Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Sharing Vulnerabilities Builds Trust

May 24th 2008

I recently shared a brief life autobiography at my workplace as part of a team building and employee engagement emphasis at our monthly staff meeting. I was a bit apprehensive at the idea at first but once I prepared for it and wrapped my life into a few minutes of stories and presentation of pictures, the whole experience turned out to be quite enjoyable. This was partly due to the discussions and questions from others after hearing my story. My approach for the autobiography, was that I really wanted to present it in a way that showed some of my life lessons, not just a time line of events with pictures and I am happy I did because a number of people told me that was what they liked most about it.

The Story (not) Revealed

Since I thoroughly enjoy telling stories, I had a few to present from different times in my life. I used the techniques I wrote about here to capture the audience and I was able to stay quite excited and animated in the delivery of my presentation. I’m not actually going to share my autobiography here as that is far better suited in person than in written form. Instead, I’ll expand on the story of what I experienced and learned from doing it. Some of the topics I had in my autobiography, I wanted to ensure were new to people and unknown so they were either things from back in my past I haven’t shared much or things I haven’t told that many people at my work. This was a risk I wanted to take as I’ve learned that sharing more of my heartfelt opinions and beliefs is quite valuable for relationships. Let me expand on that…

Vulnerabilities Open Many Doors

I used to be a master at hiding things in my life and didn’t share my passions as I wanted to present myself as an indestructible, unemotional, untouchable guy. Well, I can now comfortably admit that isn’t true, I don’t give that impression nearly as much anymore (still working on that) and because of that I have seen many of my relationships develop simply by tearing down those false impressions and by sharing more truths about myself. These truths are obviously open to interpretation by others once revealed and once you share them, you no longer have any control over what they think. The audience can agree with them or not, like or dislike, change their impressions, have a new attitude because of them, etc, etc. All of these things are risky if you are concerned what others think of you. That is the key in sharing these vulnerabilities, you need to allow others to think what they want and NOT worry about what they think. Its important to build relationships on who you really are. If people use your stories against you or change their attitude or impression of you, you need to be OK with that. You should want people to accept you without making their own judgments anyway.

So, not only do others find out more about you, but they might also relate to your stories and be more willing to share there own experience or feelings on a topic. The more you know about a person, the easier it is to trust them as there are less unknowns and certainly less doubt about what they will do in certain circumstances. After all, not knowing that is exactly where mis-trust comes from. If you have no understanding of or experience in how a person will respond in a certain situation, it is difficult to trust them as you don’t really know what they will do or act in that situation. However, if you know more about how they act or respond in similar and other situations it is far easier to predict or expect a similar response, so there is more trust because of that knowledge.

Build Confidence With Your Vulnerabilities

Many times the fear of what others think is what holds people back from sharing anything. To turn this thinking around so it is less of a fear you need to re-frame your thoughts around sharing things. Consider some of the great things (these are just a few) from sharing these ‘risky’ topics, which may be good or bad experiences.

  • Connect more with others who’ve had a similar experience
  • Help others see and understand what made you who you are
  • Teach some lesson or have a moral of the story
  • Someone else may not make the same mistake as you
  • Inspire others to do something similar from what you share
  • You can feel relief by getting things off your back
  • Difficult experiences will often lead to others having compassion for you

The more you expect and think these types of things will happen when you share the more comfortable you can be about sharing them. Then doing it will allow you to actually start to experience some of those things. That will build your confidence further and be encouraging to do it more and more. As you gain confidence to express more vulnerabilities, you will be more and more honest with yourself and with others and it will continue to get easier and be more valuable.

What About in Your Life?

How many times have you been willing to admit some embarrassing moment or stupid thing you have done only AFTER someone else admits they have done it before. Would you have dared to share it first? If not, why? Think about why hearing the story from someone else helped you to share yours immediately afterward. That’s because their vulnerability allowed you to trust them with your own story. Consider this in other areas and topics in your life, why not share first and open the door to better relationships, more trust with your friends and colleagues and comfort about yourself.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 8 Comments »

Don’t Judge Others, Be Helpful Instead!

