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Compliments of Alice Popkorn via Flickr

We hold on tightly to our problems. Clutching them fast, we ruminate and try to figure out the best solution by ourselves.

Pointed focus on a singular outcome causes tension, whereas relaxation holds the door open to a host of possibilities. When you have done all you can do and it’s in someone else’s hands, rest.

Losing our grip feels unnatural, especially in a culture where self-interest and self-made individuals are the norm. As a “structured” person, I love planning my day down to the hour and down to the minute. Sometimes I need to consider the serendipitous occurrences that can occur when “unstructured” time is an invited guest. A friend of mine told me how he decided not to plan his day, and instead drive to whatever destination piqued his interest. These types of spontaneous events provide a respite for frazzled minds (which are at most times in fifth gear). Although removing ourselves from the catbird’s seat may initially give us the willies, its practice can produce an unanticipated benefit. One of these may be with our conversational partner.

Taking the “bull by the horns” may produce what we want—but in the process earn us few friends. Instead of talking at someone, speaking while seemingly holding your breath so that they don’t get a word in edgewise just listen, and let them speak. Instead of circumspection, ask them what they think about you! They may respond with surprise and delight. “Bossy and overbearing behavior leaves workers feeling helpless and emotionally hogtied.” Treading lightly is important when dealing with individuals whose speech is high context, and who value the way that something is said as much as the spoken word itself. In the article “How Nice People Handle Conflict,” Dr. Travis Bradberry explains that tempering what we say with hypotheticals (to engage with the idea instead of attack the person) may gain us more positive reception.

Example: You came across too aggressively in my office today.

Rephrased: Do you think our team needs training in communication styles to be more productive?

Abdicating our throne may be difficult when we are accustomed to doing it all. Surrender by trusting that the powers that be will work in our best interests. Letting our subconscious (or someone else) take the reins can transport us to places unimagined, where everything that we want is there waiting.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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