Now you’re so ashamed, now I’m so ashamed of you.
We believe the same things. You stand to the side.
– Gorilla Biscuits ‘New Direction’
Today I want to write about a skill or visual representation that spurs action instead of opinion. I’ve always had an issue with judgements and I tended to actually have a lot of judgements. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a judgement of another person, since that’s what I’m talking about, helps you to anticipate and premeditate your actions and attitutde towards that person. That helps you in a way if you are only being reactive. If you want to be pro-active, it becomes a whole different ball games.
When we judge others, we do it by right and wrong. We do it so strongly that we might end up polarizing people into right and wrong. In a conflict I had I started doing that with a person. This person had somehow touched those triggers that are opposed to my values and ideas, perhaps inherently my personality. That person for a brief period became a demon for me, pure evil, because I judged by wrong and right.
Now, we can never really escape the right wrong axis, but letting go of it and moving on to the active stage is the trick. We can move there by asking ourselves: What is missing? When we have the answer to that, we can ask: What is needed? And this way pro-actively solve issues, problems and conflicts in a way that actually helps. This is a brilliant theroy and well set axis. The problem is the letting go of the judgement you have in your head. Now, the measure in which we do this varies between people. I’ve had it very strongly for a long time. I’ve started developing some small techniques to help me deal with it lately that I would like to share.
1. Depersonalise your oponent
it sounds really cliché, but try to see the person you are having the confrontation with as an empty form, a tabular rasa that you have to work with to get something done. Let go of the person you feel you’re facing and your judgements about that person, because they inhibit you in having an open mind towards this other. You are making all sorts of assumptions about this conversation that will in the end only hamper finding the solution.
2. Put first things first: your goal
Straight out of the 7 Habits, I know, but so crucial to what you want to do. Rethink the purpose that was behind this conflict, what was your actual goal and focus on that. The person or group of persons (let us not forge that option) is only a tool in reaching that goal, utilize it instead of beating your head against it. Do you not have a goal? Go on to step 7.
3. Think Win-Win
Another one from the same source, but also very true. Approach your problem in a win-win way, look for a common win and that way make it so much more easy to solve it by suggesting another way that serves both. It’s the easiest way to convince someone else. Is there no win-win situation imaginable? In that case, really continue to step 7.
4. Put your emotions aside
Try to find that switch in your head that allows you to stop being all emotional about the topic, try to find your cold, business reason and you will get to the core of the thing. This simple act may, when you manage to pull it off, tell you if you need to take action or not. Is it really not such a big deal? Then continue to step 7.
5. Figure out if it actually has anything to do with you
Some people, like myself, have this natural feeling that they should defend others and stand up for the voiceless. That may be right in some occasions, but hardly in all of them. Decide if you are really taking on this fight. Think hard if you really are touched by this in any way and if there’s any reason why you should get involved. If the answer is no, which is pretty often is if it doesn’t actually have anything to do with you or your job, then just go to step .
6. Take the other perspective.
Some things are really two sided, you might be stuck in your side of things. Try to take another perspective, willingly look for that other side of things. It’s really hard at first, but it opens a door to tolerance and open mindedness.
7. Just drop it, let it go, breathe in and out and go on with your life
Some things are just not yours to be angry about. You shouldn’t worry about everything. That means letting go, dropping it and just stepping outside to get some fresh air. This is the ultimate step and very hard to take. If you need some help, go past the last 6 again. I think you’ll get here anyways,
I hope someone will find this useful, I do, though I still remain in my cycle sometimes, trapped in frustration. It gets better though, but it requires a lot of practise. Don’t forget that usually people want the same things and strive for the same goals. Frustration, secrecy, shame and strife will always block your efforts. You can not control what others do, but you can control how you deal with it.