The Journey of Success – Know Yourself

Standard

Everyone wants to be successful, but what is that separates the truly successful from the rest?  John Maxwell says that success is a journey, not a destination.  Over the next few months, I want to explore what that journey might entail.

IMG_7368

Huntley Meadows; Photo by Tasha M. Troy

I’ve identified four stages in the journey of success:

  1. Know Yourself
  2. Define Success
  3. Develop the Vision
  4. Pursue the Goal with Determination

 

Today I’ll start by describing the first stage, and in future posts I’ll describe the other stages.

Stage 1: Know Yourself

What does it mean to know yourself?  I mean, you spend 24/7 with yourself; if you don’t know yourself by now, when will you?

Actually, I have found that a lot of people are not particularly reflective and don’t take the time to understand who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, their passions and motivations.  A tool I found in Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life has been very helpful to me in organizing my view of myself.  He talks about being “Shaped for Service,” SHAPE being an acronym:

  • S – spiritual gifts: the innate gifts God has placed within each of us for the purpose of touching the lives of others
  • H – heart / passions: the key motivations that drive us
  • A – abilities: the skills we have acquired
  • P – personality: the way we interact with the world
  • E – experiences: the things we have gone through, both good and bad

Years ago I started a journal to track my SHAPE, and I revisit it whenever I am facing major life decisions or go through major life events.  It has been very helpful in making intentional choices that line up with how I believe God designed me.  For example, my decision to start writing this blog was in line with my SHAPE:

  • Photo by Tasha M. Troy

    Photo by Tasha M. Troy

    Spiritual gifts:  teaching, giving, encouraging – My goal in writing this blog is to encourage people to communicate more effectively and to teach them the strategies they need.

  • Heart: to be a bridge – The title of this blog reflects my passion to bring individuals and groups together that might not otherwise connect.
  • Abilities:  communicate in writing, build stronger relationships – I have been intentionally building my skills in the area of relationship development and connecting with others, and I am happy to share my learning experiences to help others.
  • Personality:  INFJ according to Myers-Briggs – Part of the description of my personality type is that we express ourselves more easily through writing.
  • Experience:  over 10 years teaching professional communication skills – I have spent more than half of my career developing and teaching the communication skills I write about in this blog, working with hundreds of adults to help them become more effective communicators.

More recently, I have begun discovering new tools for exploring the different elements of my SHAPE.  You will find some of them here:  Discovering Your SHAPE.

In my opinion, a major key to living an intentional life is understanding yourself.  You can not intentionally pursue a life of purpose if you won’t take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and motivations.  I challenge you to take some time today to explore your own SHAPE – I can promise you will find it a helpful exercise.

 

Resources:

If you are interested in working though and applying your SHAPE with me, I can offer you a free exploratory coaching session.  I have a few activities that are intended to help you identify different elements of your SHAPE.  Contact me at tasham.troy@gmail.com to schedule a free 30-minute session.

Discovering Your SHAPE

A Life of Purpose – A TED Talk by Pastor Rick Warren

 

Advertisements

Where do we go from here?

Standard

I have been watching current events closely.  It appears that the divisions in the US between different groups are only continuing to widen, and a resolution to our issues seems more and more unlikely.

IMG_0364

US Supreme Court, April 28, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen clear evidence that the racial, social, and ideological divide (which I am trying to bridge) continues to widen.

  • The June 17 shooting at a historic Black church, killing 9 and setting off a series of church burnings.
  • The June 26 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, causing great rejoicing at the affirmation of civil rights for some and deep mourning at the loss of civil liberties for others.

 

At this point, it seems the only voices I clearly hear are from either extreme end of the spectrum, spewing fear and hate; only those who are deeply entrenched in their positions are heard.  Under these conditions, the situation will only continue to get worse.  Some have voiced concerns of a coming race war; others fear the further loss of first amendment rights.  The future, indeed, looks bleak.

However, I believe that as long as there is life, there is hope.

Yes, I still hope that things can and will get better.  I believe communication is the root of all relationship, and if we are going to truly bridge the divides we see here in the US (and in other countries as well), we have to stop broadcasting our entrenched opinions and start listening.

