Biker in Paris in the snow

How Snow in Paris Taught me about Diversity

It’s snowing in Paris.  A layer of white flakes changes what is visible and how things previously hidden, now appear.

Snow, more specifically comparing the sun-filled and snow-covered view of the same scene, provides a visual image of benefits of diversity.

Switching Paradigms – the Positive Perspective

On my walk to the Metro, I pass by a patch of unkempt, sprawling nettles.

Today, with a dust of snow, these weeds appear just as delicate and ethereal as the flowers caringly planted that grow beside them.

It’s quite refreshing, both literally (!) and figuratively.  How do you feel around a person who always finds faults?  Whose company do you seek:  the shoe salesman who goes into the jungle and asserts, “No one wears shoes.  There is no market.” or the one who discovers, “No one wears shoes.  What opportunity!”

It is energizing to observe what is good and admirable.  When looking out for the mishaps, we miss the qualities.  We find what we seek.

Noticing the Unseen

What surprised me the most is not what the snow covered…but what it revealed.

The size of the tree trunks.  The wire fence.

Paris in 1919 in the snow

Tree Trunks

On a sunny day, when I look at a tree my eyes focus on the network of branches and the promise of leaves.  These branches covered in white blended into the light grey sky.  It’s the tree trunks that stand out, a blotch of dark standing out like a sore thumb.

A friend is launching a start-up.  She has product characteristic without being sure of her market.  Oops!  It’s time to step back and get the big picture. Her mentor shared, “You have beautiful leaves.  Now grow the tree!”

Intellectually, this made sense.  Yet it remained head-knowledge.  Today as we walked in the snow and the white branches faded into the light gray sky, the tree trunks loomed larger than usual.  She “got it.”  Without the tree trunk (understanding the market need), the leaves (her company’s specific solutions) don’t matter.

The snow uncovered the fundamentals.

Wire Fence

It’s the wire fence that surprised me the most.  I rarely noticed the slender cross wires.  Now each wire measures 1cm high with snow.  What used to be a quazi-transparent barrier is now quazi-opaque.

It’s like the H & M “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie worn by a black boy.  The campaign did not register with the all-white board of directors until The Weeknd cancelled his marketing contract.  (How many lost weeks and dollars went into seducing him and then negotiating and signing the agreement?!)  Negative press abounds.  Good-will took a dive.

The snow revealed how something that seems innocuous to one group could be restrictive to another.

Diversity MATTERS and has consequences.

Diversity MATTERS and has consequences. Click to Tweet

Diversity Accelerates Competitiveness

Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor and author of Teaming: how organizations learn, innovate, and compete in the Knowledge Economy, reminds leaders that although most incentive and promotion packages are based on individual performance, teamwork remains the essential ingredient for success. In the speed-driven Internet economy, the organizations that prosper are those that create teams that learn together faster.

When everyone thinks the same way, learning suffers.  Less surprise.  Fewer questions.  Less conflict.  Fewer solutions.

Which brainstorming session would you prefer attending?

  • The meeting in your corporate auditorium with people you regularly work with all dressed in their customary suits
  • The session beginning with surprising trust-building exercises, led by junior members of the team…

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
Albert Einstein

Diversity Reduces Risk

Diversity is like investing in a portfolio of stock vs. solely in one company or industry.  The advertisement campaign may go sour in one organization; it’s unlikely that all competitors make the exact same decisions.

Edmondson asserts that high-learning organizations (companies, families, classrooms…) allow risk-taking and its corollary, failure.

They systematize learning as of the beginning of the discovery process and at every step along the way to catch bloopers while the stakes remain small.

It’s easier to change course at 500 meters into the journey than 20 km into the hike.  In addition to less backtracking (and the related negative emotions), finding the “wrong turn” and getting on track is more expeditious.

Diversity Brings Discomfort

A client spoke of their corporate culture: new hires with potential integrate the “Fast Track” where both they and the company invest in their managerial development.  It’s an intense program which generates elite graduates with ambition and proven grit…who also think alike.

When the company merged with a previous competitor, the newly created organization was led by a “Fast Track” graduate.  Over the next year, all of the professionals from the previous company resigned from the new organization.

