How to Get Ahead by Being a Bitch at Work

What comes to mind when you think of being a bitch at work? Does it sound exhilarating? Powerful? Frightening?

 

Ready to get ahead at work? This woman knows the best way to claim her power and get ahead is by being a good bitch at work.


 

When you hear the word ‘bitch,’ you probably think back to one of the popular girls in high school who called you names or that one coworker you couldn’t stand. But many women are taking back the word ‘bitch’ and repurposing it as a way of describing a woman who is a fierce, powerful, and fearless leader—we could even call her a boss bitch.

If the word bitch and its current meaning make you wince, try keeping an open mind. Being a bitch at work can be a great way to get ahead in your career. It’s all about channeling that inner confidence and strength (and letting go of some of those not-so-nice connotations). Here’s what you need to know to embrace your inner bitch and use her to keep you moving forward.

Good Bitches vs. Bad Bitches

When we think of women who get called “bitches.” We probably think of villains in a story. By now, most of us have seen the play Wicked or read the book it’s based on. In the story, the “Wicked Witch” (of the Wizard of Oz fame) actually has a nuanced background with lots of experiences that have shaped her into being perceived as a “wicked witch.” As we start to understand her and learn her truths, we realize there’s more to this wicked witch …is she really the villain?

Believe it or not, like “wicked witches in the story,” there are two types of bitches: good bitches and bad bitches. Now, sometimes “bad bitch” and “boss bitch” can also hold positive meanings, but we’ll go with the traditional definition of the word bad for the sake of description.


There’s no need to associate a gender with the word bitch either—there’s an inner bitch in everyone, both men and women! Our inner bad bitch is a complaining, selfish or nasty person that brings around negative energy. In other words, not the bitch you want to be to get ahead in your career.


Bad bitches thrive on and invite drama. As Dr. Stephen Karpman describes, they engage in the drama triangle; they play the victim, sometimes the persecutor (and sometimes the rescuer). They stir the pot and pit people against each other. They’re passive-aggressive. Being a bad bitch isn’t exactly ideal in the workplace.

Good bitches, on the other hand, are the type of people who bitch and complain with a purpose. They identify issues and call them out, even if the opinion isn’t popular. They take on every task no matter how hard it is and whether others cast doubt on their ability to complete it. They’re tough, confident, and direct.

The good bitch is happy and assured with her choices, even if she isn’t everyone’s best friend at work. She doesn’t shy away from expressing her needs or wants. She isn’t afraid of conflict. A good bitch’s goal is to do her job, be a leader, and most importantly: be a go-getter.

While good bitches may not always be the office favorite, they’re well respected for their leadership, dedication, and loyalty. They don’t need everyone’s approval because they approve of themselves.

How to be a Good Bitch at Work

Suggesting someone should “harness their bitch powers” to get ahead at work may sound a bit strange or counterintuitive at first. The trick is knowing how to harness the strength and the good qualities of your “inner bitch.”

Here are three essential qualities of the bitches who get ahead at work.

1. Have a Bigger Mission & Purpose

Good bitches are bitching for a reason; they want to get ahead, and they have a clear goal in mind of where they want to end up. Without a bigger “why” in your life, you risk turning into one of those other less-ideal bitches who complain and spins her wheels.

Ask yourself what your career aims and goals are—not just your company’s objectives but your own desires as well. To find more purpose in your work, find the areas where your personal mission aligns with your company’s. Where do your goals match up with your boss’s? How can you meet his or her expectations and challenge yourself to take them further? How can you focus on these congruencies to get MORE out of your work?

2. Have Increased Self-Awareness

Good bitches are self-aware and have the social and emotional intelligence they need to better interact and communicate with the world around them. This may mean getting honest with yourself about your personality and its flaws. Good bitches have done the work to learn about the deeper whys of their actions. They aren’t afraid of their emotions, but instead, they embrace them (even those less comfortable ones like anger and hurt).

Ensure you’re authentic with yourself and others and that you’re not adding drama to your surroundings. Are you making the situation better by being proactive and powerful, or are you making the situation worse by whining or playing the role of the victim? If someone criticizes you for being a bitch, figure out if you were a good bitch or bad bitch, then follow up with the appropriate response (which might require an attitude adjustment on your part)!

3. Exercise Their Assertion Muscles

Good bitches get it! They know when it’s time to speak up and when it’s time to put their foot down—and they do both with expertise. They are attuned to those around them, and they can upregulate or downregulate accordingly. This means ensuring you’re not too shy but also not too over the top. You don’t want to be a drill sergeant, but you need to command respect.

