Acceptance

Acceptance is a built-in-to-the-psyche universal human desire. It is a form of adaptive behavior. Behavior experts use the word adaptive to describe behavior that has contributed to human's ability to survive and prosper over a long period of time. As a leader, if you operate in harmony with the desire for acceptance, you increase your chances of success in almost any situation. Ignoring or going against this desire is typically a proven formula for frustration and failure. 

In the harsh and unforgiving environment of our prehistoric ancestors, social acceptance was often a basic prerequisite for survival. Humans that possessed behavioral characteristics that encouraged acceptance were more likely to survive and pass on these behavioral characteristics to the next generation. That's how acceptance became so strongly encoded into the human psyche.  

Watch the people around you interact, watch the news, watch lawmakers and politicians, and think about what is going on the world. How many problems are caused by people's unwillingness to accept each other and respectfully work through their differences? How many problems could be solved if people were willing to give acceptance a try? 

The opposite of acceptance and valuing people is rejecting and devaluing them. Do you know anyone who bases their management style on rejecting and devaluing people? Acceptance is not easy at times. Some people seem to go out of their way to trigger opposite feelings. However, even small acts of acceptance can create a pathway to better relationships and better results. Give acceptance a try today. And don't forget to start with yourself. Nathaniel Branden said, "Of all the judgements in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves." 

Be more accepting of yourself...be more accepting of others...and watch your world get better.  

The Value of Understanding Anger Triggers

I recently read a book called Why We Snap by R. Douglas Fields PhD. It is an interesting book about the rage, or anger, circuits in your brain.

As it turns out, there are nine triggers that automatically activate the anger circuits in your brain. These are built-in circuits that were designed by evolutionary processes to automatically provoke you to respond in ways that can help you survive at times.

Think of these anger circuits and triggers from both sides of an angry interaction. If you understand the triggers, you can try to avoid using words, voice tone and body language that might activate the triggers in another person's brain. And according to Dr. Fields, awareness of the triggers can help you prevent them from being activated in your brain when someone else is using similar words, voice tone and body language. 

Here are the nine triggers. The acronym LIFEMORTS can help you learn and remember them.

L     Life and Limb (threats to)

I      Insults

F     Family (threats to members of)

E     Environment (threats to perceived territory)

M     Mate (threats to)

O     Order (threats to social order, such as breaking in line)

R     Resources (threats to)

T     Tribe (threats to members of)

S     Stopping or restraining someone from progress

Note that one situation or event can activate several triggers. For example, think of these triggers in relation to road rage which has the potential to activate all nine at once (e.g. yelling insults or sending "digital" signals, people consider their lane in traffic as their territory, a "tribe" of motorcyclists passing by might annoy some people, etc.). 

Conflict is a three-part process: a trigger or triggering event occurs, next there is an emotional response to the trigger (anger), and then there is a behavioral response to the emotion. The highly predictable behavioral response to anger is attack (now, later, direct, indirect, overt, covert). Anger management techniques can be somewhat helpful, but by definition they are focused on the emotional response...when the "horse is already out of the barn" so to speak. Doesn't it make more sense to deal with the trigger, or triggers, and prevent the anger from occurring in the first place? That's what this book is all about. I recommend that you consider reading it and becoming very familiar with the nine anger triggers.      

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Where the Goats Eat the Grass!

Once upon a time long ago, I worked for the CEO (lets' call him Big Boss) of a very large corporation. One of my jobs was to develop presentations for him to deliver to employees, customers, investors and others interested in learning more about the company. One day, as he was reviewing a presentation, he turned to me, pointed to the screen and said, "What is that!!!?

Goat

"What is what?" I asked. 

"What is that word?" he replied.  

Apparently, I had used a word he thought was a bit too sophisticated. Big Boss said, "You been spendin' too much time in New-York-City with them (translated: those) eggheads. Quit puttin' them fancy words in my presentations!"

You should know at this point, Big Boss was a very well educated, super-intelligent fellow. Although he was from a small southern town, he completed his graduate studies at a very prestigious university...well above the Mason-Dixon line. I suspect he was using the vernacular form of expression for effect to make a lasting impression on an uppity fancy-word-using subordinate. 

He then advised me, "Son...when I'm talking to folks, I like to stay down where the goats eat the grass!" 

In response, I began laughing hysterically! It would have been a real milk-through-the-nose moment for me...if I had just taken a drink of milk.   

Anyhow, although I too am from a small southern town, I was neither familiar with that particular saying nor the eating habits of barnyard animals. Since Big Boss was very blunt speaking and detail-minded, he never hesitated to fully elaborate on his ideas...in great detail. In the interest of time, I'll summarize his main three observations.  

"Now Chris...cows will eat the grass down to here." To illustrate, he held his hands vertically positioned about four inches apart and a few inches from my face. 

"Sheep will eat the grass down to here." He moved his hands closer, perhaps two inches apart. 

"But the goats...the goats eat the grass right down to the ground!" He then slapped his hands together inches from my face to emphasize his goat-eating point. For those of you familiar with the courtroom scene in the movie My Cousin Vinnie...think of the body language that accompanied the word "i-den-ti-cal." 

Big Boss rarely left it up to you to grasp the full meaning of his teachable moments...so he continued his instructive feedback, "You need to get your head straight, keep your feet on the ground and keep your words on the ground when preparing my presentations. Do you understand?"

I understood. 

The worst part of being on the receiving end of his tirades was that he was almost always right. His ability to glean profound lessons from ordinary, garden-variety events never failed to amaze me. 

Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well." One trick-of-the-trade is to use headlining to clarify and simplify your thoughts. When explaining a complex topic, begin with a headline just like those in magazines and newspapers. Try to articulate your message in ten words or less if possible, and then follow with details as necessary. And if you are on the other side of things and having difficulty understanding someone, simply say, "Would you headline that for me?" 

So...after all these words to explain this idea, here is my headline: Communicate clearly using straightforward words. Or in Big Boss' terms: Get down where the goats eat the grass!