I am sure you can relate: You think about someone or a situation and your mind plays the multiple scenarios in which things can go really well or really wrong. Better yet you practice the argument/fight in your head before it ever happens. Sound familiar? Here is a way to get out of that mental loop that does not serve you.
Step 1: Stay Present
We do this all the time and think its OK because its our brain on automatic. It’s actually not OK. Stay present and pay attention to your thoughts. That way you know what thoughts are triggering what emotions (yes, even the fake fights in your head create anxiety). If you are present and aware then you can also feel those emotions coming on and you can do something about it.
Staying present does something else. It lets you evaluate if your reaction is based on what is happening right now or based on past experience (even past experience that may be completely unrelated to your current situation). For example: I have a great relationship with a friend now. It did not use to be this way. We used to be pretty contentious. My issue was that I knew someone that was “like her.” And assumed I would get the same treatment from my friend as I did from the frenemy I used to have. Had I not stayed present and observed my current friend’s behavior I would have missed out on a great relationship strictly because I “just knew” how things were going to go.
Step 2: Self Dialogue
Yes I am back to this- talk to yourself and ask: These thoughts, is it my reality right now? Why am I preparing for a fight? Is the fight right now or am I guessing its going to happen? What is really happening right now?
I know what you are thinking “Delpha, really? Love languages at work?” Yes, really. Our use of language tends to separate how we feel about work. We use words like passion, drive, engagement, collaboration, etc. to talk about our state of being or actions at work. I would propose to you that we are human, our feelings don’t get new names when we go to work and therefore looking at work through the lenses of the 5 love languages makes sense.
If you don’t know the 5 love languages, I highly encourage you to read or audio book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a great, easy read with a quiz to identify your love languages and that of your friends, significant others and family. Here is the gist of it. There are 5 love languages that humans use to express love: Acts of Service; Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. At work, these play a role in how we show appreciation or see all those work words I listed above in our co-workers, employees and associates. Here is an example:
Words of Affirmation: This is my primary love language. For me, it is most important to be told that I am valued by my employer. My employer, like many others, is an entity (yes, since humans run the company you need to assume that as a group, the company has feelings too) who’s primary love language is receiving gifts which means that when they decide on raises, bonuses, etc. they are actually using their love language to express how they value you. If your are like me you are going to look at this and say “Great! But what about my words of affirmation- can you say you like me versus showing me?” If you take a step back and acknowledge that your employer may not be a words of affirmation then it makes sense that you may not see/hear these words often but you may be shown “the love” through rewards and recognition, compensation and in ways that the company, as an entity, expresses its appreciation.
Oftentimes we intermingle our network with our Tribe. While there is value when your tribe includes people that are also part of your network you really want to focus on the composition of your network as a separate and apart sphere in your universe of influence.
So, what is a network and why is it different from your Tribe? Does it matter? To refresh on the makeup of a Tribe, visit my prior post: Your Tribe
Your network is a breathing, living thing. It ebbs, flows and changes with time. The tie to your Tribe is in those people that are your connectors. However, your Network should also include:
Advocates: People that speak up positively for you, your skills, personality, etc. when you are not in the room.
Sponsors: Those that are looking out for you. They identify opportunities for your growth and ensure you have a seat at the table.
Other Connectors: People that know people of influence that can help you get that coffee meeting, first interview, etc.
Oftentimes we rely on others to tell us what we are worth. We look at how our actions, accomplishments and ideas are received. We mistake opinion for value and feel less than when it’s not what we thought it would be. In a society where instant feedback lives in likes and emojis we really must work harder at knowing our value. But how do you know without feedback?
• Keep it real: Last week we talked about authenticity. That is the ultimate way to keep it real. Think about it this way- when you are your whole self and do not compromise your values, emotions, goals and dreams for others then you are in a place of self-love and acceptance.
• Hold yourself up to your standards: As humans we have our own internal compass of values and standards. We tend to hold them up and judge others under these rules. But what happens when we are honest with ourselves and hold ourselves accountable and leave everyone else out of it? Suddenly, we are in growth mode to improve/better ourselves in a way that satisfies our spirit versus projecting out judgment. You know what you are worth because you walk your walk and talk your talk. No one can do you better than you can.
• Honor yourself: Affirm each day what you are worth. This is an exercise in internal gratitude. We spend so much time telling ourselves what we do “wrong” that we forget all the things that we are doing well. Each morning tell yourself the truth- You are a fantastic human being that has done so much already and is doing so much more today. Love yourself enough to be enough. When you are in this space you will find that your value is more than what others think, your value is inherent and non-negotiable.
So now that you know what you are worth, what do you do with it? Use it as your compass to determine how you treat yourself, how you want to be treated and who/what you spend your time on. Suddenly you won’t have a tolerance (or better yet- not care) when the hatters come around trying to tell you your worth. You will be able to hear opinions for what they are worth, perceptions, and you will be able to more easily decide if they are valid for you or not.
PS. There is a lot of content in today’s blog that focuses on you. Some may read this and say, “this is fine, but we must also focus on others.” I am of the opinion that you can not effectively focus on others until you are clear in who you are, what you are worth and what you bring to the table to help others. Self-work does not happen at the cost of supporting the world but should happen before you can support others. So do the self-work first because you can’t hold others up if you don’t hold yourself up first.
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou