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How Do You Deal With Adversity?
In response to a reporter’s question after an exciting, rough-and-tumble, come-from-behind, must-win playoff game last week, Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns said: “That could have discouraged us, but it didn’t.” Those words stuck with me because they apply to our lives–each day, each moment. When faced with adversity, the team chose not to quit, but instead to rise to the challenge.
Taking Personal Responsibility
Many of us live as though someone or something outside of ourselves controls our lives. Whether it be other people, our parents, background, age, sex, race, fear, fate or God, we behave as if we are not active agents who are responsible for ourselves. We wait. We wait for something to happen or someone to come along to fulfill our needs or to make our lives better. But as the self-esteem author, Nathaniel Branden expressed it so aptly, “No one is coming.”
Why We Say “Yes” When We Want to Say “No”
How many times have you said “yes” to things you didn’t really want to do? Saying “no” can be very difficult, especially when we have been used to saying “yes”. When we do say “yes” instead of an honest “no”, we often feel like we let ourselves down and, at the same time, resentful of the person who asked us.
Silence Speaks Volumes
Silence can mean many things in interpersonal relationships. It’s ambiguous. It can express lots of different emotions ranging from joy, happiness, grief, embarrassment to anger, denial, fear, withdrawal of acceptance or love. What it means depends on the context.
Climate – The Emotional One, That Is
Simply put, the emotional climate is the atmosphere in which we relate to each other. It is the tone or the mood that exists in a company, school, family–any environment in which people relate to each other. It is the subjective environment in which all of our relationships take place. And each of us, often without being aware of it, contributes to this tone or mood by the way we express ourselves and the way we relate to other people, especially in equal relationships.
We All Need People Who Will Listen
Active Listening to someone is a real gift to them. If you’ve ever had the experience of being truly accepted and understood as you delve into deep or emotion-laden feelings, you know the kind of relief and catharsis that can result.
These People Made a Difference
In the past month, two pioneers in the field of psychology have passed on, both of whom made innovative advances in our understanding of human behavior, each in their own unique way. I have been reflecting on their contributions and re-focusing on how their work aligns with and supports the Gordon Model.
Knowing What You Need
For our daily lives to have meaning and purpose, it’s important to be aware of what our needs are. That sounds so obvious and simple and yet it isn’t at all. It’s often quite difficult to identify our real needs.
When we hear the words “pay attention”, it reminds us of being children when our teachers and parents ordered us to do it. We hear it as a negative: “You’re not paying attention” or “I need your undivided attention”. It usually means “I’m going to tell you something you might not be interested in or don’t want to hear. Listen anyway.” In the military, “Attention!” is an order and there’s even a specified way to “stand at attention” ready to obey the next order.
The Gordon Model in the Arab World
For several years, I have had the dream and then the goal of making our programs available in Arabic countries. Now, finally this dream has started to become a reality in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Is It Time to Rock the Boat?
As the holiday season nears, do you find yourself resisting or even dreading being with certain relatives or friends because no true connection exists between you? Will you be with them mostly out of a sense of duty or obligation? Do you plan to make the best of it? Get through it somehow and not rock the boat?
Letting Go of Anger
In the interest of maintaining a relationship or keeping a job, the truth remains hidden the result of which is often resentment and anger–at the other person and ultimately at oneself.
A Credo for Your Relationships with Others
You and I are in a relationship which I value and want to keep. We are also two separate persons with our own individual values and needs.
So that we will better know and understand what each of us values and needs, let us always be open and honest in our communication.
Emotional Intelligence and the Gordon Model
Over the past 15 years, there’s been a groundswell of interest in the concept of emotional intelligence, also known as “EQ” which stands for Emotional Quotient. Much research has shown that EQ is more important than IQ in determining our success in life, both as individuals and in our relationships with others.
Beware of the GLOP!
What did that person do or say for me to jump from focusing on their specific behavior to the conclusion that they’re “unfriendly” or “skeptical” or “misbehaving”? Why is it that we automatically put labels on people and then start acting in accordance with those labels? Once we have made such a judgment about someone else whether it is positive or negative, we tend to categorize or type them based on that judgment, and then act as if it’s a fact which in turn, determines how we treat them.
Who Me, Defensive?
In your relationships at work and at home, you know the discomfort you feel when you become defensive and the unease you feel when you sense it in others. When we feel threatened, defensiveness or resistance is our initial, natural, perhaps inevitable reaction. We would probably be surprised if we stopped to think how much energy we use up resisting new ideas, blocking unwelcome feedback, defending our position. The reaction is so automatic, the habit so deeply ingrained that often we aren’t conscious of being in a defensive or resistant posture.
