Monthly Archives: July 2014

Who Are Your Vital Friends?

7 29 14 Friendship-DayThe subject of friendship has been on the forefront of my mind recently, especially since the recent discovery that one of my closest friends has pancreatic cancer. That was the bad news. The good news was that he and his lady are getting married in the middle of August! Yes, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster, and this situation needs no more comment as I think you already can see how poignant this situation is. ( yes, I am now a wedding planner!)

Then I discovered that July 30 is International Day of Friendship as designated by the United Nations; not to be confused with the general Friendship Day commemorated on the first Sunday of August. I guess we can just say that this week is Friendship Week!

How important are friends? More than we may think, and it is not necessarily true that we need only just one BFF – “Best Friend Forever.” Friends play a very important role in our lives because they are the inspiration that carries us towards our goal. Scott Dinsmore, creator of the Live Your Legend community says, “What would you do if the people around you refused to let you fail?” That’s very powerful stuff.

Do you have friends like that? Who in your life expects you to be somebody? I’m talking about real friends. The word “friend” has lost some of its original intensity, case in point the term “friend” on Facebook, when in fact we may barely know some of the people in our Facebook network!

Vital friends are the people who you just can’t afford to live without. But many of us expect that one best friend or a spouse is the answer to all our needs. In reality, it is much different.

In his book Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath proposes that there are eight unique roles that are filled by our friends. Bottom line, he suggests there is no one, single person who can be everything for you. Different friends provide different input into your life.

The Builders motivate you. The Champions stand up for you. The Collaborator has similar interests. The Companion is always there for you. The Connector helps you get what you want. The Energizer brings the fun to your life! The Mind Opener expands your horizons. The Navigator gives advice. What is common to all essential friendships is a focus on what each person contributes to the friendship.

In my case, some friends fill two roles and one falls into three of the roles! OK, that must make him my “bestie.”

Who is your Builder, Champion, Collaborator, Companion, Connector, Energizer, Mind Opener and Navigator? Who is on your team that helps you through life?

To strengthen your current friendships and read more about the results of this research project supported by The Gallup Organization, click here to get the book Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without.
The book contains a unique ID code that provides access to the Vital Friends Assessment and Vital Friends website. The Assessment will reveal which friends play each of the eight vital friendship roles in your life.

Remember, don’t wait for a particular day or week to tell your friends you love them. You need to do that any day and every day. You just don’t know how many days any of us have.

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When Conversation is Crucial

7 12 14 Talk to Each Other

In these days when people are becoming more comfortable with communicating via text or Twitter, and less comfortable with face-to-face communication, the art of conversation seems like a dying art.

A colleague who works at a medical training company told me that the young medical school graduates she trains have difficulty maintaining eye contact. They are more comfortable with their smartphone screens. These are the healers of the future?

Even before this new technology came along, people have had difficulty in facing conversations that could be described as crucial.

What’s a crucial conversation?

A discussion between two or more people where stakes are high, opinions vary, emotions run strong, and the outcome greatly impacts their lives.

Most people are uncomfortable with conflict and would rather avoid a crucial conversation out of fear that the conversation will go terribly wrong. Avoiding the inevitable never works. The issue remains. The other two ways to handle a crucial conversation is to face it and handle it poorly, or to face it and handle it well.

I think we can agree that two of the common instances of a crucial conversation are when we are dealing with either our partner or dealing with our boss! We just can’t get away from it! Communication is key!

Sometimes a crucial conversation can arise without warning and we have to face it without dodging. Wouldn’t it be better if we had the proper tools?

The New York Times best-seller Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, outlines seven principles to follow to become a master of conversation.

One: Start with heart – What do you really want for yourself, for others, for the relationship?

Two: Learn to look – for the warning signs when conversation turns crucial, the signs that people don’t feel safe. Nothing kills the flow of dialogue more than fear.

Three: Make it safe – Apologize when necessary, repair misunderstandings, commit to seek mutual purpose.

Four: Master your story – Be aware of your emotions and be able to separate facts from emotions. Be aware of emotionally charged words. Don’t be the victim, the villain, or the one who is helpless.

Five: State your path – Maintain respect while sharing your facts, and ask for others’ stories. Be tentative and encourage testing the waters.

Six: Explore others’ paths – Listen. Ask them to tell their story and mirror to confirm feelings.

Seven: Move to decide – Decide from the beginning how a decision will be made, whether by an outside authority, consultation when many are affected, voting when there are a number of good options, or consensus when everyone honestly agrees to one decision.

The most important thing to remember is that by not facing an issue, you may have already lost the battle. We can regret the things we say, but more often that not, we can regret the things that go unsaid.

A simple, heart-felt conversation may turn out to reveal that a problem was all in your mind from the beginning. There is so much to gain from that crucial conversation.

For more in-depth information on how to hone your conversation skills, pick up a copy of Crucial Conversations.

A lot of problems in the world would disappear if we talk to each other, instead of about each other. Practice true conversation.