When someone’s behavior is causing tension, fear can easily get in your way of having an honest conversation with them about how they’re showing up. While you might generate your own unique set of fears for the situation you’re in, there is one that pops up often:
What if it goes horribly wrong and I hurt their feelings, they get angry with me, and/or it ruins our relationship?
Don’t let that fear stop you from saying the thing that needs to be said, let it guide you.
Take responsibility for sharing your feelings in a way that shows care and support for that person – not feeling confident about how to do that? Start here or here.
Recognize their capacity for resilience – don’t underestimate the person’s ability to work their way through the discomfort that your feedback may have pushed them into.
Embrace your own resilience – push yourself outside of your comfort zone and trust that if you make some mistakes (even painful and messy ones), you will find the support you need to restore well-being. The lessons you learn along the way will serve you the next time you’re in a similar situation.
Remember, honest conversations between people that involve charged feedback and accountability are rarely one and done – if it goes poorly, you haven’t yet gotten to the healing part. You both have the power to keep communicating until you understand one another and create a path to resolution together.
There is no guarantee that even with your best intentions and meticulous preparation that saying the thing that needs to be said will go as smoothly or successfully as you’d like it to. If you and the person you’re in it with care, you will find a way to resolve any conflict or mend hurt feelings that resulted from your initial interaction. Take the risk if you can, the benefits are worth it.
À la Carte
Find links here to unrelated yet thought-provoking content that has caught our attention. Order it, share it with a friend, or skip it to save room for info you really want to digest.
Resource – blog, articles, podcast
I understand enough about mental models to know I don’t really know anything about them. In my quest to learn more, I stumbled across a website, Farnam Street, that is dedicated to exploring mental models. Through articles and podcasts they cover how we can use them to improve how we think, learn, make decisions, and experience the world around us. Here’s their summary of mental models:
A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. We cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks. Whether we realize it or not, we then use these models every day to think, decide, and understand our world.
The quality of our thinking is proportional to the models in our head and their usefulness in the situation at hand. The more models you have—the bigger your toolbox—the more likely you are to have the right models to see reality. It turns out that when it comes to improving your ability to make decisions, variety matters.
Most of us, however, are specialists. Instead of a latticework of mental models, we have a few from our discipline. Each specialist sees something different. By default, a typical Engineer will think in systems. A psychologist will think in terms of incentives. A biologist will think in terms of evolution. By putting these disciplines together in our head, we can walk around a problem in a three dimensional way. If we’re only looking at the problem one way, we’ve got a blind spot. And blind spots can kill you.
Here’s another way to think about it. When a botanist looks at a forest they may focus on the ecosystem, an environmentalist sees the impact of climate change, a forestry engineer the state of the tree growth, a business person the value of the land. None are wrong, but neither are any of them able to describe the full scope of the forest. Sharing knowledge, or learning the basics of the other disciplines, would lead to a more well-rounded understanding that would allow for better initial decisions about managing the forest.
Want to expand your mental model toolkit and start seeing the world in 3-D? Wade into the shallow end of this pool of knowledge – that’s where I’ll be – with this interesting and informative introductory article (3 minute read):
Upgrade Your Thinking and Make Better Decisions With Mental Models
Or dive straight into the deep end with this one, which expands on info included in the first article (soooooooo many minute read):
Mental Models: The Best Way to Make Intelligent Decisions