Category Archives: Inspirations

Non-Violent Communication

Non-Violent Communication

Nonviolent Communication cover page
  • Poor communication contributes to  dysfunctional relationships, misunderstandings and frustrations
  • Nonviolent or Compassionate Communication is built on interpersonal connection “from the heart”
  • To practice NVC, learn to observe without judgement or evaluation
  • NVC has 4 components, observation, feelings, needs and requests
  • Apply Non-violent communication practices to deal with your emotions
  • Use NVC to help others resolve conflicts. Replace “I have to” with “I choose to”

How many times did it happen that you have a bad fight with your parents or spouse or cousins?  How many times the fights happened on WhatsApp? How many times did it happen on Facebook? These fights or disagreements would have certainly ruined the relationships without helping you to achieve your objectives. The result is, you carry the baggage of a ruined relationship and unfulfilled needs.

I have seen people blaming WhatsApp or Facebook or even telephone as the root cause of their fights. I wonder why do people do this when they have fought even in face to face interactions. Blaming communication mediums such as WhatsApp, Facebook, etc is useless because the fights happen not because of the communication medium, they happen because of the “communication” itself.

Yes, it has never been about the medium, it’s always about how we communicate. Many of our established communication patterns contribute to dysfunctional relationships, misunderstanding, and frustration.  Unconsciously we make moralistic judgments about people that alienate them from us.  We think we are being straight or honest when we tell our spouse “You always keep the house in a mess” or “You are a liar”, but Marshall Rossenberg says we are doing violence.

Violent communication is communication that limits liberty, denies recognition of needs, diminishes the worth of a person, and/or blocks compassion. Violent communication is often the result of using manipulative or coercive language that induces fear, guilt, shame, praise, blame, duty, obligation, punishment, and/or reward. Violent communication happens in speaking and listening (and in thinking, through self-talk or imagined self-conversations).

We may think that we are not yelling at someone means we are non-violent. But that’s not the case always. Some of the mechanisms of violent communication are:

  • judgments, categorization
  • habitual thinking like beliefs, prejudices..
  • binary thoughts which include either…or..
  • using a blaming language or removing responsibilities (assimilating a person to its act, accusing message “You”…

Common ways that violent communication occurs are:

  • Moralistic judgments and evaluation of others
  • Denial of responsibility for our own feelings thoughts, and actions
  • Demands
  • Blocking compassion

If we speak violently to others, they may do what we want by inducing fear, guilt shame, praise, blame, duty, obligation, punishment, or reward. Although we can control others this way, some important questions to ask for are:

  • What are the costs in terms of the relationship between you and others if you communicate this way? (How good is your goodwill?)
  • What will the person do if the punishment or reward is not there or you are not around to observe their behavior? What is the cost to your well-being by acting violently?
  • Is controlling others using violent communication effective?
When I sit back and think about all my fights with my relatives and peers in office, I realize that they all happened because of violent communication. We keep trying to figure out who was right, who was wrong, what is good, what is bad, moral or immoral, etc. but what I didn’t realize I was being violent. Non-Violent Communication addresses this critical aspect of us and gives us tools and insights on how can we reduce the violence in our communication and strengthen our relationships.
 

What is Non-Violent Communication

Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., and is sometimes referred to as “compassionate communication.”

 

Nonviolent communication is communication that maximizes liberty, enhances understanding of the relationship between feelings and needs, promotes equality, and creates compassion.

NVC involves understanding that our feelings are a result of our basic human needs being met or unmet. When our needs are met, we feel “positive” emotions, such as joy, delight, confidence, inspiration, etc. When our needs are unmet, we feel “negative” emotions, such as annoyance, tension, fatigue, yearning, etc.

