The Fitting Room of Relationships, part two

The Fitting Room of Relationships, part two

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins… Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”(Barack Obama)

George and Rana to the Fitting Room, Please…

When we last left our heroes, they both had adequate investment in making their work relationship better. If you were going to help them, how could you help them “try on” the other person’s experience so that they can figure out what needs to change for them both?

Fitting Room 1: Rana Rana told us that she feels disrespected by George; That he’s so busy trying to be powerful in the room that he pushes past what she is contributing, and then demeans her in front of clients. Can you imagine a scene in which George has something really important to say and no one will listen to him?

What if we put or have them imagine that George is on the floor on his knees. He isn’t allowed to stand up so if he has to move, he has to crawl or walk on his knees. He’s only allowed to whisper, but he has to let people know that the building is on fire. You and Rana are standing, talking to one another. You two can only speak loudly. Each time George tries to get your attention, you turn your bodies away from him and shout, “DON’T MIND THAT IDIOT! HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT!!”

George might start to feel some of the very same feelings that Rana feels in their client meetings. He might also start thinking about what messages Rana has been trying to offer that just might help them maximize their gifts and be more effective together. (See what I did there?

Remember the part about “What’s in it for me” from theother week's blog?)

Fitting Room 2: George George made it clear that he feels Rana is competing for dominance, not collaboration. He believes that Rana thinks he’s a fraud who only has his position because he’s white male and she doesn’t see his strengths as a leader. He assumes that she thinks of him as a threat. How can we tap into those feelings for Rana?

This will likely be easy for Rana because she is expressing very similar feelings already, and that is their common point of connection. (<--- I’m not very subtle. That was Rana’s buy-in hope.)

Let’s imagine that George and Rana are EMT’s partnered to come help you because you have a gash in your arm after an accident. George rushes in to give you an aspirin because he is convinced that aspirin fixes everything! Rana can see that you are about to bleed out and really need a tourniquet. Rana is confident in her plan of care. It’s what she was taught in training and she’s been in similar situations before.

She can put the tourniquet on by herself, but it would really help if George would assist. George is only allowed to keep insisting that Rana has no idea what she’s talking about and to push her out of the way, persisting with aspirin as the needed cure.

What to Buy/What to Return to the Rack If you’re imagining that George and Rana patiently listened to each other and suddenly had glorious “AHA” moments causing the angels to sing as Rana and George skipped off into the sunset? You might want to see a therapist. I’m just saying.

No, in real life, we have automatic reactions to the messages that tap dance on our less settled issues. Many times, those automatic reactions overwhelm our ability to listen, to be patient and to be effective.

Well, That’s Just Stellar Weirdly, it can be. To do these difficult dialogues well, we need to remember what makes it worth it to struggle, we need skills to stay in our thinking brains and out of our reactive brains, and we probably could use some specific communication tools to make it possible to effectively give and receive the information that will be necessary to take us to our goals.

It’s going to be messy. We are going to mess up.

The other person is going to mess up too. Those times the dialogue goes off the rails are opportunities for us to unlearn score keeping and that wrong conversation that gets us lost in who’s right and who’s wrong, instead of understanding one another better.

Tool Time Stay tuned to this space in the weeks to come as we look at some tools that will help them have the hard conversations that can lead to something better for everyone.

If you’d like help untangling the knots of your communication, contact Tiffany today!