I have just returned to the office after doing a workshop for an organisation undergoing some major restructures currently, and was reflecting on how little we often understand about the impact of our energy on others. Changes that are beyond our control can evoke feelings of resentment and anger and I experienced the full force of one person’s frustration this morning.
I had a slide on the overhead with “What you pay attention to you get more of” on it. The explanation that goes with the slide is that if we choose to focus on the negatives we are limiting the amount of conscious attention left to see choices and alternatives.
I did an exercise I do in short sessions to demonstrate that language directs our attention. I tell the group not to think of a pink elephant and then expand on that to say and don’t put a tutu on the elephant or think of circus music. This normally gets a laugh as people try not to think about such a silly thing, but are so influenced by the power of suggestive language, that they cannot not think about it!
I asked the group – “So tell me – what are you thinking about”. There was muttering through the room about a pink elephant and then one lady bravely and vocally stated. “I am thinking what a waste of time this is!” I say bravely because putting your thoughts out in front of a group of people means you are open to having 50 different interpretations of your behaviour. It also puts a powerful energy into the room and it is vital that we all think about the energetic impact we have on others.
Now I was able to make light of the situation and thank the lady for demonstrating that indeed she was correct. If she thinks it is a waste of her time then there is every likelihood that it will be! The important question here to consider is what lasting impact has her energy left on those around her. I get to do my keynote and disappear, but in a team you work with daily you are influencing the “feel” of the place on a daily basis.
What is the energy you want to give out to others? I myself know that I want to put out love and acceptance so for me the hecklers in a group give me a good chance to see if I can stay in that space when someone is projecting the exact opposite at me. I cannot say I have that fully handled yet as I immediately had to counteract my negative judgements of her response. It took a moment for my heart to stop pounding and my fight and flight not to send me into attack mode and my conscious mind to kick in. My thoughts slowed to “respond in a way that keeps rapport but makes the point that what you pay attention to you get more of”.
Programming ourselves for choice is a never ending process in life. The key is to be conscious of what your choices are. What is the energetic impact you want to leave on others. We all have choice, and only we can decide that for ourselves. I have no control over whether my participant was able to reflect on her choice later or not.
I do however know that she did me a huge favour. Not one other person in that room would have missed the key message from that interaction. We are what we pay attention to. I also think that it made most people think about how they will respond to the changes in the future. I guarantee they all decided not to do it in the way they had just seen.
Make a choice about the energy you want to project and think about the power of that when a whole team decides to make their contributions positive and constructive. It is the foundation of any happy culture be it a healthy organisational, team or family culture.