I know how frustrating it can be when colleagues or family members don’t pull their weight, they don’t meet our expectations resulting in frustration and disappointment. It’s a really hard place to be and can lead to stress.
Generally, I’m a calm natured person and it takes a lot to drive me crazy. I’ll never forget the moment I had a stand-up argument with a peer who I disagreed with and I felt he was disrespecting me. He didn’t want to hear my opinion, he’d decided already. There was no conversation to be had here. I see now that I allowed my fear to rule. In my head I’d decided to interpret his behaviour as disrespecting me and my value. I took his behaviour personally. I was his peer and I felt he’d muted my voice and made me angry.
Reality is that I’d chosen to interpret his behaviour as a reflection of me, and as I result I indulged my fear and I lost my composure.
Consequently, did I stop sharing my opinion? Absolutely not!
I know that my behaviour was wrong and out of character, but I also know that I have a voice, learned skills, strengths and the ability to think. We all do. The key is to understand what is going on around you and make an informed decision on how to respond.
Whenever I experience similar situations where I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall or not being heard. I recite the saying “be the change you want to see in the world.”
As a result, I changed my behaviour.
His not listening was an outward indication of fear mode being in play. Perhaps insecurities about any other option, perhaps he wanted to be seen as the overall leader, perhaps a fear of losing control and being seen as weak for changing direction? This is all subjective.
How could I have reacted if I was being the change I wanted to see in the world?
I certainly wouldn’t have lost my cool. Instead of reacting through my own fear, perhaps I could have tuned in and allayed some of his fears? Rather than staying in my idea zone, perhaps I could have understood better why he was against an idea? Perhaps I should have rescheduled for another time when energies were less fraught?
Yes, I’d want someone to challenge me because I don’t know all of the answers and I don’t have all of the ideas. To be challenged in a way that is calm and human would be my preference. Without anger, without malice, engaged with open ears. It would be a two-way conversation. As a result I wouldn’t have left the meeting feeling so angry and stressed. I probably kept hold of these feelings for a good few weeks afterwards. Did it add any value to my life or work? Not at all. I wasted my energy and for what?
When you get feedback that is unexpected and it hurts you. Don’t react immediately, take time to digest what has been said, why the person might have been motivated to say it. Could it be true? Is it true? What actions would you take if you were being the change you want to see?
When something doesn’t go quite the way you planned, there is always an opportunity to rise to the challenge and learn from it. It makes you stronger and more resilient.
Putting in into action…..
- Think of a time when you’ve lost your cool or you’ve been angry with a situation.
- Now put yourself in the other person’s shoes, what do you think was really going on in their head? Did they want to help you and you wouldn’t listen or was it vice versa?
- If you were behaving like the change you would like to see in the world, how different would your behaviour have been?
- How would you have felt if you’d behaved this way instead?
- Is it worth trying to be the change you want to see in the world?
Next time you find yourself conflicted, recall the saying “be the change you want to see in the world,” take a moment to reflect on it and then take your authentic action. Whatever happens you will walk away having led by example and you will feel a better person for it. Perhaps in time other people will see that they like your behaviour and they will change theirs accordingly. You can’t change others, but you can lead by example even if you are not in a position of leadership.
Don’t delay, be the best version of you that you know you can be!
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