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When Does Silence Speak Loudly?

ShhhUn-Game Principle: Authentic actions emerge naturally from clarity.

Women know this secret about jewelry: if it doesn’t add to the beauty of their physical presentation, it detracts. But do we, men and women alike, know the same thing about how we speak? Ok, forget about the private domain. Most of us while among our family and friends are seeking a refuge, not a training opportunity to be vigilant about our competency in communicating. But admit it, even in personal relationships, there are times we wish we could choose our words wisely. Or know when silence would be our best communication.

Here’s what I learned lately. During the holidays I didn’t blog. I wasn’t interested in writing about anything. I could launch into lengthy explanations, which, after looking at them, would all fit into the category of rationalization. OK, so let’s throw them out before they’re even uttered. Yes, silence beats explanations, rationalizations, and justifications. Have you ever noticed your own reactions to those?

If it doesn’t add it detracts.

If I had pushed myself to make something up, search for something, reach for something to blog about, I’m sure I could have come up with something. But my readers would not have been fooled. They, you, we, are as exquisite as bloodhounds hunting a suspect in locating inauthenticity and lack of passion.

Let’s let silence speak when speaking detracts.

What are some other times when silence can speak loudly? If you’re a manager, team leader, CEO (parents and teachers, you are in this group), and you have a meeting during which you direct an inquiry to the team (not a yes/no factual question), do you jump in as soon as you’ve decided enough time has elapsed to get some answers flowing? When IS that time? When you’re uncomfortable with the silence? Do you assess that no answers/comments are forthcoming? Would it be OK with you if you were wrong about that? A silence could reveal much, some of which revelations might surprise you.

Perhaps not everybody operates at your speed of thinking. Or in your particular “culture,” people expect others to lead in answering and engaging. Or they think you’re looking for particular answers. Or they know you will eventually give up and provide answers you’re looking for. There could be a host of reasons for the others’ silence. Find out. Wait twice as long as you usually wait.

If it doesn’t add, it detracts. The action of your silence may speak louder and more effectively than your words.

Silence is often not the preferred response to verbal attacks. Most of us feel obligated to defend ourselves, consider aborting a counter-attack unacceptable, or withdraw physically, emotionally, or both. Our body language, however, is not silent. We operate either under the duress of instinct or under the illusion that the best defense is a good offense. Maybe so. Maybe not. Why not find out? Each situation is different. Neutral silence may be our friend in response to a verbal assault that began perhaps with the un-winnable “You always….You never….What’s wrong with you that you are constantly…..?”

Silence in such situations is not a weakness. It gives the assailant a chance to retreat, cool off, get back into their right mind. Without another response from you to fuel their fire, they may wonder just where you stand in the matter. And they may question whether they’ve done the right thing (something they didn’t question at the time of their assault). You can wait for them to break the silence, or you can come back at a later time to have your say. You will have a chance to reflect in peace just how you intend to approach the other. Chances are you will do this a lot more responsibly than how you were approached.

Some people will accuse the silent one of being manipulative. It may even be the accuser gathering more steam by making that assessment. Silence can be manipulative. And it can be strategic. Simply look to your own motivation for your silence. If you’re silent to irritate the other, then you have work to do. Your silence is designed to manipulate, that is, to set up a win/lose paradigm in which you intend to emerge the winner. If, on the other hand your silence is designed to keep a cool head on you and to give the other some space to do the same, then you’re simply being strategic. Keep going!

Silence can sometimes be amplified by a non-committal response. “Hmm,” you might say to a verbal attacker followed by a loud, expansive silence. “Hmm” can be interpreted in a number of ways. Why not leave the interpretation up to the other? You may find out in later conversation how that response was received. In the meantime, you don’t have to enter the conversation on the other’s terms.

Silence can and does speak loudly to the other. In case of the manager who truly wants participation from the team, silence says “I trust you have something to contribute. I respect your process. I need your input. You are a valued member of this team. We’re all in this together. Each of us is responsible for our success.”

Those messages add. Therefore they don’t detract.

In the case of a verbal attack, silence can say to the attacker: “I am neither your assessments nor your feelings. Your assessments may be grounded. They may be ungrounded. I am open to future conversation with you about this.”

Silence adds.

Except when it doesn’t. Our communication skills have reached a higher level of competence the moment we can assess when silence adds and when it detracts. And that clarity empowers authentic actions in ourselves and others. It might even empower us to ask and answer as we speak in important conversations: “Will what I am about to say add or detract?”

Speaking about adding and detracting, do you have a comment that would shed a light on this subject? If so, don’t be silent.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

When You Express Anger, Are You More Often Righteously Indignant or Self-Righteously Indignant?

Un-Game Principle: The learned ability to make distinctions is a must to strengthen your personal power.

5321ef97c9275Someone once asked me: “Ingrid, do you ever do anything unintentional?” I treated the question literally and not for the criticism I suspected the question contained.

The answer, of course, is ‘yes.’ I love and value spontaneity. I love and value unself-conscious expression, including the spontaneity of responding authentically when I’m angry. And I like and trust others who are willing to play with their fire.

It wasn’t always that way. When I was in my twenties more than one person accused me of “being a fight looking for a place to happen.” So how did I get from there to here where, more often than not, I trust my anger and the way I express it?

Well, it took a conscious decision to learn. And that meant that during that learning process I was going to be unabashedly intentional. I think I would get a lot of agreement from experts in human development and learning that in skill-building we move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, and from there to being a beginner, minimally competent, competent, a virtuoso, and finally a master.  Research indicates that to get to mastery we need 10,000 hours of practice that includes feedback, re-practice, feedback, etc.

How many people do you know who are willing to even begin that journey? Business as usual would have us avoid our anger. Practicing to get beyond incompetence? Ha!