May 21st 2008

Unfortunately, we all do it. We judge others. Their actions, choices, behaviors, relationships, likes and dislikes and even their personalities. We’ve all been conditioned to judge and be critical of things around us (some of us more than others) and while this can be useful to look at ways to improve things by seeing what we do not like, it more often leads us to hurtful comments, disconnected relationships and various negative feelings. No one really likes to be judged and so eliminating this from your own actions will improve your life and relationships!

Don’t Judge Others

This is obviously easier said than done. It is possible to stop though with some practice, attention and a desire to eliminate it. The first step in not judging others is to simply stop voicing it. This is usually the hurtful part and if you can learn to keep judging comments to yourself, you can quickly eliminate any hurt you are causing to others directly. These might be anything from obvious verbal attacks, sarcasm, snide jokes about someone, gossip or subtle judgments like saying “I know”, or using the “but” word after agreeing with something. Stop saying and doing these things and you will no longer be judging others on the surface at least! The old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything!” is a perfect thing to apply here.

Taking this to the next step, however, is important because having a judging mindset still leaves that negativity built up inside you. What’s needed is to learn to see the good side or opportunity side of any situation that you would have normally judged by instinct.

Make Yourself Helpful Instead

I don’t think anyone will ever completely eliminate judging others in their minds but it is possible to change how your response, by making it helpful, instead of a problem for someone or yourself. Ask yourself questions about the situation so you can learn something from it or help that person out. David Zinger had a great article on Slacker Manager getting questions from his readers about the most powerful questions you can ask . My comment was to ask, “How can I respond in a way that’s useful to others?”. Use this for any judgment situation and you can easily turn around a negative thought or comment into something useful. Offering some help or assistance to someone in an area they are not excelling at, will be far more useful than telling them how poorly they are doing or by telling them how wrong they are. Look for ways to change the situation for the better. Wouldn’t you prefer an offer of help over an insult in an area you have not mastered?

As you look at people and situations with a helpful attitude, you will shift from judging them directly as a person to seeing (perhaps still judging) their actions . You won’t attack them as a person or their character and you can more comfortably look at ways to help them. Some advise or feedback about what they can improve on instead of accusing them of being or feeling a certainly way is definitely more useful and it will allow them be more open and receptive to whatever help you have to offer. The opportunities for this come daily with nearly every interaction you have with people, so make an effort and look for actions instead of wrongly assuming its a personality and look for ways to offer help instead of criticism.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 10 Comments »

People are People

March 31st 2008

people-differentiated-small.pngEven though society likes to enforce rules and rights to balance out people in each other’s eyes, it hasn’t worked to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and with the respect and love they each deserve. We judge people every day, we compare ourselves to others, others to others and others to whom we wish those others were. This happens in all areas of our lives and its encouraged constantly by everything around us, such as in the media and advertising we’re bombarded with.

All of these differences in belongings, status, income, age, fame and knowledge that everyone DOES have really doesn’t separate the things that everyone DOES have in common. And yes, everyone has basic needs in common and has longings for many of the same things hard wired into us. These show up in many different areas of our lives.

Workplace

Generation gaps, experience, income, and power all affect the way we interact with each other in the workplace. These things are in some ways positive and some ways negative, yet they always seem to generate some workplace tension between people. Examples can be seen every single day as we struggle to protect our own backs, impress others, avoid blame and gain some attention or appreciation in the hope of advancing our careers. Most of those items occur because of selfishness and if we really wanted to think about what people want, its only partly those things. Each of those attributes are really just a business name that if translated mean that people are looking to be respected, appreciated, and treated fairly. It doesn’t matter what the differences are between people in the workplace, if these things exist, then all people are the same. Why not ignore the things most people seem to compete for and simply respect others, appreciate them and treat them fairly.

Relationships

Well, when it comes to relationships, there are many dangers that seem to get in the way. These can be wanting or always trying to be right and someone else wrong. Often it’s seeing only what you can get out of a relationship and take from it. And then there are always belongings to get in the way, which involves not only personal belongings, but personal history, memories and experiences. Each of these are things that are typically protected out of fear from loosing control or becoming too vulnerable quickly, or even by suffering from esteem issues due to past experiences or preconceived thoughts about the other person.

