Two Apologies

Early in my business and leadership training one of rules of engagement was to “never lead off with an apology!” It was based on the perspective that you would appear weak in your position at the table. Showing vulnerability was forbidden, even fatal. Grip the hand firm, chest out, push hard, back off only when you had dominated and still could maintain control.

I have seen that work best in security and law enforcement. It has several flaws as a strategy for leadership in the workforce, home and community. One of my mentors; a man’s man, a pastor with a brilliant mind, a strong delivery of the truth, a facts/logic approach and a desire to build disciples taught me so much by what he shared about his mistakes. He was able to “find a kernel of truth in every criticism” and he would sometimes lead off a meeting with powerful men by sharing  some vulnerable weakness he had, or a recent mistake he had made. “Didn’t that weaken you in their eyes?”, I asked.  No, he smiled and said.  ‘Actually I gained the upper hand because I had so thrown them off by my approach that they went from standing on the balls of their feet ready to pounce to rocked back on their heels.  In that split second, I then asked them a question about them.  It opened them up to share with me and enter into a whole new level of discussion and honestly.’

That is amazing.  It is counter-intuitive.  Not what the leaders tried to instill in me years ago. My friend showed that you could lead with a weakness that becomes the platform for truth and realness in the conversation, negotiation, teaching, etc.

I know a debate could flame up over what I have just shared, but I can also tell you I have used this approach with success. One of the best areas of example is with the marriage ministry work my wife and I have done over the last 18 years. Giving the couples in the group a few ways that I/we have done things that were not helpful in our marriage right at the first of our time together brought the level of anxiousness down in each person. They heard what they instinctively already knew that there are no perfect marriages and that they were not alone in their relationship struggles.

There is much to talk about around that, and if there is interest I can blog about it in the future.

This message is to share two apologies I gave to strangers; well, actually they were really new friends I had come to know, trust and even care about over a short, intensive two-day retreat. The last night of the retreat I felt a burden to ask for forgiveness to both women and men.

In the apology to women, I had not personally done a wrong to the people in the room, but as a man I chose to take the position to represent men.  The open acknowledgement of wrong and hurtful behavior to the women by others could be seen as a weak position to take, yet it was a powerful offering to bring forth healing and forgiveness. I am not recommending that you try to assume responsibility for your gender as a whole, but in this time and place it brought about a greater closeness between people.

In the apology to men, I share my regret of not hearing the counsel of those who tried to give it and the failure to try to offer the same to others.  As well as calling out the passive men who can make a difference if they would choose to.

Maybe it will have an effect on you, or someone you know that needs to here it.  It so, please share.

I apologize…

Ladies,

No men got together and voted for me to represent them to you, so I am saying this on my own. But, I don’t think I am alone is the words of feeling in this message to you.

For all the times that men have used you, abused you, abandoned you, lied to you, failed to stand, support, nurture, serve, and lead you;

For cowardness, weakness, denial, selfishness, withdrawal, anger, blame, lack of spiritual grounding and guidance;

For the times we pressured you for sex, caused you physical, emotional and spiritual pain, for not having self-control to honor, respect and cherish you, your virginity, your purity, your worth;

For when you have been alone, with danger and fears and we ran away instead of running forward to protect you;

For all the joy, dancing, and worship that you deserved to be join in with, but your partner refused;

For all these things and more, we were wrong.  I am sorry.  Please forgive us.

 

Men,

I apologize to you who are my senior in years that tried to model the way of true, godly manhood and I didn’t listen, look, and seek your ways and truth. I was wrong.  I am sorry, please forgive me.

To you who failed to lead me and my generation in the ways of God, your silence, apathy, indifference, fear, neglect, passivity, irresponsibility, and lack of courage has caused great harm.  I forgive you.

To my peers that I ran with but didn’t encourage and hold accountable to live as righteous men, to you who are younger that I have failed like my elders did me, I was wrong. I am sorry, please forgive me.

Who Do People Say I Am? – Part 2

What Others Say About Me - part 2“Sticks and stones may break my bones,  but words will never harm me!”  Did you hear that saying when you were growing up?  Is it true? I will answer that one for you; no, it is not.  Words are powerful, strong, strengthening and destructive. The labels or descriptions we put on people can stick on them.  They can work their way deep into the mind and remain there for a life time.

