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Creating a Real, not a ‘Boutique’ Win in Your Relationships

Office Party0001Un-Game Principle: Challenging our own and others’ unexamined assumptions is not only a contribution, but a necessity so that important relationships can flourish.

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A win/win is an occurrence that two or more people consider positive; or it is a solution to a problem, which parties with differing stakes or points of view, can rally around.

Those of us admirably dedicated to creating a win/win between ourselves and another person (or group) usually buy into one of the definitions above. We work hard on satisfying the other person (or group members) so that we can claim being someone who rejects win/lose and lose/lose results. Yet don’t we sometimes wonder why we feel so let down, even irritated. You know, you and your partner agree after some discussion about a vacation destination, but he doesn’t seem genuinely supportive of the decision. Hmm. Might it be that your partner said ‘yes’ when s/he meant ‘no’? In that case that partner entered into a pretend win/win, and it’s actually a lose/lose situation.

Or do you sometimes try so hard to please the other that you end up noticing you didn’t dedicate yourself to creating a ‘win’ for you. The result is the same—either a vague dissatisfaction or outright irritation or anger (often at the other person) or, if you’re honest with yourself, a slowly seething irritation or anger at yourself. A lose/lose scenario?

It could be said that there really are no win/lose scenarios except in a domain like sports and politics. Of course we want winners and losers there. Or in books where we love to hate the ‘bad guy.’ In human relationships that matter to us, when one person loses, the other does too. So what we really want is a better understanding to guide us into creating a ‘win’ for all.

So in the example above, when one of the people notices the faux win/win, they must become the challenger. The challenger reopens the conversation with the intent to go for the real ‘win’. Most of us have a hard time challenging. Do you? We don’t have good models for challenging. We have good models for being in a role of oppressor/persecutor. This role was first identified in the 1950ties by Stephen Karpman and is labeled the drama triangle (More about the drama triangle and its 3 roles, oppressor, victim, and rescuer in the archives).

We have lots of practice playing in the dreaded drama triangle. It can be very subtle. For example, “You never say what you really want. How can we come up with something we both are happy about?” Familiar? I thought so. This is really an accusation, and the other feels victimized by you, the oppressor. You can tell that’s happening when the predictable result is that the so-called accused gets defensive.

A challenger does not accuse. A challenger is totally committed to creating a win/win. So the challenger is the great truth-teller. The challenger stays on his or her side of the street, tells what they see, and makes clear offers or requests.

“I’m sensing you aren’t really on board with our decision. If my perception is correct, I want to talk about this again. I’m unwilling to go on vacation without your full endorsement for our destination.”

Can you see this is a challenge? It offers a perception (You’re not on board…not couched as fact which gives the other some breathing room) which the other now has to speak to, particularly when they hear that their partner requests to talk about it again. It clearly states where the challenger stands (unwilling to go unless it’s a ‘win’ for both) and what the consequences would be, if they don’t have this conversation. It doesn’t in any way negatively characterize the person being challenged.

And yet, because people are so unpracticed being outside of the drama triangle, the act of challenging is, well, challenging! Why? Because the person being challenged may very well respond in an oppressor or a victim role (We easily move between roles in the drama triangle). The person who perceives himself accused and who is therefore defensive, even though you did a great job of challenging, quickly moves from victim role to oppressor. He might say a hundred things. Here’s just an example:

            “Here you go again. Never satisfied. I’m going. Isn’t that enough?”

The challenger must be clear that s/he won’t be pulled back into the drama triangle. The above comment is indeed the invitation to do just that. People are comfortable in the drama triangle roles. The roles are familiar even as those roles make us unhappy. We must resist the tendency to restore the equilibrium the person being challenged is trying to get to. We must challenge again. Darn!

“Actually, no it’s not enough for me. I don’t consider it a ‘win’ for us when you give me an unenthusiastic ‘yes’. I want to have a good time, and that’s impossible for me if you’re only going because you think it makes me happy. For the record, it doesn’t.”

We are not used to keeping up the challenge. I think back to my younger years when I taught high school. The administration often put out rules, and kept their fingers crossed that the tough kids, who really were the target of those rules, would obey those rules. Often when they didn’t, the administration looked the other way (felt they were the victims of the oppressing students). Or, if parents challenged a rule, the administration often abandoned the rule rather than dealing with the perceived oppression of the parents. A lose/lose scenario for everybody.

Here’s what people who are committed to creating a win/win must know that they often do not know, and that we haven’t yet talked about. A win/win is sometimes perceived as a win/lose by one of the parties (the tough kids considered the rules as a ‘lose.’). Another example, a two-year old wants to cross a busy street. She considers that a ‘win’. (I want what I want is normal and natural for a two-year old). Her mother or father, of course, will not let her cross the busy street at will. Despite kicking and screaming of their daughter, parents know what a win/win is in this situation. They restrain her.

As challengers we need to know when to stand strong, no matter the reaction of the other. It’s rarely as clear as in the above examples, but there are times when the challenger has superior knowledge: appropriate rules enhance safety or freedom. A challenger with superior knowledge is willing to take consequences that upset the other.

