5 Tips For Engaging In Respectful Communication…John Page Burton

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Our words have the power to hurt or heal. The words we speak can leave a lasting impression on the the people we connect with. The First Amendment affords every American a right to engage in free speech. Our democracy is one of the only countries in the world where citizens are given the unfettered freedom to agree to disagree and disagree we do! The Ego is a primary driving force behind our thoughts, words and actions. In my role of coach and inspirational writer/speaker I have enjoyed the privilege of interacting with thousands of amazing people. I have come to believe the way we verbally communicate with others is a direct reflection of how we feel inside. People who communicate in a biting, sarcastic, tone of voice are usually angry, bitter and resentful. People who communicate in a kind, caring, compassionate, tone of voice are usually grounded in self love. People who communicate in a forceful, demanding, dismissive, tone of voice are usually insecure and fearful of being out of control. Effective, quality, communication is a “two way street”. In other words, quality communication requires us to be receptive to differing points of view. It doesn’t mean that we will always agree but it does ensure that the other person’s thoughts and belief’s will be honored in a respectful manner.
 
5 tips to help us become more respectful communicators….

*Don’t strive to make the other person wrong. The first rule of respectful communication is to avoid accusatory language. When we set out to criticize or make another person wrong, we erect a wall that prevents meaningful communication. By listening to a different point of view we invariably learn something new.

*Listen carefully, avoid making assumptions. There is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. God wanted us to listen twice as much as we talk. When we really listen, we have a chance to hear what the other person is actually saying. When we half listen, our understanding is based primarily on assumptions. Listening is an art, one that takes a great deal of practice to master. Throughout history, the great communicators have been excellent listeners.

*Let go of the need to control the dialogue. Every productive conversation should feature different points of view. By being respectful of this fact, we can strive to actively seek balanced conversations. In most cases, the person who tries to dominate the conversation actually repels the conversation. Remember, forcing our position, weakens our position.

*Ask questions to gain clarity.
As a personal development writer, I am often approached by family or friends regarding articles I have written. Often, they believe my article is directed toward them. First, if the shoe fits wear it, second, I write about the human condition and draw my material from an array of life encounters and experiences. I often weave examples from the past with experiences in the present. I do this to paint a picture for my readers. Rather than assume things, we are always better served to ask questions in order to gain clarity.

*Seek to understand the other person’s perspective. As the late author, Stephen Covey wrote in his international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek to understand, then to be understood”. When we strive to understand why someone feels a certain way or holds a specific belief, we open a door to respectful, effective communication.  Recently I asked a client why he felt the need to hold such a tight rein on his teenage daughter. As an outsider looking in, it seemed like he was obsessed with keeping her from participating in what I would deem “normal childhood experiences”. “When I was 16 years old, my 12 year old sister was abducted and raped by a neighbor. I vowed that I would never let that happen to my children. Maybe I have taken it to the extreme but I just want to keep her safe”. Because I sought to understand his reasoning, I had a much better understanding of where he was coming from and how he viewed the world around him. Seek to understand!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!

Are You An “Angry Giver”? John Page Burton

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Hi, my name is John and I’m a recovering “angry giver”. This is how I introduced myself to the audience at a recent relationship seminar where I was privileged to be the guest facilitator. As a participant in the morning session, I couldn’t help but chuckle at all of the proclamations of “self sacrifice”, “tireless giving”, “putting life on hold for family”, “doing it all for the kids”, “having nothing left at the end of the day”, “this is what breadwinners do”, blah, blah, blah. These self absorbed statements were not gender specific, they were exiting the mouths of both male and female “angry givers”. What made it even more humorous was the fact that this had been my belief system and speech pattern for longer than I cared to remember.  I was the “angry giver” who never said NO. “Sure I’ll coach the ball team”, “no problem, I can fill in for you this Saturday”, ” yeah we can use my house for the party”, ” go ahead, take my car”, “wherever you want to eat is fine with me”, “here you go, pay me back when you can”. “Angry givers” tend to be masters of justification, I know that I certainly was. I could always come up with a justification for my need to be needed. Inside, I was worn out and pissed off! Let’s take a closer look at “angry giving” and where it tends to show up in our lives.

Defining “angry giver”. An “angry giver” is a person who routinely puts their needs on the back burner in order to “please” others. On the surface it sounds quite noble but in reality it is an emotionally destructive behavioral pattern.

AT WORK….

The “angry giver” tends to go ten extra miles at work. They volunteer to lead projects, plan events, come in without pay on their days off and are viewed as the go to person for everything nobody else has time to do. On the surface the “angry giver” desires to be seen as the ultimate team player, however, below the surface they harbor resentment, feel guilty, cast judgement and regret never having enough time to get their own work done. When asked how everything is going they will smile and say…”I’m a team player, and this sure is a great team to be on”. Inside they are oozing pissed off because of their inability to say NO.

THOUGHT: QUIT VOLUNTEERING TO DO EVERYONE ELSE’S WORK! Prioritize your time in a manner that allows you to put your priorities first.

AT HOME…

At home, the “angry giver” does everything for everyone. They work “tirelessly” to ensure that everyone’s needs are met. After all, “my family would be lost without me”. To the “angry giver” meeting everyone’s needs is an expression of “love”. In reality it is extreme co-dependent behavior. THOUGHT: “Feed a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. When we do everything for our spouse or kids we are failing to teach them self reliance. In essence we are saying to them…YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE. Children, especially, must develop a sense of self sufficiency in order to grow their self esteem. I have a client who still cooks all her son’s meals, does his laundry and drives him to and from school. FYI…He is scheduled to start college next fall. Is this extreme need to be needed helping or hurting her son?