The stock price of the parent company also took a deep dive and management announced massive job cuts.  Is there a relationship?

Discomfort of diversity now could save from the greater pain and cost of job loss later.

Be Diverse in your Diversity

Your workplace is more traditional?  Start by actively cultivating diversity at home.  We are each responsible for our own learning.

Try one of these:

    1. Connect with your teen by doing an activity that’s in their comfort zone.
      Have you tried an Escape Game together?  A stand-up comedy show?
    2. Explore different cultures through food.
      It’s a great way to explore diversity with kids.  This week try Black Ink Risotto.  Next week how about Curried Tofu. So what if the kids don’t like it.  It’s one meal…and a conversation that can build over weeks.
    3. Do you work with numbers and pride yourself in rational thought? Take a MOOC on emotions or a drawing class.
      Or if you artistic, sign up for a logic-driven coding course.
    4. Get inspired by Keith Ferrazzi, entrepreneur and author of Never Eat Alone, and co-host a dinner party.
      You invite half the guest and your friend invites people you do not yet know.  As you mingle and linger in the comfort of a home, you grow your network and your comfort zone.
    5. Build empathy as a family and volunteer for a food drive.
      Listening to the stories of the guests challenges one’s stereotypes.

You can be a catalyzer for diversity in your office.  Practice at home makes diversity easier to implement at work.  You’ll have intriguing stories to share at the coffee machine and become a resource and encouragement for others seeking ways to add spice to the team.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming insight on management inspired by the Paris snow storm.

 

Photo from Maleva.& Salut Paris

playmobile crushed by sneaker

5 Ways to Avoid Being Crushed by Power Struggles at Home or at Work

Do you feel like the world is crushing down and it’s out of your control?  Your boss imposes too long working hours?  The sound of bickering children is more than you can bear?.

How to get unstuck?

Step out of the Power Struggle.

What does you feel in your body when your soul feels under pressure?

Here is an activity from Positive Discipline workshops that makes that connection.

One person (let’s call him Andy) sits on a chair.  His job is to get out of the chair.  Two people (we’ll name them Beatrice and Clark) stand on either side of Andy with their hands on his shoulders.  Their job is to make sure that Andy stays in the chair.  Ready. Set. GO!

How EVERYONE struggles!  Andy tries to get up.  Beatrice and Clark push down harder.  This resistance gets Andy annoyed and determined.  He struggles even harder.  Beatrice and Clark reposition themselves to glue Andy into. That. Chair. No. Matter. What…

This activity generates loads of laughter. Everyone looks ridiculous.

All agree on the verdict: control begets control.  Power struggles, by definition, escalate.

So, how does one step out of a power struggle without appearing to “lose the battle”?  Can one “win” power-struggle free?

1. Decide which Battle to Fight

Boxing girl by Frank deKleineWhat’s your goal?  How will you define “winning”?

Your and my time and energy are finite.  Consider them as treasures to invest, not commodities to spend.

As a young employee, I did speak up when my male colleagues cracked sexual jokes.  One-to-one with my boss I mentioned that I felt uncomfortable with that kind of humor and wondered if our meetings were the appropriate place for it.  I got so much flack for that!  Yes, they stopped those jokes within my earshot…instead I became the laughing matter.  “Sh!! Denise’s sensitive ears are around.”

I may have “won” one battle but it turned into another conflict zone, and a more personal one.  I will not spend my energy on that battle again. Now, if someone gossips or speaks disrespectfully, I simply get up and leave the room.

Which battles do you want to fight at work or at home?

Here’s another common area of differing opinions:  the family dinner.  My idea of a great dinner is when we all converse and find out about each other’s day.  My French husband insists on table manners.  Conversations, if you can call them that, can go like this:

Me to son: “Honey, tell us something interesting about your day.”

My son opens his mouth to speak.

Husband to son: “Chew with your mouth closed.”

Silence.

Agggggh!

2. Reframe Issues to Create Multiple Winners

reframing with for win-win solution

Previously, I had felt hampered by my husband’s interruptions which put a dead halt to conversation.  I chose to focus on the larger and more appealing issue for all of us: to connect with each other at least once a day.  Mealtime still remains the most convenient time for that.

