I think one of the hardest things about acting in ways that are not especially thoughtful is that it often brings more bad behavior in return. Let’s face it, humans are sensitive beings. We care a lot about how people talk to us, and we are a little too good at getting our feelings hurt. I have bad news – you are probably hurting others without realizing it too! And the way we behave can have a big impact on how people react.
The way you make me feel
A few weeks ago I was working with a client group, and people were taking turns introducing themselves and their projects. One of the people at the table kept interrupting everyone, asking abrasive questions and putting everyone on edge. While I sat there and watched everyone else in the room tense up and stop sharing as freely, this person seemed to have zero awareness of the effect they were having on other people.
Sadly, this is often the case. We are not all that good at seeing how we are affecting people, unless they do something really dramatic in return. More likely, though, is that they will just respond passive aggressively, and before you know it you have a room full of irritated people with their arms crossed.
When you can’t quite rise above
I’ll be honest: I am no stranger to a shame spiral. When someone recently interrupted me at a meeting, saying I was going on too long, I immediately jumped in to my own head. I was embarrassed, and super focused on myself and my feelings. There were two downsides to this; one, I was no longer truly present at the meeting or able to focus on what others were saying, and two, I got on the defensive and brought in my own form of aggression. As you can imagine, this is NOT how we get good work done.
To me one of the greatest powers of being Thoughtfully Fit is that we can help those around us get into a positive behavior spiral. If you approach people and topics with curiosity and calm, then that is how they are likely to respond, which can lead to productive meetings and enjoyable workplaces and dinner tables. But if you show up with harsh energy, then that is what you’re likely to get in return.
Tune in to yourself
My challenge to you this week is to try to tune in to the effect you are having on other people. And if you are sensing that you might be doing something other than spreading joy (ha!) then that’s your cue to pause. Think about how you want the situation to go, and what role you could play in helping it take a positive turn. Then act from that place of new awareness.
And don’t worry! You’re going to screw it up sometimes. But we’ve got you covered – next week we’ll talk about what to do (and what not to do) when your Thoughtfully Fit self does not show up.