Being resilient means being able not to just bounce back, but to bounce forward. It means having the skills and energy to ward off illnesses and recover when bad events (or people) attack.
You’re resilient already.
You may not think you are, but you are. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading my post, visiting my website, living your life. You are a survivor. Think of all the trials and tribulations you have encountered, all the accomplishments you’ve achieved in spite of the odds.
Following are some of the most popular articles I’ve shared over the years that have given people, just like you, insights and belief in themselves to bounce forward and higher. Get ready to launch.
PS: Want more support and hands-on approaches? Many of these tips and techniques are featured in my book The Finkelstein Factor: What to do when things go wrong … because you know they will (sigh).
The gift of empathy
Today is a day of reflection for me. It marks 25 years since my father passed away. Given this and the fact that Father’s Day is just around the corner, my thoughts turn to the huge impact fathers have on families. In fact, the impact all of us have on others. With that in mind, I’d like to share with you a lesson my dad taught me years ago, that I remember to this day.
At the time, I was working in Ottawa and coming home from a business trip celebrating National Transportation Week in Thunder Bay. I decided to detour to the Niagara Region to visit my parents before returning to Ottawa. My mother had gone to Saturday night church service which left my father and me alone for a rare father-daughter moment.
Somehow we got chatting about his upbringing. Between the ages of 5 and 7 years old, my father lost his father to meningitis and three sisters and his mother to consumption, which is now known as tuberculosis. My dad and his two surviving sisters were sent off to live with their aunt and uncle and their children. Although these children were in fact cousins, they didn’t call him “cousin Moses”, they called my dad their brother.
I was aware of these details from what Mom had told me but had never heard my father speak of them directly.
After listening to his story, I leaned into the table closer to my dad, looked him dead in the eye and asked him, “Dad, whatever could you have learned from this tremendous loss at such a young age”.
He answered in a heartbeat with one word. He said, “empathy”.
My father viewed the world through the eyes of empathy. What a gift he gave himself and others.Until the day my father died, he lived his life looking at others through the lens of empathy. He didn’t judge or admonish other’s behaviours. He simply put himself into their shoes and allowed himself to see the world from their viewpoint. He had gotten the message out of the mess. He refused to be a victim and instead, was a victor.
On Fathers’ Day, as we all honour our fathers present, past, future, and those who serve as pseudo-fathers to others, I invite you to join my father and look at others through the lens of empathy. If someone communicates roughly with you, it could be they’re having a rough day. If someone is curt or impatient, it may have nothing to do with you. If someone feels threatened or scared and refuses to help you by stepping up to the plate, they may be coming from a place of insecurity or overwhelm.
When you view with empathy, you realize everyone is the way they are for a reason. (PS: that’s an explanation, not an excuse).
My father taught me that coming from a place of empathy helps relationships and communication. Try it out, and when you find yourself saying, “Holy Moses, this stuff really works”, you can thank my dad. I know I do.
When it’s time to cut someone loose
Saying goodbye is difficult, especially if it’s a colleague you’ve known for years or a relationship you cherish. Yet, it can be the best decision you could ever make.
Communication in the workplace isn’t always by choice. There are certain people you must work with to get your job done. You depend on them and they on you. You need them. But that doesn’t mean you need them as a friend.
You can be friendly without being a friend.
Just because there’s a colleague, client, boss or employee who rubs you the wrong way, it doesn’t mean you have to physically stop interacting. What it might suggest is that it’s time to take a break, to step away figuratively or literally. In other words, cut them loose.
Giving yourself breathing space and distance will give you perspective, a chance to regroup and refresh. It’s okay to take a breather. The ebbs and flows of relationships allow for this. Ironically, it’s this distance that may save the relationship and keep you close.
Paradoxically, creating distance maintains closeness.
Putting some breathing space, some distance between myself and those I care for has saved many of my relationships, both professional and personal. It might help you do the same.
Sometimes it’s the very people closest to you who can irritate you the most. They know your buttons and you know all their idiosyncrasies and crazy little habits. Remembering this approach has helped me many times over the years to bite my tongue, reduce stress, and maintain my sanity. It probably helped the other people save theirs too!
I’ve said this many times and it warrants repetition — take care of yourself, make sure you nurture your relationships, and that just might mean staying away from those who are draining you. It’s not selfish, it’s selfless to take care of yourself because when you do, you don’t become a burden to anyone else.
Stop bashing extroverts.
If you consider yourself extroverted, you may feel a little undervalued lately, perhaps even picked on.