Would it be alright with you if this were easier? Yes, it takes courage to practice and accept the feedback you get, but it’s worth it. Many of you no doubt are well along on the journey toward mastery. You’ll agree that being able to make distinctions and honing the skill to be guided by them is valuable (rigorous self-observation is required, so consider an outside perspective like a coach if you are willing to be supported.)

Here then are two valuable-to-live distinctions. Self-righteous indignation and Righteous indignation.

Self-righteous indignation comes when your emotional brain is triggered. Your amygdala has been hijacked, so-to-speak, and you’re literally out of your mind—out of your rational mind, that is. When you express it, no good comes of it. A friend of mine aptly described it as “barfing all over” the target of your anger/indignation. It comes from wanting to self-protect, to get what’s yours, e.g. fairness, justice, and to keep the status quo, in most cases the self-image that is at odds with what the other said. It’s about taking a position and defending that position.  In other words, it’s all about YOU! SELF-righteous indignation.

And it doesn’t satisfy. Is it any wonder that people avoid expressing their anger?

Expressed righteous-indignation comes from a very different place. It comes from when what I sometimes call Heart-Mind is in charge. It’s the ‘you’ that is not ruled by circumstances, feelings and body sensations, and self-limiting thoughts, beliefs, conclusions. It’s the courageous, open, present, receptive, vulnerable, compassionate, kind, gentle, truthful….You get the drift. It’s your best ‘you’. And yes, not only do you have that ‘you’, you can learn to choose to come from that ‘you’. It’s a matter of making distinctions. But I digress.

As I asserted, expressed righteous indignation comes from your best ‘you’. It serves to preserve and enrich the relationship (Yes, I know. You probably never heard anyone say “I confronted her because I wanted to protect the relationship!”). It’s not just about the ‘you’ that’s a feather in the wind of your raging emotions..  Its message is: “You may go no further without hearing what I have to say. Here’s how what you said landed. It is unacceptable. I hereby put you on notice that if you do this again, I will offer you some more feedback on why this is unacceptable.” Of course you don’t use those words, but it is the message of righteous indignation. It is not a position. It’s a stand that comes straight from your own Heart-Mind. Joseph Campbell referred to this as your hero’s heart.

A stand is always a contribution. It is not a position to defend. It includes others’ positions. It doesn’t need to make the other change or even do anything differently.  It doesn’t attack the other even as you are being attacked. It’s simply informing the other where you stand and what you will do in a future similar situation. The other is put in a learning position that, granted, they can’t capitalize on while still angry, but which they have the space to reflect on later, if they so choose and are able. It gives the other breathing room.

Of course self-righteously angry people are not used to a righteously indignant response. They will come back at you harder. They might call you aggressive or explosive (projection of how they’re approaching you!). That is designed to derail you and get you on the same self-righteous plane on which they find themselves. That would be so much more comfortable for your self-righteously indignant friend or husband, wife, lover, boss, parent, child, etc.

People who know how to be righteously indignant, however, won’t lose their focus. They continue to be guided by love and contribution. They don’t expect an apology or anything else from the one who’s “out of their mind.” They may even be generous, kind, and compassionate and say to the other: “Let’s just start all over.”  Remember that they have communicated the only message that was important to them (see italicized message comment above). They are ready to move on without lingering resentment. They are satisfied that they have acted in alignment with who they really are in the Heart-Mind…their hero’s heart.

Are you up for the incredible, enriching, and powerful foray into the expanse of your personal power through making—and living—powerful distinctions? In the next post we may explore the distinctions ‘avoiding’ conflict vs. ‘averting’ a conflict. I invite you to comment on your experience of reading this post.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Courageous Compassion Part 2: Standing for What’s Important to You

Un-Game Principle: Being willing to be courageous and compassionate can be a conscious choice even under circumstances people generally experience as very difficult.

CourageIn Part 1 of Courageous Compassion, courageous compassion was defined as ‘the ability to stay in caring relationship while simultaneously taking a stand that another’s behavior is unacceptable and you will confront it’. It focused on relationships where the parties would describe themselves as having equal positional power: colleagues, friends, husbands and wives, partners. There are also examples of what a courageously compassionate interchange might sound like. But what about courageous compassion in so called unequal relationships like you and your boss, for example? Or a parent or teacher and a child? What might a courageously compassionate interchange be like when there’s the experience of conflict for one or the other party?

It’s counterintuitive to imagine that both parties to a conflict actually have the same responsibility, namely to take care of the other without losing sight of taking care of oneself. It’s easy to envision a good boss taking the leading caretaker role. After all, he or she has more positional power, and the stronger is supposed to protect the weaker. In the office scenario, the boss surely wants to keep the good employee. Turnover is expensive. Besides, he might really like and value Melinda even if she “winged” the meeting whose success hinged on her report.

Let’s say Gene (the boss) knows that his positional power gives him some perceived advantage in the interaction. He has the power to fire or make Melinda’s life miserable. Fear of loss of job might make Melinda compliant. But Gene is wise enough to know that what seems like an advantage can hide a potent disadvantage. Compliant people aren’t the best employees. He wants creative, motivated employees. This is an important value for him.

Gene’s care-taking will include a conscious decision to minimize the impact of his positional power and maximize the use of his personal power to drive the interaction. In personal power we all have the opportunity to be equal, be it in incompetence, minimal competence, or even virtuosity. The playing field is level, and Gene wants to play on that field as much as possible. On the field of positional power, a disadvantage is that his position dramatically enhances the chances of Melinda going “out of her rational mind” and into ancient instinctual survival responses of fighting, fleeing, or freezing.

Not good for business. Not good for a well-lived life outside the business context.

Gene is smart to NOT use the greater power of his position. It’s one of those examples that challenges the stubborn assumption “More is better.” In fact more is sometimes less, and most often, more is simply more and nothing else!

Let’s assume he’s stated his assessment of the quality of Melinda’s report. Here’s what he didn’t say. “This report is not of the quality I’ve come to expect of you. You were not prepared. If it happens again, I’ll have to take some drastic measures. We can’t afford mediocrity. It’s not who we are.” (The veiled threat and the lecture are a reminder of who’s got the power. As if Melinda needs a reminder!)

