Transforming Conversations

How much time and money does your organization lose because people are not able to have the tough conversations?

The important conversations that can have the most impact are the ones that people avoid. They may know the conversation needs to happen but hope that somebody else will initiate it or feel it’s not my job, or want to wait until the time is right. They make an attempt to have the conversation but sidestep the important issues. The question is; how much talking is happening   in  your organization? The talking that creates synergy builds relationships and inspires results. These conversations that never happen become the  elephant   in   the   room  that everyone is trying to avoid. That  elephant  gets more powerful with every communication that doesn’t happen or with every failed conversation. With every open and honest conversation the  elephant  gets smaller, putting the power not  in  the middle of  the   room  but in the people. Personal power is built one conversation at a time.

What blocks the real conversations from occurring?

What people often are not aware of is that all conversations occur within themselves first. Another words, you may think you are seeing people as they are but in truth you are seeing people as you are. It means that powerful conversations cannot occur until we challenge the perceptions we hold about ourselves and other people. Perceptions are the lens or filters that we see the world through and every person has a different set of lens that they operate out of. Real powerful conversations cannot occur until a person has some degree of awareness of who they are, their strengths, weaknesses, values and beliefs because that is what shapes their perceptions. We often assume that people think the same way we do or see things the same way but that is never the case, every person is different and until we challenge our assumptions important conversations cannot fully occur.

When people are afraid to tell the truth because of a potential negative reaction or not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings they are stopping the important conversation from occurring. When we don’t tell the truth people often know it. They feel the incompleteness and they see the same  elephant   in   the   room  but don’t know how to confront it. Important conversations require preparation, they should not be done on the fly or without self-reflection, only then can we look the  elephant  square  in  the eye and know how to approach it. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for your next important conversation:

· Why does the conversation need to happen?

· What would happen if we didn’t have the conversation?

· What’s the cost of not having the conversation?

· What do I want for the other person?

· What do I want for me?

· What are my feelings, opinions, and concerns about this particular issue?

· What are my feelings about this conversation?

Answering these questions gives us perspective and allows us to view the issue and the  elephant  from a different vantage point and have a conversation from the heart.

What Creates Powerful Conversations?

A powerful conversation involves a give and take not a one-way dialogue or lecture. The word conveys flow and equal exchange. Powerful conversations can only occur when people are exchanging equally. Real listening is what can create a powerful conversation, listening not just for the words that are being used but what’s not being said, awareness of body language and expressions. When we are able to fully listen we are able to understand and see things through a different set of lenses. Listening to understand builds bridges and values the other person.

Powerful conversations can occur in all situations. A supervisor giving a subordinate feedback on their behavior is a wonderful opportunity for a powerful conversation. Providing an opportunity to share their perception with no blame or faultfinding. Powerful conversations involve speaking the truth from the heart; they are direct and caring. When we are indirect  in  our communication we are not having a powerful conversation we are finding ways to skirt the issues and giving the  elephant   in   the   room  more power. The only way around an issue is to face it directly with compassion and understanding.

The Elements of a Powerful Conversation

· Speak the truth with understanding.

· Challenge your perceptions and the perceptions of those around you.

· Demonstrate personal responsibility and create openness for mutual responsibility.

· Speak with feeling, be vulnerable, and maintain your personal power and center.

. Know what you want from the conversation and from the relationship.

· Ask questions

· Change buts to ands

What’s Important?

Real conversations are a process they are not an event, Issues are not left hanging they are completed. That completion will often mean several conversations with mutual commitment from each person. Real communication cannot fully occur with only one dialogue, Powerful conversations require commitment, commitment to the relationship as well as oneself. Building the skills necessary for a powerful conversation don’t happen over-night and must continually be nurtured.

