Conversations are the basic building-blocks of relationships, so when a conversation goes badly, there is a lot at stake. Difficult conversations are difficult for a reason. They stir something deep within us. When our emotions are triggered, or our sense of identity threatened, we are programmed to fight or flee, so it makes sense to try and avoid them. We fear losing our cool or causing discomfort, so we may just hide away from a potentially unpleasant situation and sweep the issue under the rug. But, as we know, avoidance usually makes things worse. When left to fester, issues escalate and it becomes ever more difficult to broach those conversations and face up to awkward or sensitive topics in a non-confrontational, non-inflammatory way.
What if you were more skilled at handling difficult conversations? Read more
There are some transitions we seek out and others that are thrust upon us. In many cases, they are tougher than we could have anticipated. There is always some loss, despite the opening of new possibilities, so how to manage those times with more equanimity and ease?
Here are some suggestions:
1) Read William Bridges’ seminal book Transitions. He reminds us that it is normal to feel disoriented and down when we have lost the familiar, and that there are recognizable phases that we go through before we get to the other side. That “neutral” middle phase is probably the most uncomfortable, because you have to let go of something, but have not yet embodied or acclimatized to the new.
2) Establish pleasant and pleasurable rituals. While you sit in that neutral zone, trying to make sense of things or to re-orient yourself in a new direction, you can exercise choice over certain aspects of your day. There is a comfort in routine and the added benefit of developing life-long positive habits through repetition. Self-care practices – new eating habits, a new exercise regime, taking time for relaxation or meditation –(I almost typed medication, oops!) –or developing a long-yearned for new skill or hobby– are perfect examples. Read more
It’s summer time here in the northern hemisphere. An ideal time for rest and relaxation, days at the beach, ice-cream, and outdoor activities, but alas many of us are unable to take time out and get off the treadmill of work, stress and pressure. Why is it so hard to decompress, de-stress and just tune out for a while? And where are the demands of the crazy busy life-style leading us?
We equate being busy with being important and indispensible. Our to-do lists never end. We make ourselves available 24/7. But do we really have to do all that stuff? Is it essential that we always be on call? Are others incapable of making decisions without us – or have we just trained them to be that way? Read more
There seem to be two kinds of people in the world: those who make lists and those who don’t. I have been both at different times.
Here’s what I love about lists: Read more
People talk to me about their work all the time. I hear from people at the beginning, middle and end of their careers. I talk to people who are flying high, and have been tapped for prestigious and complex leadership roles, and to people who have been knocked low, through job loss or terminal frustration. I talk to people who love their work and to those who wish they could be somewhere else in their lives. And through all these conversations, I’ve noticed some common threads that make the difference between affliction and aspiration.