We worked together to set ground rules. 

“What do we need to do so that dinner time is enjoyable for everyone?”  Everyone contributed ideas which we summarized into the following

  • The dinner table is a place for pleasant conversation AND good manners.
  • Good manners include good listening AND table manners.
  • No snacking after 5:30 pm so that we are hungry for dinner at 7:30.

3. Use Humor Instead of Fighting

Funny glasses

Ah! Then, unwittingly, I used these collaboratively build rules to control my kids!

One son explicitly recounted a swear-word exchange during school recess.  I reprimanded, “The table is a place for pleasant conversation and good manners!” Another child complained that he never gets enough pasta and reaches for his brother’s plate to serve himself.  “Darlings! The table is a place for pleasant conversation and good manners!”

One evening a friend visited from out of town and joined our family meal.  When the kids went off to sleep, she turned to me with a twinkle in her eye and exclaimed, “THE TABLE IS A PLACE FOR PLEASANT CONVERSATION AND GOOD MANNERS.”

How embarrassing!  And how liberating!  Through humor she showed me how I had been putting pressure on the kids.  Yikes.  I was the crusher!!!

Humor can be delicate since many people experience it in different ways.  The process my friend used is simple and helpful: to mention the obvious with a smile. Several times.

Maybe you feel like your boss treats you paternalistically when he insists on correct spelling.  You are an adult and yet he tells you how to do your work in minor detail!!! Be a step ahead of him with a smile.

“Oh! And maybe I should check the spelling on the Power Points before sending them over…What do you think of the utility of going through spell check on the documents?… I wonder if someone thought of proof-reading.”  Smile.  Wink.  Smile.

Humor can remove a burden from oneself without crushing others.

4. Acknowledge that You Cannot Force Someone Else to Change

Have you tried to diet?  Or start an exercise program?  Or stop watching Netflix series?  Changing is TOUGH.  That’s why there is an $11 billion self-improvement market in the US and it’s growing 5.5% annually.

We cannot force change on others.  By adding pressure, we can affect change…until we stop pushing. Disengagement results.  Over time, we apply increasing pressure which render poorer results.

Why not admit our inability and transform a command into a request.

“I can’t force you to brush your teeth.  I’m asking you because I love you and because I don’t want you to be hurt by having cavities. Sweetheart, they are YOUR teeth.”

5. Choose How You Will Act and Do It

I love this story shared by a professor at INSEAD Business School.  How to balance the pressure to be present at work considering a one hour commute which doubles during rush hour?

As a Parisian mother of a school aged child, this professor wanted to respect her work commitments AND enjoy time with her kid.  She investigated among her other commuting colleagues how they managed the schedule.

“Do you come early and leave early?  Come late and leave late? Or do you come early and leave late?”

One colleague suggested she follow the example of the man in the group. “Come late and leave early.”

“He does?!!”

He strategically scheduled his classes and meetings and consistently performed well at work.  And, he kept a low profile about this schedule, reorienting discussions towards the work to be done.  He just did it.

What does “Choosing what I do and doing it” look like at home?

Many parents idealize about having a regular family dinner…and yet it rarely occurs especially when one spouse has unpredictable work hours.  Will they be home for the meal?  Or for the kids’ bedtime?  Or will the arrive in time for your night out to recharge?

Uncertainty can be a burden; it restricts the options for decision-making.

The parents who navigate with the most peace of mind the pressure of reconciling career and raising young children are those who decide on their own schedule and organize accordingly.

Dinner will be at 7:00 pm.  Food will be left aside for the late arriver.  The babysitter comes on Thursday evenings (zumba class) regardless.

Decide what you will do…and do it.  You can choose your actions.  And they speak louder than words.

DJ at radio studio

A parenting coach, a cop’s kid, and a foodie talk on radio

Yep, I was invited on the Thursday noon talk show with David Hailwood, the director of Expat Radio, and Lisa Ranking, founder of  Flavors of Paris.