The words used to describe you can build you up or tear you down. If you are spoken well of it can boost your self-confidence, stroke your ego, give you positive feelings of being respected, acknowledged, appreciated, approved, and secure. If you are criticized it can have the opposite effect.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How did others learn about you?
  • Do they know you?
  • Do they know things about you from personal experience?
  • Did they hear about you from someone else or from something written about you?
  • What is the nature of your relationship with them?
  • Does it matter to you what they say?
  • Is it true?
  • What if it is not?
  • Does it matter?
  • How will you respond?

There is another saying I heard growing up; *“To thy own self be true.”  No matter what others say about you, you know the truth about yourself. Sometimes we are unjustly accused, or unfairly judged, or misunderstood, or gossiped about by jealous or unhealthy people (see part 1). Mostly we are spoken of as a result of our personal choices in word and deed that others see or hear about.

What about your reputation? It is earned over time with a good one easily tarnished quickly.

Wikipedia says, “Reputation of a social entity (a person, a social group, an organization) is an opinion about that entity, typically a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria.”

A take-a-way from this Part 2: Usually what others say about you is what you have shown or said to them directly or indirectly. 

  1. As you are critiqued by the public what choices do you have?  
  2. Have you considered choosing to not be offended even when something said about you is offensive?
  3. If your criteria for how to be is clear to you, then what does it matter what other say?
  4. How will you live from this day forward to teach people how to talk about you?

* Original source is a line from Polonius in Hamlet.

? ? ? Three Important Questions

Three questionsBeginning Monday, August 26th, I will dedicate at least one blog to each of three questions.  They are important questions that you can answer.  They bring you face to face with yourself.  They allow you to drill down to the core of yourself.  That can be hard to do.  Many people have fear to look deep within themselves and explore what it is that makes them who they are and determines what they do.  It can be fascinating to learn!

My challenge to you (and myself) is to think about these three questions over the weekend.  Allow yourself the time reflect on them. Try to be honest with yourself.  You may not have a complete answer to some of them yet.  You may have no answer yet, that is ok.  You have begun the journey by first knowing the questions to ask.  Each answer will be as different as we are as individuals.

These are Coaching type questions.  I love to ask them of others to draw them out, and up to new levels. Join me in this series by seriously considering these for yourself.  Post your answers below if you have some already.  I would love to share them here to encourage others.  Thanks!

Ready?

1. Who do others say you are?
2. Who do you say you are?
3. Who does God say you are?

You can do this.  Think about them.  Share thoughts or questions here.

 

Which Way Do You Respond to Conflict?

5 Conflict responsesThere is good news about conflict What?  Yes!  It can bring understanding about yourself, the situation, and the root cause. Conflict can even bring people closer together with a stronger confidence in building trust, respect and support with each other.

It is common to say, “Conflict is inevitable!”… Duh.  I say that a lot myself. That truth alone does not help with managing it, but it is a start.  It is normal and healthy to have conflict. What we do with the conflict is very important for health within ourselves and in our relationships with others.

Most people I meet have not been taught what I am about to share with you.  I hope it becomes clear in the next few paragraphs, (with the help of the handy diagram I created) that you have five distinct ways to respond to conflict. The model is based on the good work of Thomas-Kilman and their Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). They identified five main styles of dealing with conflict that vary in their degrees of cooperativeness and assertiveness. Their presupposition is that people typically have a preferred conflict resolution style.

Before we go further I want to make an important point that each of the five conflict responses are useful in different situations. Not one of them is bad, or wrong in itself. When and how often you use it is important.

The following definitions from the TKI will help you see the style.  I have renamed them in my diagram as a fresh look at the well-worn terms used to talk about it.  No matter what the label is, see if you can find the one that you most use. Once you know your tendencies, you can begin to explore what others use in your interactions with them. This information is vital to developing a conflict management strategy in your relationships.  I will be glad to walk you through how to apply this to your situation.  Give me a call.

Avoiding (No Way): People tending towards this style seek to evade the conflict entirely. This style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions, and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings. It can be appropriate when victory is impossible, when the controversy is trivial, or when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. However in many situations this is a weak and ineffective approach to take.

Competitive (My Way): People who tend towards a competitive style take a firm stand, and know what they want. They usually operate from a position of power, drawn from things like position, rank, expertise, or persuasive ability. This style can be useful when there is an emergency and a decision needs to be made fast; when the decision is unpopular; or when defending against someone who is trying to exploit the situation selfishly. However it can leave people feeling bruised, unsatisfied and resentful when used in less urgent situations.

Accommodating (Your Way): This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person’s own needs. The accommodator often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues matter more to the other party, when peace is more valuable than winning, or when you want to be in a position to collect on this “favor” you gave. However people may not return favors, and overall this approach is unlikely to give the best outcomes.

Compromising (Our Way): People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to give up something and the compromiser (him or her) also expects to relinquish something. Compromise is useful when the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground, when equal strength opponents are at a standstill and when there is a deadline looming.

Collaborative (New Way): People tending towards a collaborative style try to meet the needs of all people involved. These people can be highly assertive but unlike the competitor, they cooperate effectively and acknowledge that everyone is important. This style is useful when you need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution; when there have been previous conflicts in the group; or when the situation is too important for a simple trade-off.

Once you understand the different styles, you can use them to think about the most appropriate approach (or mixture of approaches) for the situation you’re in. You can also think about your own instinctive approach, and learn how you need to change this if necessary.

Ideally you can adopt an approach that is appropriate for the situation, addresses the problem, respects people’s legitimate interests, and leads to mending damaged relationships.

 

Workplace Conflict

Workplace Conflict

Workplace tensionIn their professional lives, an alarming 88% of Americans cite hostility, desk-rage, and workplace incivility as top concerns. This disabling, sometimes crippling, emotions rob the company of profit and productivity. Executives, supervisors, managers and the people who work for them can learn to reduce workplace stress and avoid the conflict and cynicism that drains profits, resources, and relationships. Protection from the hidden costs of workplace tension and hostility can be put in place.

I can help you:

  • Create a blame-resistant, emotionally resilient workforce that handles the daily onslaught of frustration without losing momentum, mood or confidence.
  • Replace bitterness about the past with shared responsibility for the future.
  • Quickly calm agitated colleagues and customers.

Your conflict behavior in the workplace is a result of both personal predispositions and the requirements of the situation in which people find themselves.

My customized approach for your assessment and training is designed to measure this mix of conflict-handling modes with you and help you find the solution to move forward.

Remember conflict is inevitable. It can be helpful.  It can be only temporary.  It should/must be managed!

 

3 Things That Steal Joy From Relationships

Joy StealersThese are not the only joy-stealers, but the three things mentioned below will rob you in the workplace, friendships and family!

Let’s look at what the wisdom book tells us about it…

Joy Stealers:

1. Gossip. Idle talk or rumors about others.

The bible calls one who gossips a talebearer, a busybody and a whisperer. Leviticus 20:16 “You shall not go out as a talebearer among your people.” Proverbs 17:9 “He who repeats a matter separates (best) friends. Proverbs 16: 28 “A whisper separates (chief) friends. Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes out as a talebearer reveals secrets; *therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.

* Take special note of the word therefore. Why is it in the sentence? Because there are gossips in the world today and the work place, we are to stay away from them.
Why avoid gossipers?

Because if they are coming to you revealing secrets about someone else to you don’t you think they will leave you and go tell others your secrets?Of course they will. It’s in their nature to do so. It’s what they live for.

How do you stop a gossip?

It’s very simple. Don’t listen. That is all there is to it. It’s just that simple. Don’t give them an ear to gossip in. Tell them this, “I can’t believe so and so said that, let’s you and I go ask them if that is really what they said.

One more thing about gossip…

Proverbs 26:20, “Where there is no wood the fire goes out, and where there is no talebearer, the strife will cease.”  And where there is no strife, there is peace.  And where there is peace, there is Joy!

2. Selfishness. Loving ones self first or self-seeking.

Proverbs 11:26 talks about withholding something good from someone who needs it. “He that withhold corn, the people will curse him, but blessings will be on the head of him that sells it.” If we sell something to someone who has a need for it is good. What happens if we choose to give it to them? Luke 6:38 “Give and it shall be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Mark 10:37 gives us a look at James and John being selfish, seeking the best place. “They replied, Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at your left in Your glory.”  Jesus proceeds to tell them that to be great you must serve, and to be the greatest you must be a servant of all.

How can you change?

Servant leadership is one of the antidotes to self-seeking behavior.

