Written by Kathy McKenzie – 15 July 2015
When you work with people over a period of time you start to notice the “rut” conversations.
What do I mean by that? I mean the repetitive story as to why something is not possible, why someone is single, broke, unfit, unhappy – substitute whatever the negative program they may be running is.
We all know that can be quite an energy drain if you are working with that person on a continual basis.
Now that sounds like a negative start by me so let me tune you to the positive slant of this conversation. It doesn’t have to be that way! We all have the potential to change and not everything has to change for everything to change.
The tipping point is to begin to recognise what part of your thinking is locked into a belief that it will always be that way. Martin Seligman (www.authentichappiness.org) describes one of the characteristics of a pessimist as taking bad events and evaluating them as being a permanent fixture.
For example a relationship fails (could be work or home) and everything starts to be impacted in a chain reaction – it impacts work, health and your happiness overall when it need not be that way.
Most people are unaware of their own patterns and the story they are running and those they are continually telling the story to, have generally heard it before so have tuned out almost as soon as it starts.
Whilst in a personal situation you need to be wary of going into coaching mode, if it is a client or colleague, your knowledge and skills in relation to how to get them to view things from a different perspective can be life changing for someone.
In order to have richer relationships the challenge is to make someone aware in a way that is supportive and empathetic and allow them to have that Ah ha moment when the penny drops and they realise that change is possible.
Next time your are listening to a “rut” conversation pay attention to whether you notice the following:
Catastrophising – also called sweating the small stuff – taking insignificant events and giving them much more negative attention than they warrant
Pessimism – the language that describes bad events as lasting, pervasive and taking over their entire thinking and personalised, that is blaming themselves when things go wrong.
Blame, Denial and Justification – this is when someone is waiting for something outside them to change and blaming others, denying that they have any part in seeing things differently and justifying their stuck state.
All of these patterns can be counteracted with active and empathetic listening following by a capacity to ask powerful and challenging questions.
It is much more evolved of us to develop the other persons capacity to change than to say nothing and then later in the tea room despair about how draining they are to be around!
Developing skills to get others to shift to empowered places takes time and commitment but when you finally get a different story from someone who didn’t think a new script was possible for them it is well worth the while.
If you haven’t already, check out Kathy’s chat with Michelle Bridges.