Summary: There is a fine line between what we do as individuals and how to respond in a relationship. For instance, when do you take a stand, and when is it better to go along with what someone says? Self-awareness is needed. Here are ideas to consider.
Is it better to keep the peace and stay quiet or take a stand for yourself?
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
The amount of criticism I’m getting now is above what I can handle.
For example, I don’t mind if someone says, “Hey, fix the sides of your hair; your curls are getting too long.”
I am OK if someone comments, “Your slip is showing.” “That was just a fun mention after last week’s blog about Freudian Slips.
Above all, what is driving me nuts is when someone tells me to stop talking about myself. Or especially, that I am too darn dramatic.”
“I am who I am.” And, as they say, “It is what it is.
I read lots of self-help books and leadership books to strengthen my self-awareness.
Subsequently, how can I tell these busybodies to mind their own business and let me be my original self?
Better to speak up, give up, toughen up, or lighten up?
In the past, my nature was to smile and say, “I hear you.”
That is to say; I would keep my thoughts about the other person to myself.
Furthermore, I would do my best to become whatever they wanted.
I found it difficult to speak up. I didn’t want to offend anyone.
In other words, I was a total pleaser.
It began to cost me my health. I started to get headaches and began to take too much medication.
How the pleaser personality can make you sick.
My smile was very charming. No one ever knew I wanted to push that pain-in-the-ass judging person to the ground.
Consequently, I would make a joke or attempt to lighten up the conversation.
Mostly, I just wanted to get away and be left alone.
Therefore, I am limiting the quality of my relationships, both at home and work, because I am not being honest and telling my truth.
Telling the truth is NOT spilling your guts
I never learned the skill of truth-telling. I know this is an important key to self-awareness.
It seems to take so much work to respond to situations with honesty and still keep relationships from falling apart.
To sum up, I need to do better in listening to and in giving feedback.
Can you help?
Would you rather be right or happy?
Dear Worn Out,
Firstly, did you ever wonder what you look like or sound like in the brain of your colleagues or customers?
Further, I know there is potent resistance to listen to critical comments (of course, I understand that), yet think of this another way: I wonder why you need to dig your heels in to ignore words that make you uncomfortable?
You talk about self-awareness. This is vital for leaders in how to communicate effectively.
Most of us hold back out real feelings rather than risk discomfort of truth.
While many, I bet this includes you, will give lip service to feedback, there is a strong tendency to shrink away from being told anything that smacks negativity.
Out loud, do you say, “Thank you for telling me? I’ll consider your comments”. And internally, you think, “Who the hell do they think they are? I’m fine just the way I am.”
As a result, this dilemma is especially hard for pleasers. Why? Because they crave acceptance.
Consequently, I know it’s not easy to hear ugly stuff. I know it takes a real effort to listen.
Careful about repeating habits that make you into a robot
Some habits are good and sustain us. Think about it. What if you had to relearn to brush your teeth, comb your hair, or get dressed.
Yet, way too often, most of us go on automatic, not thinking about what we are doing and how it impacts others.
To clarify, Gandhi put it perfectly when he said we should not mistake what is habitual for what is natural.
Changing what is habitual and not working correctly is what self-awareness is all about.
Today’s best leaders study ways to be more self-aware.
If you want to stop your exhaustion, you need to accept feedback more helpfully.
Two suggestions. Monitor your body sensations. See if when you hear something you don’t like, do you feel it in your gut, get a pain in the neck, or maybe sense a headache coming on?
Many essential knee-jerk reactions are from childhood memories. Either you were yelled at by a parent or bullied by kids. That is the time to withdraw to safety.
Listen to feedback to be a respected leader.
This hatred of feedback started for most of us in our younger years. People rarely give it in thoughtful, well-planned ways. Usually, it was a slap on the rear, or a taunt, or detention.
This pattern was not suitable for learning better habits. As a result, it was only good for creating defensive positioning.
Please find out more about your specific ways of responding in Don’t Bring It To Work.
To conclude, Gandhi was right. What is habitual is not natural. Realism is, to tell the truth, be accountable, and look for ways to cooperate and accentuate creativity.
Here’s to your success,
P.S. I think you would enjoy reading my book “Invisible STRESS (It’s NOT What YOU Think!)” and watching my masterclass about living in the safe stress zone. Here you will find ways to tell your truth without, as I say, spilling your guts.