Maybe you’ve noticed the many books, articles, blogs, and videos extolling the merits of introversion, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, however, some authors are raising the value of introverts by demeaning extroverts. They explain how introverts can be wonderful leaders, use their strengths to succeed, and how they are integral members of healthy teams. That is all true. Hooray for introverts! However, along with this good news, I’ve often found that extroverts are described in negative terms. That’s tough to take and it’s not right. Both introverts and extroverts have gifts to offer.
Honoring introverts doesn’t mean bashing extroverts.
I believe in honoring all types of personalities as each brings value and unique perspectives to an organization and team. In many articles and books singing the praises of being introverted, the authors, perhaps without intention, use pejorative terms to describe extroverts.
Leaning toward extraversion myself, it’s difficult to read the characterizations of extroverts without feeling a little bruised. It’s puzzling why some feel that building one up requires the tearing down of the other. Why not build both up and acknowledge the strengths in both types?
Samples of negative language used to describe extroverts. Ouch.
In Jennifer Kahnweiler’s book, “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength” 2nd edition, she advises, “… build on your quiet strengths in meetings where extroverts tend to take over.”
Take over? Really? That sounds pretty negative. I’m not sure there’s any way to perceive that positively. Maybe instead of allowing themselves to be “taken over” in a meeting, introverts would benefit from assuming some responsibility for the outcome and speak up.
It takes an extrovert as much energy to listen as it does an introvert to speak up.
In Morten Hansen’s new book, “Great at Work: how top performers do less, work better, and achieve more”, he writes, “Some people–usually the extroverted loudmouths–dominate, even when they have the wrong answer”.
Loudmouths? Ouch. Name-calling does nothing to build understanding and bridges between the different personality and communication styles. In fact, doing so builds walls.
Here’s the point: Building up introverts doesn’t require bashing down extroverts.
Susan Cain’s best-selling “Quiet” book has spawned a whole industry celebrating the virtues of being introverted. As it should be. I join my voice with theirs to sing their praises.
And then, I’m compelled to ask where’s the equivalent book about how great extroverts are? Perhaps that’s a project for me in the future. But then, whatever would I name it? “Quiet” is positive and uplifting. I can’t even think of a commonplace positive word everyone uses to describe extroverts. Can you? I’m sure some exist, they’re just not often used and regrettably not top of mind.
In my workshops, we often discuss personality types and communication preferences. As a certified personality assessment specialist, I remind people that introversion and extroversion are all about where you get your energy. This plays out in how you communicate. Neither is right or wrong, better or worse. The world needs both types, so let’s celebrate each and downgrade neither.
The term “quiet” is noble, dignified, “the strong, silent type” comes to mind and is regarded as admirable. What’s the one-word descriptive that positively sums up extroverts? (If you have one, please message me firstname.lastname@example.org — I’m really looking for ideas).
Both personality types are great … and can grate on nerves.
Let me be clear here: In no way am I saying that extroverts are perfect. Being human, their traits brought to an extreme especially when stressed, can be exceptionally irritating. But in case you didn’t realize, the exact same thing is true of introverts. Both personality types can grate on people’s nerves, even though they don’t mean to do so. Both. Repeat, both. Not just extroverts.
In my workshops discussing personality types (affectionately called, “Communicate to Connect, a.k.a., You’re Driving Me Crazy!”), participants leaning toward introversion are routinely quite surprised to discover that it takes extroverts as much energy to bite their tongues and listen as it does for introverts to open their mouths and converse. Both are important for healthy relationships, and both require varying degrees of energy depending on if you’re introverted or extroverted.
Let’s avoid the name-calling.
You may believe that extroverts aren’t fragile but don’t be deceived. Name-calling hurts even the strongest amongst us. Please join me in using respectful language that any colleague would feel good about, even if it’s them we’re speaking of.
Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, you have gifts and strengths you can draw upon to support yourself, your team, and everyone in your life. I invite you to recognize that about yourself and every other person in your workplace and life. What an amazing world we would create.
PAY IT FORWARD ... AND SHARE 🙂
I encourage you to share this blog with your colleagues, boss, and clients. Everyone needs communication tips at some point.
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION CONSULTANT
“Marion Grobb Finkelstein, Workplace Communication Consultant, travels across Canada to help business people and organizations communicate in the workplace to get better, faster, easier results. She can help you too. Marion@MarionSpeaks.com 289-969-7691 www.MarionSpeaks.com OPT-IN to Marion’s Workplace Communication Tips enews at www.marionspeaks.com