- Regulars' Session: CoG Regulars' Makan, Gathering Session.
This is for Regulars only. Because of the fact that we haven't decide where to go or what to eat... I will leave this as it is here. Regulars, please make suggestion in the Group WhatsApp. Date: I can still shift this... Possibly not Friday evening where it's packed everywhere. Or like off-peak afternoon of weekends (not the lunch and dinner hours). If we are heading out, we will need a space that's conducive for the bonding session. Please do take into consideration Food Requirements... Location: Secret Location -discuss in whatsapp group please!
- Communication 8: Always Do Our Best.
In closing the last week of our series in Communication, we would like to send out this reminder (part of the original 4 agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz): Always Do Our Best! Quoting Don Jose Ruiz (who is the son and author of The 5th Agreement): "WHEN YOU ARE READY TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE, when you are ready to change your agreements, the most important thing is awareness. You cannot change your agreements if you aren’t aware of what you like and what you don’t like. How can you change anything if you are not even aware of what you want to change? But it’s more than just being aware. It’s the practice that will make a difference, because you can be aware, but that doesn’t mean your life will change. Change is the result of action; it’s the result of practice. Practice makes the master." The above quote is made of simple and easy to understand phrases that can be applied in many facets of our Lives and when applied, is a very Power-Full communication framework. Life is not a straight forward process. The matter of fact is, many of our journeys are winding and overlaying with interesting (you have go figure out what your perception means/ is trying to tell you): 1. Life journey as Life Lessons 2. Life journey as Challenges, Challenges, Challenges The lens in which we view Life can be as simple as - "I see a lesson, I failed, I learn and make progress" or "I see challenges, I avoid/ fight/ duck/ "Siam", if it hit me... make some noise and re-live the situation via another person on a different day" When we apply "Always Do Our Best" in conversations, what does it mean? Are we clear of our intention, consciously aware why we need to communicate with other people? Is our intention to relay or bridge information that others require to make work happen? Is it idle chit-chat? Do we need to "pepper in" sarcastic remarks over that spilled coffee by the pantry just the other day? Do we understand the structure to which we present our conversation? Have we considered personality differences and bump the info up by accommodating to different personality types? Do we have awareness that different people receive information differently due to our make-up (the way our preference is structured, not L'Oreal or Maybelline)? Are we being kind to ourselves and to others in our speech? Many people don't realize that we are "walking mirrors". When we have no standard in the way we see, hear, talk and do... others see it and hear it first hand. Who's to blame should they treat us the same way as how we've perhaps demonstrated in words and actions over that colleague we "feel biased" against? Doing our best could also mean that we are practicing what we have learnt. However, old habits need time to be refined into newer habits that serves us better... occasionally, we let slip of tongue. Can we be kind to ourselves? Not beat ourselves up for relapses? Doing our best will fluctuate over the day, weeks and months. We could be mentally exhausted, let slip the way we communicate. We could be emotionally compromised and not in the mood to communicate. We could have pulled a crazy 48 hours no-wink stunt to complete that very important project and not in the best space to communicate. Our neighbour's dog could have barked non-stop over night and greatly disturbed the others... About the evening: What can we do to "Always do our best"? How can we apply it especially when we are vulnerable? Is it a daily practice or do you think it's a do-it-one-time and wah-la! The wonderful habit will be ingrained over this Lifetime? Why is it that practicing "Always Do Our Best" is important in the way we communicate as well as extending it to how we live our lives?
