Breaking Free From the Tyranny Of “Should”

 

Every next level of life will demand a different you.

Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Maybe it’s because the world keeps tumbling upside-down that in the last month I’ve encountered several people who spent a lot of time telling me how life is not fair and, in particular, how each of their lives shouldbe different – and not just because of Covid.

 

As I emphasize in my workshops, we’re prone to telling ourselves “lies” – statements of belief and attitude that are untrue and unrealistic. One of these self-deluding lies is that life should play out the way I think it should play out. And if it doesn’t, then something is critically wrong.

 

Ray (all names changed) is the Assistant Director Of Finance for a mid-sized business. He came to me upset with his performance review that landed him on a PIP.

 

He speaks to colleagues abruptly and takes the rejection of his ideas personally, usually by raising his voice, storming off from a conversation, and shutting down. While he later apologizes, the drama is taking a toll on his performance record and on the climate in his department.

 

In our first session, he became heated as he explained to me how “they” SHOULD see the truth of his opinions.

 

Clinging to should makes him a martyr for his convictions.

 

Without intending to be, he is a harsh, demanding and unforgiving task master especially to himself.

 

He reminds me that people obsessing about how things should be are seldom happy people.

 

Oh, and in addition to all that, he asked me, “Why should I smile in the morning at my colleagues if I’m not happy?”

 

Alana, who works at an IT start-up, quickly explained to me that she has a high work standard – if she sees a need, she does it without being asked, she’s willing to go the extra mile AND she proudly told me that she doesn’t need to be complimented on any of her work.

 

This is what she expects from her team and she thinks she should not have to spell it out for them. They should follow her lead.

 

As she said (in an annoyed tone of voice), “I’m not here to hold their hands and I shouldn’t have to give them compliments for work they’re being paid to do.”

 

Say should in the tone of a mantra and you will charge up feelings of frustration and anger that will result in you either shutting down or blowing-up.

And then, when the other(s) reacts in kind to these energy-draining out-burts, the should folks label them “difficult.”

 

And so, the circle is formed!

 

BUT – here are some questions to reflect on –

  • Why should your team share a work ethic with you?
  • Do they know the benefits of doing things your way?
  • Why are you certain that if others do things your way, they will succeed and be happy?
  • What needs to be done so they know the benefits?
  • Why should they believe you? Trust you?
  • How did you develop your should beliefs?
  • Would you have developed them without the influences you had?
  • Is your should really THE best way?

 

And THE most important question –

If you truly believe that something should be done a certain way then

what is your responsibility in bringing that SHOULD to life?

 

YOU have the responsibility to help people see – understand – relate – to the benefits your SHOULD will bring them.

 

To manage means you agree to be willing to have hard conversations. Helping people understand your should is one of those hard conversations.

 

There’s more (of course!)

I’m reminded of David, a UCLA Extension student, who wrote about his struggle with “should.”

I had a boatload of expectations for how my life was supposed to work out. I kept wondering, though, why things always fell apart. 

I was convinced that if you act a certain way, dress a certain part and do what you’re supposed to do then life would fall into place as it ‘should.’ 

I resented that my life hadn’t worked out the way I was told it would and was always waiting for things to happen as I expected they should.

I’m now at a phase in my life where everything is uncertain. If you asked me three months ago what my plan was, I’d have given you a road map, foolishly thinking I could walk it through without failing.

Now I see that expectations of how life SHOULD be can be the demise to almost anything.

I’ve recognized the many ways in which I’m hard on myself, the areas of opportunity where I can grow and most importantly I’ve discovered the ability to be surprised again – something I thought was long gone.

 

David believed life “should” be the way he envisioned and when he encountered disappointments he became disillusioned and discouraged. He couldn’t envision alternatives and couldn’t see the opportunities smack in front of him.

 

He hasn’t given up on his dreams; he has, though, given up on insisting how those dreams “should” become reality.

 

And so, his life has expanded.

 

Do you want to loosen your grip on SHOULD and so expand your possibilities – for your own self and for those you impact?

 

Practice these steps:

  1. Be aware of what you’re feeling, especially chronic irritation.
  2. Explore how your feelings affect your attitude. Do you believe you’re a victim? Hopeless? Helpless?
  3. Gauge the certainty of your commitment to “should.” How do you know it “should” go your way? There is a difference between needed technical procedures vs. mere preferences.
  4. What are you afraid will happen if life is not as it “should” be?
  5. What is your willingness to explore reasonable alternatives?
  6. Remember – experiment is not a permanent commitment!
  7. If your experiment fails, can you commit to learning from it?

 

Practicing these steps is what Emotional Courage is all about.

All emotionally courageous people are confident because they live free of the “tyranny of should.”

How about you –

Is there a “should” you need to let go of?

