I first met Charlie Boyd when we attended graduate school together in Dallas, Texas, in 1981. We hit it off from the very beginning and have remained good friends through all these years.
Some time ago Charlie and I were discussing how to correctly deal with the issues we often faced. He shared with me a concept he has used many times in his leadership role. It is an idea that I have used over and over again.
When he is working with a team of people, Charlie will start out the meeting by putting a notebook in the middle of the table. He explains to everyone present at the meeting that the notebook simply represents the issue, the project, or the challenge at hand. Then, picking up the notebook, he squeezes it tightly to his chest and says, “This is the issue we are now facing and I would like your input. Please feel free to speak openly and honestly about how you feel and what you think concerning this project.” Charlie looked at me and asked, “How many people do you think will be able to do that? No one! Everyone will see that you are so emotionally connected, attached, or protective towards the issue that they will be afraid to say anything.”
Then Charlie creates a completely different scenario. This time he takes the notebook and casually “tosses it” into the middle of the table so that everyone can see it. He then says, “This is the situation facing us. I want everyone to speak freely and openly, giving me your very best input.” This makes it clear that the issue is now not being held on to so tightly to his heart. Now people are suddenly more willing to share their true thoughts and feelings as well as offering their best suggestions and solutions. This, after all, is the desired result, purpose, and outcome of the entire meeting. However, the environment or atmosphere can only come about when people know they are safe, and you really want to hear what they have to say!
By the way, many therapists do this with their patients when they encourage them to separate issues from their emotions so the issues can be dealt with in a more objective manner. It is also one of the reasons medical doctors prefer not to work on their own family members. It is just too difficult to separate emotional issues and emotional relationships from hard, cold facts that need an objective mind.
I have discovered that the more tightly I hold on to something, the less objective I become. If I truly want to see any situation in its best light, I must “let it go” so that is not so close to my heart. My emotions will often try to rule my mind even if I do not want them to!
I have used that same tactic many times over the years. When I am ready to talk to one of my children, or a co-worker, or a friend, I often start by asking them one question, “Where is this issue located at the present moment? Are you holding it tightly to your emotional heart or is it out on the table?” Each time I have asked that question, I have gotten a strange look. The look seems to say, “What do you mean?” I then explain that the more they are able to separate the issue from themselves and put it out on the table, the easier it will be for everyone to deal with it.
Begin to take a look at where your situations or issues or challenges are located as they relate to your personal life. Are they so close to your heart that you cannot be rational and objective or are they “out on the table” so you can be more objective about things as well as being able to get good input from trusted friends and associates?
This Tip has often become a very effective tool in my life. I trust it will be for you as well.
Tip: Where is the location of the issue you are facing?
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A, Rohm