If you acknowledge the fact that most relationships have these pressure points that often become the failing point, why not make them easy for the other person. Don’t argue for the sake of arguing, just accept that you don’t need to be right and quickly admit when you are wrong. Since you know that people are looking to see what they can get out of a relationship (aren’t we generally accustomed to that?), why not work to give more than you take or expect. Make the first move, offer to share or be vulnerable first since you know that’s what the other person is hoping for. Let them stay guarded, safe and protected, it will help them be more comfortable. Reach outside your comfort zone yourself, don’t expect the other person to do it first. If you do, it just slows down the relationship building and keeps barriers up that don’t need to be there.

So, examining what you know about relationships and turning all the things around that you hope for, helps you to see that it doesn’t matter who you’re dealing with, people are looking for friendship and love, time to spend with someone, comfort and security and someone to share experiences with. Since all those things seem to have these dangers involved that are generally guarded, take the first step and treat others in the relationship exactly like you have always wanted yourself.

Strangers

We constantly encounter new people, either by first meeting them or simply being in public with strangers. Unfortunately, these things lead us all to make automatic judgments based on stereotypes, prejudices and assumptions. These are typically based on physical attributes of others. Would you want someone to do that to you? Probably not, yet its not so easy to stop doing yourself. However, when I think about why people make these judgments, I think its entirely based on fearing the unknown and fearing similarities that we associate with bad experiences we’ve been taught or learned first hand. Put those things together and its a nasty recipe of wanting to stay in silence, independent and not engaging in what are often thought to be risky relationships where we might be hurt. If you look at the areas above though in the workplace and with existing relationships, all the same real desires are there in strangers as well, they are not different. They want the same things, hope and dream just like you, and have many of the same fears about you as you have of them. Eliminate this barrier and you may find that strangers are really not just strangers, but people.

So What?

Well, I believe all of this ties together in the truth that people are all similar, and if you respond to others in a way that you want yourself (yup, the Golden Rule), then many of the barriers that you otherwise re-enforce, don’t even exist in the first place. Everyone has some fears in these areas and looking to see how you can respond to people differently by stepping past some of these fears you have, will encourage others to do the same, open new opportunities in relationships and allow you to freely meet exceptional people you otherwise walk past every single day.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 1 Comment »

Learning to Handle Compliments

March 28th 2008

Compliments are often so rare that people don’t even know how to respond well to them. You often see or hear people make an excuse or immediately negate the compliment. A response such as “No, not this old thing” or “No I don’t, you’re too nice” or even subtle negation such as “Oh, come on.” If you think about these types of responses, you can see that they are defensive and immediate argue back with the person who gave the compliment in the first place. Its no wonder people learn NOT to give compliments if they get attacked instead of appreciated when they give one. This article addresses compliments and will help you learn to respond in an appropriate way.

There is Only One Response

There is really only one response that works for every compliment. Its simple and powerful. Its to say, “Thank You”. Nothing more is needed. You could add something to extend your appreciation, but don’t try to make the other person wrong by negating it or excusing the compliment. They told you for a reason, so accept it and say, “Thank you.”

Return a Compliment

Once you’ve learned to simply accept compliments given to you, you may want to work on returning a compliment. This is a great way to make compliments much more natural and can build a little more trust with a person if they feel that you notice something specific about them to return a compliment. There is a danger though with returning a compliment. You shouldn’t bother to simply return a compliment like, “You too!” or “Thanks, I like your shirt also” since its not very specific and is generally considered as a response that is polite, but not actually meaningful. It is much more valuable to respond with a unique compliment that you really mean, not something just to be polite in your response. Its fine to return a compliment at a later time when you notice something specific, which I definitely recommend over an immediate response since it won’t come across as strong. Doing this at a separate time and about something new that you notice, allows you to be much more genuine. Think about it, would you rather get a compliment out of the blue, or only after complimenting that person first? Do the same for someone else and they’ll feel the same way.

Pass on Another Compliment

Compliments seem to be far and few between for many people, which you can easily change by passing on a new compliment to a second person anytime to hear a compliment yourself. If you want to return a compliment to the fist person you heard one from great, but then also remind yourself to look for things to compliment a second person on. You can bring a lot of joy to someone’s day by a simple genuine compliment and giving them makes you feel good about it yourself. Remember, you won’t always get a positive response back (expect that negated compliment) but give them anyway. Its easily worth it when you get back a smile, a person in a better mood because of what you had to tell them or even a compliment returned to you later on from that person.