Essentially, it’s crucial to balance the forces within you to find your power and your voice when you need it most. Luckily, everyone can develop social and emotional intelligence skills. You’ll learn to keep your personal power in your tool belt for everyday use—and you’ll have it right on hand for those especially tough times when you need to be the best and most effective bitch possible.

Do I Really Want to Be a Bitch at Work?

Absolutely! The key is to be the right kind of bitch: a good bitch who’s a fierce and respected leader. Expressing your needs and wants is a way of tapping into your personal power. Many of us have varying ideas about power and what it means to be powerful, but the truth is we all deserve to feel powerful and in control of our lives.

All of us have strong desires or yearnings—longings for respect, admiration, appreciation, to be seen, heard, and more. When you tap into your inner power (or tap into your inner bitch), you’ll start moving toward getting those yearnings met. In the words of Tina Fey, “Bitches get stuff done.”

Those who whine and complain but don’t take action, who “bitch and moan” about each task, who don’t have a clear mission, won’t be as successful as good bitches. If we want to get ahead at work (and get more out of our career), we need to take responsibility for our situation. That means speaking up, engaging in conflict, and expressing our feelings!


Remember your “why” and be self-aware enough to know what kind of bitch you’re being at any given moment. Don’t forget to assert and balance your personal power to boost your career and personal life.


Are you expressing your feelings to your partner? Are you honest in your friendships? Do you establish boundaries and stand up for your wants and needs? Whether or not these actions come naturally to you, you can start to experiment with your power.

What’s the worst that can happen if you say you don’t like something your partner does? What if you tell your friend where you want to go for lunch? What if you call out your concerns in the team meeting and point out the gaps you see in the project plan? Or what if you held the floor when you spoke, even when a coworker tries to talk over you?

Try these “what ifs” as an experiment. See what happens when you go for it. Do people get upset? In many cases, you may be surprised that people WANT to give you precisely what you really want and need. All you need to do is speak up and ask.

Keep your authentic inner bitch alive, and you can make great strides in your career—just remember to keep those bad bitch tendencies at bay.

For more ways to embrace your personal power, explore our array of personal development courses and webinars at Wright Now. Start moving ahead in your career and your relationships as you ignite your world and go for the life you want—a life of MORE!

 


Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Getting Along with Coworkers: Here’s Why It’s All Relative

Is getting along with coworkers a tall order? Do you ever struggle, wondering why your coworkers drive you up a wall?

 

You can get along with coworkers and create a work family.

 


 

We often hear people lament about their coworkers, not realizing that their relationships with their peers often mirror their other relationships with friends and family. People claim that they’re totally different at work, or their work lives look nothing like their home lives.

But then they face the same types of disagreements in both places. Here’s why it’s crucial to examine your relationships across all aspects of your life, especially if you’re having a tough time getting along with coworkers.

Creating Our Work Family

“I just don’t understand why my coworker bugs me so much.”

“I work in an office with so much drama. UGH. I hate it!”

“I’m a completely different person when I’m at the office.”

Do you ever wonder why getting along with coworkers is so hard? It may be time to take a look at your relationships in the rest of your life. The truth is, we’re the same everywhere. Chances are if you’re bothered by certain types of people, or if you fall into the drama triangle at work, you’ve probably seen the same patterns at home. Like it or not, pleasing your boss and getting along with your coworkers often mirrors the dynamics you experience with your family.


We spend much of our time at work. So, it’s natural we would build strong relationships. Many people find they’ve recreated their family relationships and dynamics at the office after years at work.


That hard-to-please mother? She’s your boss. Your easy-going relationship with your dad? You might see the same dynamic at play with your favorite manager. That coworker who pushes your buttons and pisses you off? He has the same traits as your brother (and probably gets under your skin for the same reasons).

We automatically recreate our expectations of the world and our relationships right there in our office from 9-5. So, if you want to start getting along with your coworkers, it’s important to remember—the dynamics are all relative!

The Hierarchy of Authority at the Office

Within most workplaces, there is a hierarchy of authority. Well, guess what—growing up, we also experienced a hierarchy of authority. For most of us, the authority came from our parents, but no matter how our family was structured, there was a power dynamic at play.

In most households, Mom and Dad were the first authority figures in your life. Your relationship with them is reflected in your relationships with your coworkers and feelings toward authority figures throughout your life (whether you like it or not).

Let’s say you had authoritarian parents who were very demanding. Well, you probably learned to resist them. Possibly, you learned to passive-aggressively resist them by not doing exactly what they wanted. Or you learned to openly get mad and fight them. Welcome to your authority issues today.


If you were competitive or in conflict with your parents, you’re probably going to struggle at the office when you feel bossed around (which is, as we all know, a natural part of work).


If your parents were inconsistent and the hierarchy and the power balance between you were hard to figure out, you’ll often see this same scenario play out again as authority issues at work. You may struggle to figure out your boss. You may feel the need to question your manager or balk at orders and instructions. Or you may put on an air of agreeability but bemoan the orders the moment your manager is out the door.

All these reactions speak volumes about the way you view authority today, as well as the authority you were raised with when you were growing up. Eventually, you’ll face similar feelings in the workplace to those you experienced in your childhood and felt toward your parents. It’s a natural, normal part of human behavior.

But What if Your Boss is a Jerk?

Many people realize they have authority issues but identify the problem as, “my boss is a jerk.” When we pin the problem entirely on the personality of our boss, we fail to recognize these issues stem from and exist within us. Don’t like your situation at work? You have the power to explore and change your relationship with authority.

You were born in your family issues—long before you had any say in the matter. But recognizing this truth will help empower you. Even if your boss or coworkers are vastly different from your parents, you will eventually create and experience the same patterns over and over again that you played out during your childhood. It’s essential to explore these dynamics and their origin, especially if you’re finding it challenging to get along with your coworkers.

Another family pattern that’s become especially common these days is what we refer to as the super enmeshed family. This is where the family is overly involved in a person’s life, and they fail to separate once they reach adulthood. The enmeshment stems from parents who are highly focused on the happiness of their kids.

While wanting your kids to be happy is positive, it’s possible to pin your identity and focus entirely on your children. What ends up happening with super enmeshed parents is their kids don’t know if they’re living for their own happiness or their parents’ happiness. We’re seeing this type of dynamic more and more in the age of the “helicopter parent.”


What happens to those who grew up in super enmeshed families? We see people who grow into middle age without ever really becoming adults. They never truly disconnect from their parents and learn to function as whole, adult human beings.


This plays out in relationships with friends and family, at work, and even within romantic relationships. This over-parenting leads to a lack of independence, confidence, and ability to make decisions.

So, what does this mean for you? Do you want to break free from the patterns? Do you believe they don’t affect you? Well, first of all, tough luck.

You take your family everywhere. It’s impossible to avoid recreating the dynamics because it’s an integral part of your programming and part of human nature. You will find your parents’ traits in others throughout your life. If you can’t find the traits of your parents right away within the people you meet, then you’ll recreate those relationship dynamics as your connection develops.

No matter what your relationship with your parents was like (and there are no perfect parents out there, so if you think your parents were “saints,” think again), you will see this play out in your relationships later. We call this your unfinished business.

Understanding Your Unfinished Business to Start Getting Along with Coworkers

The realization we’re carrying around our familial issues is tough to take. Most of us don’t love the idea. It may even make us feel angry. The good news in all of this is your work relationships create an excellent opportunity to explore your unfinished business and apply personal growth lessons in the real world.

If we’re interested in learning, growing, and becoming more complete human beings, then our work relationships provide us with an excellent chance to really explore our dynamics with others. At work, you have a perfect laboratory of sorts to look at how your relationships play out; to think about how getting along with your coworkers or not getting along with coworkers mirrors your connections with your family members.

In an ideal setting, you are the authority in your own life. You embrace the power within you, and consequentially, you fully acknowledge the authority of those over you, such as in a work setting, without resentment. In fact, in an ideal situation you, empower those authorities without undue competitiveness or anger.

But of course, most of us still have growing to do. We have unfinished business to address!


We all face a challenge to become whole and complete human beings. It’s incumbent on each of us to address our unfinished business so we become more honest and straightforward communicators.


It’s not about simply “tolerating” or getting along with your coworkers, but rather digging in and understanding why you click (or why you don’t click).

One of the best steps we can take to improve and understand our work life is to realize that our work dynamics are relative—a direct reflection of our family of origin.

Work gives us a great sandbox to experiment with these dynamics and explore our connections. So, look around at the people you like a lot at work. Who do those people remind you of in your family? Then take a look at the people who get under your skin. Who do they remind you of? Push yourself to explore the lesson at hand. What immaturity and unfinished business are you bringing to the office?