When the challenger is willing to take the consequences of a deliberate decision that affects him or her alone, he or she gets to decide what a win/win is. For example, my mother wants me to mow my lawn before the company comes. Let’s say it’s not important to me. Only my mother’s feelings are affected. While I like to please others, I consider it a lose/lose when I please them at my expense. I am in charge of my ‘yes’ or my ‘no’ (and sometimes I may choose to say ‘yes’ to my mother about the lawn, but if so, it’s my choice, not hers). I consider it a ‘win’ for my mother when I don’t enter into the drama triangle with her.

When we unconsciously get pulled into one or more of the roles in the dreaded drama triangle, creating a win/win becomes impossible. Why not challenge me on the content, intent, or spirit of this article? We may all learn something important about being the challenger and creating real, not faux ‘wins’ in our important relationships.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for individuals who want to be in charge of their lives, 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:, or connect with Ingrid at: and

Would It Be Alright With You If Your Relationships Were Easier…And Sweeter?

220px-Cherry_Stella444Un-Game Principle: Being able to make distinctions allows us to be more productive and peaceful.

I’ve been called twice for jury duty in as many months. I found myself slightly irritated. But realizing that it was my expectation to not be called again so soon, I reflected on the ability of our expectations to cause suffering, especially in the domain of relationships. Relationships mean so much to us whether we admit it or not.

So why us it important to distinguish between Expectations and Expectancy? The dictionary doesn’t make a big distinction. They both mean, ‘to live in a state of expectation.’

It’s important because expectations, unless shared by each of the “relators,” cause breakdowns, distance, isolation, disappointment, regret. How are you experiencing your energy right now just confirming the last statement? Restricted around your heart region, right?

Expectancy on the other hand is different. Relationships blossom in the wake of expectancy. It loosens the grip of expectations. It brings both “relators” into the here and now. The relationship comes alive with possibility. Something mysterious and miraculous can emerge. Closeness, not distance or isolation, is the more likely experience. And this experience can be had at home and at work. In fact, it can be had in any setting.

How are you experiencing your energy around your heart region right now as you imagine such closeness? Go ahead, and check in with yourself. If you have a deep experience of it, you may live more in expectancy than expectations.

I resonate for the most part with what Matt Hohmeyer, a Baptist minister in Marble Falls, Texas, has to say about the difference in the experience. To his thinking, there is a great difference between them. Pastor Hohmeyer says:

“Most of us live our entire lives with expectations all around us.  We have expectations for ourselves.  We have expectations for others.  Others have expectations of us. We have expectations of our God and for our relationship with God.”

He continues. “I struggle with expectations.  I struggle under the weight of them.  I struggle to uphold them. We are bred under the weight of expectation. These may serve to motivate and drive us to some degree, but in the context of relationship expectations only serve to inhibit, constrict, and control that which is meant to be free and dynamic.

Expectations are set and specific in nature. Expectations lend themselves to static systems that are easily managed and defined.

But relationships are non-linear and dynamic in nature. They do not progress evenly along a given slope, but are living organisms that have life of their own and are not meant to be managed but lived.

This is where expectancy enters the equation. Relationships are made for expectancy. With expectancy there is freedom instead of law, there is fluidity instead of rigidity. There is an expectancy that should exist within our relationships. Whether we are together or apart, there is an expectancy of being together, of laughing, and talking and experiencing life with one another. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else.

If this expectancy is exchanged for expectations, then legislation enters the relationship.  For example we feel the need to set certain times and frequency of meeting.  We are expected to perform a certain way within relationship.  Living relationship deteriorates into a static formality with rules and requirements.

“My greatest hurt and disappointments in relationships (with humanity and with my God),” Hohmeyer continues, “have been a result of others not living up to my expectation for them and our relationship. My greatest joys and my healthiest relationships are those lived in expectancy. Expectancy allows those we are in relationship with to be fully themselves and to love us and invest in us in the fullness of what they have to give and we have the same freedom toward them.”

“How different would our relationship with God be if we did not limit our relationship with our expectations?  How different would it be if we stopped living under the weight of what we believe to be God’s expectations of us? What if we simply lived in a state of expectancy of God moving in our life and our responding as He leads? Can you imagine how that would free you to respond and how it would free God to move beyond any of our small, limited, constricting expectations? Such freedom, I fear, is rarely experience among believers.”

Hohmeyer goes on to imagine how different our relationships would be with one another if we dropped our expectations. This is where he and I part company. I suspect it’s not even possible to drop expectations. Furthermore, I claim that it could even be detrimental. I do accept Pastor Hoymeyer’s earlier claim that relationships should not be managed. They should be lived. Fair enough.

However, what is important is to manage expectations within a relationship! Make important-to-you expectations explicit. You do not have the right to have all of your expectations met. No one does. You do have the right to put your expectations out to another and then clarify, and if necessary negotiate them, to where both parties declare their commitments or move on with their plans separate from the other for this moment in time.

“I’ll come to visit if you’re able to have dinner with me or spend the afternoon with me.”