- Comm 7: Power of Vulnerability in Communication
"Blame is a way to discharge pain and discomfort... we pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people. We do that in our personal Life. We do that in corporate... whether it's a bailout, oil spill, recall. We pretend that what we're doing doesn't have huge impact on other people" - Brene Brown How often do we call on "vulnerability" during tough conversations? Do we even have the courage (courage by the way, in it's latin root ("cor" means heart). In a sense "courage", the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart) to tell someone to pause. To be skeptical, clarify why someone is "mistreating" us? Was that a unpleasant perception form, a misunderstanding somewhere from the way we communicate? Likewise, if the conversation revolves around having to fire a number of people who are the -5 to -10% of the bell curve at work, and you are responsible for making the call... leaving you in a vulnerable state, what will you do? Many of us take vulnerability for granted. In this real world, many of us cover up with masks, suppress unpleasant emotions by all costs thinking that there will be no repercussions to our mental health or physical health. When was the last time you had a conversation and the other party was just plain emotionless? Or at least attempted to? How about that salesperson who wanted to sell you something... the way that he or she structured the sales pitch was just too robotic, clinical and sterile. There wasn't an ounce of emotion or demonstration that they care about us and what they sell is a value-add to our lives. Instead, the whole conversation was mechanic and we could possibly get better "service" from other people who we can "resonate" with. Remember the lecturers we have in school? What made some of them special that we remember them till date? Were they allowing for vulnerable moments - maybe for students to see them less as an authority and more of another human? Maybe they impacted us with the way they present their conversation and the actions taken that represent care? There is something in this world, about peoples' perception which is really messed up. I've heard from an IT executive before that he chosen IT because he don't know how to deal with people. Little did he realized that his internal clients are - people. His vendors - people. His bosses - people. He is serving everyone except himself - people. Instead of clarity and courage to engage in supportive conversation, - he chose to not be impeccable with his words on himself and with others - take things personally but wore masks to cover the wounds - jump into assumptions how the world is against him. In the end, it is he - who created a lot of misery in his life. When we are vulnerable and we do not find supportive avenues to work on it, we are not practicing courage, the 5 agreements or is allowing who we truly are and stand for to come forth. And you wonder why people treat you like a doormat? About the evening: Likewise, how do we know when the timing is conducive for showing vulnerability at work, at home with people we have to interact with? Sure, many of you might be thinking "easier said then done". It is precisely this - Theory is cheap and easily sprouted. Action (appropriate action) is simple but not easy because many factors will come into play. We can start blaming office politics, the other parties for this and that, the environment we are born in, the school system, government (favorite scapegoat for many things)... we can blame everyone but few, very rarely, few courageous ones will take up the mantle and look inwards. How about our bruised Ego? Have we dealt with that? Did we apply the insight from these meetups and used them at work? Do our words carry standard and quality? Are we holding back on presumptions? Did we do our part to clarify conversations that are not clear or sound misleading? Now, who's to blame if these were not executed?
- Comm 6: Be Skeptical, But Learn to Listen (POSTPONED)
Be skeptical, this is almost an automatic response that most of us are "well-developed" in... although, not necessarily in the best supportive way when another human is involved. How many of us have been told to be skeptical when some one say something, to challenge and question them? What do we challenge others with? Did it occur to you to pause and reflect on our (your) deeds - our response (an action or a reaction)? Do we often jump onto a person and challenge the conversation based on: "ohhh, I remember, the last time, she made me "lose face" in front of boss and she's possibly going to pull the same stunt again" How many of us have been taught to be critical (critical thinking as what schools call them) and what did we use this "critical thinking" for?... "critically pointing out gossip material conversation", "busy formulating how to win the conversation (at all costs)" or maybe even "it's not my business, why are you trying to "tai-chi" your job to me". There's a distinction between skeptical and critical. Do you understand the difference? When we are in conversation and being skeptical, what are we actually being skeptical in? 1. The unpleasant consequence - we will be at the lesser end if we don't know what we are being skeptical for 2. The pleasant consequence - we will be clear and well-informed of the loops, nuances and missing details once there's elaboration and clarification has been made. Isn't it much easier to work with someone when all parties are clear and well-informed? While it is easy to jump onto someone, doubt their words and be critical in analyzing our conversation that is in play... has it occur to you whether the "jumping" and "doubting" are from deep inside ourselves aka - our belief system? Or it is a mean of clarification? Then again, do people in their calm mind "jump" onto other parties when communicating? Your guess is as good as mine. When we are practicing listening skills, what are we listening to? The judgments that's creeping up? The cognitive biases that are accumulating? Mother's voice, hidden and nagging away? Teacher from the donkey years ago exclaiming how bad at a subject we are? Question: How do you know whether you are projecting your biases and insecurities into a conversation or not? Reality is subjective. Nobody will have the same reality. No one will. Thus, when we explore "Be Skeptical", do we know from which space we are coming from? We've shared about "telling the truth" in the last sharing. Truth is a form of reality. As with reality, nobody will share the same truth although, people could resonate to what others say. So what does it mean when we say "Be Skeptical, But Learn to Listen"? About the evening: (We are at #6 of the communication series. So, we will be integrating what we have learnt from the previous #1-5 and wrap this topic up in the next 2 sharing.) It is alright and OK to doubt. We have to be clear, crystal clear what we are doubting. 1. Are we truly familiar with our emotional state? During conversation (especially when we need to practice skepticism), it is possible that the conversation have pushed our "hot button"? Are we allowing our emotions to take control? Or some old memories that are creeping up onto us from deep within? 2. Are we familiar in the art of questioning and holding a proper, non-bias, non-judgmental conversation? If we are constantly "taking it personally", "not impeccable with our words" and "jumping into assumptions", the conversation is not going to go anywhere healthy. It is almost a given. 3. When we listen to the conversation, when we communicate... are we listening to the intention of the speaker? Or y(our) form of "story-telling"? What is his or her intention when he or she is relaying the message? Do what they say conflict with our beliefs? Is it what you think, he/ she think or getting to the bottom, the clarity of the conversation?