The basic human need is to contribute to our own and other’s well-being.  We can do this by observing others’ needs, what emotions the other person can have when the needs are not met and how can I request the other person so that my own needs are met. Because it’s not about one person’s emotions that matter. Both party’s emotions have to be satisfied. Roosenberg gives us 4 steps for Non-violent communication:

Separate observation from evaluation

Focus your energy on being aware of the present moment. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and ask yourself, how is this affecting my well-being? Engage your senses – touch, sight, and sound, to connect as much as possible with the situation. The next would be to avoid generalizing your arguments which can be done by relating observations to specific situations. Instead of saying  “you always..”, refer to a particular moment when something upset you. 
This happened, I am very much into text messaging and I prefer written mode of communication more than verbal. So my first instinct is always to send a text message. I was discussing a project with my colleague over text chat. During the course of the conversation, my friend sent me a message which I found irritating. I was upfront to tell him that his message was irritating (a perfect example of violent communication). He obviously got defensive and this caused harm to our relationship.  Next time my friend stopped messaging me because he formed this preconceived notion that I find all his text messages irritating.
Another way of improving observation is to be aware of labeling. If you are distracted by labels, you will struggle to relate to a specific situation or person. For instance, having the preconception that someone is “irritating” or “egoistic” or “arrogant” may impede your judgment when discussing a certain issue; you have already assumed what this person is thinking. All your actions after your assumptions are only going to justify that you assumptions are correct.

Learn to express how you feel

After observation, the next step in NVC is to explicitly express how we are feeling.  To achieve this, we can begin by articulating our feelings accurately. We do this by removing vagueness from our communication. Instead of saying “I am feeling down” .. you can be a bit more specific by saying “I am depressed or regretful, or feeling betrayed etc”. In addition to awareness, expressing what you feel requires a good vocabulary. 

This problem of vagueness also applies to pronouns.  Making a statement like “I feel like everyone is ignoring me” is ambiguous and does not address specifics. I have many fights with my friends who tell me “I don’t need anybody”. They include me as well when they say, anybody.  And if they don’t need me, then why the hell I should invest my emotions, time and energy with them.

Lastly, we will need to learn how to express our vulnerability.  Vulnerability is the quality of being easily hurt. We all have vulnerabilities due to various reasons and in different forms. The clearly we express them, the easier will be the communication.

At this point, it’s also important to understand that we need to take responsibility for our feelings as well. If someone says anything negative to you, you have 4 ways to respond: 

First, you can have a negative reaction to their words and think, “It’s all my fault”. By blaming yourself, you fail to analyze the root of the message and address the other person’s grievance. This might make you feel guilty, low or even depressed.

Second, you can become defensive or angry, Your response might be “That’s a lie!”. I have always considered your needs” Here you are blaming the speaker, and are once again failing to address the underlying issue. 

Third, a better reaction would be to vocalize your own feelings. “I feel dejected when you say I am selfish because I have been constantly trying to accommodate your demands. Through this process, you can identify your own emotional response and address the reasons behind the conflict. 

Finally and ideally, you can observe the feelings and needs of the speaker. You might ask “Do you think I am selfish because of a specific action that I have taken?” How can I show more consideration for your needs?”

Learn to identify your own needs:

People don’t have enough practice of identifying their own need and they eventually fall in to blame games. We usually not  express our needs and then blame others for not fulfilling them.
This happened with me sometime back. I was ecstatic because of recent success. I desperately wanted to share that with my sister. So I called her. But like always she was busy and didn’t answer my call.  Of course, there was disappointment and anger. That disappointment and anger were not because she didn’t answer my call or she might be busy. I was disappointed because my need of sharing my happiness wasn’t fulfilled. This then definitely became quite visible in my communication with her.

If we don’t communicate our needs directly, we will cause a lot of unnecessary pain in the long run.  It’s very important that we pay attention to our needs as soon as possible. 

Learn to express what you would like from others to help meet your own needs

The final stage of NVC is –  Request: How can we express our requests in a way that will help others respond to us compassionately?

A request should be made clear to express what you really want. And the clearer we are about what we want from others, the more likely we are to get it.  This means formulating requests in a positive language. Positive language is when you ask for something to be done, while negative language is when you ask somebody to stop doing something.
I have seen this working for me even with my 5-year-old son. Instead of requesting him “Can you stop watching cartoons on TV?” I change it to “Can I watch the news for some time?” This has made a lot of difference and I have seen him more receptive to what I am saying. 

It’s also important to formulate requests into concrete actions, so others can know what they need to do. 

Non-violent communication takes the art of communication to the next level. Mostly we have heard about the importance of good language skills, presentations skills, grammar or vocabulary. After reading this book, I realize all these aspects do matter but how you use them to actually communicate is all that we need to practice. We need to observe and express our feelings, identify our needs and know how to ask for the fulfillment of our needs when we communicate with others irrespective of whom we are communicating with and what’s the communication medium.  I have decided I am going to practice this consciously and will share my experience after two weeks.  I will urge you to reflect on your dysfunctional relationships, see what went wrong, apply NVC method and share your experience with me.

