- Ricka Robb Kohnstamm
What does it feels like to be heard? "I matter."
As I work with clients to untangle and move forward with complex, stress-inducing issues, I am privy to complicated conversations between individuals and their families, business associates, work teams, boards and organizational leadership.
I notice how easy it is to slide through conversations. Instead of fully showing up, we "go along to get along", or passively withhold.
Or, inversely, we might bulldoze our way through. "My way or the highway!" or "I can scream louder than you!"
Either way, we usually don't feel heard. And when we don't feel heard, we question if we matter.
"Do I even matter to this organization? I don't feel heard."
"Does what I say matter to my sister? She doesn't get what I am talking about."
"Do my thoughts matter within my community? If they do, why do I feel terrified for my children?"
Consider tearing down the protective communication walls and get into the messy, vulnerable weeds to increase your chances of being heard ...
Take the time to frame your own thoughts by identifying and owning needs. Take ownership over identifying your own universal needs without assuming others can read your mind. Do you need to feel competent and effective in the workplace and you're not feeling it at the moment? Good to know. Say it out loud. Or are you needing the safety of being able to predictably rely on your partner's understanding of ongoing COVID risks? Also good to know. Speak your truth. Perhaps you have a need for trust that leadership is working with agreed upon transparency. Good to know. Own it and be willing to say it out loud, within conversation.
Pre-think your own emotional triggers so you're not caught by surprise. Does your partner's raised voice trigger your desire to run from the room? Prepare ahead of time. You can't control your partner's behavior, but you CAN control your ability to ride it out and breathe through the discomfort until it passes. Or maybe your employee shuts down and stops speaking and that infuriates you. Notice the pattern and decide how to effectively ride that wave and constructively speak your truth. Does your boss have a habit of minimizing your requests? Notice, pre-think strategies and how you can more honestly respond. Or perhaps your board pig-piles directives that are not tied to your strategic plan and it makes you crazy. Notice, pre-think strategies to speak out, constructively, with your truth, instead of blaring back or emotionally withdrawing until they all go away.
Frame your big picture What really matters to you? Take the time to plant your dot on the horizon... Perhaps your big picture is to create a new division to make your company an industry leader. Perhaps your big picture is to be in committed relationship with the same person until the end of time. Or maybe your big picture is to be the very best parent you can be to each of your children, no matter what, forever. When we create the big picture, it is easier to put the effort and integrity into our conversations, because they are the stepping stones leading us somewhere critically important.
Then notice. As you take ownership for stepping in, how you matter and who you matter to (including yourself) becomes clearer and clearer. And that feels pretty healthy.
Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.