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One Way to Not Lose Friends – But Why We Often Do

friends

Its unfortunate that we often judge other people by their actions but judge ourselves by our intentions.

When other people mess up it’s easy and natural for us to point out their mistakes, highlight them, and use them as evidence for why they aren’t capable or worthy of our praise.

Yet when we mess up, it’s easy and natural for us to defend ourselves by trying to explain and articulate to other people what we really meant to say or what we were really trying to do.

The reason we do that is not because we’re bad people. We do it because we simply have access to the information of knowing what our intentions are and we often don’t know the explicit intentions of others.

We know that the way it came out was not what we really meant to say and that it sounded much worse than we actually think or feel.

We know  that the way other people interpreted our behavior isn’t an accurate reflection of what we were really trying to do.

We  know that because it is us.

But a lot of times we don’t know what another person’s intentions were.

And so all we have to go on is our immediate interpretation of their actions.

Many times though, that is a shame. Because it causes us to assume the worst about people when there is perhaps another viable and reasonable explanation.

It’s a shame when we allow ourselves to get angry at others, misinterpret others, or distrust others without exploring what was really going on.

Too often it causes us to lose friends that we never should’ve lost.

Perhaps that is why there is so much wisdom to the phase, “’tis better to seek to understand than to be understood.”

Seek to understand..

It gives us a chance for reasonable explanation.

It gives us a chance for clear representation.

It gives us a chance for possible reconciliation.

Because we spend time exploring what someone’s actual intentions were.

The valuable technique here is to learn to generously give people “the benefit of the doubt.”

To assume the best in people and not the worst.

To believe there is some explanation and not an intention to do evil.

Especially with the vast majority of the people we know and are around every day, they generally have good intentions.

There are relatively few people who are ruthlessly evil, completely self-serving or deliberately sabotaging.

But there is a lot of room for misinterpretation and miscommunication.

That is just because there are so many unique ways to look at a topic, event, or idea from a different point of view.

But just because someone has a different point of view doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

If anything, it’s cause to embrace and explore what their view point is so that we can learn from it.

With ourselves though, we can be more strict and demanding. We can push ourselves to be more considerate of how other people might interpret what we do or say.

We can look beyond just our intentions and challenge ourselves to make sure that there is less room for misinterpretation of our actions.

We already know that we have the best of intentions and so we can strive to make sure that we take action in a way that it is most likely to be viewed as positive.

We can help try to save people from having to question our intentions.

So, if anything, perhaps we should flip things around from the natural way we sometimes live.

Instead of judging others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions…

Maybe we should generally give other people the benefit of the doubt by assuming they have good intentions, yet push ourselves to deliberately consider how we will affect others through our actions.

4 Ways to Know You Might be the One Who’s Crazy

crazy

At least half of what we worry about is a complete figment of our own imagination. 

It’s an astounding capacity of the human brain to be able to take one iota of negativity, one hint of upsetting feedback, or one small challenging circumstance and exponentially multiply it through mental mushroom in the wrong direction. 

I’ve found that this can especially be true when it comes to interfacing in communication with other people who are a different behavioral pattern from us. 

People who we don’t naturally connect or communicate well with can sometimes be the sources of our greatest stress. Because their communication to us and ours back to them for some reason just regularly gets misinterpreted. It’s literally “miscommunicated.”

Like two people speaking two different languages, it doesn’t matter how many times we say the same thing over again or no matter how loud we say it, we just can’t seem to get through to them. And similarly we can’t seem to understand they’re explanation or defense to us. 

In the absence of understanding their words, the challenge then becomes that we are left to our own devices of doing our best to interpret what they were actually trying to say. 

And that’s a slippery road. 

Because once we have conflict and misunderstanding with another person  based on our inability to communicate with them, we inevitably start to question their intentions. 

“Why are they saying that?”

“Why would they do that?”

“Don’t they know that _______?”

On and on it goes…

So how do we resolve these issues? 

I’m not sure I have a good quick answer for that. 

But I have learned what will make it worse and what not to do. 

What you don’t want to do is mental mushroom. 

You don’t want to start trying to read into their words more than they are saying. 

One thing you can be sure of is that if you can’t understand what they’re saying to you when they speak to you, you certainly won’t be accurate at formulating their intentions in their absence. 

Here’s a few signs that you’re allowing things in your head to spin out of control making it worse than it really is:

1. If you add words to what they actually said when you recount the conversation. And if someone challenges you on that, you respond with “well c’mon that’s what they really meant.” Chances are, no they did not. Chances are that the words they actually used to say what they said is closer to their legitimate intention the is your interpretation of what they said. 