On the air with 64K listeners from 86 countries I shared about parenting… yet the most dauting audience was:

  • Lisa, the mother of two cats, who interviewed me about SoSooper and Positive Discipline.  We connected on topics like empowerment, different cultures, AND getting kids to eat.
  • David, the son of a Manchester police officer, who introduced lively discussion through unnerving anecdotes: the mother who threw china out the window and kids trying to bribe their way out of punishment.

Here are a few highlights:

Expats + SoSooper => Family Culture

SoSooper helps parents build a culture of thriving for their families.

Parents often take family culture for granted.  Have you defined yours?

There is a moment, however, when families confront culture head on…when they move abroad and become expats.  Simple things become complicated.

The Dampierre’s (my family) are quite Frenchified and savor our daily fresh baguettes.  When we go to the US, “fresh” bread comes wrapped in plastic bags(!)…so that it can last for days!!!

Corporate culture, however, is a priority for most professional organizations.  Managers in companies invest money, time, and talent to create an environment that promotes success.  Isn’t thriving what we want for our loved ones too?

So, I spoke of SoSooper bringing leadership tools to the family arena, training and coaching parents in empowering their children and developing habits which promote cooperation and inclusivity.

Build a culture of thriving for your family. Click to Tweet

Foodie Examples of Family Culture

In talking with Lisa, of course, we embarked on a conversation on food and children’s eating habits.  How might a family culture relate to the food on one’s table?

Lisa enquired this way: “Should parents insist that their children try every food on their plate?”

My answer: “It depends upon the family culture.”

Take the Discovery Family.  Mom and Dad take to heart the importance of diversity and want their children to embrace it.  To be consistent, parents could train the kids to welcome differences by having them try a variety of foods.  They could pursue further than merely requesting to try foreign fare.  Why not entertain a weekly discovery meal?  Have YOU tasted strawberry risotto, watercress soup, or curry pizza!

Consistency is key.

And it’s sooper easier to say than to do.  (That’s why we offer coaching.)

It’s harder to be convincing as a parent when you say, “Be tolerant and open-minded,” and daily serve up noodles and butter (or another standard staple).

Let your actions and your words speak the same language.


When Plates Fly – Anger Management

That’s when David contributes the story of his boyhood friend with the open ground floor window.  No matter what the weather.  He found out why the hard way.

One afternoon, in heading over to his buddy’s house to play, he was nearly hit by a plate whizzing out from the house.  A woman’s raging voice accompanied the flying saucer.

Buddy and he hurredly scurried away to play in safety until the mother’s fury abated.

As a positive parenting coach, how does one respond to such a tale on live radio?!

I can empathize.

Like this mum, I (and surely you too) have moments of “Loosing it.”

And the kids know which levers to pull to reach that tipping point. 

Yet another muddy footprint on the light carpet.  A look of defiance.  Lack of response…especially when I’m in a hurry.  They expect me to react immediately to their request…when they previously gave the silent treatment…

“So, is anger bad?  What if we can’t help it?” inquired Lisa.

Anger. Flying books. Scream
Aaaagh!
Confused, wondering child
Hummmmm…


Emotions as Gifts

Emotions are neither good nor bad.  They are signs that something good or bad is happening.

I like to view feelings as gifts.  Emotions occur in response to events or behaviors.  Something happened BEFORE the plates flew.

We often think of anger management in terms of “solving it in the moment.”  It’s when we feel anger than we need to deal with it.

But what if we could include the children in positive ways of organizing the home so that the anger triggers don’t even happen? 

Consider this family.  The mom flipped her lid when the children regularly complained about the food she lovingly cooked.  She created Weekly Menu’s and invited the Biggest Complainer to make the menu for the entire family.  “You get to choose what to eat…AND when the others don’t like it, they tell you.”

He felt honored to be trusted with the responsibility…for several weeks until he realized it was really work.  This solution transformed his mealtime vocabulary; he replaced whining with gratitude.  Instead of, “Peas?!  You know I hate them,” he exclaimed, “Great!  Today is corn day!”

And the plates stay in the cupboard.


Punishment Avoidance

David graced us with another parenting story.

Ask questions sign

As the son of a policeman, he was privy to delinquent youth’s request to negotiate favored treatment with the police.

