Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Who are you prosecuting?

Having recently shared on the tyranny of being right,  Rick’s regular newsletter, “Just One Thing”   arrived in my inbox.  The topic “Who are you prosecuting?  was on a similar theme.    So what better delight than to share his great post – with his permission, of course –  with you all?! 🙂

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Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, New York Times best-selling author, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. See Rick’s workshops and lectures.


Lately I’ve been thinking about a kind of “case” that’s been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven’t supported me, views about what should happen that hasn’t, and implicit taking-things-personally.

In other words, the usual mess.

It’s not that I have not been mistreated – actually, I have been – nor that my analysis of things is inaccurate (others agree that what I see does in fact exist). The problem is that my case is saturated with negative emotions like anger, biased toward my own viewpoint, and full of me-me-me. Every time I think of it I start getting worked up, adding to the bad effects of chronic stress. It creates awkwardness with others, since even though they support me, they’re naturally leery of getting sucked into my strong feelings or into my conflict with the other person. It makes me look bad, too cranked up about things in the past. And it primes me for overreactions when I see the person in question. Yes, I practice with this stuff arising in my mind and generally don’t act it out, but it’s still a burden.

I think my own experience of case-making – and its costs – are true in general. In couples in trouble, one or both people usually have a detailed Bill of Particulars against the other person. At larger scales, different social or political groups have scathing indictments of the other side.

How about you? Think of someone you feel wronged by: can you find a case against that person in your mind? What’s it feel like to go into that case? What does it cost you? And others?

The key – often not easy – is to be open to your feelings (e.g., hurt, anger), to see the truth of things, and to take appropriate action . . . while not getting caught up in your case about it all.


Bring to awareness a case about someone – probably related to a grievance, resentment, or conflict. It could be from your present or your past, resolved or still grinding. Explore this case, including: the version of events in it, other beliefs and opinions, emotions, body sensations, and wants; notice how you see the other person, and yourself; notice what you want from others (sometimes their seeming failings are a related case). For a moment or two, in your mind or out loud, get into the case: really make it! Then notice what that’s like, to get revved up into your case.

Mentally or on paper, list some of the costs to you and others of making this particular case. Next, list the payoffs to you; in other words, what do you get out of making this case? For example, making a case typically makes us feel in the right, is energizing, and helps cover over softer vulnerable emotions like hurt or disappointment. Then ask yourself: are the payoffs worth the costs?

With this understanding, see if you can stay with the difficult feelings involved in the situation (the basis for the case) without slipping into a reproachful or righteous case about them. To do this, it could help to start by resourcing yourself by bringing to mind the felt sense of being cared about by others, and by opening to self-compassion. And try to hold those difficult feelings in a big space of awareness.

Open to a wider, more impersonal, big picture view of the situation – so it’s less about you and more about lots of swirling causes coming together in unfortunate ways. See if any kind of deeper insight about the other person, yourself, or the situation altogether comes to you.

Listen to your heart: are there any skillful actions to take? Including naming the truth of things, disengaging from tunnels with no cheese, or the action of there-is-nothing-that-can-be-done.

Watch how a case starts forming in your mind, trying to get its hooks into you. Then see if you can interrupt the process. Literally set down the case, like plopping down a heavy suitcase when you finally get home after a long trip. What a relief!

Enjoy the good feelings, the spaciousness of mind, the openness of heart, the inner freedom, and other rewards of dropping your case.

JUST ONE THING (JOT) is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind. A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.

Just one thing that could change your life.
(© Rick Hanson, 2018)

Leadership Nuggets: Acknowledge the Truth

Three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth! – Buddha

Have you had a time when someone – be it a colleague, direct report, supplier or friend who was not quite performing or was behaving in ways that was below par?

And yet you found yourself minimizing, negating or making excuses for their behaviour? You would not be the only one! I too have done this on many occasions, much to my own detriment.


Well – we do this for a number of “good” reasons because seeing, acknowledging and taking action on the truth, as we experience it, isn’t always comfortable.

Let me give you a work example.

Leader denial and lack of accountability

Some years back, I coached a senior executive whose direct report was very good at ‘hitting the targets’ but his modus operandi left a lot to be desired.

The feedback and “air-waves” from his team and others consistently was that the he was a bully.

Teamwork, collaboration, empathy, ‘developmental conversations’ did not figure in this person’s language.

What was present was manipulation, veiled and not so veiled threats, pressure tactics and even down right lying when it suited the direct report, which was often

Despite leading a dysfunctional team with lots of turnover and staff rotation, my coachee – his boss – would not fully acknowledge the situation.

Why was this, you may ask?


Three Simple Strategies for Networking Success

Networking“Authenticity is what makes a relatable person believable. It is what makes the relatability sustainable. Anyone can fake relatability for a time, but authenticity is what makes it real.”
Michele Jennae, The Connectworker

Are you a reluctant networker?  So many times, I have heard my smart, capable and savvy clients cringe when the word “networking” comes into the conversation.

There is an immediate reaction – almost like a physical recoiling – especially for those with a more introverted nature.

The common phrase is “I do it but I don’t enjoy it or feel comfortable.”

And yet in our business and personal lives, networking including meeting, greeting and getting to know others is an essential part of business development.

And remember, the time to build a network is not when you need one!

This point was really brought home when I was coaching executives who were looking to change jobs. They had been so ‘into their jobs’ that they had chosen to  ignore this essential relationship and business building side of their personal and professional lives.   They failed to realise the value of networks until they needed it.

So here are three simple points which could help you next time be it with your internal or external networks.


10 winning steps to having a courageous conversation

Feedback manager and direct reportDo you have a difficult conversation “waiting in the wings” to be had with a colleague, direct report, manager,  spouse, friend and or family member?  Are you finding that merely thinking about this is activating a whole host of feelings, thoughts and reactions?

Common reactions include,  “ I don’t want to rock the boat”, “What if it comes out all wrong?”, and or  “What if it affects our relationship for the worse?”

What reactions come up for you?

Deep down you know all is not well because you are thinking about the particular issue over and over again.

“Maybe I could say this”, or “Last time that happened, I should have said ….”

And while you may be expending a lot of time and energy running through the various scenarios in your head, that is as far as you go!

The mental pre-occupation is in itself a good indicator that some action is called for.   As a wise person has said, “Whatever you resist, persists.” 

If we don’t have the conversations we need to, we can be sure that the relationship over time, will diminish as we withdraw, give up, remain falsely polite or things blow up unexpectedly at the most inopportune moment.  And then it is a major.

It is only through having a courageous conversation that we learn about the elasticity, bounce and depth of the relationship.

So you may be wondering, where do I begin?

In the words of Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations “While no one conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of your career or life, any single conversation can.”  

You have more chances of a successful conversation if you put in some thought and consideration beforehand. Planning is a key part of this preparation.

A courageous conversation begins way before you actually have that conversation. 

Here are 10 steps that will help you with this process.   (more…)

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