Sunday, 19 March 2017

Can giver behaviour sabotage a relationship?

Dear Reader,

Picture this: Girish as a child was a very obedient boy. He always did what mom asked, kept his cupboard clean, no complaints from school. He was the blue-eyed boy of his teachers as he did homework on time and played no pranks ever.

In college, he attended all classes and made copious notes. The notes earned him peer approval when he shared them with those who missed the classes.

All his actions were governed by an intense need to please everyone, seek approval, be accepted, included and appreciated. He had a fear of being rejected or left alone.

He found it very difficult to say NO, as he could not handle NO. He attempted to fulfil everyone’s request even at the cost of his own happiness and priorities. He could not ask for help instead silently hoping that others would guess what he wants and offer him that.

In professional life, he worked hard, pursued excellence and was a do-gooder. He was reasonably popular but wanted more. When his juniors failed, he would complete their job instead of holding them accountable as he did not want to hurt their feelings.

To please, appease or seek peace, he would avoid all confrontations. Artificial harmony was given a preference over constructive conflict. Whenever voices were raised in an argument around him, he would consider it his responsibility to pour water over fire and restore peace at the earliest.

In discussions, he would avoid stating contrary opinions. When someone else stated an opinion matching with his own, he would quickly second it. Else Girish would keep silent and later berate himself “Why did I not speak up?”. Due to unexpressed disagreement, he would remain resentful of his inability to assert and jealous of others who asserted authority.

We call this behaviour style – Doormat Giver (DG). Inability to say no, giving more than you get, sacrificing self, not speaking up when you have a contrary opinion…

I can relate a lot to this behaviour as my own life journey has been similar. In one of my business ventures I had 2 assertive partners. When they expressed their opinion, I would agree, despite my internal disagreement.

I equated disagreement = hurting / upsetting them = ruining the relationship

The company never grew since we were a misaligned team with my superficial acceptance of my partners’ views. I blamed it on them but when I look back, I feel my DG behaviour tantamounted to sabotage. If my partners knew my internal disagreement, they would find another rationale to convince me or an alternate approach to which all could agree. The team counted on my agreement, while I internally checked out. I ended up spoiling the very relationship which I was protecting by not speaking my mind.

It is critical for self or any team to tune “Giver” behaviour from Doormat Giver to a Contributor who includes own needs.

Three ways to tune DG behaviour

1.  Recognising that DG behaviour leads to burnout for self, diluted ownership of others, being taken for granted, ultimately resentment and finally failure of the project / relationship.

2.  Shift focus outside self. Change the objective of the ‘Giving’ behaviour from ‘My inability to say no’ to ‘progress of the overall project’

3.  Differentiate between requests & order. Request implies a choice to say yes or no. Stop equating No to rejection. Choosing ‘NO’ (by either party) is not a reflection of who you are or the quality of your relationship.

Warm regards,

Sunday, 19 February 2017

How to handle a Selfish Taker

Dear reader,

Recently I read an article by Adam Grant: How to Change a Selfish Person's Stripes?

This article talks about Selfish Takers we meet in various areas of our life, especially at work. People who want more, more & more for me, me & me.

He shares some simple practical ways to handle and turn around such people.

How does one know whether he/she is also behaving like a selfish taker? This article had a link to a self-assessment questionnaire, whose title you may find controversial: A**hole rating self exam!!!

As I attempted this 24-question survey, I found it to be an effective way to self-realization. I bought the book by the same author to know more. “The No A**hole Rule” by Bob Sutton is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Business Week bestseller.

I invite you to fill this survey first for a person who you find it very difficult to relate to. And maybe for yourself as well to gain some useful insights. Best would be to get your candid peer friend fill it for you.

Warm regards,

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Protection vs Growth mode - interesting excerpt from a book

Dear Reader,

Recently I read a book The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton. He presented an interesting concept on Growth Mode and Protection Mode. There is an excerpt from the book is at the end of this mail.

He found that when human cells are exposed to toxins, the cell wall becomes impermeable (Protection Mode). When the cells are exposed to nutrition, their cell walls become semi-permeable and exchange actively with the environment (Growth Mode). He also found that cells can either be in Growth Mode or Protection Mode at a given point of time.