Dave’s stories sure kept me on my toes… and I was glad to share a Positive Discipline anecdote from Californian police.  They used the tool of Limited Choices to engage the cooperation of people they were arresting.

“Would you like your handcuffs in front or in back?”  “Do you want your mug-shot on the right side or the front view first?”

These questions enabled the police to remain firm in their requests WHILE treating the detainees with respect.

It works at home too.  “Would you like to put your blue shoe or your red one on first?”  “Will you turn the video game off or shall I?”

Lisa exclaimed, “Denise, what you do is help parents empower their kids!”  Exactly.


How to Prepare for Parenting?

And David came up with his third story.

So, clearly parenting benefits from practice.  He’s heard of mums carrying around the industrial size bags of flour to get ready to be a parent.

Here, Lisa interjects.  “David, if you ever choose a career reconversion, avoid parent coaching!”

Could you hear my smile on the radio?!


When Parents Wish Kids had “Pause” Buttons?!

(Maybe unknowingly) David uncovered another soft spot… Might there be moments when parents do treat their children like an object?

“NEVER!” Is the first thought to come to mind.

And yet…. there were moments I craved to find my sons’ “Pause” button.  In the grocery store when walking by the candy aisle.  When it’s bedtime and he wants to keep playing.  When he refuses to listen…

Boy playiing in leaves in fall
Where is “Pause”?
Boy sleeping in pile of fall leaves
Found it!

 

Machines and robots have “Pause” buttons.  People don’t.  And children are people.

It’s one of the principles I love about Positive Discipline.  This science-based approach to building respect-filled relationships is founded on the principles of Dr. Alfred Adler, a forward-thinking psychiatrist from the 1930’s.  Austrian by birth, he worked with prisoners of war as well as with children.    At that time, both groups of people were considered second-class citizens.  Children were to be seen but not heard.  Victims of wartime imprisonment, staggering to find their bearings after freedom, felt locked in trauma and stigma.  Alfred Adler believed in the equal value of every person: whatever their age, race, gender, career, past, or potential.

That means they (and we) each have choice.

You and I cannot forcefully push the “Pause” button on someone else.

We can, however, put OURSELF on “Pause” and create a family culture where calming down becomes the welcome norm.

 

“When You’re Angry, Go to Your Room.”

For close to a decade, our family has practiced an Annual Review.  The children give me feedback on

  • What I do well. I commit to continuing.
  • What behavior they would like me to change. They make the request and we talk about this.

Our youngest piped up, “Mom, when you are angry, go to your room!”

What wisdom!  From whom did he hear that?  Clearly from One. Smart. Parent.

This child created our Family Pause Button.

Now, when I am blind with fury (which happens more rarely ????), my children help me find clarity.  “Mom, remember your job (from the Annual Review)…”

And in the same way, I share it with them: “Sweetheart, it sounds like you’re angry.  Shall we both go to our rooms?”

Gratitude

Thanks Lisa and Dave for an inspiring discussion.  The contrast in styles and perspectives is what made it so rich.

David, you CHALLENGED me.  Thank you.  Your comments stimulated me to put into practice my principles of empathy and value of differences.

Lisa, thank you for your encouragement.  You expressed, “Aha!’s” throughout our exchange.  That’s what SoSooper is about:  learning, growing, becoming Sooper (super with room for more growth).

Hope to catch you again on the air.  www.ex-patradio.com

Cover image by John Hult from Unsplash.
Car-less Paris

Practice makes Prepared (not Perfect)

Yesterday, I experienced Practice makes Prepared…and ended up having a “perfect” outing, despite the rain and the sweat!

Prepared not Perfect while biking in Paris

Yesterday was decreed “No-car-day” in Paris.  We live outside of the city and usually drive in for church on Sundays.

Instead, I bicycled into town.

In my 30 years of living in Paris, this marks the fourth day of my cycling adventures in the city.  Three of them were on no-car days and the other was at 1:30 a.m. (Don’t ask.) Enough to have learned from past experiences (mistakes) and to be prepared to fully enjoy this ride.

I (kind of) had a checklist.