Gene, wanting to keep Melinda engaged and wanting to minimize defensiveness, could use his personal power and begin the conversation like this: “Let’s evaluate how the meeting went. How satisfied are you that we accomplished our objectives?” Then Gene and Melinda enumerate the objectives. “What was outstanding? Satisfactory? Missing?” A discussion and learning conversation ensue where Gene doesn’t censor his own input. “I had expected X. It looks like you didn’t have that expectation since it was absent from the report. Help me understand. Tell me your thought process. ” More conversation ensues. “What will you do and by when to provide X?” Gene and Melinda settle on an action that satisfies them both. Gene could also make a demand. But he can soften it by simply asking, “Will that work or do you need to make me a counter offer?” (if a counter offer is acceptable).

The interaction between Gene and Melinda has the ingredients of a courageous compassionate conversation that moves a project along and enhances their relationship.

Let’s switch to Melinda having a problem with Gene that she wants to talk to him about (OK, she doesn’t really want to. But she’s willing because it’s occupying most of her waking hours. By now she has horrible-ized whatever Gene did, didn’t, and will do.).

For many people it is simply unimaginable to consider confronting (standing in front of) a boss precisely because of the positional power difference. They can’t imagine what courageous compassion for him, her, and self would look like.

But it’s possible even under circumstances perceived as difficult.

First of all, Melinda would do well to remind herself that in the domain of personal power she and Gene are equals. As a matter of fact, it’s precisely confrontations like the one she’s dreading yet contemplating that will give her the practice she needs to increase her personal power. To acknowledge that and then to actually proceed are courageous acts.

Secondly, Melinda needs to consciously choose to be courageous. The act of conscious choosing comes from the best in ourselves, not from an emotion like fear. It is powerful and proactive in any interaction, but especially one in which the “confrontee” has more positional power than the “confronter.” Melinda needs to act on what she intellectually knows: She is not her fears. She has fears. And she can be bigger than her fears!

And finally Melinda can consciously choose to be compassionate with Gene, remembering that in the domain of personal power she and Gene are simply two human beings doing the best they can with the light by which they are able to see. Gene, too, is no stranger to the fight, flight, freeze response defending against imaginary tigers and lions, his greater positional power being no help to him at all.

And so Melinda decides to talk to Gene who calls her frequently on weekends for non-emergency situations. She privately assesses that Gene thinks he should have unlimited access to her at any time.

Here’s what Melinda doesn’t do: she doesn’t sigh and silently acquiesce to all of Gene’s requests. She might begin by noticing her assessment. It’s only an assessment. There seems to be good evidence, but can she really be sure it’s what Gene really expects? Is he putting out a demand or just a request that she can accept or decline?

Melinda might open the conversation with “Gene, how important is this? This is my family time. Can we explore on Monday how I can help you accomplish X without cutting into my family time?” (Melinda is signaling she wants to help, would do so if it is really important, and intends to protect her private time).

Gene has an opportunity to see what may be a blind spot. Perhaps he does think he is entitled to Melinda’s time. Or he gets to consider just how important his request is to him. In any event, the conversation is off to a good start. The next move, if Gene sputters a version of “But, but…,” is for Melinda to hold her ground, quietly and firmly. “I’ll give you an hour (if she’s willing and able), but this has to be an exception rather than an expectation.” If Melinda can envision playing the long game, she knows it’s not sustainable to give up her private time and space. She will act with courageous compassion. Not just for Gene but for herself!

The truth is that confrontation in any relationship, be it among equals or those unequal in positional power, is risky. That’s what necessitates courage–the courage to be willing to lose something important. But the confrontation, expressed with courageous compassion also opens up the possibility to gain something profoundly important, namely to connect genuinely with another person and to experience the deep satisfaction of growing one’s personal power one interaction at a time. The ultimate prize is freedom to be what seems exceedingly difficult for most of us, namely to be ourselves! And the ability to stand for something…because if we don’t…chances are we’ll fall for anything!

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

How Can Leaders Move Beyond Leadership 101?

Un-Game Principle: Effective, inspired leaders’ day-to-day actions are guided not only by a vision of the result they are committed to achieving but by the qualities they long to be…courageous, empowering, supportive, truthful….

leadership

The command and control model of leadership is dead for the most part. However, in some enterprises it’s still queued up for burial as leaders are not yet confident in what is now an effective, times-appropriate leadership model. Or how to implement one even if the vision is clear.

Perhaps a good beginning is to ask a good question. “Who do we need our organization and our people to be now in a connected global environment characterized by an escalating demand for speed, deep cross-cultural differences, and a guaranteed unpredictability?”

Let’s focus on the people part of the question.

In the environment described, the limitations of a command and control model of leadership become apparent. It’s heavily dependent on the designated leader. People are not required to think independently or creatively. They are asked to do what they’ve been told as well as how to do it. It demands that leadership’s vision and capability to communicate it be clear, and that buy-in be achieved and maintained. It’s slow and cumbersome. It’s static, not dynamic. It also leaves people’s own leadership potential sadly untapped.

Who DOES leadership (yes, parents, teachers, team members, husbands, partners, wives) need to be now amidst the 21st century challenges we face? If we define leadership not as a position but rather as a mind and skill-set, then we see that we now need leaders to empower themselves and others to tap into a higher level of potential than we’ve tapped into “before everything changed”. We urgently need creative, innovative, courageous, compassionate, resilient, inter-dependent, collaborative people to meet the challenges of this new world. NOW!

How do we get those people?

Let me suggest some good news. They are already there eager to be tapped! But to come out and perform brilliantly they require the skills 21st century leaders didn’t learn in Leadership101. 

