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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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. 

One Simple Way to Assess and Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

Un-Game Principle: Awareness and demonstration of qualities of contribution are firmly linked to emotional intelligence.

13-07-02 One_Simple_Way_to_Assess_and_Increase_Your_Emotional_IntelligenceHow emotionally intelligent are you, that is, how able are you to monitor your and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide your thinking and actions? Emotional intelligence is big business for consultants, trainers, and coaches these days. Why not test on your own how emotionally intelligent you are and gain some powerful self-awareness and relationship skills in the process?

First, recognize that you can be the BE-keeper. Ok, so this has nothing to do with bees. It’s about making the distinction that there are 3 domains in which we function as human beings. The domain of BEING, DOING, and HAVING.  Americans are very skilled (maybe too skilled) in ‘doing’. We certainly understand ‘having’. We’re  conditioned by advertisers to want and to have. Where we’re a bit fuzzy (ok, quite a bit fuzzy) is in the domain of ‘being.’ What we don’t realize is that we can make an active choice as to who we are willing to be, moment by moment. And then focus our energies on the ‘doing’ that’s intimately  connected to the choice of who we are willing to be. Emotional intelligence lives there.

Notice I said we have a choice as to who we’re WILLING to be, not necessarily as to who we’re GOING to be. Ever notice that your best intentions to be compassionate or flexible sometimes don’t work out as hoped or planned?  Let’s face it, it’s easier to be disgusted than compassionate and flexible with this statement uttered by a CEO of a multi-national company (“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” Read on to see who said that.).

Second, recognize that there are ‘qualities of being’.  Try each in the following list on for size by saying “I am willing to be_____.” Notice how you experience those qualities around your heart region. Do you experience a sense of openness? Constriction?   If you look at the qualities, you’ll see that each is a quality that, when demonstrated, is a contribution to you, your organization, your team, your family, to anyone you’re in contact with. If you’re saying “I don’t have time for this,” consider that this is precisely why it would be good to experience it! You could be too deep into the domain of ‘doing’.

OK, so here are 23 qualities of ‘being’.

ALERT

APPRECIATIVE

CLEAR

ATTENTIVE

COMPASSIONATE

COURAGEOUS

CREATIVE

EMPOWERING

ENTHUSIASTIC

FLEXIBLE

FOCUSED

GENEROUS

GENTLE

GRATEFUL

JOYOUS

KIND

LOVING

OPEN

PRESENT

RECEPTIVE

SUPPORTIVE

TRUTHFUL

VULNERABLE

 

Remember to say “I am willing to be flexible, open, and supportive”. Wanting  to be is not a prerequisite.  You can’t choose wanting or not wanting…feelings have a “mind” of their own…but you can choose to be willing. And choosing offers you some control over what you do next. Guided by one or more of these qualities, you will make (be) a contribution.

So what does this have to do with measuring  emotional intelligence and making yourself more aware of how you’re acting and how you’re being perceived by others?

When you demonstrate these qualities of being you’ll be perceived as emotionally intelligent although people may not use that term. They will just experience well-being in your presence, trust your authenticity even as this will sometimes cause discomfort.  If so, then you could choose to be willing to be courageous and clear and set out to demonstrate those qualities, couldn’t you? :-)

How can you observe these qualities of being in yourself with ease?

I suggest you choose 3 different qualities of the 23 above daily and ask and answer this question mindfully: “Who am I willing to be in order to produce an extraordinary result out of this interaction?” Answer: “I am willing to be______, ______, and ______.” Let yourself experience the question and the answer as if you had all the time in the world. Notice how this affects your energy. Keep these qualities visible throughout the day. You may choose several times, if you like, before a challenging meeting, for example. Then as you go through your day, notice opportunities to demonstrate these qualities. How are you doing? Do you get distracted by your feelings about someone? Do you confuse HAVING the feelings with BEING the feelings? Can the team member from hell, a jerk boss, or your pesky neighbor un-moor you? These represent your greatest opportunity for choice. Remember you are WILLING to be these qualities. You can’t guarantee being them, but you can guarantee being WILLING because you can choose again and again even after perceived failure.

If you’ve chosen “I’m willing to be generous,” notice how generous you are with others as well as with yourself. Is one easier than the other? Notice that and ask “What would it look like right now if I were being generous with _____?” You will gain self-awareness and exercise your CHOICE muscles. The rewards are great, sometimes immediate, sometimes only after much practice.

These qualities of being come from your best and highest Self. We haven’t been taught to distinguish them in our daily lives from our fear-based ego self. Here’s your chance. Choosing the qualities consciously and observing how well you express them in action is a practice that could have an enormous impact on life as you know it. Let me know how you fare with this practice. I have great hope for individuals and organizations whose actions are guided by these qualities. I’m not nearly as hopeful about large, global corporate entities, many of which have lost their focus on serving the public good.

I’m not hopeful for Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson who in response to a proposal to set corporate goals for cutting oil emissions asked “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”  I think he’s not ready to choose 3 qualities each day out of contribution. Unchecked power will not relinquish its fear-based choices easily. It may take a lot of committed people banding together willing to be clear, focused, creative, truthful, and courageous to hold our mega-corporations accountable for their actions. Shall we practice and just begin with you and me?

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach 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.