In the coming weeks, I will write more about what I believe we as a nation need to start doing in order to begin healing the divisions and schisms among us.  I truly believe it begins with what Mark Goulston and John Ullmen call “connected influence.”  If you’ve been reading Bridging the Divide for very long, you probably know I think very highly of their book Real Influence.

I believe their four-stage model is the key to turning things around in our country.

  1. Go for great outcomes: the US was once considered the greatest nation in the world, but not today.  I believe the US can be great once more – if certain criteria are met.  (Clarification – I am not talking about “American Exceptionalism” here; I will write more of my thoughts about this next week.)
  2. Listen past your blind spot: we do too much talking and not enough listening.
  3. Engage them in their there: we have to meet others where they are, not expecting them to come to us first.
  4. When you’ve done enough … do more: there is no short-term fix; we have to take the long view and invest for the future.

In the weeks ahead, I will lay out my thoughts on how we, as a nation, can walk in connected influence in such a way as to bring healing to our society.  Yes, I know I am a bit idealistic, but I am still hopeful that we can find common ground and move forward as a nation.

 

Links and Resources:

Read my review of Real Influence

Website for Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

Series of blog posts by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen based on the concepts in Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

YouTube Playlist of interview with Dr. Mark Goulston

Communication Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, taught by John Ullmen

 

Handling Conflict – The Avoiding Style

Standard

By Tasha M. Troy

IMG_6708

Conflict can make or break a relationship, depending on how all parties involved react and/or respond to the situation.

 

 

The Avoiding Style

I have a friend who doesn’t usually communicate when there is a problem.

One time my first clue that there was a problem was when he started avoiding me.  When I made a point of asking him point blank about the situation, he didn’t seem real comfortable talking through it, especially when I got a little emotional.  (No one likes to be avoided!)

That conversation resulted in some necessary changes to our friendship, but I don’t think he realized how putting off the conversation had been more hurtful than simply letting me know his position in the first place.

I can’t criticize my friend too severely; the avoiding style is my primary approach to facing conflict.  I tend to analyze my own reaction before bringing it to the attention of my friend or colleague.  I highly dislike conflict and will engage in a direct confrontation only when I believe the cost of inaction to be higher than the pain of action.

The Drawbacks:

Frequently, the avoiding style can cause more harm than good, especially if problems are left to fester unattended.  I have often left situations unaddressed and found myself putting out fires that could have been prevented with early intervention.

Useful points:

However, sometimes the avoiding style is appropriate.  You hear people say, “Choose your battles”; not every disagreement is worth a confrontation.  Some things are better ignored, for example when someone is trying to pick a fight or if the payoff is not worth the damage a confrontation might cause. Other times the avoiding style might be appropriate is when the two sides need to cool down or when more information is needed to find the best solution.

 

I sincerely believe that timing is everything when it comes to facing a conflict, and it is worth the wait to make sure the timing and the approach are optimal.  In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell describes the law of timing.  He points out four possible outcomes:

  • The wrong action at the wrong time leaders to disaster.
  • The right action at the wrong time brings resistance.
  • The wrong action at the right time is a mistake.
  • The right action at the right time results in success.

I am still learning how to gauge the timing of conversations dealing with conflict, but hopefully I am getting better with each encounter.

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

Links and Resources

Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

Rick Warren’ message on Resolving Conflict, part of the “You Make Me Crazy” message series

Check out the rest of this series!

The Competitive Style

The Accommodating Style

The Collaborative Style

The Compromising Style

Handling Conflict – The Competitive Style

Standard

By Tasha M. Troy

Conflict is a normal part of life.

IMG_6765

The US Supreme Court

I often tell my students that whenever you have two people in the same room, you will have some measure of conflict.

While conflict may be inevitable, it is how we respond to that conflict that can make or break a relationship.

 

The Competitive Style

I once had a roommate who enjoyed a good argument.  Early in our time living together, she once picked a fight with me over something really trivial.  I got really stressed and upset, but she later explained that she was just having fun.  This was not fun to me!