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

 

15 Things I Know For Sure About Talking To People

 

We cannot put off living until we are ready.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

This summer I’ve been teaching an 11-week on-line course – the Dynamics Of Interpersonal Communication.

 

Each week I give the participants an array of resources including articles, podcasts and videos. Because we typically have so much to cover in our weekly sessions, we seldom have a chance to talk about any of those resources.

 

This past week I divided the class into three groups of four people and I met with each group for a one-hour Zoom chat centered on their reactions to their favorite resources.

 

It was a risky move on my part as I wasn’t sure how any of these conversations would pan out. To my surprise, relief and delight each group conversation was a revelation. Lively, engaging, free-wheeling and no conversation ever came close to duplicating the other two in terms of topic, range and insight.

 

Once again, I was reminded that good things can come from good conversation!

 

Currently I’m working with three clients who sought me out because each feels crippled by shyness.

Each wants to figure out how to talk tactfully, intelligently and spontaneously in a variety of situations and with a broad range of people.

 

These three clients are diverse in terms of age, life and professional experiences.  While each has their own particular issues and goals, each wants to become more comfortable while engaging with others.

 

While they won’t gain traction on their goals in “6 Easy Steps,” I think I can help them reach that place of ease and sociability because each has a “fire in the belly” to break through what is holding them back.

 

Are you wanting to break through a shyness that inhibits your social success at work?

 

Here are my Top 15 life-learned truths about talking with people –

people of any generation, position or experience.

 

  1. Generational differences don’t matter when having a good conversation. Lively talk is lively talk.
  2. Observe the other person and their surroundings – and ask questions based on those observations of what you see and don’t see.
  3. Remain open to being non-defensively challenged from anyone’s odd or probing questions.
  4. A compliment can go a long way in creating a relaxed climate.
  5. Be present in a conversation – don’t leave the work of a conversation up to the other person because then you could be taken conversationally hostage.
  6. Have some kind of animation and know how to modulate it to the other’s personality.
  7. Don’t expect people to fully understand what they’re saying – heck, far too often I don’t understand what I’m saying!
  8. Most people want to present themselves in the best possible way, though their tactics may not always be the best and so you need to be on the look-out for that best.
  9. You will not always understand the other person’s p.o.v. and that’s when curiosity expressed as a “why?” question can illuminate.
  10. Recognize that you are biased – it only makes sense that you click more readily with some people than with others. You may not always like the other person, but that doesn’t diminish the potential for productive conversation.
  11. Recognize that everyone has a particular instinct that helps or hinders them. Personally, I am guarded and have a residual, knee-jerk lack of trust – so I need to recognize this instinct and be vigilant that it doesn’t trip me up.
  12. With some conversations the stakes are just not that high – and it’s too much effort to care about the outcome – and that’s okay.
  13. Remember the conversations you have had with generous people and also remember that you have an obligation to be for others what those generous people were for you.
  14. Everyone has the capacity to surprise you – and me – because everybody has a story and IS a story.
  15. You never know what a conversation will lead to – friendship, love, employment, or just a hangover!

 

To explore how communication  skills coaching can help you present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

The Power Of Being a Dynamic Speaker

 

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life –

and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

Georgia O’Keeffe (American artist)

 

Today’s post is a sneak peek for my upcoming Aug 26th speaker training with the awesome Marla Diann of marladiann_mentor_to_creatives where we give our best in a 2-hour training from our 40+ years combined experience of delivering presentations and how to turn those into qualified leads!

Early REGISTER only $99. www.marladiann.com/speaker-training

 

I’m afraid of heights and especially hate rollercoasters. So, of course, last year what did my godson Finn want for his birthday? He wanted me to take him to Magic Mountain!

 

When I got strapped into each ride I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I was determined to keep fear in check, but when the ride rocketed, I just screamed my head off.

 

After each ride I felt like vomiting, yet I also felt satisfied. I hadn’t let fear win. More than rollercoasters, I hate being afraid. I don’t want to be controlled by fear.

 

I regularly work with people who are paralyzed with the most common of fears – the fear of Public Speaking. Of all the communication skills I coach, public speaking is my favorite. I think it’s because I was painfully shy in high school.

 

While I’ve not discovered a “secret” formula for overcoming fear, what I have learned is that fear is fueled by clinging to a lie – a lie that seems so true that to deny it seems to be a lie in itself.

 

I see this in many of the people I coach. Take Ralph, for instance ­–

My greatest fear is not being “enough.” When I think back to my childhood, I remember I thought I was invincible. I did well at so many things, I knew I would have a successful life. However, sometime after high school, I lost faith in myself; faith turned into fear. Fear of not being “enough.” This fear has led me to play it safe, because I am trying to avoid situations where the attention is all on me, or to do things that would embarrass me.