What designated leaders must now be able to create intentionally is the environment in which people will uncover in themselves those qualities described above. And that is for many a brand new skill-set. So new good questions might help guide the willing leader: “What characterizes an environment in which people can uncover the qualities they now must be able to demonstrate in daily action to reach the level of potential that’s currently a prerequisite for our organizations? What organizational environment will have us prosper and thrive?”

To become the people we already are, namely creative, innovative, resilient, courageous, compassionate, inter-dependent, collaborative people, we need for designated leaders to create both a safe and a challenging environment. It’s a learning environment in which it is safe to make mistakes. It’s a learning environment where we are challenged. 
It’s a learning environment that stretches our intellectual, emotional, spiritual self like a rubber band, enough to propel us forward but not so much as to break us. In short, it’s a change in the norms that probably govern the organizational culture.

That is leadership beyond Leadership 101. It’s the new leadership. Without it most people on whom the success of the enterprise depends will stay safely hidden. The risk to come forward is too great. We are too vulnerable. Too skilled at defending ourselves. Going beyond the status quo is too uncomfortable.  We take the known over the unknown. 

And our potential shrivels. And nothing changes even as our business (our home, our school, our government, our local food bank, our partnership,our marriage) is screaming for relief.

Leadership–let’s call it leadership 203– is dynamic, not static. It is omnipresent. It constantly reinforces the foundation of safety and challenge in every moment, be it in offering feedback, asking questions, inquiring, acknowledging, expressing disappointment, dealing with broken promises, expressing satisfaction, reservation, and even while being angry.

It’s a tall order for leaders to embrace Leadership 203. After all, it’s a stretch. And it’s risky. It puts the leader in the same position as the people whose potential is to be uncovered and newly tapped. Who will be leadership’s support? Who will create the safety and the challenge that the designated leader needs as s/he meets this new and very big endeavor? And what will this look like? After all, the leader has plenty on their plate already. 

Some leaders will develop the new leadership mind and skill-sets largely on their own. Clarity of vision and a strong will (as in I’m willing/I can) are their allies already. Others may be in a natural support group of other leaders like themselves. And still others will hire a coach to support their quest to move beyond Leadership 101. They wisely and courageously heed Einstein’s caution “You can’t solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” They know we are in a brand new world. Business as usual simply won’t do anymore. We all must evolve beyond Leadership 101.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Silence of the Lions: When Leaders’ Silence Harms and Helps

Un-Game Principle: What’s not being said is often more relevant than what is being said.

14-04-15 Silence of the LionsWhen there’s an “elephant in the room” it’s uncommon for someone to ask “What are we not talking about here that’s nevertheless relevant to our concerns?”  Among the many reasons we leave sleeping elephants alone is a simple fact: Leadership silence can be a deafening roar.

Let me back up for just a moment. I define leadership not as a position but as an attitude and a skill-set anyone can learn and all of us should exercise. That said, I’m for the moment talking about the designated leader, that is, the one with greater positional power than the rest of the team—the one who either facilitates everyone’s development and use of their leadership attitude and skills (in a family this may be Dad, Mom, or both) or stifles it.

So how does designated leadership silence do harm? Everyone gets the harm when it’s a large scale issue such as a company merger and people’s futures are on the line. With leadership silence, that is, in the absence of facts people make up stories. By stories I mean they rush to their assumptions, and pretty quickly those assumptions become facts in their eyes.  Once facts, the beholder has to defend them (We want to be right, don’t we?).

Once the defenses are up, the silence of leadership can be broken, but it will have a much harder time to penetrate the defended mind of the beholder than if the silence hadn’t been there in the first place—opening the spigots of fear from which the horrible, terrible stories spew. Our right mind has been hijacked.

In a small group, let’s say a meeting, leadership silence harms in the same way. Let’s call it ‘deliberate non-transparency’. But let’s look at a different leadership silence in a meeting environment.

A team member contributes something and there’s no acknowledgment from the designated leader, either positive or negative. The result is the member’s and the team’s energy drops. This is true for even the strongest team member. We all need to be heard to keep contributing. It’s a small step in the mind of the contributor from “What I said is not important” to “I am not important”.

Whatever someone says, it can be acknowledged. “As I understood what you just said, Randy, it doesn’t seem to add. Can you say it in a different way so that I’m clear how this is connected?” This will keep Randy engaged and contributing. The leader has respected Randy and his potential to make a contribution.  Randy feels valued. He can get back into his right mind. And who knows? Someone may build on his idea. Or get a new one out of Randy’s offering. They, too, are encouraged to put their offering out to the team. Creativity does not travel in a straight line. Leadership silence in the wrong place, however, can silence creativity and any and all its sources. It’s that powerful.

So when does the silence of the lion powerfully help a team?  We’ve all heard a version of: “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear your words.”  We are aware that words actually comprise a small part of any communication. Imagine, only 7% of most communication is words. The rest is intonation, body language, and with a bigger view finder we look to action for clues that support or negate the words.

And then there’s silence.

OK. So here’s leadership silence that helps a team in a meeting.

After a greeting

No, I’m not kidding. After a “Good Morning”, look at each team member and smile. Uncomfortable? Probably. It’s standard and customary to plunge into the work.  Besides the discomfort may be because leader and team members alike feel just a bit vulnerable. Worthwhile? Try it and see. You connect with your team with that tiny gesture. The communication is “I see you.” And yes, besides wanting  to be heard like Randy, we all want to be seen. Do those two things, and the rest becomes almost easy.

After a particularly spirited interchange among multiple team members

If you as a leader have created such a safe and challenging environment where spirited interchange happens, you will do some good to turn to someone who hasn’t weighed in and invite her in with a smile and a simple “Hi, Jayne.” And then silence. The rest of the team will laugh. They recognize that they’ve been passionately engaged and have not paid attention to quieter team members. They appreciate the gentle invitation to shift gears. And Jayne knows she’s seen and will be heard even if she simply says “I have nothing to contribute at this time.” More often than not Jayne will have something to contribute.