She clearly had a competitive conflict-handling style.  She enjoyed the pushback of a good fight, and she didn’t take the contest of wills personally.

One of the five conflict-handling styles described by Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, the competitive style is usually characterized by a “winner take all” attitude and the use of force, power, or authority to impose a solution.

Often, those using a competitive style are seen in a negative light – the hard-nosed negotiator, the persistent salesman, the friend who always has to get the last word in.

Useful Points:

A competitive approach may be appropriate in times of emergency or when a unilateral decision needs to me made for the sake of time and efficiency.  There are times when a forceful approach is necessary and even may be the best way to approach an issue.

If a child wanted to run and play in the street, no one would criticize you for imposing your decision to play elsewhere upon that child.  Likewise, there are times when a leader may have more information about a situation when a quick decision needs to be made.

Drawbacks:

With that said, I recommend that this style be used sparingly.  When overused, it can damage trust and destroy relationships by violating all of the Five Core Concerns that are described by Dan Shapiro, the associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project.  These Five Core Concerns zero in on the five emotional needs of any person you come in contact with:

1.  Appreciation – each person wants their efforts and experience to be recognized and appreciated.

2.  Autonomy – God made us with free will, and people tend to resent anyone who uses force, coercion, or manipulation to make them choose a course of action that they don’t want to choose.

3.  Affiliation – we are social creatures and all have a need to belong, to be a member of a group.

4.  Status – we all want to be treated with respect, no matter our position in the hierarchy

5.  Role – humanity is purpose-driven; we all want to know that our efforts are working towards a greater goal; we all want to have a part to play in whatever project is being pursued

 

Take It Deeper

If you want to maintain harmonious relationships, use the competing style rarely, only in truly emergency situations!

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

Links and Resources

Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

5 core concerns

Check out the rest of this series!

The Avoiding Style

The Accommodating Style

The Collaborative Style

The Compromising Style

Conflict Resolution: The Third Side

Standard

I am starting a series on a topic that impacts every relationship – conflict resolution.

In this TED Talk, William Ury shares from his experiences as a conflict mediator and presents his approach to resolving some of the most difficult conflicts in our world.

I may not fully agree when he says that Abraham represents hospitality, but I do agree that when we focus on those things that unite us rather than those things that divide us, conflict resolution becomes much more possible.

In the weeks ahead, I will explore the five conflict handling styles described by Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, which are:

  • competitive – I must win this argument
  • avoiding – I’d rather not deal with this
  • accommodating – You can have it your way
  • collaborative – Let’s see if we can find a creative solution
  • compromising – Let’s meet in the middle

The Four Barriers to Connection – The Double Curse of Knowledge

Standard

By Tasha M. Troy

John Maxwell says that “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”IMG_7296

If this is the case, it really makes sense for us to learn how to connect better in order to have greater influence with the people around us. Today I’m wrapping up a short series on the four barriers to connection.

 

The Barrier:

The fourth and final barrier is called the double curse of knowledge. Barrier number three was about when you are wrong; barrier number four is about when you are right.

Many times we are so familiar with our topic that everything seems obvious to us, but to people less familiar, there might be large gaps of understanding when we try to explain our ideas or our position.

In the book Real Influence, authors Mark Goulston and John Ullmen describe this barrier as “it isn’t just about them not getting you. It’s also about you not getting them” (p. 31).

They say “the best influencers… understand that the double curse of knowledge is in play in all of their interactions. These people realize that it’s all too easy to overestimate their own clarity when they’re communicating, and they are aware that they’re not always getting the full message when other people are trying to get through. It’s this knowledge that saves them from appearing arrogant and condescending when people just don’t get it.”

A Personal Story:

A few years ago, had a student who was extremely resistant to feedback, or even doing the assignments as they were assigned. For six months, the faculty struggled to connect with the student and to convince him to cooperate by doing the assignments as required.

Finally, during the last couple months of the program, I had him as my student in a writing class. Each week he was required to submit a short assignment on a specific topic, but week after week he submitted something completely different.