Business Chemistry

Over the last 10+ years of my career, I have been in different type of roles. Each role had their own challenges, but there was one challenge which has been consistent. That challenge is “Dealing with people”. Whether it is Marketing, Sales or Strategy, the people aspect has always been tough to manage. Contrary to the belief that only bosses make life difficult, I find there is an equal challenge of dealing with peers as well.

Whether it’s a big organization like IBM or a small start up, the toughest challenge has been to establish a healthy relationship with everyone, exercise some kind of authority without power and toughest of them all is to convince others. Among these three challenges, convincing others has been a herculean task. Initially I thought convincing others is difficult because of my position in the team, credentials or ego. But when I read the book, Business Chemistry by Kim and Suzzane, it became evident to me that it was a matter of not understanding people’s workstyle.

In this book, Kim and Suzzane, have explained 4 distinct working styles that describe our workplace personalities, and discovery tips and tricks for getting the best out of each one of our coworkers, whether they are a Guardian, a Pioneer, a Driver or an Integrator. Packed with insights in to what makes us tick and makes us thrive, the book has a call to action, encouraging us to embrace our differences and work better together. Key takeaways from this book are: 

  • The 4 different personalities in your workplace
  • Their strengths and weakness
  • Why all 4 personalities are important for the team
  • What are the working equations among the 4 personalities

One of the primary reasons people like or dislike a company is because of their relationship with their team members and boss.

I am a firm believer that once we know things the way they are, we will be in a better position to make them work for us. It’s like  driving a car without understanding how to use the different parts of it. Work relationships happen not because of how talented we are, or how much experience we have or where in the organization’s hierarchy we fall. Relationships happen when we understand people, when we know about their motivations, their strengths, their likes and dislikes and how they think. It requires time, effort and sincerity from our side. After reading Business Chemistry, I can say with confidence that if you have been looking to find a way out to understand your peers, then you won’t regret spending time on this. 

Each of us is a composite of the four work styles, though most people’s behavior and thinking are closely aligned with one or two. All the styles bring useful perspectives and distinctive approaches to generating ideas, making decisions, and solving problems. Generally speaking:

Pioneers value possibilities, and they spark energy and imagination on their teams. They believe risks are worth taking and that it’s fine to do with your gut.  Their focus is big-picture. They are drawn to bold new ideas and creative approaches. 

Guardians value stability, and they bring order and rigor. They’re pragmatic, and they hesitate to embrace risk. Data and facts are baseline requirements for them, and details matter. Guardians think it makes sense to learn from the past.

Drivers value challenge and generate momentum. Getting results and winning count most. Drivers tend to view issues as black-and-white and tackle problems head on, armed with logic and data.

Integrators value connection and draw teams together. Relationships and responsibility to the group are paramount. Integrators tend to believe that most things are relative. They’re diplomatic and focused on gaining consensus.

When I think about my this role and the previous roles, I see that in almost all the teams I almost had all the 4 types of personalities. I must confess that I might not have ran away from the work, but I definitely and desperately wanted to get rid of the people I am working with at some point of time. Now that I know a little more about the work styles, I have three learning which I must practice:

1. Productive friction is good in a team and we must have the courage to confront it rather than running away from the situation in hand

2. Hear all voices, take all judgements, contemplate, validate and then believe rather than reacting to anyone’s actions or comments.

3.Cultivate a new view of diversity by debating and listening to others point of views. Diversity isn’t just about gender, age or area of expertise, it’s also about work styles.  In variably, a successful team will have all the 4 personalities. 

It’s my realization, that the people who have grown up in the organization and have become extremely successful, are not just top performers, or talent, they are extremely good in establishing great working relationships. I guess I have been fortunate enough to work closely with some of those managers and leaders. 

 

 

The key message of the book is: 

Empathy is the key to any great relationship, and understanding is your passport to a mutually satisfying connection with them. Depending on whether you ‘re a Pioneer, a Guardian, a Driver or an Integrator, you will bring a specific of strength to the office as well as areas of improvements too. 

I think this is a must read book. In fact Deloitte has adopted this framework to train its employees and make them aware of the different personalities and how to deal with them. While it’s true that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, understanding the fact that we need to deal with people, who have their own motivations, their own personal agendas will help not just to get our work done, but also to resolve our conflicts.  Conflicts are natural in a workplace. We can’t avoid it, but we can deal sensibly with them in a way which will help us to build a sustaining relationship with everyone. 

Convinced

Convinced - How to prove your competence and win people over

5 Key points from the book

  • To convince people of your competence, use the “impression management” tools of the eight pillars of competence
  • Competence and Brilliance aren’t necessarily self-evident; you must showcase your qualities
  • Showcase specific elements of the “competence formula”: performance, ability, motivation, dealing with difficulty and luck
  • The greater your attraction and popularity, the greater will be your perceived competence. Project tact, authenticity and self-confidence.
  • Judging other people’s competence is hard; recognizing their incompetence is easier

     

We all try to convince everyone all the time, including ourselves. Every morning when I get up, I try to convince my wife, why should she exercise. I try to convince my son, get up on time and to go to school. At office I try to convince my peers, I try to convince my boss for my ideas. So if you really look at it, “convincing is something which we all do at every point of time. We feel a sense of achievement when we are able to convince someone, but we get frustrated when we fail to do so. 
I understand the importance of “Convincing” may be that’s why i picked up this book. The author gives a brilliant To convince people of your competence, use the “impression management” tools of the “eight pillars of competence.

  • First, competence and brilliance aren’t necessarily self-evident; you must showcase your qualities: You must showcase your skills, expertise, and competence, so they resonate with those whom you want to impress. I have met many people who boast, saying, “I don’t want to impress others.” I believe they lie to themselves. Impressing means leaving an influence.  You can’t convince others if you haven’t been able to influence them yet.
    There are different venues that you must use to showcase your competence, especially social media.

  • Second, manage people’s anticipation, so they will expect you to be competent. To demonstrate your competence, use “expectation management” to direct other people’s anticipation and shape positive perceptions of your competence. When you help people reduce or eliminate anxiety about dealing with a stranger – in this case, you – you benefit. Demonstrate confidence in yourself. Subtly refer to your past successes in areas that matter to those whose support you require.  I call this as the preparation which essentially requires sincerity and some amount of clarity

  • Third, associate yourself with good news. People like positivity. Positive news radiates over every other aspect of a person or event, and bad news does so negatively. There is a personal experience of mine. In one of my teams, my bosses only used to talk about negative things. Because of this, they were never able to convince the team with their instruction. And because the team never got convinced, there was an adverse effect on the performance of the team.

    It’s essential to give bad news, but we need to ensure that we don’t form a firm association with it

  • Fourth, showcase specific elements of the “competence formula”: performance, ability, motivation, dealing with difficulty, and luck.
    You can’t directly assess the factor by which competence contributes to successful performance and achievement. Many aspects play a part in any successful outcome.

  • Fifth and sixth, master verbal and nonverbal communication I am sure many would have told you the importance of communication. Excellent Communication not just includes the way you talk, but it also includes your body language and listening skills.  Both body language and listening skills you can’t take for long.  

  • Seventh, the higher your attraction and popularity, the greater will be your perceived competence. Project tact, authenticity, and self-confidence The more popular you are, the higher will be your perceived competence. The same is right about being more attractive. Popularity and attractiveness are positive indicators.
    According to the author, you become famous by complimenting others, agreeing with others’ opinions, and self-presentation.

  • Eight, use the “power of symbols” to build the most reliable measure of your competence: your habitus.

So here are the five things which I am going to practice in  the coming months.

1. Don’t miss an opportunity to showcase your competence. If there are no opportunities, you can create one. Social Media is always one such tool for you to showcase your competence. Take Social Media seriously.

2. Be prepared. Just the way you prepare to convince the interviewer to get the job, you must strive to be be prepared every single day to convince others. You can manage everyone’s anticipation to an extent and that’s what you need to be prepared for.
3. Associate your self with positivity.
4. Showcase your competence by showing how you have overcome the adverse situations in life
5. Communication is very important skill. The more you practice, the better you become. Also it’s remember, it’s not just talking, listening also matters to a large extent

Every one is convincing others and everyone is failing at it often. There is an impact on our relationships too when we fail to convince others. We judge others as egoistic, adamant, rude, disobedient and in many other ways. But  rarely get sincere enough to admit that we failed to convince.