Equipment:

  • Bike & lock
  • Helmet
  • Shoes for biking
  • Extra shoes to look chic
  • Pants that worked for BOTH sports AND fashion
  • Bag to manage the transition between my two “looks”

…and felt ready to roll.

The list was far from perfect.

Under the light drizzle, I would have done better with a waterproof jacket.  Jean jackets get wet…and so do the bodies wearing them.  Learning for next time.

I got lost.  Upon returning home I downloaded the Paris bike-route app.

Not Perfect.  Still wonderful.  And way better than before.

Prepared or Perfect in Parenting?

What are our expectations as parents? 

Truth be told, for many years I expected close-to-perfection from my kids.  These reflected some of the messages I had assimilated, and without thinking, was transmitting to my children.

  • Do it right the first time around
  • I said it once. Five minutes ago.  It should be done by now.
  • Act your age (meaning “Act like an adult!!”)
  • Do as I say…and follow the good examples of what I do
    (and ignore the bad examples)
  • Know what I mean, even when I don’t explain it

But I missed enjoying my children and feeling that home was sweet.

Hummm.  Either I would have to change my hopes (happy with kids) or change my demand for idealized behavior.

In this vulnerable, question-filled mindset, I became aware of alternative messages from a wide variety of “philosophers”

Practice makes prepared to learn from mistakes.  Prepared to grow.

Prepared to plan ahead.  Prepared to be intentional.

Prepared to be creative.

Prepared to do the best you can no matter what comes your way…with the confidence there will probably be a next time when you can do even better.

Kids Prefer Prepared over Perfect

This paradigm shift in my mind translated into allowing the children to be responsible for their mistakes (so what will you do about it?) AND their successes (You must be proud of yourself).

Here’s what it sounds like at our dinner table:

Before – when I was expecting perfection –

Child (with mouth full): “Today…”

Me: “The table is a place for pleasant conversation and good manners.  Please speak when you finished chewing.”

In my search for perfection, I interrupted their creativity and zest for learning!!! Agghhh!

Now – when I am learning about preparation –

Me: “Guys, I am so disappointed in myself…” and I shared about how a professional opportunity slipped by and what that mishap is teaching me to do differently.

Later that week, as I was leaving for work, my lackadaisical son piped up, “Don’t miss an opportunity today, Mom.  Look out for it and go for it!”

My son is getting prepared for life through my imperfections!

Will you let go of perfection for your children to gain their preparation for life?

Will you let go of perfection for your children to gain their preparation for life? Click to Tweet

Everyone wins.  Ready to roll?!

Cover photo from LeParisien 2016 Journée Sans Voiture Paris

 

 

Angry Zax screaming

Stop anger-gangrene:  Love vs. Be right

Angry words.

“This food is disgusting!”

And, just in case the entire dinner company had not heard the announcement correctly,

“THIS FOOD IS FOR PIGS.”

Earlier in the day, this mother and her son enjoyed an outing at the neighboring pick-your-own farm where they harvested fresh corn.

Golden and shining with butter, the corn-on-the-cob now lay steaming on their plates.

Girl eating corn on the cob

“Yummy” to most of the family.

“Yucky” to one…

…who decided that if he had to suffer, then everyone would too.

My friend looked at me dolefully as she shared the story.  Then admitted, she wished it had been a child speaking.

The anger-spewer was an adult.

 

Being Right Fuels Anger

School of Etiquette 101 teaches that insulting the cook is impolite and wrong.  School of Life teaches that if you want food for dinner tomorrow, talk nice.

From the school of Mom-of-4-Boys, I know how much sweat, elbow grease, time, money, AND LOVE go into meals.

Planning.  Shopping.  Preparing. Eating. Teaching table manners. Cleaning.

And over again.

Rude comments à table just slice up the atmosphere.  Conversation is chewed up.  The mood and the food lose their spice.

I understood her anger and feeling of justified ire in the face of purposeful insults. ESPECIALLY from an adult.  Aghhh!  Those repeated times trying to set a good example being swiftly undercut!

My friend poured out her frustration and fury.  She was RIGHT.  The other one was wrong.