Finally it got to the point where he was in danger of failing not only my class but the entire eight month program.  I sat down with him to convince him to complete his assignments so that he could pass the class.  During our conversation, it came out that he was trying to prepare an article for publication, and he would really rather have feedback and editing on that particular article rather than on the assignments that he was required to complete.

Once I understood his perspective, what his priorities were, I was able to propose a solution that he found acceptable. After our meeting, he completed all of his assignments as expected and was able to complete the program successfully.

The Solution:

The solution to the double curse of knowledge is to keep aware of your audience, to do comprehension checks regularly, and to not make assumptions about their background knowledge.

In his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John Maxwell describes five connecting principles and five connecting practices.   One of the connecting practices is that connectors do the difficult work of keeping it simple. John Maxwell gives five ways connectors can do this:

  • Talk to people, not above them
  • Get to the point
  • Say it over and over and over and over again
  • Say it clearLy
  • Say less

By using these five strategies, you can be more certain that your audience, whether it’s one person or many, is getting the message you intend to convey. In fact, I would venture that the larger your audience, the more important each of the strategies becomes.

 

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

 

“The Four Traps that Disconnect You” from Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.  Read my review of Real Influence

The first barrier: The Fight or Flight Response

The second barrier: The Habit Handicap

The third barrier: Error Blindness

 

 

The Four Barriers to Connection – Error Blindness

Standard

By Tasha M. Troy

John Maxwell says that “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”IMG_7291

If this is the case, it really makes sense for us to learn how to connect better in order to have greater influence with the people around us. Today I’m continuing a short series on the four barriers to connection.

The Barrier:

Barrier number three is error blindness.

How does it feel to be wrong? This is the question posed by Kathryn Schulz in her TED Talk On Being Wrong.  Most people answer “bad,” “not good,” “embarrassing,” “uncomfortable.” However, Ms. Schulz points out that those are answers to a different question – what does it feel like to realize you are wrong?

It is extremely rare that someone is intentionally wrong!  Ms. Schulz emphasizes that being wrong feels like being right.  This is error blindness.

When we are wrong but think someone else “just isn’t getting it,” we will make one of three assumptions:

  • the ignorance assumption – they just don’t understand so I have to explain it again;
  • the idiocy assumption – they’re kind of stupid, so I have to explain it again; or
  • the evil assumption – they get it, they’re just making life difficult for me.

Anytime we make these assumptions, whether we are in the right or not, it interferes with our ability to connect with the people we are interacting with.

A Personal Story:

I work hard to develop a connection with my students. I know that working with adults, if they don’t trust you, they won’t follow your instruction and therefore not succeed or grow to their potential.  I know I can’t please everyone, but for about 90% of my students I am able to connect with them.

One year I had a student who was very resistant to my feedback, very resistant to my teaching and coaching. Because I know I put a lot of effort into connecting with my students, I assumed the problem was on her end. I thought that maybe she just didn’t connect with my personality and teaching style.

However, through indirect methods, I learned that she had gotten the impression that I disliked her personally. When I heard this, I was shocked.  At that point, I had a choice, whether to believe what I was hearing and act on it or to continue assuming I was right.

Fortunately, I accepted the feedback and took deliberate steps to correct the misconception and to build a better relationship with that particular student. As a result, she became more open to feedback and coaching, and was able to complete the program successfully.

The Solution:

In order to escape from error blindness, we must seek to connect on common ground.

In his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John Maxwell describes five connecting principles and five connecting practices.  One of the practices is that connectors connect on common ground. He John Maxwell give several ways in which people can cultivate a mindset of common ground

  • Availability – spend time with others
  • Listening – understand the other’s perspective
  • Questions – be interested in others
  • Thoughtfulness – think of others and thank them
  • Openness – let people in
  • Likability – care about people
  • Humility – think of yourself less to think of others more
  • Adaptability – move from my world to theirs

As we practice these elements and establish a common ground, you’ll find that you are less likely to fall into error blindness because you’ll be open to other people’s ideas to begin with.

 

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

 

Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong

“The Four Traps that Disconnect You” from Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.  Read my review of Real Influence

The first barrier: The Fight or Flight Response

The second barrier: The Habit Handicap

The fourth barrier: The Double Curse of Knowledge