Moving from the issue at hand to ensure your actions and behaviour are consistent with that bigger picture.
First a little background. This blog post is based on an email I recently sent out in gratitude to the participants of the Making Room For You Assessment.. (The Assessment is still open and if you are a female professional, I invite you to take it! I will then send you the series of emails I created to thank the participants. I have received great feedback about how helpful the content has been to readers.)
The focus of this email I sent out was on learning how to manage relationships better, both personal and professional. Here’s what I said.
In previous messages [to the Participants], I talked about how you are your best resource. I believe the same holds true in this context. So, the best gift I can offer you here is another question. (Coaches do love to ask questions! :-))
A powerful and basic question you can ask yourself when you are feeling challenged in any relationship, personal or professional, is:
What do I want for this relationship?
When you have your answer, govern yourself accordingly, accessing the best parts of you to do so. The question has the effect of moving you out of the issue at hand for a moment, and reminding you of the bigger picture, that of the relationship as a whole, so that you can then ensure that your actions and behaviour are consistent with that bigger picture. It helps you see that the relationship is an entity separate from the two of you, and something that you will influence with your behaviour. To act on what you really want for the relationship might be quite a challenge for you. (I speak from personal and professional experience here, as I am my own longest-standing client.) You may need to draw on qualities such as courage, integrity, authenticity, self-responsibility, compassion (for both of you), creativity and collaboration. It will be easier if you approach it all with the attitude of “live and learn”, of wanting to continue to grow. Also the more you deeply know yourself (your values, your strengths, your passions and so on) and love yourself, “warts and all”, the easier all of this will be.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. First, imagine you are having ongoing issues with a peer at work and you must interact every day. What do you want for that relationship? Perhaps you conclude that you want to be able to get along with this person so you can both do your work and avoid unpleasantness on a daily basis. In that case, remember this when something happens that really annoys you, even if you were “right”. How could you behave in that situation that would facilitate “getting along”?
Here’s a second example. Imagine that you have been having an ongoing “dispute” (aka fight) with your partner about something, let’s say a financial issue. It is really easy for both of you to quickly get highly emotional about the issue – talking about money does that to many of us. What would happen if you were to ask yourself, right in the middle of the dispute: “What do I want for this relationship?” … And, the answer might be: “I want us to have a relationship that is filled with love and trust and lasts for the rest of our lives.” If that’s the case, how might you change your behaviour right in the moment? Or at least the next time you find yourselves having that fight?
Of course, we all have many more types of relationships in our lives, with children, siblings, parents, bosses, employees, and so on. In each case, I invite you to ask yourself the same question: “What do I want for this relationship?” Maybe in some circumstances, you don’t actually know the answer to: “What do I want for this relationship?” because so much is uncertain. Maybe the relationship doesn’t yet even exist, such as when you are yearning for a new intimate relationship with someone. In that case, I would invite you to be true to yourself and the values that you hold dear. I invite you to get to know yourself and love yourself with all your imperfections. All this is easier said than done, I know. Written reflection would be an excellent tool for you to use to help you overcome this challenge. One way to reflect is to journal, which is an incredibly effective way to create change for yourself. Remember, you can always experiment with journaling on my journaling website. It is free and easy to use, with wonderful results. And, of course, you can apply for a free Strategy Session with me to start you on your way to clarity.
Finally, here are a couple of resources for you which are helpful, especially for more intimate relationships:
- a recent New York Times article called “The Brain on Love” by Diane Ackerman
- a TED talk by Helen Fisher “The Brain on Love“; she has also created a dating site called Chemistry.com based on her MRI research that looks interesting, though I don’t know anyone who has used it…
You can always check out the resources page on my website for more ideas. I am an avid reader and am always adding new items to it.
(This powerful question “What do I want for the relationship?” is drawn from the coaching materials I was given in my training by Adler International Learning Inc. It is part of the Adler “Value Triangle”.)
So, now, blog post readers, what are you taking away from this that is valuable to you? Please post a comment and let me know. I really value your feedback! And remember, you are welcome to sign up for a free journal at my JournalEngine site. You can even just try it for a week and see how you like it. I have created a simple but powerful exercise, proven to improve well-being (especially happiness), for you to try when you sign up. If you have questions about the journaling site, please email me and I will be happy to answer them.