When courage (and valuable input)among team members needs surfacing

If you’re a courageous leader, chances are your team members are courageous too. They look for models, and like it or not, you’re IT. What you see in them, they’ve seen in you. They are your mirror. When you ask the questions that sometimes have to be asked, for example…

  1. What really matters here?
  2. Is this in line with our values? How?
  3. What is useful about this idea?
  4. How could this idea work?

…there is often a silence among team members. For most people, including leaders, it’s difficult to maintain silence. Silence leads us away from comfort, away from distractions. Silence can lead us to what matters. But what matters is often very uncomfortable. Our minds are wired to protect us from the discomfort of change that becomes possible when we confront the questions that might produce it. Waiting in silence for people to summon their courage to answer tough questions is hard but necessary. Wait long enough and someone will start to answer. You, their leader, have given them the permission they think they need.

In this unprecedented time of cataclysmic change, it is most natural to lean away from discomfort as we protect ourselves from harsh realities. Stability is an illusion. Life is unpredictable and impermanent. We can’t keep on doing (faster and longer) what we’ve always done. We need to hospice “business as usual” and summon the courage to do the counter-intuitive and therefore the most paradoxical and difficult thing; we need to confront our hankering to protect ourselves from imaginary modern day lions and tigers. Sometimes, we as leaders can begin to do this with the silence that shouts “Let’s talk about what we’ve not been talking about.”

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Escape to Freedom: A Way out of the Drama Triangle

13-10-29 A Simple Way out of the Drama TriangleUn-Game Principle: All of us have more choices than we believe. The challenge is accessibility and practice.

Have you ever had repeated, unsatisfying interactions with a co-worker or family member which had you stumped? Have you experienced helplessness in your ability to get these important relationships on a positive track? I have. For me it’s like imagining myself lost in the expansive, fog-drenched  Alaskan wilderness, seeing no path out, knowing the futility of moving, probably in circles, deeper and deeper into the endless expanse. Could you envision what it would be like for you if you suddenly saw a path?  A path must lead somewhere. Hope and extreme excitement. Your life may be saved!

In unsatisfying interactions, until we see a clear path before us, we are also doomed to move in circles, repeating the same thing over and over again, hoping but really not expecting different results. Misery, isn’t it?

You may have heard about the Drama Triangle first identified as such in the 1960’s by Stephen Karpman. It’s a brilliant visual for those unsatisfying interactions that lead nowhere. Populating the drama triangle are three roles: the VICTIM, the PERSECUTOR, and the RESCUER. In any given interaction you may predominantly play one role, let’s say VICTIM, but you may shift to another role in the same interaction. The VICTIM needs a PERSECUTOR  or a RESCUER to stay in the triangle. Again, one of the two players, if there are only two, can shift and become the RESCUER for the given interaction. Here’s an example:

Mary didn’t finish her report on time. She’s done it before. Her boss is fuming.

Boss: “You’re always late. Why can’t you get this stuff to me on time? Everyone else gets it to me on time. This is your last time for this nonsense.” (He’s said that before)

Mary: “I’m so sorry. I had to take my mother to the emergency room, and I had to….”

Boss: “I’m sorry about your mother. But you always have an excuse. That’s just not going to cut it.”

Mary: “OK, I’ll do better with the next deadline.”

Boss: “Fine.” (It’s not. Fine stands for Feelings Inside Not Expressed.)

On first sight it appears that the boss is the PERSECUTOR. His threat and the false accusation put you on notice that a lie is about to be told! (NO one is always late. The word always is a red flag.) Again on first sight, Mary seems to be the VICTIM of her boss’ diatribe. However, consider that the boss actually experiences himself as the VICTIM. He doesn’t follow through with his promise (This is the last time). He eventually even plays the RESCUER by accepting her statement “I’ll do better…” Better how? Not as many hours late? Mary just looks like a VICTIM. She is more like the PERSECUTOR.

The above scenario will repeat itself unless one of the players

a. is willing to get out and

b. realizes that being  in this so-called Drama Triangle is a choice.

Knowing it’s so is a first step to getting out of the dense fog. You start to observe painful interactions that go nowhere. You start to observe the roles people play (yes, you too). The Drama Triangle becomes familiar in a new way. You now have choices you didn’t have before.

What choices? And how do you access them?

The alternative choice to the no-win Drama Triangle can be described as another triangle populated by three different roles. It might be called the Empowerment Triangle. Knowing this provides the initial access to it. If you can make that shift and practice these new three roles, everything changes. The Drama Triangle as a prison will be history for you.

The roles people play in the Empowerment Triangle are CREATOR, CHALLENGER, and COACH. These are largely unfamiliar-to-us roles. So we need to learn and practice them. But they guarantee the way out of those miserable, repetitive interactions that drag us all down and leave us stranded in the Drama Triangle.

The CREATOR, for example, knows s/he can choose to be willing to bring clarity, focus, courage, compassion, truthfulness (and many more qualities of contribution) to any interaction. They know they have feelings. They don’t let feelings have them. They know to be careful to not believe everything they think!

The CHALLENGER, for example, doesn’t go into collusion with the other. They challenge the other’s thinking by helping to clarify it and by showing the paradoxes and the distortions in the other’s thinking. They speak truthfully about the impact of the other’s behavior on them and others, if appropriate. They challenge their own thinking and inquire into what they could do differently.

The COACH, for example, keeps the space of the interaction open and safe. They are not hooked by bad behaviors. They ask questions for the other to reflect on. They help bring anyone in the Drama Triangle into the Empowerment Triangle by modeling the clarity that gets people who are “out of their minds” (in the Drama Triangle) back into their minds (the Empowerment Triangle).

Accessing choice becomes easier when you ‘re clear you are not your feelings (You have feelings. Big difference.).

