As I was thinking about a topic for this week’s blog, two thoughts came up at the same time – kindness and politics. While this seems like an oxymoron, I contend they should always be connected.
The practice of politics is not limited to the governmental activities we observe in the news. (Kindness is seldom dramatic enough for news.) Politics happen in all organizations including families when people have separate agendas, opinions and approaches to a common purpose. “Politics is the art or science of influencing other people on a civic or individual level.” Wikipedia.
Communicating from inside a box
In the book, Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute, the authors write about a common challenge in communication. Much of the time when we communicate with another person and we are wanting something from that person, we only see them as an obstacle in the way to what we want or a vehicle for us to get what we want. We can all unconsciously do this as parents, spouses and as leaders and co-workers.
Arbinger calls this communicating from inside a box. Their simple solution to getting out of the box is to always look at the other person as a human being. When we speak with another person, no matter what we are saying, our connection to them is enhanced when we see them as a person, not an obstacle or vehicle.
So, how do we do this when we have passion around a topic and want the other person to see and do things our way? When a person has the exact opposite idea of what needs to happen about something that I passionately believe needs to happen, I’m not always feeling like he’s human. At that point, he looks more like a low intelligence, lack of talent moron who is holding back progress.
The answer is to intentionally feel and express kindness at the exact moment we may feel just the opposite.
Kindness helps us get out of the box
Kindness means accepting people as they are, and relating to them from compassion and empathy. In the Get Clarity Operating System we link the behavior of kindness with several other positive behaviors that lead to more effective results. We can still hold our strongest, passionate opinion about what’s needed, but our ability to energetically and effectively connect to another is greatly improved.
Kindness Venn Diagram
Energetically, when we feel and express kindness to another, we also create feelings of compassion, collaboration, a desire to participate fully, and a deeper dedication to a common purpose. We are also more likely to use the skill of coaching (rather than telling) to help the other person discover for himself or herself the answer we would prefer them to have. Sustaining kindness also helps us to ruthlessly hold our own positive energy and remain out of the box of limited results. (Ruthlessness on this diagram does not mean being ruthless to another human being, which is definitely being in the box.) (You might want to click on the image to see it more clearly.)
Try this the next time you want to persuade someone to do what you want. Before the conversation, ground yourself with the intention of seeing the other person through the kindness viewfinder. You can still use all of your persuasive abilities; say anything you need to say to be convincing but now, you have a much better chance that the other person will actually hear you.
Committed to seeing everyone with kindness,
Hello Gary! I want to thank you for this ‘clarifying’ article! It is so timely for me… Within the last week, I have come into some intense conflict with my brother and his wife, who I feel were definitely operating out of the box. Long story short, they, along with my Mom, shut me down in a disrespectful way when I had the boldness to offer a reference for a realtor for Mom’s house. I was treated like I had no right to make a recommendation. As a result, I have decided to withdraw entirely from the process of my Mom’s transition from her 35-year home into an independent living residence.
How does one “act like an adult” when they are the receiving end of such treatment?
Thank you again for this great article!
(a secret admirer of both you & Cathy)
Thanks for your comments, Karyn. It’s not always easy to act like an adult when others around you are not acting that way. Unfortunately, you can’t control others. However, that’s when you need to double down on holding your own positive energy so the actions of others doesn’t drain your energy and impact other aspects of your life.
Good advice; thank you. I feel like I was “sucked in” to this conflict, and as the eldest daughter (2nd oldest child), it was tough to take from a younger brother and his wife. I feel I was treated disrespectfully.
I have stepped aside from the process, have wished my Mom well, and have proposed a lunch with her around her birthday in September. She has more than enough help from the rest of the family/grandchildren, etc. I’ve been very involved in her lifet up until now. I like to “be” where I and my ideas are appreciated.
Can’t wait to download your Get Clarity app! Want to maintain the high ground going forward.