Accepting Yourself As You Are
Life doesn’t “happen” in big events–it takes place in all the hundreds of little things that make up each day. How to the spend the minutes of our day, the way we talk to people, the people we choose to spend time with, what we think about, what we work on–it’s in all these seemingly insignificant ways that we are living out our lives. So the decisions and choices we make all day everyday really matter.
Fear: Nothing To Be Afraid Of?
Everyone experiences fear, gets scared, is afraid. Still, we would probably be surprised if we stopped to think just how much of our daily behavior is motivated by a need to lessen our fears.
The Miracle of Dialogue
How often have you had the experience of being with another person where you show an interest in them by asking questions about their life and listening to them and then realize that they don’t show the same interest in you? Or have an experience where the conversation is almost completely superficial? Do you often find yourself wishing, as I do, that the meeting or the discussion or the dinner were over because it wasn’t a satisfying experience for you?
The “Apparent Magic” of the Gordon Model
As we recall the many things for which we are thankful, we feel especially grateful to and appreciative of all the people around the world who teach, who advocate for, who use the Gordon Model in their own lives and relationships. Ever since 1962 when Dr. Gordon taught the first PET class in a Pasadena, California cafeteria until August of this year when Sister Estelle Fontaine taught a group in Mauritius (Indian Ocean), we have heard stories of “apparent magic”–stories that are made possible by our representatives and instructors throughout the world. Here are some we’d like to share with you that illustrate the universal applicability and relevance of this model to all relationships.
How to Shift Gears When You’re Stalled
In the last column, I discussed assertive skills–and specifically those we use when the other person’s behavior creates a problem for us. Learning to talk to other people using I-Messages* requires courage–we take the risk that they will react with anger, hurt, denial or at the least, discomfort because they don’t want to hear that we have a problem that involves them.
Working Together with I-Messages
In the last column, I discussed the importance of empathic listening when another person–team member, friend, child–signals that they have a problem that’s interfering with their ability to do productive work or has blocked them from moving forward effectively. What if the situation is reversed and you are the one with the problem? Now you need to know how to help yourself. When someone’s behavior is causing you a problem, how can you influence that person to change without causing them to lose face or feel resentment toward you?
Just Because You’re Hearing Doesn’t Mean You’re Listening
Most people are surprised to learn that reassuring, asking questions, giving advice and the like are not helpful responses when someone else–team member, co-worker, manager, spouse, or child–has a problem. In fact, they are major barriers–they block the other person from talking further about what’s bothering them and getting clarity or resolution to it.
Why Conflict is a Good Thing
Conflicts between people are a normal, natural and inevitable part of life–at work, at home and in all our relationships with others. Unfortunately, most of us don’t really accept this fact and we still get surprised and distressed when it’s clear that a conflict has emerged.
How Do You Deal with Inner Conflict?
Most people dread conflict–they experience it as uncomfortable and stressful, something to fear. As a result, we learn to avoid, suppress or withdraw from conflict or even act as though it doesn’t exist. Rarely do we choose to see the existence of conflict as positive and see that it presents an opportunity for us to move forward if only we are willing to face it and deal with it effectively.
Learning a New Skill is Easier Said Than Done
Before rolling out specific training or initiatives that are aimed at improving some facet of your business, you need to ensure that your leaders and team members are equipped with fundamental communication and relationship management skills.
Are You Living Up to Your Potential?
It’s only when we have freedom and autonomy that we have the possibility of living a life of significance, of becoming what we are meant to be. When we have the freedom to choose our own path, our deepest self can emerge–it becomes possible to do the best work we can, to lead the most enriching lives we can.
Finding Your Voice
This implies your true voice must be lost. More likely, it’s been silenced. It’s silenced when we “act” like the leader or the parent or in accordance with other roles we have. It’s silenced by the “shoulds” that dictate much of our behavior in relationships with others. It’s silenced by our need to avoid criticism or rejection, to not make waves, to not be seen as different, to not hurt others, to avoid disagreements and conflicts.
What Makes a Good Team Member?
There is a great deal of focus on leadership and all that it takes to make a good leader. A wide array of books and training programs tell leaders and managers what they should be doing to improve themselves. And not only is there a lot of advice, much of it is conflicting.
Being a Leader Doesn’t Make You One
Technical know-how is only part of what it takes to be an effective leader. Many managers and executives may be surprised to learn that it’s not even the most important part. Technical expertise and knowledge are prerequisites to good leadership; they’re necessary, but not sufficient. A leader’s ability to relate with and motivate the people who report to them is far more important.
Democracy in the Workplace Pays Off
Even though we live in a democracy, few of us grow up learning how to be democratic in our relationships with other people. Our democracy works well as a political system where we can vote and are free to express our opinions, but when it comes to having democratic relationships with others, that’s an entirely different story.
Workplace Democracy in Action
What can your organization expect to gain from incorporating and practicing democratic principles and actions in the workplace?
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