We human beings follow the same style. If we perceive danger, we close our shutter and get into protection mode. When we perceive love, care, safety around, we open our shutter and get into growth mode.

It was interesting to note modern man rarely faces life and death situations which require protection mode. Instead, we get into protection mode when we see danger to our ego, ideology, turf, job, reputation. Our scanner is on most of the time, as if we are walking in a dark alley infamous for mugging incidents.

Consider: in whose presence, in what kind of situations, we get into protection mode & why. Conversely, who gets into protection mode in your presence? Is it your family members, peers, juniors?

Have you heard the story of the talented sculptor whose statues looked alive? The king assigned him to make a life size statue for a price equal to his own weight in gold. But there was a catch: if he made a single mistake, his head would be chopped off!! Would the sculptor be in full self-expression or in Protection Mode? How would the assignment turn out?

We cannot grow in protection mode. So being overly cautious, skeptical all the time has a big cost.

I think a deer in the jungle gets in to protection mode only when it is in real danger. It has to run to save its life. The moment the danger is over, it gets back into growth mode. During a given day, may be it is in protection mode less than 5% of the time.

May you stay in growth mode more often in 2017 and may your presence inspire people around you to stay in growth mode!!

Warm regards,

Growth v/s Protection mode: (an excerpt)
…When I was cloning human endothelial cells, they retreated from toxins that I introduced into the culture dish, just as humans retreat from mountain lions and muggers in dark alleys. They also gravitated to nutrients, just as humans gravitate to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and love. These opposing movements define the two basic cellular responses to environmental stimuli. Gravitating to a life-sustaining signal, such as nutrients, characterizes a growth response; moving away from threatening signals, such as toxins, characterizes a protection response. It must also be noted that some environmental stimuli are neutral; they provoke neither a growth nor a protection response.

My research at Stanford showed that these growth/protection behaviors are also essential for the survival of multicellular organisms such as humans. But there is a catch to these opposing survival mechanisms that have evolved over billions of years. It turns out that the mechanisms that support growth and protection cannot operate optimally at the same time. In other words, cells cannot simultaneously move forward and backward. The human blood vessel cells I studied at Stanford exhibited one microscopic anatomy for providing nutrition and a completely different microscopic anatomy for providing a protection response. What they couldn’t do was exhibit both configurations at the same time. (Lipton, et al, 1991)

In a response similar to that displayed by cells, humans unavoidably restrict their growth behaviors when they shift into a protective mode. If you’re running from a mountain lion, it’s not a good idea to expend energy on growth. In order to survive—that is, escape the lion—you summon all your energy for your fight-or-flight response. Redistributing energy reserves to fuel the protection response inevitably results in a curtailment of growth.

In addition to diverting energy to support the tissues and organs needed for the protection response, there is an additional reason why growth is inhibited. Growth processes require an open exchange between an organism and its environment. For example, food is taken in and waste products are excreted. However, protection requires a closing down of the system to wall the organism off from the perceived threat.

Inhibiting growth processes is also debilitating in that growth is a process that not only expends energy but is also required to produce energy. Consequently, a sustained protection response inhibits the creation of life-sustaining energy. The longer you stay in protection, the more you consume your energy reserves, which in turn, compromises your growth.

Unlike single cells, the growth/protection response in multicellular organisms is not an either/or proposition—not all of our 50 trillion cells have to be in growth or protection mode at the same time. The proportion of cells in a protection response depends on the severity of the perceived threats. You can survive while under stress from these threats, but chronic inhibition of growth mechanisms severely compromises your vitality. It is also important to note that to fully experience your vitality it takes more than just getting rid of life’s stressors. In a growth-protection continuum, eliminating the stressors only puts you at the neutral point in the range. To fully thrive, we must not only eliminate the stressors but also actively seek joyful, loving, fulfilling lives that stimulate growth processes.

Dr. Bruce H Lipton: is a leading voice in new biology. A cell biologist by training, he taught Cell Biology at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and later performed pioneering studies at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.