Assume that prior to the conversation the boss has chosen to be willing to demonstrate being truthful, courageous, compassionate, clear, and focused. By so doing, he’s chosen to be CREATOR, not a reactor (All roles in the Drama Triangle are reactive.). He knows he can’t guarantee he will demonstrate those qualities. However, he can guarantee that he’s willing to. Big difference again.

Ready to practice?

Here’s the same conversation between Mary and her boss from inside the Empowerment Triangle.

Boss: “Mary, this is now the 5th time your report is late. This is a problem, and we have to solve it.” He’s being CHALLENGER. He’s simply telling what’s true (The “always” is absent, for example).

Mary: “I’m so sorry. I had to take my mother to the emergency room, and I had to….”

Boss: “I’m sorry about your mother. I hope she’s OK. Let’s talk later about how I could support you about your mom. Right now we need to solve this problem of your lateness. Let’s let this be our last conversation about this. What would ongoing lateness mean to our project? (He’s demonstrating being focused, clear, compassionate). He’s being CHALLENGER and COACH.

Mary: “I know it’s not good. OK, I’ll do better with the next deadline.”

Boss:  “I‘ll do better’ worries me.” He’s being CHALLENGER (How do you define better?). He’s being COACH.

Mary: “Well, I’ll get it in on time.”

Boss: “What will you do differently  the next time so that meeting the deadline actually happens? Do you see needing some support you now don’t have that will assure you keep your promise to me and the team?” He’s being COACH.

Mary: “Well, the last two times I’ve had trouble getting the info I need from Frank. I probably just have to be more insistent.”

Boss: “Tell you what, Mary. Could you envision making clear requests of Frank in the future? Might you benefit from teaming up with Mark to support you with this? Do you agree he’s very clear in his requests of the team? He may be a good accountability buddy.” He’s being COACH.

Mary: “That will help. Thanks. I know this has been a problem, and I want to solve it too. I haven’t been proactive in asking for support when I need it. I’ll do that.” She’s being CREATOR!

The interaction, led by the boss has brought Mary out of the Drama Triangle. At least in this interaction. Fancy that! With practice we can make progress. Wouldn’t it be great if the Empowerment Triangle became just as familiar to us as the dreaded Drama Triangle? The choice is ours. Shall we practice?

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The UnGame , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Isn’t It High Time to Love Complaints?

13-10-22 Isnt it high time to love complaints blogUn-Game Principle: Few communications are as they seem. We must separate the wheat from the chaff.

What? Surely you jest. True, complaints are part of life, but so are mosquitos and people under the influence of road rage.

Not so fast. There’s a secret gift in every complaint, and if you’re a manager, leader, parent, teacher (as I said, a manager), you will want to reconsider and not wish the complaint away. Trust me on that one.

OK, so why not? They’re such a pain in the butt, aren’t they?   Yes and no. Yes, if you see complaints the way most people do, and No, if you want to interact with others as a Creator rather than a Reactor. If you long to be an effective manager and/or an effective communicator, then it’s high time to love complaints.

My mentor, Harvard’s Bob Kegan, makes this statement: “Behind every complaint lies a commitment.” Wow. That’s huge! And most of us have just seen the complainer as a whiner who’s never integrated the explicit or implicit feedback that s/he’s a victim. But of course. One wouldn’t complain if one didn’t feel victimized. But feeling victimized is not the same thing as taking on the identity of a perpetual victim. It can be a temporary state of mind. And what it reveals is that there’s  something the complainer cares about as well. In short, if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t complain.

It could be said that someone who feels victimized is someone who has a longing, dream, or commitment that has been denied, thwarted, or compromised. As a manager, knowing this is important, because you can help the person reconnect with the longing, dream, or commitment. If you don’t know that

a. the longing, dream, or commitment is in the background of the complaint; and

b. surfacing the same is the first step to creating a meaningful interaction that builds relationship and competence

then you’re missing a golden opportunity to be the catalyst for developing  your people , that is, moving them from being a reactor to being a creator.

And being a catalyst is a large part of your job.

So for example, if a tech support person complains that a client keeps on calling over and over about the same thing and doesn’t implement recommendations, you might first acknowledge their commitment to solving clients’ problems. Then by shifting the focus to what they care about, you could explore together how to assure the client and the support person have the same understanding of next steps by the end of the interaction.

At home, if a teenager complains about their friends having things they wish they had but don’t, you could acknowledge how important community is and their desire to be part of a community. Perhaps then you could explore not only the privileges of being in community but the responsibilities. Along the way you could explore how your teen might earn one of the things s/he longs for.

As creators,  we focus on what we want, rather than on what we don’t want. The complaint on the other hand always focuses on what we don’t want and keeps us in a negative, unproductive space.

As if knowing that behind every complaint is a commitment,  is not benefit enough for the manager who longs to be effective, there’s a huge personal benefit that accrues to managers  who are willing to develop their people. The benefit I’m talking about is personal empowerment and therefore personal freedom.

If you can routinely spot the commitment that’s behind a complaint…and if you can surface it and redirect it, you will decrease more and more the likelihood of YOU getting hooked into the drama of the victim. I suspect that one of the reasons most of us hate complaints and dislike complainers is because we don’t like how we deal with them. Our options seem limited and dissatisfying.

If we get reeled into the complaint without being able to surface the commitment, we get entangled in a role that doesn’t work toward becoming a creator. We become reactors ourselves. There are three roles in the reactor mode. They are Victim, Persecutor/ Oppressor, and Rescuer.  You can see from their description why none of these roles supports problem-solving  or building solid relationships. This is the dreaded Drama Triangle. Dr. Stephen Karpman first articulated it in the 1960’s. It depicts the toxic interplay of the three distinct roles (victim/persecutor/rescuer). We may talk about this another time, but you can see that when you see the secret gift within a “victim’s” complaint, you are NOT in the Drama Triangle.

Isn’t it high time to love complaints?

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The UnGame , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Conversation for Action: Technology As Much As Art

Un-Game Principle: Clarity is the cornerstone of empowerment…yours and others’.

