Sunday, March 1, 2009

No Mess: Make Differentness Work For You

I'm sure you've heard about the "mess." The media report about it daily: Obama inherited a mess, the stock market is a mess, global warming is a mess, I-15 commute is a mess, yada, yada, yada. It seems that everywhere one turns there is a "mess." Now people are using the term "mess" to describe their troubling relationships. All too often, an exasperated mom will heave a heavy sigh about her relationship with her son or daughter and lament, "Oh, what a mess." Viewing difficult relationships as a mess is faulty reasoning. The word "mess" connotes dirty or untidy---something that needs to be cleaned up or fixed. It is true that relationships need constant nourishment, but they are not dirty nor readily "fixed." Relationships are challenging and, if managed successfully, they are very rewarding. One way to manage your relationship is to embrace "differentness." Sameness is what brings people together, but it is differentness that creates interest and joy in our relationships. Rather than view the differentness in your relationship as a big "mess," meet your "differentness" as a natural consequence of two real people coming together to build closeness and trust. Put aside your fears and see how meeting differentness can work for you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Feedback: A Gift for Discovering Blindspots

Cheers to a New Year and a second chance to do it right in 2009! The best way to learn how to do it right is by discovering our "blindspots".....which can only be done through valuable feedback. Of all the New Year Resolutions that I have heard, I have never heard anyone say, "My resolution this new year is to be more open to feedback from others." Wow, what a new concept! Why is it that when we are given valuable feedback we interpret it as criticism? Instead of accepting it as a great gift that will help us improve, we reject it and become defensive. There could be several reasons for this behavior. One reason could be that we don't understand the value of feedback and how it can work wonders for us. Another reason could be that we lack the skills in giving and receiving meaningful feedback. Learning the skill of how to give and receive feedback is the most important skill we can learn in this life. This skill alone will improve our relationships and our quality of life. So this year, instead of taking valuable feedback and trashing it because you see it as criticism, I challenge you to listen more carefully and probe down for better understanding. Learn to do it right in 2009---discover your blindspots by accepting feedback from others (your spouse, boss, kids, parents, friends, and enemies)!