The other day I was in an off-the-rails political discussion with someone closest to me (in my entire life). This person, despite the contrasting lens in which we see certain social issues and policies, you see, we share a congruent value system and moral code. We might not agree with one another, but we try and get each other, from left to right to everything in between.
In today’s world, battling over anything, no less political gripes, is certainly not abnormal. But it is for us. Because we talk. We communicate. We listen to one another. We give each other the space to share and then dissect, understand, resolve. I love this about us. I protect this about us.
The other day, I fell short. On my commitment, on my integrity, to show up for him in this way.
Growing up, communication consisted of…the basics. There were no advanced conflict or deep listening or resolution strategies. There could be an argument followed by silence. There could be a matrix of assumptions and misunderstandings surmounting in an overflow of haste and anger. Undoubtedly, there was love, plenty of it, but the communication ‘thing’ was unkept—and hijacked many a days and nights.
In contrast, on the playing field, there were signals and signs, collective chants, clear instructions and corrective criticism to follow when necessary. You addressed what was, along with your coach and teammates, head on, and always knew where you were and where you were going. Communication bred an unspoken camaraderie that was a defining anchor.
As an adult-something—my communication will be kept, tended to, nurtured. On the easy days, and on the more challenging days like this one. I will know when and how to use my voice. To engage, uplift, empower and unite.
And yet the other day, I fell short.
And he, standing firm in his own knowing, his own intention around doing better, being better…confronted me front and center.
As the questions unfolded, I slowly transported back to a moment in time. Feelings of being misunderstood and frustration started bubbling up. I couldn’t use my words. I couldn’t get my reaction to feel right or good. The agreement we could often access and land comfortably on was nowhere in sight. Operation: Silence & Shut Down was heading my way…fast.
Later that day it still stung me. The knowing that I knew better. Could do better. Heck, I didn’t invest all these years in personal development for nothing. I knew I had to make it right.
I often visualize the ‘next year from now’ me. The ‘next level’ or ‘2.0’ me. She is a powerful speaker both in the personal and professional sense. She is crystal clear and resonate in her language. She is masterful in her ability to help others rise to their greatness. She brings joy to those around her and makes others feel good. She is healthy, fit and strong. She is making a bigger and bigger global impact.
In that moment I had to step into her fully.
It was time to put the big girl panties on and OWN MY SH*T. Acknowledge, understand, apologize; give this person the respect they deserved.
Sounds simple, right? Not after years of handling situations like these the same way, like clockwork, which often meant walking away, not speaking, and allowing time to do its part. This had been my pattern. My hardwiring—long after the lessons learned on the field were somehow temporarily forgotten.
And what a disempowering way to live. To do relationships. Like slow forming decay that eats and eats over time…until nothing is left.
This isn’t the way I’m here to play.
So, I asked him to talk and he graciously ushered me in.
Not only was the outcome endearing and amicable, but I now know how to navigate in the future, which means, greater self-awareness, a new perspective and deeper understanding.
THIS is how the ‘Next Level’ me does life. Love. Conflict.
This is how the field, gym and floor conditioned me to play some decades ago.
After all, if we’re not here to know, do and perform better, what are we here for?
Grateful for the person, the lessons, and the tools to become a warrior over any circumstance, big or small.
No matter where your conflict arises, be it on or off the playing field—this easy 1,2,3 process will ensure the other person feels understood (key to resolution), restores your integrity (inner knowing of what’s right) and fosters deeper connection, MINUS the unnecessary prolonging, avoidance, and DRAMA.
OWN it and clean it up!
Say to the other person:
- I hear you that you think/feel (insert what the person is thinking/feeling)
- I need to (insert what action you will take in response to their complaint)
- I would love for you to (insert what you need from them)
Example: I love/value/respect/appreciate you. I hear you that you feel I’m being condescending right now. I need to pay more attention to my tone of voice so you don’t feel this way. I would love if you could continue holding the space for us to speak openly about these things. Thanks.
Stephanie Hess is a Business & Success Coach for Creatives, Coaches & Entrepreneurs and enjoys red wine, true crime and road trips (in no particular order). To learn more or for her free blog, visit here.
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