AT PLAY…

The “angry giver” routinely engages in activities they really don’t enjoy in order to please people who could really care less. “Going along to get along” is a common way of being for the “angry giver”. In social settings it is not uncommon for an “angry giver” to smile and proclaim what a wonderful time they are having when in reality they would prefer to be doing something they actually enjoy. The “angry giver” is the undisputed champion of implicit communication. THOUGHT: IF YOU DON’T DIG IT, DON’T DO IT! In other words, start doing things that you enjoy, opposed to doing what you believe others expect you to do.

WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US!  4 Tips From A Recovering “Angry Giver”.

1. Learn to say NO. We must establish our boundaries and put OUR needs first. When we put OUR needs and priorities first, something interesting happens….WE HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME & ENERGY TO SERVE OTHERS IN A TRULY JOYFUL MANNER.

2. Become SELF CENTERED. It’s time to prioritize our desires and needs. During our time as an “angry giver” we taught everyone how to treat us. We taught them that our time was not valuable, that their needs were more important than ours and that it was all right to be taken advantage of at work or in business. We must now introduce these people to our new way of being. Trust me, you will meet a great deal of resistance in the beginning. Being SELF CENTERED means we are grounded in our authentic self. It has nothing to do with being selfish.

3. Delegate. There is no award given to the “sucker” who does everything for everyone at the expense of their own career or personal relationships. (This includes the relationship we have with ourselves) For example, when we learn to delegate household chores or assignments at work we are holding others capable. Most people, when held capable, rise to the occasion.  Try it, you’ll like it!

4. STOP over extending yourself. We don’t need to simultaneously be the classroom parent, HOA board member, fundraising chair and the social director at our church. In most cases, it is our quest for significance that causes us to over extend. Remember, the more activities we are engaged in the less time we have for ourselves. Over time this will cause many of us to become “angry givers”. I always encourage my clients to volunteer for things that they are passionate about but to set a limit of no more than two at any one time. This helps us keep our lives in perspective.

To quote Tony Robbins, “the secret to living is giving”. Our goal is to become happy, self centered, givers!
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback!

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Engage In Gossip… John Page Burton

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The truth be known, every now and then most of us enjoy a juicy piece of gossip. These morsels of misery let us know that we are not the only one facing life’s challenges. Misery enjoys company and boy oh boy do those poor Kardashian’s have it rough! Unfortunately, some of us are addicted to gossip. For example, on cool summer evenings my wife and I like to sit outside on our porch, turn on our fire table and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, we have a neighbor who loves to gossip. Whenever my wife and I see her walking her dog down the street we instinctively head inside. Sometimes she is able to “sneak up on us” and our conversation with her ALWAYS goes something like this….How are you tonight Babs (fake name)? “Oh heavens I just can’t believe what’s going on with our HOA board and did you hear about so and so and rumor has it that such and such is going on down the street”! She will ramble on and on and then seem quite put out when we come up with some “lame excuse” why we must head back inside. In the three years that we have been exposed to her, she has never once asked my wife or I a single question about our lives or interests but she readily “spews” details about the majority of our neighbors. Some of it is actually quite nasty! Surely, she must have some “dirt” on us that she readily shares with others as she makes her nightly rounds. “You know those Burton’s are (fill in the blank)”. The gleam in her eyes is a dead giveaway to the personal fulfillment that being the “purveyor of secrets” seemingly affords her.

Recently, after a one sided conversation with my neighbor, I began contemplating why some people are just naturally attracted to gossip while others (like myself) are absolutely repelled by it? What motivates someone to become a “serial gossiper”? Lets take a look at some of the possible reasons.

GOSSIP…

Generational. For many, gossip is a learned behavior. Many of us heard our parents, relatives and friends gossip and so in order to fit in we may have actively joined the conversation. Anything we engage in long enough becomes a habit.

Opiate. Similar to most drugs, gossip tends to give us a false sense of contentment. The gossiper gets a “rush” from sharing “secrets” and when their audience nods their heads in approval or offers up an acknowledgement like “REALLY, I didn’t know that”, the gossiper is off and running in an unfiltered continuation of whatever half truths they are sharing.

Significance. Gossipers are fueled by an insatiable need to feel important and be viewed as people “in the know”. When they perceive to have an audience they tend to become even more audacious and their filter is turned all the way to the OFF position.

Societal. Gossip is a societal obsession. The tabloids (National Enquirer) sensationalize and outright lie about everything under the sun yet people clear the news stands with millions of sales each week. Tabloid television (Entertainment Tonight) and reality shows (Housewives of Mozambique) enjoy extremely high ratings because millions of people prefer being anywhere other than in their own reality. Sadly, millions of people rely on gossip as their sole source of information.

Ignorance. Gossip is a by product of ignorance. True intellectuals talk about ideas and solutions, small minds talk about people and problems. I have always been able to get an accurate read on someone by carefully listening to what they talk about!

Power. Gossipers derive a false sense of “power” from  “sharing details about someone else”. There is no genuine “power” in “spewing” personal information and falsity about others. The gossiper is viewed by non gossipers as vicious and untrustworthy. They carry ZERO credibility!

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN GOSSIP….

1. Would I still share this gossip if the person in question was standing next to me?

2. Is what I’m saying about the other person designed to build them up or discredit them?

3. What void in my life am I trying to fill by routinely gossiping about others?

4. How do I feel when I find out that someone has shared an untruth behind MY back? (Gossipers usually employ a double standard)

5. Who would I become If I made the conscious decision to let go of my need to share gossip?

Nothing positive comes from gossip. Reputations can be ruined, employment opportunities may be tarnished and personal relationships can be damaged or destroyed. Before you engage in any type of gossip I encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions. I believe that it will help you to make a better, more empowered decision.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts.