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get uncomfortable

I tell my clients the hard truth and don't shy away from it.  Getting what you want requires pushing past your comfort zone and you have to do it more than once! Today's guest post comes from Donna Howell-DePew, trainer and communications expert with timely advice on how to get results by getting uncomfortable!  


I was at lunch with a friend catching up. We were talking about our husbands. Imagine that. She confided that her husband, let's say his name is Harry, was having trouble with a client's IT department. He, as an outside consultant, couldn't get the information he needed from this group of people. Never mind the fact that he had already started going over their heads and that several firings at the company happened because of his input.

I asked if her husband had tried a heart -to- heart with the client and point blank asked him what the deal was and how could they work better together. She said he had tried that. He had a meeting with the guy and mapped out everything he needed. He was very clear and articulate.

I said, ya know, I believe Harry is going to need to do something WAY outside his comfort zone in order to get this situation resolved. She replied that he had already gone way out of his way. I applaud her here for sticking up for her man!

Now, how many of you have ever been in a similar situation? Different details, same dynamics? Remember, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the Innocent=All of Us!
I know, I know, no one reading this has ever been in that situation! And they know someone who has. Yup,yup,yup.

Harry probably had gone out of his way. Do you know how I know he had not gone WAY out of his way? The situation was not resolved. If he had done what was needed, Harry would be getting his information.

At this point, some of you may be saying, Wait a minute! Harry is not the only one in this equation. This other person is just being obstinate. We have no control over what that person does. True…and a cop out. This is what we do to each other day in and day out. In our corporate and our personal lives. It's tragic.

We blame the other person in the situation because we give up on what we want too early and we are not willing to be UNCOMFOrTABLE. If we do everything we know to do and still don't have a resolution, then it just goes to show that what is needed is something we don't know to do. The Unknown. Why are most of us scared to go there? Because we are comfortable where we are. Even if things are not so great, at least they are predictable. We know what's going to happen. We are not going to get some results we really, really want and we are going to manipulate and invent ways to pin it on someone else so we don't have to look at the realization that we don't want what we say we want enough to get a little uncomfortable. That last sentence was a doozy.

The thing is, we all do this. I do it, you do it, we ALL do it! And most of the time we don't know we are doing it. It's the system. That is what society as a whole has allowed and trained us to do as our Modus Operandi.

Yeah, so what?

‘What’ is that it causes erosion of trust. It causes us to think that we can solve everything with our intellect. It causes us to go about getting the results we want at the expense of other people, and eventually we don’t trust ourselves.

How many of you noticed some inconsistencies in my questions and my friend’s answers?

Two things…

I asked if Harry had tried a ‘heart-to-heart’ with the scoundrels and the reply was that he had laid out what he needed and was very clear and articulate. Now I wasn’t there, but, does that sound like a ‘heart-to-heart’ to you? I know, I know, guys at work and heart-to-heart don’t so much go together. I told you there was going to be some uncOmFortableNess here. It can be a manly type of heart-to-heart! The point is that it needs to be genuine and come from some place other than the head…and the safest place for it to come from is the heart. I’m not saying go all ooey-gooey on the other person. There is such thing as professional heart! Try it out on another co-worker before you run the actual deal. Practice a couple of times if you need to. Then go work it out. I am not saying that your ‘adversary’ might not make you squirm a little before relenting. It may take some time. It took time to get in to this mess. It may take some time to unravel it all.

Then, sounds like Harry was very focused on getting what he wanted. That’s the other thing. We are usually really busy getting what we want. We lose sight of the fact that to get what we want, we need to give the other person what they want, genuinely. Notice, the other part of my question to her was to ask them how they could work better together. Giving them his requirements is far from asking how they can resolve this stalemate. I do this exercise in my sessions where I ask a volunteer to think of a request they have for which they are not getting the answers/actions/results they want. More often than not I get declarations of what people want to happen instead of a request of the other person involved.

I believe it is because we have an underlying belief system that there isn’t enough to go around. And that I must get what I want or they get what they want because there is no way we can both get what we want and besides that, (deep breath) it will take too long!

If you have ever been in a sticky situation like this, and would like to discuss some resolutions, give me a call, we’ll tawk!


Trainer and Communications Expert, Donna Howell-DePew draws upon an extensive background in sales, manufacturing, quality processes, systems development, and performance. She combines expertise in these fields with facilitation skills to create simple, fun, yet effective ways to integrate new skills into her clients’ work repertoire. A masterful facilitator, Donna possesses an uncanny ability to take great concepts and make them real, interweaving them into clients’ processes for greatest advantage. She emphasizes participant interaction, encouraging trainees to dig deep to create their own value and take responsibility for effective learning and implementation.

Donna serves entrepreneurs and corporations. A sample of her corporate clients: BP, Shell, Rice University, Sterling Bank, Merrill Lynch, Methodist Hospital, Service Corporation International, HISD Training and Development, Kinkaid, Texas Staff Development Conference, Conoco Phillips, SunGard, ExxonMobil, Friedkin Companies at Gulf States Toyota, NACE International