- Comm 5: When Truth Hurts or Is It Time to Be Appropriate?
What will you do when speaking the Truth hurt people who are listening to it? As the observer who see it clearly that whatever the other party is doing is not only not helping but tearing them down inside-out/ outside-in... Will you go ahead and speak the truth but destroy the relationship(s) or will you choose an appropriate path - for example, "be appropriate, if it doesn't really concern me, my family, career, love ones... etc I'm not involved", short of saying "not my business until the other person SOS that they need help". And when people really asks for help, what will we choose to do? There's a little of a moral dilemma here. Some people are more empathetic by nature. I can't say that you will agree but my personal belief is that people are born kind. We kind of toughen up as we grow and some might have temporarily lost their way or toughen up too much to protect themselves. And, it's not surprising that people who are more empathetic by nature usually have the tendency to wish to help others who are signalling SOS even if it is not their business/ problem. They feel for them. It's a natural instinct to want to help. What could become a BIG problem is that when empathetic people see others suffer and that those in pain are blinded to what is happening around them... they might choose to: 1. tell the hard "Truth", insist that they are just trying to help, forces listening (become entangled other's situation, feeling frustrated or annoyed)... "Why aren't you listening or seeing...?" 2. "aiyo, poor you... sayang..." join the downward spiral as a way to show support 3. learn to be appropriate over the things spoken and time to speak Appropriate communication and action can be tough compassion. This is one course of action that whoever is caught in have to thread carefully and lightly. And, the course of action chosen by an individual might be very different when one is caught in friendship versus when one is caught in a supervisory position giving feedback or appraisals to subordinates. Some personalities are tougher. It doesn't affect them as much what others think of them when they are too straightforward or harsh with truth/ words. Other personalities are incredibly fragile and brittle, they pretend not to care but genuinely mind how others look at them, put up a brave front but are secretly in pain when perceived and shunned as they speak their truth. Again, these are real examples. I have been a tough person at a younger age and almost immune to how others see me while being a "judge". I have also been the fragile person, a bit older, a bit more aware and conscious of consequences. I have been the one hurt by other's truth as well as the perpetrator who hurt others by my truth. Some relationships ended because of "truth" (it hurt them and it rebounded onto me). Some relationships are still hanging on 1 thread. Luckily, many are still very much intact as I learn over time to speak by being appropriate rather than right, truth, just... We know that some people are fixated by speaking the truth, hard core facts without tampering it with empathy or compassion? I wonder, how are you managing your relationships or constant repairing? We've heard from a friend recently how she was perceived as a hard, harsh, not-to-be-trifled-with person even though she was really just being truthful, straightforward in her own way. A really nice person. What if this is required during critical time at home or at work? About the evening: It almost read like a trick question but it is not. This is a dilemma that many live with when communicating to others. "Speak I'm d@mn... don't speak, I'm also d@mned"(pardon my french) Have you been in such situation before? What did you do? Was what you did effective? Is there a more balanced way to communicate or to present "Truth"? How and what can we do to be smart and compassionate when in such situation?
