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Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored: What Do You Want to Be?

Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored:  What Do You Want to Be?

Within the next few weeks my daughter is going to start college. I remember when she was two or three and people would tease me with warnings of the hell I would experience during her teenage years. Though we’ve had our battles, I’m happy to report that either people didn’t know what they were talking about or I lucked out.  Thankfully she’s been a pretty good kid.

I’d like to think it’s been the values I tried to instill in her while trying to live by a set of values as her father. At some point I established the following hierarchy of or values or house rules to help guide her.

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  1. Self-respect
  2. Respect for others
  3. Family
  4. School
  5. Commitments outside of school
  6. Friends / Social

I made it clear that her ability to live within rules 1 – 5 would dictate her freedom and ability to enjoy # 6. When she kept her priorities in line, she had all the freedom in the world.  When she didn’t have her priorities in line and she wasn’t living by her values, I had to step in.

At some point in her early teenage years I realized I had to stop telling her what to do and what not to do because of me.  I had to talk to her about the benefits she would enjoy with good decision making and the problems she would encounter with poor decision making.

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It was about that time I started talking to her about the concept of “Rewards, Punishments, and Being Ignored.” I would tell her that the world rewards certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  It punishes certain thoughts, emotions, and actions, and it ignores certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  I would repeat that it is up to her to figure out what all that stuff means in relation to what kind of life she wants to live.

You must figure out what that stuff means in relation to living the life you want to live.

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Thirteen years ago, I was 23 years old and I decided that I wanted to spend my life teaching, training, coaching, counseling, and/or speaking. With only an associates degree in graphic design, I knew I had some work to do if I was going to reach my goals and more importantly, have the kind of life I wanted to have.

Rewards

  • Attitude: In order to reach my goals I needed to maintain a positive, optimistic, and forward thinking attitude.  I needed to be patient, but focused.
  • Emotions: I needed to be confident that the choices I was making contributed to me reaching my goals. I needed to feel secure with the idea that I had a lot to learn. I needed to not take personally that some of my friends and family didn’t understand what I was trying to do and weren’t supportive at first.
  • Actions: I needed to learn all I could about leadership and this included formal education, working with mentors, and tons and tons of self study.  I needed to consult with mentors who could advise me throughout my journey.  I needed to make the time and financial investment to go back to school and finish my undergraduate degree in a major that aligned with my goals.

Punishments

  • Attitude:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not have a bad attitude. I couldn’t piss and moan that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I couldn’t allow my expectations be unrealistic.  I knew if I wanted to help people change their lives I could not complacent with attitude.
  • Emotions:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not allow myself to become frustrated with myself or the process. I could not consume my mind with worry and self-destructive thoughts. I could not allow people around me who were not supportive to make me feel like what I was doing was wrong, because they didn’t get it.
  • Actions:  If I were going to reach my goals, I could not become stagnant or lazy.  I could not allow my actions to conflict with my words. I could not appear unfocused or confused with what I was doing.

Ignored

If you spend too much time with attitudes, emotions, and actions that get punished or that don’t align with your goals or the life you say you wish to have, eventually you will be ignored by the world around you.  You will be another person who talks a big game, but doesn’t take action.  You will become the person that when you open your mouth, the world around you will give a big ol’ eye roll and shake their heads because they have heard it all before.  You will become insignificant.

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If you want to achieve all that is possible, you must maintain the right attitude and emotions, and you must continue to take the right actions.  Your ability to do so will be the difference between success and failure or meaning and regret.

You have what it takes.  Go get it!

Featured photo credit: Joris Louwes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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