It can be easy to ignore the important issues or find reasons to procrastinate on having the important conversations but the big issues will never go away by themselves. When we decide to give power to the  elephant   in   the   room  things don’t get better, it is only when we claim our own power and have the conversations that change happens. Change sometimes isn’t easy and human nature will pull us back to the easy and safe way. The safe way involves staying where we are and avoiding the real important issues. We must be guardians of that and take charge, reclaim our power from the  elephant   in   the   room  and have those important conversations. Whether they be with a boss, subordinate, co-worker, spouse or child let us all step up to the plate and make a difference.

Decorate With a Theme in Mind

You need to have a “theme” in mind whenever you decorate a room. The theme is what sets the “tone’ or “mood” of the room. If you decorate a room with all kinds of different décor items you will end up with a ‘hodge-podge’ effect, with no cohesiveness. You want to be able to look around the room and sense what the homeowner is trying to portray with the room.

For example:

1. Family room or ‘wreck room’ – You had a wonderful vacation at the shore and you want to recapture it in the theme of this room. You will want to look for nautical items that remind you of that time. These can be lighthouses, canoes or ships, shells, dolphin or whale figures, fish and pieces of coral. If you are a scuba diver, you may want to add any ‘treasures’ you brought up from the deep, such as anchors or masts off a wreck you found underwater (provided you were allowed to remove them).

2. Kitchen- Now suppose you want a kitchen with an ‘Apple’ theme. You don’t want everything in your kitchen to have apples on it. This would be too overpowering when someone comes into the room. So you look for 4-5 pieces ( at the most) with ‘Apples’ on them to decorate the room. Of course it depends also on how big the room is. The bigger it is the more pieces you can add. You may choose from clocks, canister sets, serving pieces, a rack of decorative plates, a towel, placemat or curtain set. If you have a lot of pieces vary them from time to time to give you a change but also continuity. Don’t use them all at once!

It is good to pick up the red shade of the apple and have hints of it around the room, say in the backsplash or tiles or and item like mugs or a pitcher.

3. Living Room- If you want a room to offer peace and tranquility, think of mute colors, scented candles or candelabra, a fountain, waterfall or autumn pictures. A fireplace adds warmth and interest. You should have seating for at least 2 couples so you can enjoy this with friends.

So now you have an idea of what to look for when decorating a room. Try your hand at it with these pointers in mind and you will have a lovely room to be proud of.

The Elephant in Your Dining Room

How do you eat an elephant? It’s easy . . . one bite at a time. Take a look at the Grand Canyon. It’s really quite awesome. Yet, all that rock was whittled away one drop of water at a time, one grain of sand at a time, multiplied by untold billions of such infinitesimal events. Although most of the time, I write about so-called ‘second level’ or quantum change as the response to cultural stagnation (and social stalemate), there is an alternative kind of change: erosion. Erosion doesn’t just happen in elephants and canyons, it happens in emotions, as well. Here’s an example.

Where I come from in New England, there’s a chain of discount furniture stores that runs frequent TV commercials featuring the owner, Bob. The advertisements can be silly at best and loud and annoying, at their worst. It’s the sort of commercial that, whenever it comes on, you want to grab the remote and jump on the ‘mute’ button. These ads have been going on since the early 1990’s, and there’s a reason why they’ve stood the test of time: they work. Psychologists note that you have to see a message at least six times before it ‘registers’. If the message is annoying or distasteful, there’s yet another factor at work.

Every time you’re exposed to something that stimulates a strong emotional reaction, that reaction is lessened. You can’t sustain a powerful emotion for very long. Like a constant noise, it fades into the background and, behold! the message comes through. Emotions can be eroded much more quickly and effectively than stone (or digested more readily than the elephant). That’s one reason why the ‘straw man’ and the ‘red herring’ arguments work so well: on the one hand, we don’t pay a lot of attention to the ‘message behind the message’ and, on the other hand, even a strong negative reaction to these things are slowly neutralized over time and repetition. If you say it long enough and loud enough, it’s sure to be true.

