Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for December, 2016

Happy Holidays! —Enjoy the good stuff even in the midst of tough stuff.

Happy Holidays, 2016! Thinking about my mom this afternoon. She passed peacefully in early November. I’m naturally experiencing a mix of emotions this holiday season, which reminded me of holiday wishes that I posted in 2013. They rang true for me then, and still very much do. So I thought I’d share them again.

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Enjoy the good stuff…even in the midst of tough stuff. Originally posted Dec 26, 2013.

This is a time of year when we may experience an interesting dichotomy of emotions. We might find ourselves thinking about all that we have to be grateful for—family, friends, our health, or just being alive. At the same time, our memories or expectations of holiday cheer may heighten our feelings of sadness over the changes in our lives—loss of loved ones, struggling elders, challenging family dynamics, a loved one’s ill-health, and/or career-related stress.

I thought it a great time to share what I’ve been reminding myself and my loved ones of lately. When we find ourselves feeling burdened by difficult circumstances, whether they be during the holidays or occurring in life in general, we can still choose to enjoy the good stuff. It may be as simple or momentary as a ray of sunshine warming your face through a window, or a few hours free of any immediate responsibilities, the thoughtfulness of a friend, or an afternoon with family. Or, it may be that well-deserved vacation or the warmth of your own home or a lasting friendship.

Today, I offer my gratitude to my readers, clients, colleagues, friends and family with these wishes— Every happiness and success in the New Year and seize the opportunity to enjoy the good stuff, even when you find yourself in the midst of tough stuff.

A reminder for the times . . . Emotions are louder than words.

I began using the phrase “Emotions are louder than words” many years ago in my work. This phrase reminds us of the importance of maintaining our composure if we want to influence others when we’re addressing a concern. If we express negative emotions, even subtly, others may focus on our “attitude” instead of what we’re saying. We trade the opportunity to be heard for the possibility of being judged and dismissed.

It doesn’t take much to shift an opportunity for a rich conversation to an altercation or a lasting covert conflict. People may stop trying to understand each other. They might avoid each other for an extended time until resolution seems unlikely. We’ve all seen this happen in the workplace.

We also may be experiencing similar dynamics over the last few weeks. Friends, family members, and fellow citizens are emotionally charged with polarized political views. And we’re finding it difficult to have healthy discussions.

If you want to be heard, minimize those loud emotions, because it’s probable that no one is hearing you above the noise. Here’s one way to do it. Write your uncensored frustrations down for your eyes only. Re-visit your writing a day later. Highlight only those areas that focus on the business case, or the mutual benefits to you and the person(s) you’re planning on talking with. Then base your discussion on the highlighted points. It’s a start anyway.

Whether you’re at work, at home with a loved one, or engaged in a political debate on line, consider this. If you’re preparing to address a concern or debate an opposing idea, focus on mutual respect and the mutual benefits of a positive outcome. Minimize your emotions and maximize your impact.
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This article was originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY on Dec 4/5, 2016.