The explicit expectations exchange leaves room for some other conditions of satisfaction that haven’t even been mentioned to emerge.

“If you come on Saturday instead of Friday, we could spend the afternoon and have dinner.”

“Oh, great. I hadn’t thought of that.”

This scenario could not happen without the conversation that made the expectations visible. Making expectations visible doesn’t invalidate what Pastor Hohmeyer puts forward. We can still live with one another in a state of expectancy. Living in relationship expectantly is being open, receptive, kind, compassionate, curious. It’s coming from a permeating mind-set of “All is well. My good can’t be taken away from me. And your concern is my concern.”

Throw out the rigidity of silent expectations and you open yourself up for the delight and surprises of expectancy. Would it be alright with you if your relationships were easier…and sweeter?

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:, or connect with Ingrid at: and

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:, or connect with Ingrid at: and

Three Very Dangerous Words

Un-Game Principle:  Belief creates the fact.

I bet you’ve had an experience where somebody hasn’t listened to you. They already “knew” what you were talking Magic Wand Imageabout. You’ve probably done it, too.  I have. The fact not withstanding that it alienates us from others and them from us, we continue on our merry way and do it again. And again. “I already know” is magical thinking. But has anyone in the whole history of the world ever quit on magic just because it didn’t work? I doubt it.  So “I already know” may be three very dangerous words in any language. The best we can do, I suspect, is to notice our “I already know” thought, and if it comes up often, recognize that we’re in the grips of an entrenched belief.


What happens when you’re with a peer who says “I already know.”?  You know, the secret self-proclaimed expert. Go ahead, look into your experience when someone has done it to you. What do you see? You see that you or what you’re saying is no longer a possibility for the speaker. Done. End of story. What happens to you when you notice you’ve cast your pearls before swines?

  1. You try to make your point stronger and louder.
  2. You try to alert the other that they’re not getting it.
  3. You cast doubt on the value of what you’re saying.
  4. You feel hurt and withdraw.
  5. Your energy drops to the bottom of the well.

If it’s a boss who “already knows”, you may not feel free to do numbers 1 and 2 above. You weigh the consequences because the boss you alert to his or her “I already know-ness” may fault you for disturbing their certainty, and that may be a punishable offense. Leaders who value that feedback are still in the minority.

Anything else? I don’t already know! :)

The impact in inter-personal interactions of anyone who “already knows” is pretty dismal and has many ramifications for leaders, managers, and teams. And for individuals, couples, parents, teachers, etc.

“I already know” is costly to our capacity to be free to explore and learn, to productivity, and to relationships. You, as an enlightened leader who notices it in other team members, can be generous and gentle but not let it go unremarked upon. You might ask; “Do you already know this, or do you think you already know this?” “How do you know this is a fact rather than a conclusion?”  “If you didn’t already know, what would you be looking at in this situation?” Tell me what you think you know about what I’m saying to you?” “Is there anything about what I’m saying that you find interesting? What would need to be added, subtracted, or changed about what I’m saying to make this useful to look at?”

There are probably hundreds of questions you could ask. Which one you ask matters less than doing the asking. The purpose of the questions is to reengage the speaker who “already knows,” not to punish them. Your inquiry models the behavior you wish the “I already know-all-about this” person would demonstrate.  You offer breathing room and the meta-message that the other matters.

Yes, offer the very thing he or she didn’t offer YOU!

The power of modeling has been well documented. Plus we know it from our own experience. How well is “Do as I say and not as I do” working? Enough said. Your asking powerful questions makes a powerful difference.

You’re up to it.

If you’re fortunate enough to notice it when YOU perpetrate the “I already know” on others (If  someone close to you has complained to you more than once, consider a coach to help you with this blind spot), you’re almost home free. Noticing is the first and most powerful gift to yourself. Now you’re at choice. The fog has lifted. You can change what you’ve become aware of.

 If you have any doubts about the negative impact your “I already know” has on others, you don’t have to ask them. You can just go on an adventure. Rather than saying to yourself “Ok, fine. I don’t already know” (You’ll get pushback from that endless chatter that says “Yes, you do already know.”), keep the belief “Being interested in my team’s ideas may enhance our creativity” uppermost in your mind.  Your “try-it-on-for-size” belief will naturally direct your actions. Your actions will be different than actions emanating from the old  “I already know.”  The only challenge will be to notice when the old belief turns up again. When it does, acknowledge it. “Ah, there you are again.” Then shift to the other belief again. It may feel weird, but practice makes____________. Did you say “I already know! Everybody knows that. Practice makes perfect.”

“Really?” I say. “Perhaps practice only makes progress. Does that interest you?”

Henry Ford was right when he said, “Belief creates the fact.”  We have a belief, and then get busy gathering evidence to make us right. But we think that’s not so. We act as if evidence leads us to any given  conclusion.  Wasn’t it your so called evidence that led you to your “I already know what Mary is saying” conclusion?  What there is to know about the “Belief creates the fact” phenomenon could change everything. Careful. Do you already know?


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:, or connect with Ingrid at: and