What’s a ‘straw man’ argument? That’s when, instead of focusing on the pertinent points of a discussion, you drag in all the ‘what if’ and ‘imagine what would happen’ speculations. John Kennedy’s opponents used the straw man argument to suggest that, if he were elected, his presidency would be controlled by the Vatican. It’s the ‘soft on terrorism’ argument that’s been used so effectively to scare the American public into supporting the erosion of their civil rights under the guise of protecting them. The argument that any official running for national office could possibly be soft on terrorism boggles the imagination, but it doesn’t stop people from repeating it endlessly and, in the repetition, the elephant disappears, one bite at a time.

And, what’s a ‘red herring’ argument? That’s a logical fallacy that drags in extraneous facts (or pseudo-facts) that have no real relevance to the debate, but they’re screamed so loud that they appear important. Consider the famous ‘swift boating’ of John Kerry. Rumor, innuendo and skillful manipulation of facts served to undermine the battle service record of a man whose opponent didn’t even serve. Now, the red herring mill is at it again, so much more effectively because the Internet has (and needs) no censors and anonymity hides perpetrators from libel accountability. The religious background of one’s family and friends has no relevance in a presidential campaign, yet this true red herring is absorbing a lot of popular energy. People may start out saying, ‘This doesn’t make any sense,” but, after the hundredth repetition, the elephant is mainly gone, and only ‘there must be some truth to this’ remains.

Democracy seldom dies from outside attack or inner collapse. It gets picked apart gradually as if by one of those scalers that the dental hygienist uses to remove plaque from your teeth. Strong feelings like anger and outrage grow numb under the gnawing influence of illogic and emotionalism. We don’t buy what we think we need, we buy what we feel we need. So long as we go along our merry ways, nearly oblivious to the not-so-subtle emotional manipulation we’re being subjected to continually, we’re at risk. When the elephant has been devoured, who do you think will be next on the menu?

Is There An Elephant In Your Living Room?

I was having a conversation with an old friend. The conversation was lackluster and so were we. For different reasons both of us were struggling with a profound sense of loss.

Any sense of loss, as we all know, feeds into every sense of loss we have ever known.

My friend, who is more of a True Brit Stiff-Upper-Lip person than I am, said: “Well, you just have to get on with it, don’t you?”

My answer to my friend was that ‘getting on with it’ stinks. It’s what we’ve all been taught to do. Yet we know it doesn’t work particularly well. You know, I know, pretty well everyone who isn’t eyeball deep in denial knows, that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because what you resist, persists.

‘Getting on with it’ means tiptoeing around the elephant in the middle of your living room. The elephant doesn’t go away, your living space does.

How long have you co-existed with the elephant of abused feelings crowding out the space at the center of your life?

How possible is it to expect to spend the rest of your life breathing in to squeeze round the ever growing elephant in your living-room?

Rules For Disposing Of Metaphorical Elephants

The rules for disposing of a metaphorical elephant are quite unlike those regarding real elephants. First of, there is no preservation order on metaphorical elephants. Nor should there be. You can’t shoot them, or poison them (in point of fact, they poison you). But you can dispose of them with kindness – kindness to yourself.

Now you and I know that that is the hardest thing. You don’t have to be a caregiver to be an abused woman (nor are all caregivers abused) but it certainly helps. It goes with the territory. Most of us would be quicker to lavish care on a stranger’s pet rat than we would on ourselves. That’s possibly a slight exaggeration but I trust you get my drift.

So how do you dispose of the elephant of sad, hurt and angry feelings?

You, we, have to find a way to own and honour those feelings. That is the cleanest and most elegant way of emptying out your living room.

Why do you need to empty out your living room? Because you cannot hope to fill it with the feelings – and the reality – you desire and deserve if it is already crowded out with old clutter.

So, is there any magic trick to owning those feelings? I think not. Yes, it helps if you can share them with another person, but only if you can share them with another person who will listen respectfully. You are not looking for any response other than acceptance. Another person’s acceptance may well help you reach your own.

If necessary, you can start this work on your own either speaking those feelings out loud or, better, writing them down.

