Friday, April 13, 2012

Don't be Afraid of the Ugly

How do you react when things get ugly?

I am the kind of person who needs to talk it out. I need to be able to say my piece and ask all my questions until I get it all sorted out. My warning label should read: TO AVOID EXPLOSION, LISTEN TO IT TALK OR LET IT WRITE IT OUT.

At home this means I definitely contribute to "things getting a little loud" especially if I believe I'm not being heard. I'm learning to reign myself in and training myself to notice my triggers asap. It's led us to try the safe word technique...

If someone is about to blow up we call out the safe word so the other person can also become aware of our emotional state. It immediately halts the argument and draws a boundary line in the sand. We re-adjust, re-focus and continue the discussion acknowledging the other's parameters. We trust and respect each other and that means we are willing to let things get a little ugly from time to time because we know it's part of life's balancing act.

Life is messy and ugly sometimes because we are continually negotiating and pushing our boundaries. We want to stay safe so we can survive but we are also compelled to grow and thrive. We are organic beings after all. Just like plants and animals. Our relationships are not only for companionship, they are also there to help us learn who we are and help us grow into the people we want to become. Positive relationships help us grow and push us out of our perceived safety zones. But relationships are often messy because growing is messy business. Often we need a good, swift kick in the pants to change our ways. Most of us drag our heels and don't come without kicking and screaming. It's tough being a human!

When it comes to the workplace and our relationships there, we certainly don't turn off our learning button. (I can tell you from experience, it does not work that way!) So how do we act when things get ugly at work? How do we negotiate our need to feel safe with our need to grow as human beings at work? It doesn't really matter who or what pushes our buttons, it's how we react that matters.

We probably don't react with the same candor that we show at home because the level of trust and respect are not the same. Probably for good reason too. There ain't nobody at work who needs to see my mascara stained face or hear me slam the cupboard doors! Not that anyone at home does either. But it's all part of me learning to be the best me I can be.

So when things get ugly at work how can we recognize it for what it is -part of us learning to be us- and not be afraid of this human learning process?

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