5 quick tips on responding

Responding appropriately to a core disagreement, unreasonable demand or hostile threat takes skill. The way you respond can have long-lasting effects on your relationships, reputation, and overall sense of peace. 

Here are 5 quick tips on responding:

1. Listen deeply.  Stay present — even when the fight, flight or freeze response has kicked in — to better assess the situation. Start with deep listening. When you’re constantly thinking about what you’re going to say while the speaker is talking, tuning out things you disagree with, and offering unsolicited advice, it’s hard to give an effective response. Watch your breath, allow mental chatter to come and go, and resist the urge to quell anxiety by resorting to an immediate, defensive response.

2. Seek clarification. Ask open-ended questions to build your understanding of the other person’s perspectives, fears, needs and wants.  Refrain from asking leading questions and initiating interrogations, which will escalate discord.

3. Aim for mutual benefiting, not winning.  Trying to convince the other person that you’re right is the goal of most arguments. But arguing your side or pointing out the flaws in the other’s position typically creates more distance. Strive for mutual understanding, instead of making ultimatums or engaging in manipulation. At the same time, it’s healthy to define, set and preserve your boundaries. If you truly cannot find common ground, it’s okay to walk away than fight a losing battle.

4. Let go of the outcome.  You do not control the receiver’s thoughts and feelings about what you say and how you say it, no matter the amount of deliberation that goes into it. What works with one person might not resonate with another. Stay true to your values in your response, but release your attachment to the desired result of your response.

5. Respond, instead of react. Pause, evaluate your options, and give a meaningful response, based on your needs, the other person’s needs, and the situation itself. Reacting according to your instincts, habits, and raw emotions is far less ideal than responding with a calm and clear mind. And sometimes the best response is not responding at all.

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Photo by: Tim Geers

5 quick tips on making mistakes

Fear of making mistakes can hold you back from creating something new, taking up a challenge, or reinventing your life. 

Here are 5 quick tips on making mistakes:

1. Be willing to make mistakes. Keeping a beginner’s mind allows you to explore possibilities, hone in on what works, and eventually build your expertise. There will be discomfort, hesitation and doubt. Let go of the struggle with all of that. Learn, adapt, and most of all, make room for mistakes. A confident, victorious finish can begin with a clumpy, first step.

2. Celebrate your mistakes. Yes, you can! Instead of tightening up and holding back, open up and give it your all, at the risk of making mistakes. Smile, make amends, and move on if you step on your partner’s toes while learning to dance, hit the wrong note as you play your solo piano piece, and flub your lines during rehearsal. Mistakes are key ingredients of true success.

3. Reflect on your mistakes. Reflection doesn’t mean dwelling on and complaining about what went badly, but rather on what you learned from it. What critical piece of information did you gain? What unique insight came your way? How did the experience deepen your perspective? How will you apply the lessons next time?

4. Know that mistakes happen to the best of us.  In our culture of denial and blame, hardly anyone likes to ‘fess up about mistakes. But each and every one of us has made mistakes that caused big shifts or triggered small rifts. Even the experts aren’t immune to them.

5. Learn the difference between making a mistake and making a bad decision. Cutting yourself some slack doesn’t mean you get to put out sloppy work, blow your budget, and ignore reliable intel, and then call them “mistakes” to downplay the consequences. Cheating on your taxes, lying to your spouse, embellishing your qualifications, and backstabbing your colleague is not a mistake. It’s a choice. You got caught. Your bluff was called. Own up to it.

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Photo by: Nikita Lukianets

Clearing Out the Non-Essentials

About a week before Christmas, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. The film features Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, and other minimalist thought leaders discussing how life could be better with less.

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” – Millburn and Nicodemus.

As the new year approaches, I’ve been contemplating ways in which I can practice more minimalism.

I spent a few hours, one December day, clearing out non-essentials from my home office. Old files, bills, knick knacks and the like. The task wasn’t hard; I run an (almost) paperless law firm and (usually) keep a clean desk.

As I scanned the rest of my home, and the personal possessions and family property in it, I found it much harder to decide on which other stuff to let go.

I didn’t choose a single toy, from my child’s pile, to give away or donate. And there were more goodies to be shared on Christmas Day.

I didn’t resolve to get rid of my car. Even though I no longer commute to work, I still need it to run errands, meet friends, etc. And I think it’s an overall bad idea for my husband and I to share his.

I didn’t talk to my hubby about selling our house and moving back to a smaller place. We have a toddler after all, and being spoiled suburbanites, we enjoy having ample physical space.

But I do stick with educational and creativity-inspiring toys that stand the test of time. I avoid trendy, heavily-branded, mass-marketed products. I choose quality and playability over quantity.

I will not replace my 2004 Toyota Corolla – which I bought while I was still in law school – with a newer and cooler car, any time soon. (Millburn and Nicodemus have the same car model and drove it around on their book tour across the U.S., which you’ll see in the documentary.)

I will not bring more things into my home unless they serve a real purpose or truly add value to my life or my family’s well being.

Side Note: In January 2016, after many years of resistance, I finally got rid of my old-school LG flip phone in favor of the then-latest IPhone. My IPhone turned out to be a useful tool in emailing clients and snapping photos of my kid. I consider it an intentional purchase and won’t be buying a new version when the current one works fine.

“There’s nothing wrong with consumption; the problem is compulsory consumption.” – Millburn

Minimalism involves more than just your material possessions. It also means saying no to unhealthy relationships and life-draining obligations to make way for positive, energizing ones.

Clearing out the non-essentials is consistent with having an internally-oriented approach to creating success. You can read more about this in my article, How to create success without setting goals.

Cheers to you and the new year,
Dyan Williams
Productivity & Purpose Coach

P.S. The car in the photo is a 1972 Valiant Ranger. My father, a natural minimalist, drove this car model for decades and, after it finally went kaput, never owned any other vehicle. The Ranger was essential. Another car was not. 

Photo by: sicnag