What has happened to you is what it is. There may be huge sadness attached. You can call it tragic if you will, but doing so will increase its hold on you, when what you want is to loosen its hold.

It happened, that is the fact. To some degree it hones you. But never forget that you still own the tools to sculpt yourself into the shape you desire. Only own your feelings.

Yes, you feel that way. Yes, it takes courage to own those feelings.

Actually, it takes enormous courage to be you. You do it with as much grace and dignity as you possibly can. (And sometimes that may not look too much like grace or dignity. Well, that’s just you being human.)

There is a saying that I love. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Suppose we were here to own and honour our very human experiences and feelings? I certainly believe we are. It matters not to me whether I am right or wrong. That belief adds value and meaning to my life.

So how did my lackluster evening end? It ended remarkably well, with a lot of warmth, connection and shift. It ended with the two of us shifting our focus from things inexorably gone to present joys.

Those present joys completely displaced the elephants (we started with two) in our shared living space. In fact, it happened so fast that we didn’t notice. At the sound of our genuine, spontaneous laughter those elephants vanished.

Will they come back? Quite possibly. They may well squeeze their huge, grey bulk back into the living room. And the same system for ‘disappearing’ them will work just as well next time, and the time after that, and the time after that…

An abusive relationship leaves you feeling utterly powerless. (It’s funny, isn’t it how an abusive partner does his level best to exclude all laughter from your life?)

The tools for starting to reclaim your power are so small, so seemingly insignificant that you may have overlooked them for years. But they still work.

When will you start to use them so you can create the beautiful, serene, spacious living room you want for yourself?

© 2008 Annie Kaszina

Mediocre Groups Refer To Candor As Incivility

Many groups can’t bring themselves to discuss the most basic realities which define them. Members who behave rudely. Members who produce poor quality work. Members who are not completely honest about issues. Sacred cows that have existed in the group for years. It’s shocking how often people will come to work and simple step over the dead body in the room as if it’s not there. This is a learned behavioral routine. It is also a sign of poor leadership. This is unfortunate since getting past these barriers is required for real performance improvement.

Enter our friend candor. Candor: honest sincere expression. That is to say, it is not heavily nuanced, there is no beating around the bush. The main goal is not to save someone’s feelings (though that matters), but to get the point across accurately so that everyone gets it immediately. Yes, this must be done positively, you must admit any shared blame you have for this thing you are mentioning, you must offer solutions not merely indictments, etc. To have candor is not to lack civility. It is to set performance as the highest priority. To name the “invisible elephant in the room,” to tell the Emperor he has no clothes, these are difficult tasks. Be honest and look in the mirror Mr. Leader. If your group can’t manage a little candor, you are choosing mediocrity.

You know that your group is choosing mediocrity, choosing civility over candor when members consistently denounce ugly interpersonal behaviors, yet consistently fail to discuss ugly individual or group performance. A person who uses an errant expletive or a member who is late to team meeting or someone who raises their voice a little too much – a mediocre group is likely to severely punish these members. A truly mediocre group will punish these members and willfully fail to address the performance issue which was being addressed. Loads of civility absent real performance discussions solves nothing. Civility then becomes an empty value. Brave leaders must simultaneously care about civility while holding performance in even higher esteem.

Oil Pulling In A Nutshell

You might have heard about oil pulling at least once or twice and also you may not be much aware about this particular process. There will be a lot to say about oil pulling and its natural healing power for many ailments like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, eczema, asthma, migraine, arthritis and more.

Oil Pulling is a very simple process which has to be done as the first thing in the morning after brushing your teeth but before eating or drinking anything. Of course, it is with some kind of oil, all types of oil are not advised for oil pulling. Studies say that sun flower and sesame oil would be very effective. As lots of people have got good results with this, you may also try it out.

First thing in the morning just after brushing your teeth but before eating or drinking anything, means your stomach must be empty to do oil pulling. Take one table spoon oil [sesame or sun flower] into your mouth. Find a good place to sit properly, close your eyes and stay away from all disturbances, slowly move the oil between your teeth, swish, pull and suck the oil through your teeth, do it very slowly as it would be quite hard at the beginning. Just continue this process for 15 to 20 minutes, now you will feel that the oil is turning thin and it helps you to move it so easily. Your mouth will get full after 20 to 25 minutes if you do it properly. Now it is the time for you to spit the oil out. See the color of the oil, it will be pure white. If it is yellowish, then you haven’t done it long enough. Clean your mouth once again and also clean the wash tub properly as the oil contains millions of germs and bacteria. You are allowed to take your break fast after 10 more minutes; you may need to take one or two glasses of water just after the oil pulling

This oil pulls out all mucous, germs, bacteria and toxins from your body through saliva. Ayurvedic treatment says that the mucous [“Kabham” in Ayurveda] is an unwanted thing that must be removed from your body. You can do oil pulling 2 or 3 times a day based on your health condition or if you need a fast result. But make sure that you do it in an empty stomach. Wait 4 to 5 hours after meal, 1 or 2 hours after drink. Do not do it before 2 hours if you have taken fruit juice or any kind of thick beverage.

Do not swallow the oil while swishing because it contains germs and toxins. Do not get worried if you swallow a few drops, nothing will go wrong. Do not stop oil pulling if your symptoms get aggravated, just continue another few more days and see. Stop the oil pulling for few days if your symptoms get worse and continue after few days. Give short breaks in between and you could come to a normal process within a short period of time.

How Does Hotwifing Enhance a Relationship?

At first glance, it would seem ‘obvious’ that hotwifing or cuckolding — where a woman has sex with men other than her husband, but with her husband’s knowledge, consent and often at his urging — would be disastrous for any marriage, no matter how strong.

After all, there probably isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t experienced the damage infidelity can do, either first hand or to the relationships of friends and family.

But that analysis misses the crucial difference: hotwifing and cuckolding is not the same as infidelity because the husband knows about it and approves.

And that’s the difference that makes all the difference in the world.

The reasons men are so often drawn to encouraging their wives to become hotwives is complex, but it really boils down to biology and the way they’re made. In other words, they don’t choose their fantasy: their DNA chooses it for them.

And it’s this factor most women miss when their man asks them to indulge them in the fantasy.

Which is a shame, because if couples approach it in the right way, then hotwiving can dramatically improve and enhance a marriage.

Here are three reasons why this is:

1. Better Communication.

Most couples don’t communicate, not at any deep or meaningful level. But one of the fundamentals of successful hotwiving is talking to each other.

Not only do you need to establish the ‘ground rules’, but for most men it’s imperative their wives share the explicit details of their extra-marital sexual encounters.

By sticking to these very important rules, it vitally forces couples to communicate more effectively about other things, too. This can only be good for a relationship.

2. Better Sex for Her.

Let’s face it, one of the problems with every relationship is sex tends to get boring and routine. We all feel it… but no one wants to talk about it. It’s the elephant in the room.

But hotwiving can change all that. Because the wife is having sex with new or infrequent partners, and biology dictates that’s going to be hot, exciting and adventurous sex. And the ‘naughtiness’ of the whole situation only adds to the heat, especially if the man is present or listening from the next room.

3. Better Sex for Him

Many women worry when their men bring up the subject of hotwiving that the man is simply doing it as a roundabout way to getting ‘permission’ to sleep with other women.

While I suppose this might be true occasionally, the reality is the reason is nothing of the sort (one of the perennial complaints of women who go to “swingers’ parties” with their men is it can be hard for them to get a partner — because so many of the men really just want to watch their wives having sex with other men. This is why the often invite single men to these parties — so the husbands have something to watch!).

No, the men get a real thrill out of seeing or hearing their wives “perform” and when they get them back into their own bed, they can’t wait to make love to them — and the sex is explosive, because she will often talk dirty to him about her new lover as he’s making love to her.

So everyone wins, so long as they inform themselves first so they can avoid the pitfalls.