was waiting with baited breath when you came out to hear his latest onslaught. Having tried anything I could think of to deal with him, including having a quiet word with him, challenging him directly in public and even talking to his boss, I would do all that I could to avoid him to be honest, because nothing worked!

One day, a group of us we were in a meeting with Jeff when he got increasingly fractious. He then began clutching his head and suddenly lost consciousness. Unbeknown to Jeff and to us, he was suffering from a brain tumour.

Fortunately, Jeff made a full recovery. His lasting impact on me was to realise that there's always a reason why people behave as they do, and often even they don't understand what that is. All I can do is be the best version of me and learning how to be at Peace with people has really helped me to achieve this.

Yes, but....

I know, what about those people who are just bad-tempered and lie and they aren't sick and they DO just drive badly? Are we supposed to let them off the hook and make excuses for them?

It's a common misunderstanding that being at Peace means being soft and letting people off the hook, and being at War means being tough and making the difficult decisions. This simply isn't the case, because how we are being is far deeper than behaviour and almost anything we do can be done from being at War or at Peace with someone.

In fact, War to Peace participants regularly report making tough decisions (such as firing someone, ending a relationship, making people redundant) have become much easier for them since they experienced the War to Peace methodology. And they have noticed that is far easier for the people who have been affected by the decisions to handle the outcome.

What helps many people is to understand that being at Peace is about having greater clarity of thought, more resourcefulness and therefore more choices. In this place of being at Peace, we are being ourselves - the best version of us becomes readily available, whether that is firm and fair, kind and compassionate or fun and easy-going.

Being at War on the other hand limits our ability to think clearly or see multiple options and solutions, and leaves us feeling disempowered. It's like banging our head against a brick wall because it feels as though we've tried everything - and nothing is working.

Over to you

Spend some time this week considering whether you would rather:

A) Know you are 'right' about someone  - the other driver IS an idiot, that person DOESN'T do a proper job, s/he HAS let me down. You feel stressed, hurt and /or angry (albeit righteously), and spend your energy thinking about how you have been wronged or on how to fix them; or

B) Know that you don't have all the pieces of the jigsaw about this person's life and circumstances. Therefore you get to feel calm, clear-headed and to be the person you want to be, with energy to focus on all the things that are important to you, your colleagues and your loved ones.

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

If you know someone who would like to learn how to become more clear-headed, resourceful and achieve the relationships they want with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace workshop in London on 7 October (just 5 spaces remaining). To book a space, click here.

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©Halcyon Global 2016