- Comm 4: Clearing Mental Biases and Skewed Perceptions
We've heard this recently from one of our teachers (paraphrasing): "... ...Many people might think they are smart but they are actually not well-rounded smart. Many are just book smart. They went to school, took the exams, graduate, found a job & that's it. People who are really smart are intelligent. True intelligence consists of being able to: - articulate clearly, - apply - factual (an orange can't be an apple) &/or provide supporting evidences from researches (1 research doesn't count to enable considerations from multiple perspectives) to support one's hypothesis - empathetic or compassionate when they are communicating (if required to) - "argue" (more like debate) intelligently without getting interfered by one's bias emotions towards another - consistently upgrade themselves on the topic they are involved in so that they are up-to-date with time..." While it is true that many people talk without considering the above or whether they are offending others, it is also true that many of us are 1. learning our way to be a better communicator 2. have hone in the ability to act, speak without been bias or skewed in perceptions (clarification: skewed perception here refer to - taking only our experiences/ worldview as the absolute. Blind to or other people's worldview/ experiences are not counted, resulting in a tendency to fight, to win, to be right in a conversation/ argument at all cost or insisting that others should listen to us even if we are wrong, incorrect or totally inappropriate.) When we refer to mental clarity, we aren't referring to whether we have high IQ or educational qualifications. When we refer to mental clarity, we are referring to one's capacity, ability to look wide, feel deep, factual, compassionately critical to the point that they speak smartly for a meaningful purpose without offending or starting conversational war with other parties involved. What will you choose? To be able to be effective in communication, to motivate, buy-in/ influence others for whatever cause? Or every time we need to stand up for something, we trip yourself by: - not speaking up when required - spoke but cannot articulate what we're saying because the speech is clouded by emotional bias-ness against others/ ideas - spoke but cannot articulate what we're saying because whatever is spoken sounded like personal attack to the people listening - spoke but gossip at whatever, whenever. Shut tight when needed thus gained the reputation as a gossiper than influencer - spoke but ideas are unsound/ not practical - spoken without facts to back things up or any research done as supporting evidence - spoke but for what? meeting another person without laying out the basic agenda wastes another's time (unless it is said upfront that "it's a coffee session without any ulterior agendas") What are we actually doing in reality? How much a capacity do we have to be smart in the way we speak? To move people in the way we speak? To show compassion when necessary when we speak? Will you want to win the conversation but start a war or burn the relationship bridge? (Admittedly, I have done this & burnt quite a few bridges before I learnt it the hard way. Some of us have been there, done that & too recovered from it via the tougher road.) Are you still doing it without paying attention (living by default aka without being consciously aware of our actions) and the detrimental reasons that people are shunning us for? People have their freedom to make their choice. We are just not so sure that most people are consciously aware of the choices they are making - one that support or the choice that pushes others away from us? About the evening: It's easy to fall into the trap of desiring to impose on others our way of thinking, communicating, to be right or just. Are we truly smart as in all-rounded intelligence in communication? How and what can we do to sharpen our mental faculty so that we improve our mental clarity when we speak?
- Comm 3: Are We Really Listening or Making Assumptions?
One of our favorite past times that is not obvious in the list of national favorite past times whether you agree to it or not - making assumptions. This is a unconscious limiting habit that is plaguing many of us. Scroll through our conversations with friends, spouse or colleagues in whatsapp, FB or texts; when was the last time we or the other party made assumptions that were unreal? A lethal combination, this is a possible reason why many people are facing difficulties connecting to others >>> - Lack of impeccability with words (no integrity, standard in words) > - when others say stuff that triggered us > - we blew up because we take it personally > - more often than not, we make assumptions instead of clarifying what they meant. This could also be the reason why some people appear to be more popular than others. Maybe it isn't that they are prettier or more handsome. It's not about charisma or pheromone. They have awareness. They observe their environment. They know and they ask intelligent questions, clarify when in doubt. When was the last time you were having conversation with an acquaintance and you actively try to avoid him for the remaining day because there was no overt response. You made the assumption that he don't like you? It didn't occur to us that maybe this friend was having a bad day, annoyed thus no reaction, no response? Instead of communicating, we "okay" everything and made assumptions that the holiday will be wonderful because we are going with our best friend. We knew each other so well for the X no. of years to find out during the holiday that it was a terrible choice. She like to sleep late while you have to run your clockwork schedule (or the other way around). Booking the hotel was THE nightmare as both cannot agree on the location. You wanted Chinese food and she wanted exotic food. You want to visit the museum while she prefer to hang around the cafes. Instead of voicing out, we run dialogues in our head, screaming, yelling "But I told you soooo, why won't you listen". In reality, 1. We were making assumptions 2. It was not communicated 3. Expect our friend/ colleague/ spouse to be psychic, that they can read our mind (but they are not) 4. If we are really a psychic, we would not have made assumptions. Knowing is different from guessing 5. We think we know and that other people see the world like us However... People, that bubble will burst. This is not how the world work when in harmony. Is that why many of us are living life in conflict? When others don't answer us, we assume. When they answer us, we also assume to replace the need to communicate. In hindsight, what many didn't factor into calculation is 1. making assumptions take less than 10 seconds but 2. to communicate effectively (meaning all parties know what each is talking) could take more than an hour. After we make assumptions we could be spending days, months or even years in truckload of negative emotions due to the repercussions, regretting that moment where the "stories" begun. Now that we see from the above perspective, did the hour required to communicate effectively become a more worthwhile option? About the evening: 1. Communication defined by dictionary = succeed in conveying one's ideas or in evoking understanding in others. It does not equate to assumptions. 2. Many of us don't communicate because we might face rejection. We might be told what we know is incorrect. We lose face. We get embarrassed. (Getting into quarrels from making assumptions will create bigger scene, people will lose respect for us instantly and we still get embarrassed with even more consequences.) 3. Just because we live Life our way, we assume others will automatically know what that standard is: think, feel, work, talk the way we do. We live in the same world/ earth. It doesn't mean we see things from the same world view. To be a effective communicator, what can we do to find our voice? To ask, to clarify, to be clear?
