1. “New England is cold in the winter.”
2. “Cold weather invigorates me making me feel ambitious!”
3. “Cold weather bums me out and makes me want to move south.”
4. “The political climate in February 2017 is cold and hopeless”.
When viewing the sentences above, language can be descriptive or generative.
1. “New England is cold in the winter”. Purely descriptive.
In sentences 2-4, language generates or produces something. In these sentences language generates movement toward the future. The language doesn’t merely describe something; instead, language is used as a predisposition for action of some kind. Let’s look closely together (when I say “let’s look closely together”, this is generative in that I invite us into a shared immediate future):
Take a look at sentence 2. Cold weather is producing ambition, this opens up the possibility to take action and create new offers in the world.
In sentence 3, the cold weather produces resignation and may preclude certain possibilities from emerging in what is possible in front of us because we are focused on moving away from what is happening in our immediate environment.
In sentence 4, we are in a current mood of hopelessness which generates a certain mood that we bring into conversations about politics. For example, “my observation is many people are expressing sadness mixed in with anger in reaction to what is going on politically.”
When we see that language can be generative, we begin to see that certain possibilities may exist that can either reinforce strength in our relationships or deteriorate the integrity of our relationships.
So what happens when someone you care about, whether it be a spouse, parent, direct report, manager, etc disagrees with you?
Since this is a guide for the self-doubting and overly analytical, let’s say that you move away from speaking up because you don’t want to cause conflict or you convince yourself that maybe you are wrong. Here are a few things you can do to practice speaking from your integrity, integrity = speaking from your own standards. You are feeling or reacting a certain way to what others are saying because what you think matters. It matters because it is a reflection of you and your observations and opinions on how the world works. For you. No one can tell you what you feel or think about your place in the world is wrong, that is unless you grant that person permission to.
If you have ever felt that you have something to say and then say nothing, read on.
FEEDBACK! We all want it, yet don't always feel others are direct. Let’s nip that in the bud right now by doing what we say we want from others. How do we do that? We become present in the moment. In other words, we get out of our head where self doubt and the overly analytical self likes to live and breed and start trusting what we observe. Because it is what we observe dammit:
Be mindful by focusing attention on what is happening right in front of you. If you are in a conversation and feel yourself cringing or constricting somehow because of certain words, certain tone or certain spoken or unspoken standards being expressed, notice that. Expand your awareness to what you see, what you feel and what you observe moment to moment.
Use those observations to ground what you feel and want to say. “When you say that [fill in blank] is a good thing, I noticed that it struck me in an uncomfortable way. Here is what I see [fill in blank by stating what you see].
Provide your evaluation of the situation based on your observations and what you see, feel or think. No need to doubt or overly analyze, you are presenting the grounds to what you feel, think, assess based on observations because you have expanded your awareness to what is in front of you instead of being blind to it by having fake arguments or responses at the ready in your head!
Make a request or offer. Now that I have shared my opinion, I ask that “we no longer continue in this dialogue because I can feel that it is not going down a constructive path” or “I am curious about why you think [fill in blank in mood of curiosity and wonder] about [a statement made or opinion expressed that you just don’t get or agree with]“.
When you disagree with someone you care about having a future with, you don’t have to keep your mouth shut. You also don’t have to fight. There is a way to feel what you feel and use language to generate a conversation together.
In sum, if you are bummed out about the weather, that is cool, own it! Just be aware that there may be possibilities that you care about right in front of you that you are blind to because you have escaped the present moment.
Andrea Bordenca is a mother of 3 boys, the chairperson of DESCO Medical Service the founder of Lead Yourself Youth, various community collaboratives and a Leadership Coach. We impact others in leadership by how we speak and how we act. Our actions and speaking can create possibilities to make a big and positive impact or can shut people down casting shadows wherever we go. If you struggle with light and shadow, Andrea would love to help you navigate: firstname.lastname@example.org