In the Heat of the Moment

In Larry Dressler’s new book, Standing in the Fire: Leading High-Heat Meetings with Clarity, Calm, and Courage, he offers proven principles and practices to help us make wise decisions and take deliberate action even when others are being swept away in the emotional intensity of the moment. There are hundreds of “personal demons” that can derail us in the midst of conflict. Here are five of Larry’s favorites:

1. Certainty — We make being right or having the best ideas more important than arriving at the best resolution. When this demon takes over we become argumentative and closed to what others have to say. Required mind-shift is from an ardent “I have answers” to a sincere “I have questions.”

2. Inflexibility — When we are caught off guard by unanticipated information or dynamics we try to control people, outcomes, and process rather than work within the new reality that has emerged. When this demon is present we can become anxious, resentful or blind to new possibilities. Required mind-shift is from “Surprises are disruptive and unwelcome” to “Surprises are gifts to work with creatively.”

3. Ego — We identify too strongly with some idealized image of ourself, deciding that preserving this image is more important than learning something new. The presence of the ego demon is often expressed through defensiveness and shame. Required mind-shift is from “I should be...” to “I am still becoming...”

4. Prediction — We become preoccupied with what might happen in the future rather than attending to the current dynamics of the conflict. The worry demon often causes us to unnecessarily act on our negative predictions as if they have already occurred. Required mind-shift is from “What bad thing might happen next?” to “I can only influence what is happening right now.”

5. Reciprocity — We justify less-than respectful, less-than compassionate behavior in ourselves when those around us are acting with little respect or compassion. When this demon shows up there is a high likelihood that the conflict will escalate. Required mind-shift is from “I will act as I am acted upon” to “I will act based on my purpose and values.”

Do you have some demons in common with Larry or some of your own you want to talk about? Chime in below.


Tesse said...

This is a much needed addition to my resources. Personal mastery is powerful in enabling me take responsibility, clarify my noble purpose and work on those required shifts that Larry has identified. Not easy, but necessary if I am to cut through conflict, difficult situations and pain.

Jeevan S. said...

My problem has always been "Certainty" (which I suspect is linked to ego in some way). I can't stand to be wrong -- even when I am.

Lynne R. said...

Impatience ... allowing the time and space for others to make the leap -- recognizing we all have our own demons to battle and learning journeys to get there. Developing the patience with the right balance of persistence. (Sidebar ... took your "Standing in the Fire" class at an IAF Conference a couple years back and still remember how much I enjoyed it. Thank you.)