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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.

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.

Rory Vaden: Realign yourself to reconcile conflict

We try to avoid it. We go to great lengths to pretend it doesn’t exist. But, inevitably, we are going to have relationship conflict.

There is a person at work who you don’t think is pulling his or her weight. There is someone at home who has a bad attitude. There is a friend who has allegedly been spreading lies about you. And now we’re in the middle of it. So, what do we do?

Read the full article at Tennessean.com!

The 3 Keys of a “Clean-Up Conversation”

Conflict in relationships is not only an inevitable part of being human; it is a fundamental necessity of strengthening any team. Any team that creates a culture that embraces conflict between people as just another expected routine business process to work through is a team setup for success.

The crux of working through conflict in our relationships and our communication with one another is what I call a “Clean-Up Conversation”. Here are 3 keys to having great ones:

1. State your highest intention first – Don’t begin your Clean-up Conversation by launching immediately into all the things the other party has done wrong. Instead establish a solid foundation to work from by reinforcing the things you both believe in. Re-state your commitment to the team or the cause you are both fighting for. Validate what you do know to be true about the other person’s intentions. Affirm the principles that you know you both believe in and try to operate by. Start by stating the indisputable truths that you both agree on.

2. Transition with honesty – After you state your highest intention, without using the word “but”, then move into your feedback for the other person. All you are doing here is acknowledging that things aren’t perfect between you. You can say “at the same time I feel a bit of a separation from you right now and I’d like to work through it.” You are just bringing up the idea that things aren’t working so that there is no confusion about what is coming next.

3. Deliver the feedback – Tell them what the cause of your conflict is. Be direct and specific and don’t use absolute language like “you always” or “you never”. Instead, speak of a specific instance(s) with specific details of what happened. And try to keep anything that you are reliving from the past in first person. Use words like “I” or “me”. So rather than saying “you were a jerk” say “my feelings were hurt.” The first one is disputable but no one can ever argue with the second. Most important of all, is don’t be emotionally charged when delivering feedback to other people – it clouds and complicates everything.

When you embrace the idea that conflict is an inherent and necessary part of growth in any relationship you don’t get as worried about having these clean-up conversations and you don’t get as emotional in the middle of them. Learning to fall in love with the process of having “Clean-Up Conversations” will make just about any team challenge in life more navigable.