13-08-06 Conversation for ActionTo produce a desired result, be it in business or in our personal affairs, we have to be competent in what might be called ‘a conversation for action.’ How most of us have learned to produce action is through trial and error and learning from what seemed to work and what didn’t. That’s good. AND, would it be alright with you if you could be more strategic about conversations for action? Would it be alright with you if you could produce the results you want with greater clarity, focus, and ease?

There are verbal tools we need to understand, put into practice, and learn from. In Coaching Others on How to Be with Your Requests without Raising Hackles I featured requests without identifying them as a verbal tool for constructing a conversation for action. They are, but we’re not going to talk about REQUESTS here. We’re going to talk about another verbal tool we must master in a successful conversation for action. We’re going to talk about PROMISES.

Notice your visceral reaction even as you read the word PROMISE. Does your stomach tighten? Do your hands sweat? Does your heart beat faster? You may have many reactions, but neutrality is unlikely among them. Even the mere mention of ‘promise’ conjures up one or more experiences we’ve had around promises. Someone breaking a promise that was important to us. We breaking ours to others or to ourselves. Getting chewed out by a supervisor for not completing a report as promised. Oh, the sorrows of a broken promise!

Might it be worthwhile for us to expand our understanding of and our practices around promises? I say ‘yes,’ if we want to more often experience the heightened energy a fulfilled promise gives us.

Here’s what’s common knowledge. A promise can be kept or broken. What’s unfamiliar to most people is a third option. Good communicators intuitively exercise this option. But only a mentor of mine from nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Fernando Flores, former Minister of Education under the Allende Rule in Chile, named it. And there’s power in naming. Name it and you can claim it.

Dr. Flores taught us the third action in regard to a promise. We can REVOKE it.

A revoked promise is different from a broken promise in that you take it back before the date and time of fulfillment of your original promise. If fulfilling a promise energizes you and the person to whom you made the promise, and breaking it deflates the energy (It does. Check it out the next time. Your body doesn’t lie.), what happens when you revoke a promise?

That depends.

Revoking a promise, to be clear, is choosing to say to the other that you won’t or can’t fulfill the promise you made to them earlier. If you promised to have the report on your supervisor’s desk by Tuesday at 9 am, and you revoke your promise on the previous Thursday, do you and your supervisor have a different experience than if you revoked it at 8:59 am on Tuesday? Of course. At 8:59 am it’s not formally a broken promise (One minute later it IS a bona fide broken promise), but it has greater negative consequences than if you had revoked it on the previous Thursday. For everyone touched by the promise.

Revoking your promise the previous Thursday, well in advance of its fulfillment date, offers opportunity for a more creative response. So timing definitely affects the way a revoked promise is received. The negative consequences are far less when you revoke a promise early.

It’s important to know that when you revoke a promise,  you’re expected to make a new one. “I thought I could get this report to you as promised, but I can’t, given X Y Z, even if I work through the night. I can get it to you by Wednesday at 9 am. Will that work?”

Often there are no negative consequences at all. When you revoke a promise in plenty of time and make a new one, you gain respect for your clear and honest communication. You open up the conversation for a productive dialog and negotiation for a new date of fulfillment. You don’t break the promise and then scurry for all the reasons you had to. People hate excuses when they’re on the receiving end. Don’t you? One loses rather than gains the respect of the other person. Revoking a promise is an opportunity to be responsible, vulnerable, transparent, and yes, powerful. A new promise must, of course, have all the components of any other promise:

  1. You promise a specific action and
  2. You give (or negotiate) a date for its fulfillment

Revoking promises adds a powerful distinction to your repertoire of tools in your ‘communication for action’ tool kit. Mastering it begins and ends with practice. It’s both technology and art. Try it and see. I’d be interested in what you learn about yourself along the way.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Courageous Conversation: Can You Coach Others on How to Be with Your Requests without Raising Hackles?

Un-Game Principle: Clarity is the cornerstone of empowerment…yours and others’.

13-07-31 Courageous Conversation Coaching others to be with requestsYes, you can, if you’re willing to be clear, vulnerable, and flexible.  And willing to take the road less traveled. There are no good widely-shared models for this.

Have you noticed that we often assume if we have spoken clearly, the other surely heard what we’ve just said so brilliantly? We won’t have to explain. And surely, if they didn’t get what we said, they’d ask for clarification. Dream on. Not so. And have you noticed that when we notice our error, we often either stay silent or try again, often with some thinly veiled irritation?

There’s a better way. You can coach another in many ways. One such way is simply to ask “What did you hear me say?” And then, after affirming what they DID hear, clarify the part they heard incorrectly or not at all. “Yes, I did say it would be good to meet about this. What you heard that I DIDN’T say is that we’d need to make it a top priority for today.”

I like coaching people to be with me around requests I make. It’s good for relationships. What I’m about to share is best applied with peers, as in team members, between husbands and wives,  partners, siblings, friends, or with people with lesser positional power whose skills you’re in the position to develop or influence. Children, for example.  Or in business, direct reports.

So let’s say I make a request of a family member (Picture a team member if easier). I’m clear a request is not a demand. A request can be accepted or declined without penalty. A demand not. That’s the first thing to be clear about. Since a request can be declined without penalty, you are open to an offer from the other person. However, they may not know this. A way of coaching them is to say “I have a request, and I can hear a ‘No’ on this.”  This will open up the emotional space. If s/he cares about you, as we would assume in a family or a team, they may not accept the request but could be willing to make you an offer they think might satisfy your need as they perceive it. You, the request-maker would be open and flexible to an offer. If you can’t be, your request is a veiled demand, and people will resent it. Up with the hackles.

Perhaps the other is not skilled enough to make you an offer. If the request is really important to you, you might make yourself vulnerable by being transparent (the road less traveled) and say “It’s ok with me if you decline this request. It’s not a demand. I wonder if you can make me an offer about this that I haven’t thought about and that would work better for you?”  Can you see these questions and comments as examples of coaching the other in how to be with you and your request?

