Tag Archives: Communication

The Benefits of Comfort

By Chelsea Elkins, Simple Intentions Marketing & Program Manager

comfortzone_012617Neale Donald Walsch says that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. It is true that the things that make us uncomfortable or afraid can also create an unexpected joy or sense of fulfillment. Moving abroad, taking a risk on a relationship, pursuing a new certification or degree, even taking a literal leap and cliff jumping, all may naturally be outside our comfort zones. Pushing beyond the “shoulds” that society creates for us (or more often that we create for ourselves) can allow us to expand our horizons and accomplish things previously considered unachievable.

Though life cannot fully be embraced if we solely stay in “the known”, we must also respect the boundaries we each have put in place to protect our most precious values. Often when we are uncomfortable, it is because our values are being threatened – and it would therefore be harmful and draining to remain in that state.  There lies the complication: determining when going beyond our comfort zone challenges and benefits us, and when crossing that border is actually a result of someone or something violating a deeply rooted value. So how do we tell which is which? And what do we do if it’s the latter?

Determine the What

So what is it about “Co-Worker Todd” that makes us uncomfortable? The answer may be simple or surprisingly complex – and so may the solution. Reflect on what makes you set your teeth on edge when talking to “Todd”. Delve deep into the specifics. Does he stand too close to you when he talks? Do you find his tone irritating since his recent promotion?

Examine the Why

When you uncover the specifics of what action or statement has made you uncomfortable, examine the why. Which of your values feels threatened? If Todd is standing too close, he may be violating your value of personal space. If you’ve found his tone insufferable since he beat you out on a promotion last month, your value of respect may feel threatened. Alternatively or in addition to that, it could be that his presence is triggering feelings of unworthiness, as you again wonder why you were rejected for said promotion. Whatever the why is, acknowledge it without judgement. Understanding the reason behind an uncomfortable situation is the first step to alleviate it.

Communicate Your Boundaries

Often when we feel uncomfortable, the situation can be improved with a conversation on boundaries – either with the offender, a loved one, or ourselves. Todd may simply be unaware of his too-close-for-comfort proximity (as obvious as it may appear to us). Or if his actions are indeed intentional, speaking up may make him rethink that choice in the future. If the thing that’s making us uncomfortable is further away from our day to day – say a politician’s latest statement or an undesirable policy being passed – our communication may take the form of a letter or phone call.

Just the act of sharing our feeling of discomfort with a friend or loved one can also help disperse the unpleasantness in a situation. Lastly, correcting negative self-talk and addressing internal criticism can also be a way to guide us back to our comfort zone. After all, a positive affirmation or two can go a long way.

Go Beyond

Sometimes communication is not enough to create change and additional action may be needed. If Todd continues to breach your personal bubble, consult with a trusted mentor or your manager. If you are unhappy with local politics, sit in on a City Council meeting or attend a protest. If a new policy is threatening a value you deem as a global human right, volunteer at an organization fighting for something you hold dear. If you feel you are being attacked online by a stranger, determine if some small part of you believes those words to be true. Then pursue whatever action would lessen that belief – it could be meditation, education (whether individual or institutional), therapy, or a more heightened and informed awareness of yourself and the world. Whatever your next action is, ensure it is authentic to you and your values.

Repeat

The beautiful thing about our brains is that they change. A statement that made us uncomfortable 6 months ago may not have the same effect now. Todd may still set our teeth on edge but the reason why may be different. This means we must be persistent with our detective work, as our what’s and why’s are constantly changing.

All that we have control over is our own actions (and reactions). Next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, get to the bottom of the what and the why and take the needed steps to move forward. Let go of the idea of external control, determine what can be done to protect your values, and then, like a resolute cliff diver, take the leap back into your comfort zone.

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Four Types of Complaining

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO

[Note: This post originally appeared on Thrive Global]

011117_ComplainingHumans love to complain. We keep ourselves off balance through the way we complain, or in some cases the way we withhold our complaints. The funny thing about complaining is, many people are not clear on what it is they are complaining about, and many people confuse complaining with criticizing. A little secret here, 99 percent of the time you’re complaining about something because you are feeling that a value of yours has been threatened or compromised in some way. (It always goes back to values.

Before we can talk about a new way to complain, we first must establish the difference between a complaint and a criticism. In general, a complaint is an expression of a feeling of displeasure. A criticism is rooted in judgment of the actions, values, or work of others. It is possible that sometimes you’re feeling of displeasure comes out as criticism, meaning that it’s easy to make the displeasure you are feeling someone else’s fault — for example, blaming your boss for you having to stay late or your partner for you not having the time to go to the gym. It is through taking accountability of your displeasure (your complaining) that you can create action. That said not all complaints create action as there are four different types of complaining.

Frivolous or Recreational Complaints
These types of complaints validate a person’s view of the world or can make fun of or belittle something. Many times you don’t even need someone to hear these types of complaints. For example, “I have to work late Friday night”, you could be alone at your desk when saying this.

Empathy Seeking Complaints
These types of complaints are expressed by people who just want to be heard. You only want someone to care, you don’t need the other person to fix it, just listen and care. (Or even pretending to listen works here too.) We might say, “I have to work late a second Friday night in a row”, so we can hear someone else say to us “that’s a bummer.”

(Psychology tells us these first two types of complaints are good for us — they are also called venting — and can be a helpful way to process our displeasure.)

Withholding Complaints
This is the most toxic way to complain. It’s when people say nothing at all and begin to harbor resentment and internalize anger. They might start to exhibit passive aggressive behavior — or even just plain aggressive behavior. For example, “I have to work late a third Friday night in a row — no problem at all — happy to be here.” When in fact the tone of voice and e-mails reveals something different.

Action Complaints
These types of complaints are expressed by people who want action or change to occur and are committed to not repeating the past. For example, “I have to work late a fourth Friday night in a row — what can we do different so we are not here next week?” The displeasure is expressed with a request to discuss a path for change or action.

It is easy to see the difference; the challenging part is being aware of who you are sharing what type of complaint with. For example, your manager probably doesn’t want to hear your recreational complaints, but he or she might be more interested in your action complaints. If you want to complain to be heard — just say so, “Can you listen to me right now? I don’t need you to solve this — just hear me out.” Or if you need help you can say, “I’m stuck and could use some feedback what do you think if we tried a different approach?”

If you happen to be on the receiving end of a complaint and are not sure what type of complaining it is, just ask, “Do you need me to do anything?” Many times that is enough for the person complaining to create a bit of awareness around what they need from you in the conversation.

The best practice is before you share your displeasure with others through complaining, understand what it is you are seeking in doing so. Now go forth and own your complaints!

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