Appreciate Your Way to Success
(Time to read: 2 minutes)
… with yourself and others.
Where I first learned this:
Like many people, I found that I had put on a few pounds during my first year in university. Without the discipline of a regular gym class, I hadn’t been getting as much exercise as in high school.
I went back to university the next year determined to get things back on track.
And I found support in an amazingly simple program.
It consisted of just three things:
- A plain grid of 50 squares.
- One rule: For every 15 minutes of exercise I did, I got to put an “X” in one of the squares.
- When there was an X in each of the 50 squares, I got to send the grid in for a certificate!
What was so special about this approach
… was that it only recorded my successes!
In the past I had tried tracking exercise (and writing, and many other goals), but always on something like a calendar – which highlighted all the days I hadn’t worked on my goal. That was discouraging.
But this approach was only encouraging.
If a week passed between “X’s” – it was invisible on the grid. All I saw were all the successes I had achieved – along with a reminder of my overall goal (to fill all 50 squares).
What does this have to do with communication?
There are some key choices we need to “exercise” in order to have satisfying relationships with other people. Things like:
- Recognize and appreciate the contributions of others.
- Start each conversation with a clear and collaborative objective.
- Listen for what’s important to other people.
- Find solutions that work for everyone.
- Don’t react out of anger. First take time to get clear – mentally and emotionally.
- If you have reacted out of anger: once you’ve gotten clear, apologize and restore connection before you try to do anything else.
Some of these you may already do pretty consistently.
But others might be like me wanting to get more exercise – goals you’d like to work on that will involve making some choices you don’t usually make.
If so, you might experiment with recording only the times you do make the new choice you want to make – and see whether you find that helpful.
Some other tips for success
- Focus on just one behavior at a time.
The literature does seem to be pretty consistent on this – we slash our chances of success by 50% to 80% when we try to work on more than one change at a time.
- Record your intention in a place that you’ll see regularly.
As the old saying goes: “Out of sight, out of mind”.
- Try using this same approach when you are working with other people on their behavior changes.
I think of intentional behavior changes as being like young, delicate plants – it is so easy for a careless step to crush the life out of them.
And focusing only on successes seems to me like a fence protecting the change or plant until it is robust enough to survive on its own.
Would you like support for learning and practicing more effective communication?
Especially in your most challenging and/or important relationships?