If the person comes up with an offer, you can accept it, decline with a thanks, or make a counter-offer. You’ve opened up the conversation and sent out the meta-message beneath all the words “I’m grateful that you’re open to conversation about this.”  At no time in the conversation do you try to manipulate (aka coerce) the other into accepting your original request.  Ever!That, too, would send the meta-message “It’s not a request. It’s a demand. And if you don’t meet it, it will cost you.” Hackles up.

Ok, let’s assume the request you’re making is so important to you that it would be difficult to hear a ‘No.’ The first thing is to be clear about that. That way you won’t fall into the standard and customary trap which, for example, may look like this between husband and wife: He cajoling and making accusations, attacking you as a person. “You always” or “You never…” Or she crying or slamming the door, the meta-message being “You’re hopeless. Why do I bother?!”

After being clear that it would be difficult to hear a ‘No,’ it would be courageous to be transparent and vulnerable. Yes, it is a courageous conversation. Here’s how you might coach this person.

“I have a request, Pamela. And I want you to know that I’d have a hard time hearing a ‘No.’ Then make the request. Be alert. If you have not yet established how you all will relate to requests, Pamela will hear it as a demand. She is likely to need clarification. Her response to you will let you know if she does. She may be perfectly happy to accept your request, make an offer in case she can’t accept your request  as stated (which you can then accept with relief and gratitude or tweak in counter-offer form), or tell you in one way or another that she’s feeling indignant, boxed in and ticked off …Who are YOU to make what she perceives as a demand. If that happens, it’s your job to clarify.

Here’s the clarification. “Just because I said I’d have difficulty hearing a ‘No,’ doesn’t mean that I can’t. I mean it exactly the way I said it. The way I hope we can relate to requests in our family (team) is that we accept, decline, or make an offer around such a request. In no way should declining the request hurt our relationship. In fact, being clear and open should serve us well in maintaining and enhancing our relationship.” The road less traveled…

In relationships of equal positional power, demands are a last resort. And we and the other need to be clear that it’s a demand being made. Recently I was in a harrowing ordeal. I’d come to the end of my internal resources. I phoned my husband and said “Pick me up at the airport . And I can’t hear a ‘No’.” It would be midnight, and he’d have to travel 100 miles to get me. He knew from my voice as well as my words I was making a demand, not a request. Declining would have hurt the relationship. No hackles. Joe just showed up, hugged me silently, patting me compassionately.  What do you think?  A fine reward for being clear and coaching another on how to be with your requests?

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Spend Time Now. Save It Later.

Un-Game Principle: The American love affair with ‘doing’ could actually waste time and make us less effective.

13-07-16 Spend Time Now Save it LaterOur voices reverberate all over the world. Increasingly stunning technological advances have made this possible. But can we still talk together?

In professional settings especially, we see talking together as a “waste of time” if we don’t have a specific objective. Go, go, go! Gotta get things done. The norms all seem designed to prevent genuine contact as we look to people as functions and what they can deliver relative to their function. We can chatter, even make requests and promises (text, e-mail?), but can we really talk? As in dialogue? And why might this be important to our productivity?

What’s a dialogue as opposed to a discussion? Dialogue’s root is Greek. Logos equals the word, and dia is through. Through the meaning of the word. Contrast that with discussion which has the same root as percussion and concussion. It means to break things up. It emphasizes the idea of analysis. There are many points of view, and the idea is to get points for yours.

Dialogue is not like that. It’s the art of thinking together to uncover shared meaning. This is especially useful in very tough situations where people are polarized, for example a dialogue between union and management.  In dialogue you get points for demonstrating that you heard others’ points of view. Isn’t that what we need more of in order to ultimately produce quality results even in more ordinary business challenges?

If connecting through dialogue were a technical challenge, meeting it would be simple. There are conditions that support dialogue. For example, all parties to the dialogue must be willing to be in the dialogue. There are also behaviors that are critical to dialogue’s success. For example listening and respecting. In addition there are certain things that will definitely happen in a group that’s committed to dialogue. Conflict, for example. Expect it and it becomes easier to navigate.

You can learn these skill-sets. In fact, you must if you want extraordinary results. Spend time now. Save it later.

But connecting with others in order to accomplish extraordinary results is an adaptive challenge, not a technical one. You must be able to adapt to the changes that occur in conversation, now and now, and now again.  Therefore, “If you meet a method on the road, kill it!”  When all is said and done, the capacity to be in dialogue with others is about who we are willing to “be” not about what we’re able to “do.”  Success in doing will happen when we are guided by who we are willing to be.

For example, are you willing to be truthful? Really truthful at a deep level? Are you willing to be compassionate, even as the other person irritates you? Are you willing to be courageous, even as your heart pounds and your knees knock? Your idea could be the one that changes your industry, you know. But can you stay open in the face of challenge to your fabulous idea?

In general you may be willing but find it easier to “do” than to” be”. Just being seems more in line with leisure, not with work. It goes against the grain to “be” at work. It feels strangely lazy. As Americans we are expected to “do”, to perform, to accomplish, to achieve. So the modern mind balks at being. “Show me the money” you might say, if you’re American.” Get on with it. I don’t have time.”

Could you consider the counter-intuitive notion that it’s precisely because you experience time pressure to get to goal that it makes sense to learn or relearn to simply be? And to develop the art and science of dialogue? Spend time up front to save time later. How un-American.

The bottom line talk we so prize in business has its place, but it may take us away from the heart of the matter. It doesn’t always get the job done.

There’s a saying that goes like this: “Only the rich can afford to buy junk, because they can afford to buy twice.” Might its corollary be: “Only those with unlimited time can insist on ‘Give me the bottom line’ because they can talk again when they miss their goal.”?

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches and managers, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.