Compliment a Stranger

If you are comfortable with compliments with people you know, you’ll realize how joyful they can be to give and receive and you can give that to complete strangers as well. I’m always shocked at the kind of response you can get by complimenting a complete stranger. You may have to be a little more cautious with how you say it or what you compliment someone one, but I’ve found that strangers are much less likely to negate a compliment and simply smile and say, “Thank You”. Sometimes they they are quite shy, blush or even seem a bit scared and shy away (since its such an unknown experience for many people) but it almost always gives them a smile. This can be a great conversion starter especially in public places or transit. I recommend keeping your compliments to small things and said without any additional intent so you are not thought to be “hitting on someone”. Complimenting someone by saying that they have a really nice jacket is a lot different than saying, “You have the most gorgeous eyes I’ve seen all week!”. Keep things appropriate for how well you know someone and keep your compliments innocent. I think if you can give a compliment in passing without appearing to have any additional intent, it is most effective.

When was the last time you accepted a compliment with JUST a thank you?
What about returning a compliment when you’ve received one?
Have you passed on or initiated giving a compliment lately?
When have you given a compliment to a complete stranger?

Try these out, you will find they bring a lot more joy than you might have in fear of doing them! Its well worth it.
There is a great article that I found after writing this about giving a genuine compliment on The Positivity Blog here.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | Comments Off on Learning to Handle Compliments

Change the Way You Change Minds

January 16th 2008

This is a chapter title of the book, “Influencer” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. So far, I love the book and how it focuses so much on behavior. The quote at this chapter is what I really wanted to share, which is:

There are three kinds of men, ones that learn by reading, a few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

-Will Rogers

I just love this. Its so true in how so many people learn in life. Whether it is business, financing, relationships or even parenting, most people learn by trial without truly observing and learning from others or learning from expert sources like books.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | Comments Off on Change the Way You Change Minds

Stop Complaining To Instantly Improve Your Life

January 4th 2008

stop-complaining-75.jpg

Life is a complex mess of circumstances, interactions and experiences each unique to every single person on this planet. There are countless things that seem to make a difference in people’s lives and how life is perceived. However, there seems to be just a handful of things that make a big difference on a daily basis with our relationships, career and joy in life. That item is part of one’s attitude and specifically, its about complaining in life. Most everyone does more than their share of complaining and it stems from the societal pressure of constantly wanting more, moving up the career chain, wanting to continually improve everything and simply because people are not generally content with what they have. If you take note and make a conscious effort to eliminate complaining in your own life, you will be much happier.

Why So Many Complaints?

Are you focused on constantly wishing things were different, and complaining about them instead of being focused on seeing and recognizing the things that are positive and going well for you? What about with others, do you complain to them more than thank, appreciate or praise them? Perfectionists and critical thinking people often deliver a lot of complaints and don’t see the good things happening around them every day.

People constantly complain about their jobs, there money or lack thereof, traffic and the weather. The news, its just a long series of more things to complain about and rarely anything to be excited about or thankful for. Life is unfortunately, quite a bombardment of media and people who are complaining about nearly everything!

You can change that for yourself by replacing any complaining with more positive thoughts and comments. Look for the good around you, talk about the positive things about your job, start conversations when the weather and traffic are good, see the things you value on a day to day basis and share that with others, instead of the usual set of complaints.

Change Your Focus

Its easy to change your attitude and start thinking and focusing on the positive things in your life if you look for this every day. Its takes some effort, but just a few changes everyday can make a big impact in your life and make you feel happier. Thinking positive and avoiding the complaints are your choice to make. That choice allows you to be in control of how you feel simply by choosing what you will focus on. You can make yourself happier if you choose to and by practicing consciously over and over to see the good things and to value them instead of complaining, you will train your mind to do the same subconsciously. This will eventually change your natural attitude and you won’t even have to work on this anymore, it will just happen. And you will be happier.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 2 Comments »

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