At my old company, a new employee named Pam was asked to work the receptionist’s phone over lunch. Answering the phone with the company name, she’d then say, “How may I help you?”
In one call, she heard the woman on the other end say, “Stand by please.”
“Okay,” replied Pam. And she put the woman on hold.
A few seconds passed before Pam picked up the line and asked, “How may I help you?”
Again, the woman responded, “Stand by please.”
“Okay,” replied Pam, and once again she put the woman on hold.
After another minute Pam picked up the line and asked, “How may I help you?”
This time, the flustered woman on the other end angrily shouted, “MAY I PLEASE SPEAK TO MR. STANLEY BYE?”
Pam was stunned.
As the new kid on the block, she had no idea that one of the owners’ names was Stan Bye. Ha!
I still giggle at that story. But I also think it’s a great example of how easily our interactions can be derailed.
Think about your relationships.
Sometimes you’re Pam just doing your job – acting as best you can with what knowledge you have, but making innocent mistakes along the way.
Other times you’re that frustrated woman on the other end – wanting to be heard and understood, and wanting to lash out when you’re not.
In either case, you’re not getting what you need from the people around you.
Makes you kinda pissy, huh? 😠
Ever notice how often that happens?
How many times have you said something …
but (OMG) that wasn’t what you meant at all.
It just came out wrong. Oops.
Or how about when you know someone said something.
And they know they never said it at all.
You can’t both be right. So what gives?
When you listen, you take what’s said through your own filters.
So, if you’re insecure in a relationship, you experience life through that fog of insecurity.
You find ways to feel abandoned or rejected – whether or not that was the intention of your partner, boss, family of origin or friends.
And then there’s that manipulative, anxious, me-me-me EGO.
Your ego wants to keep you safe.
It craves security, and is most out of control when bumps into change or it feels challenged.
So, when your ego feels threatened, it’ll do whatever it can to make the other guy feel more threatened than you do.
That’s its job. The ego is willing to lie, cheat, steal, whatever – all to keep that illusory, bullshit identity feeling safe.
So, waddayaknow …
One of your ego’s superpowers is sensing what your partner fears and how to use that to protect itself.
Is he afraid he’s lazy?
That’s what your ego will throw at him.
Is she afraid people will think she’s stupid?
Then that’s what your ego will throw at her.
It’ll be cruel. It’ll be mean-spirited. It’ll be spiteful.😖
And it’s playing with live ammunition that’s going to hurt the other person’s ego. And they’ll likely respond in kind.
You see where this goes, right?
The only winning strategy in this game is to not play.
Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Being aware of what’s playing out and why is the game changer.
Nothing will show you what’s up for you to heal faster than the ego.
Give it a good listening to. Meet it with loving kindness, just like you would embrace a wounded child who just scraped her knee.
And try not to take it personally.
When the other person’s ego gets triggered and is screaming at the top of their lungs, you get to see that their ego is afraid. It’s throwing up their defenses as a means to try and keep them safe.
The basis for good communication (and therefore good relationships) is self-intimacy.
Knowing what you want and who you are is the first step to communicating well with anyone else.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review,
“Research has shown that we simply do not have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motives we’re searching for. And because so much is trapped outside of our conscious awareness, we tend to invent answers that feel true but are often wrong.”
This is where doing your work becomes essential.
If you’re filled with a lack of clarity or misunderstanding within yourself, that’s all you’re going to be able to share with others.
Do you find yourself projecting confusion onto the other person? Blaming them for not listening?
Hello ego. There you are again.
In reality, it’s likely your own failure to listen to yourself and their inability to be who you want them to be.
Hello self. Listen up.
In any given moment, if you’re feeling triggered, do this:
- Stop and drop into your body.
- Notice what you’re feeling. Fear? Anxiety? Uncertainty?
- What are the sensations happening in you and around you?
- Stay with it. Feel into it.
- What’s the bullshit story you’re telling yourself that isn’t true?
- Are you telling yourself, “I’m fine” and you’re not?
- Are you telling yourself that the other person should change?
- Are you telling yourself this situation should be different than it is?
- What’s the lie? What’s the truth?
- Then ask yourself, “How can I bring love to this situation and to myself in this moment?”
You can also become more intimate with yourself through touch. Give yourself a massage. Run your hands up and down your legs. Use my facial massage technique below to feel into your body.
Want to improve your relationships? Improve your relationship with yourself.
Be aware of your own feelings.
Care about those feelings.
Feel into them.
Give them attention.
The impact of self intimacy on others is life changing. It’s transformative in how you show up in relationships.
As psychologist Nicole Colleen explains in this article:
“Intimacy asks that we take down all the masks, show up in all our vulnerability, and say, ‘Hey, this is me. Can you love and accept me in the most authentic expression of who I am?’” “We have to be able to answer that question with unwavering acceptance before we can ask that of someone else.”
One last thing.
Women will often tell me, “If I prioritize myself, I feel selfish.”
Um. No. But I get it.
So many women (including yours truly) were brought up to be the good girl, aka: people pleaser. We’re often willing to ignore a connection to ourselves – just to be seen as nice. ☹️
I was taught that as a child. I watched my mom give her power away to men. She felt like she didn’t deserve to take up space. And it sure wasn’t ok for her to share her feelings and think about what she wanted. And self intimacy? What???
So, naturally, I took that on as how a woman needed to be.
Today, I know that if anyone sees my relationship with myself to be selfish, they’re in need of their own dose of honest self-intimacy.
When you have self intimacy, your communication will improve.
Communication is the oxygen of any relationship.
By getting intimate with yourself, you can lift the fog of
whatever has clouded your interactions before.
And oh yea …
Good communication often begins with mis-communication. Hold space for that. It’s normal.
Don’t give up, and don’t take it personally.
If understanding takes place right away, it’s a bonus.
If you perceive the other person is attacking you, or they actually are, it’s okay. You don’t need to take their sucker punch personally.
And if you do, they’re showing you what’s up for you to heal.
Learn to lead with loving kindness in all your communications. Even if it’s not reciprocated, let it begin with loving kindness towards yourself.
When you’re able to share yourself more authentically with others – and they with you, that just feels good.
Stand by. 😀
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