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Take The Sword In

Take The Sword In

You probably haven’t re-read your copy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People lately, but there’s a great part in Habit 5 (Seek first to understand, then to be understood) that talks about confrontations. I use that advice often, and almost always to the effect that Dr. Covey promises.

Good! You See it Differently

When confronted by a difference of opinion, especially when the person who disagrees with you sounds almost hostile about their opinion, or dismissive, what’s expected is a confrontation. The person arguing with you lunges forward with a criticism. She speaks with no regard for your feelings or ego.

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In the audio program, there was always something so genuinely happy in Covey’s voice when he replied to his attacker. The script was like this: Sashi is arguing with Enrique. Sashi says, “This part is all wrong! There’s a big mess here. Things haven’t been taken into consideration.” At this point, Enrique could let his feelings get hurt, but instead, he chooses to say, “Good! You see it differently. Tell me what you think.”

The expression is magical. It takes the attacker off guard. It “takes the sword in.” Thing of someone lunging forward with a sword. Instead of countering with your own blade, you grab theirs, and pull it towards you. Imagine how off-balance one would be if one expected you to strike. Everything would be jarring to him because his bodyweight and strength was geared for a return conflict.

Check Your Ego

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The prime ingredients to managing this kind of communication experience are a strong belief that you will eventually be heard, and also the ability to check your ego, to relinquish that sense of having to defend your thoughts and feelings to this other person. If you are strong in your spirit, you can do both. You can wait to make your point. If you execute the interaction well, anyone observing the interaction will most certainly score you higher than you’d imagine. It takes guts to let someone else stomp all over your idea, especially in public, but it takes almost superhero-level powers to reply with, “Good! You see it differently.”

But I’ll tell you: the reward of taking that sword in, of getting the person so off-balance that they accidentally become your ally and help you make the original idea better, is worth more than gold.

An Anecdote to Illustrate

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I know because I did this as recently as last night. I have a coworker who feels she must repeatedly denounce my contributions in private, among her circle of friends. She feels I’m not doing my job the way she would do it. This, of course, is true. I’m doing it the way I do my job: like a rockstar. It sometimes bridles those who come from a different school of thought. That’s okay. We see things differently.

She chose to “call me out” in a lengthy diatribe about a project I’m running. She had lots of “concerns” about various small details. In all cases, her ideas were valid, strengthened my project, and definitely were helpful. The trick was: she kind of whined about it, and ended up sounding both accusing and attacking.

So, I replied to the same group and said basically this: “Thanks for writing. You clearly have some great ideas and passion about this project. I appreciate that you’ve taken on as many of the points you did. Shall we meet so that you can further help me improve and better define the project?”

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What followed was a reply that came out sounding like, “Oh, well I wasn’t intending to be helpful. I was just complaining that you run your projects differently than me. I don’t have any time to help. I just want you to get my approval before doing things.”

This is victory to me. She didn’t discredit me. I got lots of free advice on how to improve the project. And she felt heard and acknowledged. By the way, that’s Habit 4: Think Win Win. Am I completely noble? Of course not, but then I’m not running for sainthood. I’m trying to get through life and be helfpul.

Try taking the sword in yourself. See if you can get people off balance in their disagreements, and try turning them to your cause. The results are often surprising.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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