You must read this book.

My exploration of Meditation

My exploration of Meditation

If you are a beginner in meditation or have not started meditation as yet, this post will give you some insight into meditation, and you may get inspired to start meditation.

My journey of meditation began when I realized that I am not using my full potential at work. My personal life was good, but I wasn’t able to manage a lot of aspects that I wanted to, and I realized, I am becoming an outdated, husband, father, friend. This was turning in to frustration. I was fortunate enough to realize that there are other dimensions that must be explored to manifest my full potential. That’s when I enrolled in this course called Inner Engineering offered by Isha Foundation.

First of all, meditation is not about sitting in one posture and being able to have no thoughts. Meditation is also not about seeing some bright white or yellow light. That’s not what meditation means. I have heard a lot of people saying if you meditate, you will reach a point where you will not have any thoughts.  Thoughts are proof that our brain is working. I wonder why would people want their brain to stop working when the rest of the organs of your body are still working. 

So what is meditation? There are many definitions but the one which I have experienced is: Meditation is a state of being when your body, your mind, and your very life energies are aligned in one direction. Some people call this mindfulness as well. There are plenty of ways you can define meditation, but if you really see, once you are in a state where your body, mind and life energies are aligned in one direction, you start feeling life differently.

We all have this experience when our body, mind, and energies are entirely in sync. For some, this happens when they pray;  when they sing, dance, write, run, or study etc. But once in a while, we do reach a state where we experience this kind of mindfulness. This means that meditation is not something that you do, meditation is a state of being. Meditation has a direct impact on the very chemistry of our bodies. For example, according to the book The science of meditation by Dan Goleman, the four neural pathways which meditation transforms are:

  • Those for reacting to disturbing events- stress and our recovery from it
  • The second brain system for compassion and empathy
  • Circuitry for attention also improves in several ways
  • Our very sense of self
When these strands are of change are twined together, there are two major ways anyone benefits from the contemplative effort: having a healthy body and a healthy mind.
 
 

In the past few months I have tried different types of meditations. Fundamentally they all were same. They all emphasized on the fact that you don’t have to stop your thoughts you just have to keep a little distance from them and not judge them. You don’t have to identify yourself with your thoughts. The second aspect of meditation is you need to pay a close attention to what’s happening within you and around you.  Last but not the least, you need to be regular and keep practicing. Practice that you are able to hold your attention and will not judge or react to your thoughts.

Meditation is a workout for your mind, just like you workout to keep your body healthy.

Desire and its expression

Desire and its expression

I have always been intrigued by this phenomenon called Desire. I have experienced it many times. My Desire to purchase an expensive gadget. My Desire to travel. My Desire to marry. My Desire to have a kid. The problem has not been that I have desires for myself. I had desires from others and for others. And then the list goes on and on. Then I have heard someone say. You must not have a Desire. Desires are the source of all the miseries. Desires are an attachment. They are expectations with ourselves and from others. You must not have expectations. The conclusion – Desire is the source of all the miseries, and one must not have them.

 

 

So I decided that I will work on it. I will try not to have any desire. The question was where to start with, and how? Is it really even possible to not have any desire? Also, if for a moment, I decide not to have “Desires” from others, how can I not have “Desire” for me? That’s when I came across an exciting TedX talk on Desire in which the psychologist spoke about Desire at length and then there were few articles which I read. This post is a crux of all that I have discovered.

 

What is Desire?

Let’s first closely see what Desire is? The literal meaning of the word desire is

 a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

 

We may want to have a simple meal. That’s a desire. We may want to drink hot water. That’s a desire. Tomorrow I may want to study from an elite institution. That’s a desire. I want to have a happy family life. That’s a desire. I am fed up of rodents and insects at my home and want to get rid of them. That’s a desire. The point I am trying to make here is almost everything in our life is happening because of Desire. In fact, a desire sets the direction of our life. Hence Desire is an essential tool, and it’s only a fool who will talk of destroying all the desires. Everyone has a desire. If you want to be nobody’s nothing, your “Desire” is to be nothing. 

Another critical point to note here is that Desire is not the source of misery, it’s unfulfilled desires which people suffer. Otherwise, desires fulfilled is a source of joy. Unfulfilled Desire is a source of suffering. 

 

What to do with the desires?