- Comm 2: Guaranteed Failure When We Take Things Personally.
The Lunar New Year is just around the corner. Isn't it a good time to make absolutely sure that what is expired doesn't get carried into a new year? Yet, many of those who aren't aware of their speech or behaviors tend to bring forth "old unfortunate" practice into their every year 1. lack of clarity/ integrity in their words 2. taking everything others said personally when they created the mess themselves from the lack of impeccability in communication. It's common practice within organizations to have appraisals. What if, our work is really below par this quarter and to double it up, because of our lack of awareness in the things ongoing around us... we s@ck with our attitudes? Work is not of standards, instead of solving issues that came from us, we prefer to "run" to our supervisors/ managers for "help" as if they "are obliged" to "save" us. Those of us who are managers would be pretty familiar and perhaps exasperated with this situation. So come the appraisals. Feedback given and instead of looking into the work integrity, the subordinate took it personally, spun stories about the manager not liking him, making his life "difficult" in that department. Gossips grew into wild fire, the manager hear of this and it too became personal for the manager. Soon, the office started to have warring factions. One is either on the manager's side or on the side of "injustice". Will you take side and make it your personal war because you are friends with one of the party? Truths are: 1. did the staff reflect on his own actions? The appraisals are consequences of whatever he did or did not do. 2. we do not know what went on in the conversation. Maybe, the manager had slipped of tongue and said "why are you so stupid?" or other demeaning words when the staff try to unload his responsibility to his manager? 3. If so, did the subordinate take it personally about the hurtful words or for the unfavorable appraisal even though he was the one who slacked off at work? The funniest thing that you might not be aware of is this. We have seen this at some part of our life and we could very well be one of the parties portrayed. We have unwittingly agreed with the words used on us in order to take things personally. That means, we have agreed that 1. we are "stupid" to make huge importance out of the drama 2. everything is about "me". The staff had forgotten about perspective and facts aka his work is sub-par and the manager is pointing out on his work instead of him as a person. The comment that the manager said off the cuff could be trivial e.g. "why is the stupid lift not working?" and slipped off the tongue as a bad habit 3. for a small spark to set off into wild fire, the staff would have a lot of limiting beliefs, habits, feelings and opinions about himself 4. wasting precious energy by channeling it into who is right or wrong, who is in whose gang... and the person who is fighting so hard is almost always fighting to be "right" instead of appropriate. This energy can be better use to rectify the below par work. 5. Both the staff and manager had successfully created their own movies of the same situations (guess who plays the protagonist of their movies) which are perhaps 10% truth, mostly untrue and unfounded in reality. About the evening: Do you know what really is happening in reality when we make mountains out of mole hills? Do we even know or are aware of the reality or are we stuck in that tiny keyhole taking every single thing, words, behaviors, actions by others personally? As we take into consideration, not to take hurtful words personally... are we also being mindfully aware of what we are speaking. There's this golden adage, "Silence is Golden". When there's nothing better to say, don't say anything that might make the other party take it personally as well as making us regret or feel guilty. Would you prefer to have your meeting in conflict or in harmony and peace? Everyone has their choice, what will you choose?