2. If you start spending time thinking about their motives. Once you rabbit trail down asking “why would they say/do that?” You’ve pretty much gone overboard. Not only will you not find accurate answers; you’ll also drive yourself crazy as there is no end to the amount of time you can spend thinking about this and the number of stories you can invent.  None of which will bring you any resolution. 

3. When you start forecasting negative extremes way out into the future. If your spouse says one thing that rubs you the wrong way and your mind immediately launches into asking “does that mean we need to get a divorce?” then you can be pretty confident your creativity is now running the show and not your logic. Your creativity likes to work way out in the future and with fantasy more than it does with the reality of here and now. Creativity working in the positive direction is vision but creativity working in the negative direction is fear. 

4. When you have grand visions of conspiracy. The moment your brain starts correlating one person’s behavior with another, or one circumstance with another, that is a strong indication that your mind is creating more of a movie to keep you entertained than it is informing you with data you need to come to a resolution. 

Interpersonal communication is essential for anyone to be a great salesperson, entrepreneur, leader, friend, or spouse. And of course in times of conflict and disagreement you will always be certain that it’s the fault and intentions of the other person that is the problem. 

But chances are it might sometimes be you who is driving yourself a little crazy. 

The Radical Response to Dealing with Mean People

mean

Meanness is a sign of weakness.

People who are strong, confident and secure do not attack other people.

Because people who are strong, confident and secure don’t derive their strength based upon their relationships to other people.

True self-esteem, true peace, and true contentment is the internal result of knowing you’ve done everything in your power to the best of your ability. It’s the byproduct of controlling what you can control, being grateful for what you have, and is not dependent on other people or outside circumstances.

So if you encounter someone who is mean, it is a glaring sign that they are struggling with something.

They are struggling with pain.

Remember only hurt people, ever hurt people.

Happy people don’t hurt people. They have no reason to and nothing to gain. You only hurt others if you feel you have something to gain from it.

Anger then, is an indulgent expression that results from an unhappiness or frustration with one’s own situation.

Being mean is foolproof evidence that someone is lacking something from their own life.

It is only when we are lacking something from our own life that we then resort to deriving our value from positioning ourselves in comparison to others. Namely, the attacking, criticizing, or condemning of others is used as a mechanism for elevating ourselves over another person or group of people.

At least that’s what we are trying to do subconsciously when we are mean to people. In reality of course, being mean to others is only a reflection of our own weakness and is not something that other strong, mature, and intelligent people are ever drawn to.

But it leaves the question, “what do you do when someone is mean to you?”

Should you retaliate?

Should you justify your own position?

Should you just ignore them?

That decision is yours, but I’ve tried all three and none of those responses seem to create lasting resolution because none of them deal with the root issue that is causing someone to be mean, which is pain.

People who are mean are experiencing some kind of pain.

They are hurt.

They have taken a beating.

They have experienced some type of loss.

You may never get to know what that pain is or what caused it but if you can remember that they are definitely dealing with some type of deep pain, and remind yourself of that, then your response becomes clear.

You should treat them in the way you would treat anyone experiencing pain.

You love them.

You pray for them.

You care for them.

You support them.

It is not easy to do that. It is not simple to do that. It is not popular to do that.

It takes extraordinary discipline, awareness, and maturity to do that.

But if you do it, it will create radical transformation – if not in their life, definitely in yours.

The Misunderstood Truth About Conflict Resolution

conflict

We spend too much time trying to convince people that we are right and not enough time just caring for the people we are talking to.

No one cares if you were right or wrong.

No one cares if you were accurate or inaccurate.

No one cares if you did say that specifically verbatim or you didn’t.

Because as Maya Angelou so eloquently articulated, “people don’t remember what you said, all they remember is how you made them feel.”

So it doesn’t really matter if you did someone wrong or you didn’t – if they feel like you did then you did.

It doesn’t really matter if you lied or didn’t – if someone feels like you were dishonest then you were.

It doesn’t really matter if you were mean or you weren’t – if they feel like you disrespected them then you did.

We spend too much time splitting hairs over the actual semantics that were used or the specific minute details of what happened – and none of it matters.

What matters is how you make people feel.

Do you make them feel cared for?

Do you make them feel appreciated?

Do you make them feel loved?

Do you make them feel heard?

Do you make them feel sincerely apologized to?

Or do you make people feel manipulated?

Do you make people feel intimidated?

Do you make people feel unimportant?

Do you make people feel like they’re the one who is always wrong?