So, shall we kill all the Desires? If you want to kill all your desires, you will have a great desire to kill all your desires. “I don’t want any desire” this itself is a desire. Playing tricks with desires is not going to help. The energy which you call as Desire is similar to energy which you call as life. The only way to kill Desire is to kill yourself.

So what should be done? We must try to understand the nature of this Desire.

 

Desire is a continual process

One desire fulfilled, you have another desire. That’s a fact, and that’s what the nature of Desire is. There is something within us, wanting to be little more than what we are right now. Desire’s ultimate goal is unboundedness. The issue arises when we tend to give an unconscious expression for the longing of this unboundedness. We don’t have to destroy our desire, we have to make it a conscious process. We must always be conscious of What are we making out of our Desire.

Our desires are just a reaction to the social situation in which we are living. If someone has a hatchback, he wants to have an SUV. This is so because this longing to expand is finding an unconscious expression. If you make your Desire into a conscious process, then Desire is not a problem. Desire is a beautiful vehicle which will take you places. We just have to bring awareness to our Desire.

 

Conclusion

We definitely don’t have to shy away from our desires. We just have to become conscious of it. We must understand what we become tomorrow is a desire today. Only thing is are we aware of what we are becoming because of our desires. Once the desires are set, our actions have a direction and choices are more rational. I think the most crucial question that we must ask is – if our Desire is going to enhance our life and which dimension of it? What kind of human being we become entirely depends on our desires.

A life with no compulsion

A life with no compulsions

When I took my new role, there were a lot of challenges; the biggest challenge was to unlearn what I had learned in IBM and learn new stuff in Autodesk. I was compulsively doing things which I had been doing since the last few years. I wasn’t conscious of what I was doing, and my thought process as a result of my previous work culture. Nothing wrong in it, it’s just that new workplace requires you to change and adapt yourself.

The key thing to note is that things were happening compulsively to me. Let’s understand the literal meaning of the word “compulsive“.

Compulsion means an irresistible urge to do certain things, like a compulsive gossip who cannot keep a secret. If you are compulsive, you can’t stop yourself from doing something, like compulsive counting of the sidewalk blocks on your way to school.

I was curious to understand more about compulsions and figured out following  types of compulsions: 

  • Shopping
  • Hoarding
  • Eating
  • Gambling
  • Checking counting washing repeating
  • Talking
  • Daydreaming 
  • Sex and many others

What do these compulsions do? 

Simply put – these compulsions disconnect us from what we do, how we perceive things and make us behave only in a certain way which can be detrimental for us (for others too). Imagine you have a compulsive habit of eating junk food. Will you ever be able to lose weight? You have a compulsion for spending money. Do you think you will ever be able to stick to the budget? You have an urge to keep thinking something when you have an important task in hand. Do you think you will ever be able to focus? 

How to fight with this compulsion? 

The most straightforward answer is “Consciousness“. Consciousness is our ability to conduct ourselves the way we want. Our actions are no longer determined by the people, the situations, our likes, our dislikes, our preferences. Once we are conscious, suddenly we get empowered and conduct ourself in a way that works for us, not against us. So if you want to lose weight, we know we have a strong urge to eat which we shouldn’t eat. We know we are giving up to our compulsive behaviour. However, if we are conscious, we will not give away our power to chose what will work for us rather than what will work against us. 

Compulsiveness truly is darkness – you cannot fight with it. The only way to get rid of darkness is to light a bulb, is to become conscious of our compulsions. There is a portion of our energy which gets wasted in succumbing and fighting with compulsions. It takes time, effort and practice to understand our compulsions and conduct ourselves consciously.

Allow life to flow like river

Don't block the flow of life....

A man was confined to a 10X10 cell for 3 years before he was allowed to roam around in a city. For some time, he was happy that he could actually move out of that cell. Things were fine for a little while before the entire city suddenly started feeling like a cell to him. Soon things changed, and that man was allowed to roam in the entire country. Life was great for some time again when the entire country became a cell for him. He now desperately wanted to go out of the country.

We all are just a piece of life and life hates any kind of limitations. We don’t like any type of confinements. These confinements can be tangible and intangible. These confinements can be self-imposed and imposed by others. These confinements can be factual and purely based on assumptions. All these types of confinements just do one thing for us. They create misery. They take away our freedom.

 
The question is just this, are we conscious of these confinements, and what are we doing about them? 