3. Jealousy. Resentfully suspicious of a rival or a rival’s influence.

Genesis 37:4 – Joseph’s brothers. “And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him”

I Samuel 18:8 – King Saul. “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him, ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘ but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ and from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

In summary:

Instead of Gossiping – Edify one another

Instead of Selfishness – Give to one another

Instead of Jealousy – Love one another.

Keith Talks

Keith speakingTo arrange for Keith to speak, coach, or train call 615-596-4474 or email keith@keithbranson.com. The topics, listed alphabetically, below can be adjusted to your needs.  Other topics can be presented as well.

Speaking Topics:

1.Abortion and Men – A highly charged topic with surprising outcomes! Learn what Abortion does to men and what they can do about it.  Discussion can be tailored for all ages.

2. Age to Age – Life’s transitions are easier when we know three things; who we are, what we need, and how we can finish well. Understanding the truth about yourself and how to be satisfied through every season of life, is possible!

3. Conflict – We all have it in our lives at some level. Learn how to manage tensions, prevent abuse and create satisfying solutions. There are four key stages that I guarantee will lead to long-lasting, satisfying relationships.

4. Death and Dying – Preparing for departure from our earthly bodies is not as hard as people imagine. Know the basic things that legally must be done at death and options you have before and after death. Alternative funeral ideas are included in this presentation.

5. Leading from back stage – Leadership models, principles and “how-tos” abound. Most have you in charge, leading from the front and center. Strength, guidance, vision and direction can be instilled in a team, a family and other groups without having your face or name on the headline and your place in the front of everyone.

6. Marriage and Family – What else could possibly be taught on this topic with so many resources already available? Divorces are still occurring, blended families are now the majority of households, same-sex relationships in marriage and parenting are legal. A fresh, relevant talk on today’s tough issues.

7. Men – The world needs godly men; men who will step up and courageously lead and serve at home, at church, at work and in their communities. Learn what holds men back, how to bring them forward and empower them to fulfill their role and mission.

 

Conflict Help for Music Artists and Managers

In their professional lives, an alarming 88% of Americans cite hostility, desk-rage, and workplace incivility as top concerns. These disabling, sometimes crippling, emotions rob the company of profit and productivity. Executives, managers, musicians and other people who work for them can learn to reduce stress and avoid the conflict and cynicism that drains profits, resources, and relationships.

Sound Direction can help you:

  • Quickly calm agitated managers, artist clients and customers (fans).
  • Create a blame-resistant, emotionally resilient team of people who handles the daily onslaught of frustration without losing momentum, mood or confidence.
  • Replace current anger in the present with shared responsibility for the future.
  • Quickly calm agitated managers, artist clients and customers (fans).

Sound Direction’s individual, confidential approach to your situation is designed to intervene when necessary and provide immediate follow-up to insure success.

SAFE CYCLE™

TOGETHER utilizes the safe cycle to help with conflict management.  We help you Stabilize the situation.  Once calming and safety is in place, the people in conflict can be helped to reach an Agreement.  A decision on how to move Forward from where they were leads to peace and even Enjoyment again.

 

Safe Cycle verses the unsafe cycle:

SAFE CYCLE™
CONFLICT → Stabilize →Agreement → Forward → Enjoy

 

UNSAFE CYCLE
CONFLICT → Chaos →Disagreement →Stuck → Misery

 

Four phases from conflict to peace

 

No More Time

12479847_mI got a call on a Tuesday morning with a request for help.  Keith, I need help, there is no more time.

The plane was leaving early on Wednesday morning.  Tickets were purchased, the products were made, the events planned, the local hosts were expecting the arrival with great anticipation!

There was a problem.  The star of the show had decided not to go.

The impasse was about to jeopardize months of planning and thousands of dollars to be lost in upfront expenses for the event.

I immediately changed my schedule for the day and went to work. I was energized by the challenge.  The urgency, the high stakes of the decisions that needed to be made within the next few hours were a stimulus for action.

I am a mediator.  At the most basic level of definition, mediation is facilitated negotiation.   I help two or more “parties” (people) have a conversation that ultimately reaches a mutually agreed upon settlement. I do not have to be an expert on the subject in dispute.  I rely on the process I know very well to help people move from being stuck to collaborative action toward a solution.

A few phone calls, a two-hour mediation meeting and it was solved. It can be that simple.

If you have conflict, or know of someone who does, remember to have them give me a chance to help before additional hurt or legal proceedings occur.