25th Episode of The Still Space Podcast - When People Talk About You
Executive Coach Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE
Get her free career plan at www.MaryLeeGannon.com
Your Character Speaks Louder Than Words
Your character will outweigh any lie told about you. Those who know you KNOW you. When you defend yourself, you always lose. You need not defend. Simply explain what might be confusing.
Two phrases that I suggest to my clients when they are in a conflict so as to de-escalate the tension are:
1. Help my understand…..
2. I’m confused……
There is nothing threatening in these statements, yet what you state after them gives you the opportunity to state your case from a non-defensive posture.
Character is the consistent code you live by without exception. It’s what you are consistently known for. Know what you stand for. Never lie. Be true to your word. Character builds on the values you hold. Are you compassionate, ethical, easy going, a strategist? Do you take ownership of your work, share the glory, stand up for the team not yourself? Are you calm with presence in a crisis?
Your reputation is the echo that precedes you when you walk into the room and the echo left behind when you leave.
We spend much time worrying about what others think of us when that energy could be productively used understanding what we stand for and holding to it such that if we’re wrong we admit it, if we’re right we’d rather get it right with everyone involved and if we’re not sure, we listen and wait.
Remember the client who was struggling with a boss who “didn’t like” her. She worried what the boss was telling colleagues about her - a valid concern at work. There was no reason for this colleague to dislike her. People who are difficult or mean with you are surely that way with others - not just you. People see them for who they are. What do people see in you?
You can’t change a mean colleague. But you can ask them…
“What would it look like if we had a better working relationship?”
I repeat this because this one line forces the individual to bring to the surface why they are uncomfortable around you – why they dislike you. Generally, they’ll know they’ll sound petty for the true reason. They internally are forced to acknowledge that they may be perceived as petty if you are noticing the discord. So, they may choose to tone down their behavior.
Listen to what they say. What can you learn from their words? Have humility and courage to want to hear the answer. Ask for more clarity. There may be some very sound feedback in there.
Remain true to who you are. Take a deep breath when you feel threatened and remember who you are at your core – imperfect and on a journey of life mastery. Allow angry, emotionally immature, and less professional people their hostility. It’s theirs to own. Not yours to defend against. You need not have the last word. On the contrary, let them have it while you take constructive feedback and progress. Dismiss the discord. People will see your character in your consistency.
My client eventually got promoted into another role where her measurable performance couldn’t be debated. The team admired her and enjoyed working with her.
Remain true to your character. You need not defend any untruth. Who you are consistently is far more important than what skills you have.
Dear Younger Self,
I see you, I know you, I love you, I have compassion for you.
Here is my message to you from years of self-reflection and growth.
You are good, just the way you are. Learn to believe and trust in yourself.
Your heart is pure, your intentions are noble, you are smart, capable and full of energy and ambition. Keep pursuing your dreams and following your heart’s desires.
Some lessons that came the hard way:
· Own what is yours and nothing more – this was a quote from a coach. Do not take on others’ burdens at your expense. Learn to set healthy boundaries and take care of yourself first so you can be best able to help others.
· Choose discomfort over resentment – Brene Brown quote.
It’s ok, healthy and necessary to speak and live your truth. Ask for what you need and expect that your wishes are honored if the relationship is true. Stand firm in your truth – it’s ok to walk away from toxic people and unhealthy relationships. It is not going to last if both parties can’t be authentic and free.
· Pursue excellence, ignore success – Deepak Chopra quote
Do not be afraid of success. Stay grounded and focus on the process and your part – things will work out for the best. You will be able to handle the good and bad that come your way – it is all there for a reason.
· Use your mind, trust your heart – my own quote. :)
Learn to connect with yourself, your feelings and emotions. Honor them and stay true to yourself. Practice silence and self-compassion.
Things really do happen for a reason. You recreate the unhealthy situations from your childhood so that you can transcend them. You will face your worst fears and come out the other end ok.
This is a message of hope. All is well. Live fully - one breath, one day at a time.
Mobility Data Analytics Manager, Automotive Manufacturer