Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30th - February 6th, 2011

Interpersonal Effectiveness - this will be our final week on this discussion. What are some factors that reduce our effectiveness in this area?

There are several factors that directly impact your effectiveness here, for example, do you even have the skill to get you through the experience effectively? If you do not actually have the skill yet you attempt to cross a mine field you will probably blow up. If you actually don't  know what to say or how to act or you don't know how you should behave to achieve your objectives you won't really know what works in your situation, will you? 

Something that can really reduce your effectiveness is worry thoughts. Worry thoughts get in the way of your ability to act effectively. You have the ability, but your worry thoughts interfere with doing or saying what you want. You may worry about bad consequences, "They won't like me," or "She will think I am stupid". You may worry about whether you deserve to get what you want; "I am such a bad person, I don't deserve this." Finally, your worry thoughts may be about not being effective or calling yourself names; "I won't do it right," "I'll probably fall apart," "or, "I'm stupid."

At times your emotions can be the show stopper to effective choices. Your emotions (ANGER, FRUSTRATION, FEAR, GUILT) get in the way of your ability to act effectively. You have the ability, but your emotions make you unable to do or say what you want. Emotions, instead of skill, control what you say and do. 

Here is one that I personally find as an ingredient when I haven't been effective, indecision. You can't decide what to do or what you really want, your objective isn't clear. You have the ability, but your indecision gets in the way of doing or saying what you want. You are ambivalent about your priorities. You can't figure out how to balance:
  • Asking for too much versus not asking for anything. 
  • Saying 'no' to everything versus giving into everything. 
This one is so problematic for me, I have developed a worksheet or checklist, check it out here.(I have failed to put the questions with it, so that the form makes sense. I will fix this, but for now use this post to assist you along in the worksheet.) 

Then finally, the factor that reduces effectiveness at times to the point that you simply cannot be effective... your environment. Characteristics of the environment make it impossible for even a very skilled person to be effective. SKILLFUL BEHAVIOR DOESN'T WORK.
  • Other people are too powerful.
  • Other people will be threatened or have some other reason for not liking you if you get what you want. 
  • Other people won't give you what you need or let you say no without punishing you unless you sacrifice your self-respect, at least a little. 
What can be done? Well in the case of the lack of skill, keep learning. Stay on course and applaud yourself for what you have accomplished so far, and keep learning. You will get there. 

Worry thoughts: these types of challenges are exactly what the forum is for. Finding out what works for others gives us new ideas and skills to try. But the one I will suggest here is enforce a worry shelf. Make an agreement with yourself that you will visit all of your worries for "X" amount of time at "X" time each day. Now, when you have a worry about something and it is beginning to get in the way of being effective simply write the worry thought on a card, place the card in a box and put the box on a shelf. Let it go. Return to your worry thought only at your pre-arranged time and only for the pre-arranged amount of time. We will discuss tactics of handling those worry thoughts during that time if you are finding it difficult on another post. 

Emotions: when your emotions are getting in the way...go back to the basics. Mindfulness. Do a mindfulness exercise and when you have reduced the emotion to a more manageable level, start with "OBSERVE, DESCRIBE, NON-JUDGMENTALLY" see if you can gain control. If you cannot, arrange to revisit 24 hours later, you will want to become very familiar with the idea of an exit graceful line. Find something that can be said to the other person if you find that you need to leave the topic for a specified time. It needs to be gracefully delivered, so practice your line before you need it. If you do not deliver it gracefully you will add to a conflict or make the experience ineffective. The other stressor I would put on this is, specify when you will return to it. If you leave it open ended you will only add to worry thoughts and only add to the emotions connected with the experience that are making it ineffective to begin with. You will be a victim of "crazy-making." So set a time period as to when you will return to it and stick to it! 24-hours usually is a good set time for when emotions take over, but as you become more skilled at this, you can shrink that time frame. You'll know what you are capable of or not. Trust your judgment. 

Check-out the worksheet for Indecision.(and this post for the question to ask yourself)

When it comes to your environment causing the ineffectiveness about the only thing that can be done is to remove yourself from the environment. This is where you are responsible for your own actions whether the environment is helping or hindering. So if there is nothing to work with inside of your environment, change the environment you are in. I know it sounds simple and I equally know that it is not simple at all. But you hold the responsibility for keeping yourself safe and that means keeping yourself in environments that are nurturing your new found control over your own life and the learned skills you are putting into it. No, this does not mean you can control the people, but you can control who you allow in your environment. Do you have toxic relationships that you have not ended? Are you continually putting yourself in harms way of someone or someone's that continually put you down or have negative exposure to you? This won't happen overnight, but you will want to become quite acquainted with the "FAST" portion of skills, your self-respect is clearly coming in last when it should not be if you are still surrounded by persons like this. Over-time you will gain the courage and self-respect enough to terminate toxic relationships and/or walk away and leave environments that you know to be poisonous to you. 

Something that I find really helpful no matter what factor is egging me towards ineffectiveness, and that is cheer-leading statements. Again, you can find different ideas for this inside the forum, but here are a couple I love!

"It is none-of my business what others think of me." 

"Just because I didn't get what I wanted, it does not mean I didn't ask for it effectively."

"There is no law that says that other people's opinions are more valid than mine."

"I can understand and validate another person and still disagree."

Have fun with the cheer-leading statements, I would love to hear others!

MJ