 

And yet…I wonder if the other person felt justified in spouting these purposeful insults too.  There usually is another side of a story.

My friend was not ready to hear that.  Not while she relived the feelings of being shamed in front of her children and of having her parenting efforts dismantled.  So, I stayed with her.  Just stayed…until she readied to move out of…reliving the pain.

Our feelings don’t just linger as emotions; they lead to decisions and actions. 

Often hurt leads to revenge.

Often hurt leads to revenge. Click to Tweet

Yet, what a cost.  When the sh__ hits the fan, there’s LOTS of clean-up.  Too much for my taste!

 

My friend’s issue centered on corn-on-the-cob comments.  You and I will have another.  And we will ALL face the same choices:

  • To focus on the behavior…or on the relationship?
  • To choose to be “Right” …or will I choose to love?
  • To try and change other people…or to venture to grow ourselves?

I choose to change me.

It might sound easy.  IT IS TOUGH.

 

When Being Right Means Being Stuck in Anger

In no way do I condone disrespectful comments or inappropriate table manners.

At the same time, I don’t want to be a Zax either.

In this Dr. Seuss story, the South-going Zax and the North-going Zax met up and neither will budge.  They “reason” (a.k.a. argue). “Discuss” (a.k.a. butt heads).  And stay stuck, arms crossed, faces frowned.  Meanwhile life progresses around them.

Angry Zax screaming
“I’m right.” “No, I am Right.” ” NO!!! I AM RIGHT (bleep)”
Angry Zax stay mad
The two stubborn Zax stuck in their tracks…

If a relationship has a chance, someone must make a conciliatory move. 

And the only person I can control is me.

 

I remember when I tried to mend a bruised relationship.  I used “I statements” like, “I felt hurt when you _______ (spoke meanly about the food) and I would like to hear you recognize that ______(those were mean words).”

The person stormed out of the room.

I tried again a day later.  “You have to learn to let go,” I was told.

 

Choosing to Love

That response hurt.

And part of me wanted to let the relationship go.

Yet I choose to stay connected.

It means choosing to love even still…

Nelson Mandela is reputed to say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

I want to live.  Richly.  Fully.

Not feebly in between sips of arsenic.

LEARN TO LET GO!

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person.

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person. Click to Tweet

 

Loving above & beyond Anger or Hurt

Here’s what helped me let go.

Look at what to hold onto

Not focusing on the hurt is like not thinking of the pink elephant.

Every time you try, it looms LARGE.

Instead choose to concentrate on something positive

  • To define respect in your home
  • To heal the other’s wounds
    (Those who hurl revenge often harbor hurt)

 

Focus on the issue (vs. taking it personally)

If there were no grain of truth, an insult would have little hold.

An offense aims to distract from the issue to the person.  We all mess up.  It does not make us a messed-up person.

Go on a treasure hunt to identify the underlying grievance.  Does it concern your behavior?  Might it belong to the other person?

It could be their need to feel loved, belonging, and able to contribute.  We humans become superbly AWKWARD in expressing our deepest needs!

Maybe your and my vision is blurred.  Our “attacker” untucked a hidden issue (like, “you take care of the kids but not me”).  We would have trouble hearing the message even if it were kindly said…

Is there a “right” person or a “good” way to learn DIFFICULT lessons?!

 

Get encouragement elsewhere

Airplane security guidelines ALWAYS indicate that in case of turbulence to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

How are you and I getting that required boost?

Schedule self-care.  Make time to do one thing that makes you feel better.

Do it before the crash!

 

In an ideal world, we might commune over every topic with our spouse.  We don’t all live in Utopia at every second of the day.

It’s too much to ask of anyone to completely fill our emotional needs.  Could you do that for others?  (I cannot.)

Give your partner a break.  You and I will need them to let go for us too.

Bon courage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Virtues and Values with Kids without Preaching

When our eldest child was three years old he popped this question: “Are you friends with all of the people at work?”
I answered simply for his age and already envisioned deep discussions on friendship, respect, and,yes, even office politics!

Then time zooooomed by and I finally paused long enough to wonder what happened with those conversations. Would we ever have them? Continue reading “Talking Virtues and Values with Kids without Preaching”