And although you can’t ultimately control other people’s feelings, it’s still a worthwhile use of your intention to focus on for two reasons:

 1. It helps you focus on what is productive with others and it keeps you from being distracted with the trivial details of disputes

2. It causes you to do the right things

Why?

Because there is only one sustainable way to make people feel a certain way…

It is to actually feel that way about them!

People have an uncanny sense of distinguishing between how someone says they feel and how they really feel.

Which means you have to do the work of actually caring for them.

You have to do the work of actually looking after them.

You have to do the work of actually loving them.

And that is often difficult, disciplined, but worthwhile work.

It’s difficult and it requires discipline because it requires us to get outside of ourselves.

It requires us to let go of what we want, our need to feel validated, and our desire to be proven right.

And we instead trade that in for a chance to serve.

A chance to listen.

And a chance to look after someone else.

So the question is not about what you did or didn’t do.

The only question that matters is “how did you leave them feeling?”

Are you hard to be friends with?

friend

Great relationships develop not from the absence of conflict but from establishing an agreeable protocol for working through disagreements amicably.

If you find someone who you can “fight” well with, then chances are you’ve found a friend for life.

Half of resolving disagreements though has to do with your end of the dispute. You have to be able to receive feedback and coaching from your friend in order to have a hope for restoring that relationship.

One weakness that I’ve noticed about myself in my own life is that I haven’t always been the best at receiving feedback.

At times, it turns out, I have been a D.I.P.

D. Defensive – When people offer you feedback, do you defend yourself? Do you explain yourself? Do you try to justify why you were doing what you were doing? None of those things make you a bad person but all of them make you difficult to communicate with.

You have to remember that when people are giving you feedback it’s as much about them having some emotion they need to express to you even possibly more so than it is about delivering useful information to you. If you defend, justify, or explain – even if it is fair points you are making – you make it nearly impossible for them to feel resolved because they feel like you never heard what they were trying to tell you.

Which now means they are upset with you about two things. The first is the thing they were originally upset about but the second is that “you don’t listen” which has now been added on top.

Instead of defending, justifying, or explaining instead try to just ask questions. Don’t try to teach them something, just respond to everything with a genuine question that gives more clarity and detail to what they are trying to communicate to you.

You can always decide later that they are just totally out of their mind crazy and that everything they said had no value or truth to it whatsoever. But for now just listen. Ask questions. And take notes. Say “tell me more.” Then give yourself a day or two before you respond.

I. Insecure – When people offer you feedback, do you get emotional? If you do, it is almost a clear sign that you are insecure about something. Because when we are insecure, our brain starts to mental mushroom and it tries to attach meaning as to why this person is saying it what they are saying.

Our brain starts to run off in crazy directions adding extra meaning to what they are saying and coming up with crazy scenarios about why they are saying it – which makes it impossible again for us to actually be listening to them.

We respond emotionally to what we “think” they’re saying instead of just listening or processing what they’re actually saying.

P. Personal – When people give you coaching about how something you’re doing could be improved, do you internalize it as if they’re saying something is wrong with you?

It’s so easy to forget that just because someone is critiquing our technique, doesn’t mean that they are challenging our character.

Do your best to not make their feedback mean anything more than what they’re saying. Stay focused on the isolated behavior and instance of the behavior they are offering a suggestion on. Don’t extrapolate it into what their personal feelings may be about you.

If you ever feel yourself starting to get emotional when you’re receiving feedback, that’s a good sign that you’re being a D.I.P. – just like I have been.

But there is no need to be. Instead just be coachable, adaptable, curious and open to change.

For it is a great sign of maturity when you can seek to understand even when you have simultaneously been misunderstood.

How to Know if You’re Getting Feedback or Criticism

feedback

Feedback is delivered with the intention of helping someone.

Criticism is delivered with the intention of harming someone.

Feedback is meant to lift people up.

Criticism is meant to push people down.

Feedback offers actionable ideas and suggestions.

Criticism offers a bunch of whining and complaints.

People who deliver feedback do it because they care about you.

People who deliver criticism typically only care about themselves.

Feedback is an act of courage.

Criticism is an act of cowardice.

Feedback happens privately.

Criticism happens publicly.

If you can find someone who will give you feedback you should hang onto them, and heed their advice.

If you find someone who criticizes you, pay them no mind and do what you can to separate from them.

Feedback is something you should listen to.

Criticism is something you should ignore.

Feedback is something you should give.

Criticism is something you should keep to yourself.

However, the one thing that both feedback and criticism have in common is that they are given to leaders.

They are given to people who are making things happen.

They are given to people who are growing.

They are given to people who are making a difference in the world.

If you are receiving feedback or criticism, it’s because you are in some way out in front of a crowd.