 

Ralph was a participant in a six-week workshop I offered on breaking through the fear of presenting. For his first presentation, Ralph told an odd story that had the class laughing. Yes, he was obviously nervous, but his nerves didn’t derail the tale. The class gave honest, encouraging feedback. His accent didn’t distract them (Romanian); his nerves didn’t distract them. He surprised them and they wanted more.

 

For some folks speaking in front of people is as frightening as riding a rollercoaster. But is my fear of rollercoasters the same as Ralph’s fear of speaking?

 

In a way, yes, because both fears are grounded in the expectation of the worst happening. Both are grounded in believing a lie.

 

Here’s the thing – we only break through fear by believing in and building on our strengths.

 

To build on those strengths, we have to know what they are AND we have to know why we have those strengths. If we don’t understand what we’re good at, then we can’t break through fear.

 

Oftentimes we resist taking a hard and grateful look at our strengths because it’s more comfortable believing the lie that we suck at something. Being helpless can be consoling in an odd sort of way.

 

True confidence means owning one’s strengths and acknowledging one’s weaknesses – and using both to reach a goal. No one becomes great at something by focusing solely on mistakes.

 

To learn what you’re good at, embrace the compliments people offer you. They’re not simply being “nice” – they’re acknowledging your strengths.

 

You have to believe you’re worthy of people’s attention. If you don’t believe you have anything worthwhile to offer then that will come across and people will ignore you.

 

AND there’s one more piece to all of this –

 

My 85-year old neighbor, Martha, told me that when she was younger she used to be a pack-a-day smoker. I was stunned as she’s fit and active and I can’t imagine a Virginia Slim dangling from her lips. She went cold-turkey when the doctor told her that if she didn’t quit, she’d die.

 

Cold turkey.

No support-group.

No patch.

Just a lot of Tic-Tacs!

 

Is it possible to go cold turkey with fear? To just say, “I’m not going to be afraid any more” and pop a lot of Tic-Tacs?!

 

Martha’s fear of dying was greater than her fear of not smoking.

My fear of turning into a boring person was greater than my fear of speaking in public.

My fear of disappointing Finn was greater than my fear of heights.

 

The secret to breaking through a particular fear is having a fear that is stronger and more compelling than a lesser fear!

 

We always have fear. The trick is can you find a fear that will propel you to take action on your own behalf and so smash through that other crippling fear?

 

The truth is you can lead a happy, successful life without speaking in public. Hoards of people manage to do this. BUT– why limit yourself?

 

If you develop the skill of speaking something profound will happen.

 

You will become more YOU.

 

You will find your voice AND you will learn how to use your voice for the common good.

 

Do you believe YOU are a “gift?”

 

Do you believe YOU have something to offer that is a “gift?”

 

Let your fear of not becoming YOU shatter any crippling lie that mutes you!

 

I am EXCITED to tell you that I have teamed up with renown Success Coach and Business Strategist @MarlaDiann_mentor_to_creatives to offer a 2-hour Speaker’s training on August 26th.

This Zoom training is for entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, creatives, consultants, and thought leaders.

Registration is now open. https://lnkd.in/gvHRFnq

 

Speaking is the best lead generator on the planet. How’s it working for you?

Leadership and brand presence have taken on a whole new meaning since Covid hit our lives. As an expert, you have the world at your fingertips like never before due to our required online pivot.

Marla and I are here to help you excel at your speaking platform. Our collaborative and humorous style will put you at ease as you learn what it takes to deliver a compelling, much talked about speaking presentation that creates the reputation you desire and the leads you most want.

Between us we have over 40 years of inspiring and entertaining audiences large and small to help you excel!

I’ve lived the past two decades+ teaching and coaching confidence and purposeful communication to professionals from more than thirty countries, in addition to officiating weddings, writing and keynote speaking.

Marla has three decades of PR, branding, speaking, coaching and leading workshops.

What this means is that you’re in for a jam-packed FUN and enlightening 2-hour training!

Stories – Insights – strategies – inspiration and encouragement guaranteed as we hang out together!

Register early rate at https://lnkd.in/gATBQMv

Zoom training for entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, creatives, consultants, and thought leaders.

 

I am EXCITED to tell you that I have teamed up with renown Success Coach and Business Strategist @MarlaDiann to offer a 2-hour Speaker’s training coming up August 26th.

 

This Zoom training is for entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, creatives, consultants, and thought leaders.

 

Registration is now open. https://lnkd.in/gvHRFnq

 

Speaking is the best lead generator on the planet. How’s it working for you?

 

Leadership and brand presence have taken on a whole new meaning since Covid hit our lives. As an expert, you have the world at your fingertips like never before due to our required online pivot.

 

Marla and I are here to help you excel at your speaking platform. Our collaborative and humorous style will put you at ease as you learn what it takes to deliver a compelling, much talked about speaking presentation that creates the reputation you desire and the leads you most want.