Triggers – introduction

Triggers

Introduction 

Famed executive coach Marshall Goldsmith presents a blueprint for achieving the most challenging thing any adult can do – changing your personal behavior. He and co-author Mark Reiter explain why your “environment” makes the change so difficult. They warn of situations, events and people – even sounds – that can set you off, derail your efforts to change and cause reactions you come to regret. Negative behaviors can make you miserable. Few adults succeed in making a significant behavioral change, but this manual describes how to do it by understanding your triggers and taking control of them. Filled with folk wisdom, this heartfelt guide – by the authors’ admission – states and restates the obvious to reinforce its lessons. You may have heard some of this advice before, but following it is what matters.

Why I read this book  

There is always an “ideal me,” and then there is a real me. My life vacillates between these two. I want to finish a novel I have been writing, I want to have a social media following, etc. I want to get away from my anger, and there is plenty of other ideal picture of me. But the gap has never been bridged, and the ideal me always evades from the “real me”. Clearly, I need help with this, and it’s good to talk to someone who has a lot of experience in this field.

So what’s this ideal me. This ideal me is a person who I aspire to become. This ideal person exactly knows precisely what’s good for me and what’s not good for me. How can I be successful, likable, respectable and most importantly how can I be happy? 

And then there is a real me, who lack the discipline and consistency to implement all the plans which will make me an ideal me. I want to lose an extra 5 kgs – that’s ideal me. But I don’t stick to the diet and exercise regime and end up not losing weight. The ideal me knows that anger is not good for anyone, but the real me gets angry often. The ideal me knows that I need to have a lot of mental fortitude to succeed in Sales. This ideal me knows precisely what exactly he should be doing in the workplace, but still, the real me succumbs. 

I know that my behavior is not per my plans and all I need is a coach who can guide me to achieve this. This book was that coach.  

Key Takeaways 

  1. Some of the reasons why people don’t change are Overconfidence, Stubbornness, Magical Thinking, Confusion, Resentment, Procrastination. There is one reason which is higher than all the other reasons – that’s called environment
  2.  Environment plays a significant behavior in triggering the desired behaviors
  3. Our environment is a non-stop triggering mechanism whose impact on our behavior is too significant to be ignored
  4. The connection between our environment and behavior can be understood as a way we give and receive feedback. It teaches us to see our environment as a triggering mechanism
  5. Encouraging triggers push us to maintain or expand what we are doing. Discouraging triggers push us to stop or reduce what we are doing. 
  6. Forecasting is what we must do after acknowledging the environment’s power over us.  It comprises of three interconnected stages: anticipation, avoidance and adjustment
  7. Good things happen when we ask ourselves what we need to create, preserve, eliminate and accept  – a test  few of us self-administer
  8. Daily questions and marking our efforts on the scale of 1-10 act as a commitment device which helps us make accountable by reflecting not just what we have achieved but also the effort we have put in.  We tend to ignore or underestimate the effort which we put to achieve our desirable behavior
  9. We don’t get better without structure. Structure means planning our day in advance and bringing in some predictability in our environment. Structure not only increases our chance of success, it makes us more efficient at it.
  10. Our environment is full of hidden triggers that share everything we say and we do. This can make creating change difficult, but by becoming aware of triggers, we can create new responses to them. Through self feedbac, active queston

Why should you read this book

If you are a kind of person who is highly motivated in everything you do, you are self-disciplined and can seamlessly implement all your plans then you should not read this book.

This book for people who have little motivation and really want to bring a meaningful behavioral change in their life. This book touches upon why we don’t become the kind of person we want to be, why we fail, what role the environment plays in triggering our behavior. And how can we change those behaviors or create a kind of environment around us to trigger the desired behavior?  By environment, the author doesn’t just mean changing external arrangements or going on a spiritual path through meditation, etc.  By environment, it merely means a certain kind of arrangement which we can create around us so that with the least possible efforts we can trigger a type of behavior we want.

This is definitely not a book which you can merely read and forget. Treat this book as a coach who will help you bring you back on the trail of the pursuit of becoming the desired person.

Closing Thoughts 

There is no formula that anyone can suggest you and of course the author is also not trying that. We definitely have to find out our own motivation our own way of doing things. There is a difference between understanding and doing. Just because people understand what to do, doesn’t ensure they actually will do it.

