I recently had a conflict with a colleague. After a recent meeting, I was on the top of the moon, so happy both about the process and the outcome of our collaboration together. I actually said, “I feel like a million dollars!” I was celebrating after slogging through work for a while, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
My colleague, on the other hand, felt left out and unrecognized for his contribution. The morning after the meeting, we spoke and I recognized there was some truth to his words. In my exuberance during the meeting, I had not used inclusive language describing our work together. I appreciated that he felt safe enough to share these sensitive feelings with me. I knew he had taken the time to Center himself so he could use the Connecting Skill of Speaking Authentically, and I appreciated that.
Yet, after this second meeting, I could feel my immense joy deflate. Throughout the day, this deflation swung all the way to resentment.
I spent a lot of time that day (and night) using the Centering Skill of Noticing Myself. I wanted to make sure I understood what I was truly feeling. Was I just exhausted? Or sad? Annoyed or angry? I wanted to make sure I knew my own feelings well enough to communicate them to my colleague.
Our tagline for Noticing Myself: Pause, What’s the Cause? helped with the next step. What were my feelings trying to communicate with me? After much soul-searching, I realized that the first meeting had met one of my deep needs: to collaborate with a team on an important piece of work. I realized I had wanted my colleague to recognize my need for this type of collaboration.
It can be challenging to communicate our pain to others, even those we feel safe with. I didn’t want to play “the negative emotion spiral”, when someone says they are hurt, and the other person says they are hurt worse, and the first person responds, “No, my pain is worse!” And I wanted to sit with it long enough to make sure my feelings were not exacerbated by hunger or fatigue or something else unrelated to our relationship.
I knew that I would continue to hold on to (and endlessly process) my feelings until I could communicate them. I knew that I, like my colleague, needed to lean into the Connecting Skill of Speaking Authentically. To have this uncomfortable conversation, I also needed the Resilient Mindset of Courage.
First, I wanted to make sure to use our other Connecting Skills, the precursors to Speaking Authentically: Noticing Others, Heartfelt Listening, Empathizing, and Choosing Kindness. I needed to describe how I was feeling and how the situation impacted me, while I stayed (as we train in our approach) open, vulnerable, strong, and kind.
Fortunately, I was able to have a conversation with my colleague before lunch. We have a great relationship and he was very receptive. As I shared my truth, I felt a huge weight dissolving in me. Truly Speaking Authentically can be a freeing experience.
Relationships are hard. And sometimes work relationships can be particularly challenging. We have different work styles, different ways of communicating, and different ways of reaching our goals. Resilience Skills sure do help.
Meri and the Dovetail Team