 

Between us we have over 40 years of inspiring and entertaining audiences large and small to help you excel!

 

I’ve lived the past two decades+ teaching and coaching confidence and purposeful communication to professionals from more than thirty countries, in addition to officiating weddings, writing and keynote speaking. Marla has three decades of PR, branding, speaking, coaching and leading workshops.

 

What this means is that you’re in for a jam-packed FUN and enlightening 2-hour training!

 

Stories – Insights – strategies – inspiration and encouragement guaranteed as we hang out together!

Register early rate at https://lnkd.in/gATBQMv

 

The “I Didn’t Want to Say Anything” Syndrome

 

Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.

Hermann Hesse

 

The pandemic has reminded me just how much I don’t like to cook and how much I miss my local hangouts. Sadly, one of those joints, an Italian bistro, has shuttered its doors. It’s going to be hard after the pandemic ends (it will end, yes?) to replace this eatery because the servers knew my usual order and the food was way better than anything I could rustle up.

 

Ellen, the owner, used to have a manager, Louis (names changed), who treated customers as friends, but in an annoying kind of way. He’d stand too near the table, lean in too closely when telling a “joke” and talked incessantly, even after food arrived at the table. He had no sense of boundaries and wouldn’t / couldn’t take a hint.

 

Oddly, no one complained, including me. People simply stopped coming in (not me). Eventually, Ellen figured it out and let Louis go. Customers returned, but Ellen was puzzled.

 

Why hadn’t anyone said anything to her since she could have taken action sooner?

 

Maybe it’s because I’m from New York and am used to neighborhood “characters,” but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to simply stop coming in because of Louis. Besides, I always brought a book and used it as a shield.

 

So why did people not want to tell Ellen about Louis?

 

She asked returning regulars and some claimed they didn’t want to be responsible for him losing his job. Seems it never occurred to them that if they stopped giving Ellen their business, she wouldn’t have money to pay his salary!

 

Other customers gave the vague reason they “didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.” It was easier to stay away from a place they enjoyed than complain.

 

Wow! We can all be so odd!

 

Way back in the lost land of January, I coached a team of four managers who worked in the same department. I was brought in to help them generate a smoother flow of communication. Ideas ranged from replying faster to email to socializing after work so as to get to know each other better. Ah, the good old days of “Happy Hour!”

 

The youngest of the group, Marie, said they needed to have more direct lines of communication. On the job less than six months, she shared with me that she already was afraid to go directly to two of her colleagues as she found them intimidating. Instead, she’d go to the remaining member of the team who usually couldn’t help her, but who lent a sympathetic ear!

 

“Nice” people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings and don’t want to get others into trouble.  And so, I’m often asked, “What should I do when it really is easier to just say nothing?”  

 

And, in turn, I always ask, “Is it really easier to just say nothing?”

 

Matt came to me wanting to learn how to be assertive. Although embarrassed, he told me the story that drove him to me. . .

 

For eight years he never told his roommate that he wanted the guy to make space for him in their shared freezer. For eight years he stewed – and never said anything. Then, one day, he snapped and emptied half the roommate’s freezer items into the sink. That’s how the roommate found out Matt was annoyed that the guy hogged the freezer!

 

Remember – Matt told me the reason why he had not said anything to his roommate is because he didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings.

 

Again, I say, Wow! We can all be so odd!

 

Hey, this is a blog post and not a book on how to have a crucial conversation (thankfully, that book has been written by others and I highly recommend it!)

 

For now, though, consider this:

Before focusing on the risks of having a conversation that you worry will go “wrong,”

focus on considering what the risks are of NOT having that conversation.

 

Louis encroached on customers’ space and drove them away. Because it was no biggie for me, I didn’t feel a need to confront him. For other customers, it was an issue.

 

Rather than not saying anything to the owner, here’s what an unhappy customer could have said:

 

Your manager is a nice guy and tries to give good service. The only problem is he doesn’t seem to have a sense of boundaries and we find it annoying when he leans over and talks while we’re trying to eat or have our own conversation. I don’t know if this is just my issue or if others have said something. I hope you could have a chat with him.”

 

That is what being assertive looks and sounds and feels like.

You’re not complaining or being rude. You’re simply letting the other person know how you feel, why you feel that way and what you’d like from them.

 

Being assertive is grounded in your attitude – towards yourself, the other and the relationship.    

 

None of this is simple since most of us weren’t instructed as children in how to non-manipulatively express our needs.

 

So, yes, it can be awkward.

 

That’s okay – for what’s the alternative?

Give up a favorite meal?

Drown your frustrations at Happy Hour?

Stare longingly at your freezer?

Why complicate your pandemic life? Trust yourself. Trust the other.

 

Do you want to become comfortable speaking assertively so as

to develop and nurture successful professional relationships?

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115