There is no formula that anyone can suggest you develop the desired behavior.  We know all know and very well understand what needs to be done. But there is a difference between understanding and doing. Just because people understand what to do, doesn’t ensure they will actually do it.

5 Love Languages – Part 5

Love Language # 4 - Act of Service

This love language essentially means helping or doing tasks of your spouse proactively to make his/her life easy. If you are a house wife you would expect your spouse to cook meal, help with household activities, make a tea or coffee for her sometimes. Where husband’s expectations will be like wise. 
Life gets quite boring when we do only what’s expected from us. If we are not helping each other, if we are not coming out of our comfort zone, then we will never be able to express our concern for the other. Act of service then means being considerate of what your spouse and alleviating his portion of tasks or sharing responsiblities with him/her.
 Imagine your wife has served you for 20 years. She had done everything possible for you and you have been utterly inconsiderate of all that she has done. You never helped her, you have never been appreciative of all that she has done and you have made her feel as if she was meant to do what she did and there is nothing spectacular about her work. This way you are ignoring her and treating her like a doormat. This happens when you become too self-centered and fail to understand that you wife needs help. 
There are 3 interesting observations which the author has made : 
  • What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage
  • Love is a choice and cannot be coerced
  • Criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love
We all are touched by these 3 observations  and we truly need to consider love as an action not as a feeling. 

Learning the love language of acts of service will require some of us to re-examine our stereo types of the roles of husbands and wives. These have changed over the last several decades, but models from our past can linger, and different cultures have different expectations of the right way of things are done in marriage.

Personal Experience

Every person has different strengths and weaknesses. They choose tasks based on what they are good at first and then think of what’s required from them. The expectations of your spouse might be such that you need to work on tasks in which you are not that good first. Don’t shy away from doing the task, because your act is an expression of your concern and your love for her.
 
The spouse also need to understand that we all have our unique strengths and weaknesses.  Your spouse might not be good in doing what you do best. You need to lead in such situations. This is where first love language Words of affirmation also come in to play. For example if your husband is not good in cooking but out of concern he has cooked world’s worst dish, don’t make him insignificant or disparage his efforts. On the same note, the husband should understand that doing things for his wife will only make her feel good about you. Don’t shy away with your weaknesses, take feedback and improve in future. 
 
Your husband might not be as good as you are in household activities or vice versa but a he needs your encouragement to improve himself. You got to help him to help you. If you demean his act of service, you will discourage him and he will never think of helping. Remember you are what you are first because of your parents and then because of your spouse.
Having said that it’s very important to also understand that there should be only one leader who should lead from the front, and other should follow with full support and open mindedness. For example, I believe my wife is much better than me in handling relatives, at home and with my son, so there she is the lead and I follow and in may other cases, I lead and she follow. There shouldn’t be two leaders at the same time. This will create conflicts. 

 

This is 5th  in the 7 part series of 5 Love Languages book summary.

5 Love Languages – Part 6

Love Language # 5 - Physical Touch

Physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love.  For children this is particularly relevant. It is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love as well.  Holding hands, kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating love. for some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it they feel unloved and with their emotional tank is filled. They feel secure in the love of their spouse. 

Almost instinctively in the time of crisis, we hug one another. Because physical touch is a powerful communicator of love. In a time of crisis more than anything, we need to feel love. We cannot always change events but we can survive if we feel loved. 

A simple hug mean more than a thousand words at the time of crisis because physical touch is a powerful communicator of love. In a time of crisis, more than anything else, we need to feel loved. We cannot change events, but we can survive if we feel love.

Personal Experience

Sometimes a simple hug speaks more than 1000 words. Just  a pat on the back is the most precious experience. This is the only language which breaks your boundary and requires the other person to be involved for its expression.
Before marriage when the infatuation is high, you tend to enjoy the sense of touch. But that gets eclipsed with you do not come to terms with your spouse because of so many reasons.  Forget about a hug, a simple handshake becomes a big thing. We unconsciously erect a wall between us due to various factors like. 
 

Just do one thing, the next time when you fight with your spouse, give him a hug to placate his emotions. The next time when he is gets home, welcome him with a hug. The next time when he gets a promotion, give him a sincere pat on the back.

Not that Words of affirmation are not required. Physical touch will add more value and feeling to the words you utter to your spouse

This is 6th in the 7 part series of 5 Love Languages book summary.