For more on building your relationships and power at work, explore our courses available on Wright Now. We offer an array of webinars and virtual classes to help you connect with others and learn more about yourself.

 


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

 

 

Express Your Likes
to Get MORE

Are you pressing the “like” button in real life? Do you know how to express your likes? What are your likes anyway?

Express yourself and your likes and see how you can get more out of life.


When we hear “likes,” many of us think of social media. We’re always “liking” and “sharing” on Facebook and Instagram, right? Chances are if you’ve spent any time on social media today, you’ve expressed a few likes already. But are those “likes” really giving you the same satisfaction as telling someone what you like in real life?  What about receiving likes in return? Yes, we may get a quick thrill when we see that a friend liked our photo or commented on our post, but that boost is fleeting. We see it, and it’s quickly forgotten.

Suppose you’re looking for a deeper satisfaction than a “thumbs up” on Facebook. In that case, it may be time to explore how expressing, sharing, and receiving likes from your social circle can lead to greater connections and engagement. It’s time to boost your “like” life!

Why Don’t You Express Your Likes?

So we all express likes on social media, but when we like something in real life, we might not say anything at all. We could get even more of a mental and emotional boost from real-life likes, but they go unexpressed.

Many times, when we like something our friend, coworker or partner says or does, we hold back or let it go. Sometimes we even hold back from expressing simple likes—a movie we enjoyed, a song we like, an activity we enjoy. Why is that? It seems counter-intuitive, right?

There are several reasons we might not speak up about our likes (and dislikes). We may think it’s unimportant or unnecessary to speak up. Or we may fear the vulnerability that can come from expressing the truth. We know that when we express our likes, we’re opening ourselves up. We’re sharing something that touched us, spoke to our emotions, or struck our fancy. Stating that truth opens us up to another person coming along and saying, “What’s wrong with you. That’s stupid!”


In reality, if we enjoy something, then someone else’s feelings about it shouldn’t change our opinion. Liking is an emotional response that comes from within. There are no “bad” emotions. If someone doesn’t share our sentiment, it doesn’t make our feelings any less valid.


Sometimes, we may hold back from expressing our likes because we forget to appreciate the moment. We get busy, and mindfulness goes out the window. We zone out and become less conscious of what is happening around us. We forget about the power that comes from affirming and liking others. We overlook the positivity expressing likes can bring into our lives. We naturally move towards pleasure and away from pain—the more we intend and express our likes, the more pleasant experiences and things we’ll draw to us.

Sometimes we aren’t sure what we like, but we often know what we dislike. It’s also worth noting that sometimes “dislikes” can come from fear. When someone proclaims their dislike of an activity, it may be stemming from insecurity and uncertainty. We think we don’t like it, because we can’t do it well—the activity is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. It forces us out of our comfort zone.  We think to ourselves, “I don’t like this.”

To the same end, we should be careful about quickly judging what we don’t like. Often, those judgments reflect activities or behaviors that aren’t yet familiar to us, that we really don’t have experience with, or that are new and strange to us. To know what we like, we need to experiment even more to see how things truly affect us, rather than deciding ahead of time. Perhaps if we experimented, we might be surprised to find we actually like it!

Get More Likes by Giving More Likes

If you want to get more likes in your life, it’s simple. You need to put forth more likes first. When talking about likes, think of positive affirmations, compliments, pats on the back, and “way to go” cheers. When we compliment someone and share positive feedback, we’re creating a connection. We’re creating a ripple effect of positivity. We’re building a rapport.

The easiest way to start a conversation with a stranger? Compliment them! Now don’t just make it up, of course. Look at them, listen to them—be present and ENGAGE with them. When this happens, we’re seeing them for who they really are, and we will often notice real things we like about them. Speak up and even more positive aspects will come to light. Authentic compliments are powerful stuff.

When a person receives positive feedback or a “like” in real life, they instantly feel drawn to the person who gave it to them. They feel more positively toward the feedback-giver. Suppose you want someone to like you, then like them first–this is called reciprocal liking, and sociologists have found that this technique works in building friendships, relationships, and work partnerships. When we like someone, they often will naturally like us back.

Meaningful likes are even better for building that connection. Think about how great we feel when a coworker tells us that we did a great job in a meeting, or they were impressed by the way we handled a situation. Yes, it’s nice to get a compliment on our hair, shoes, or choice of outfit, but it’s even more fulfilling when another person notices us for our actions and positive attributes.


When someone recognizes our intent and meets it with positive affirmation, we feel seen and recognized.


Now, many of us may feel strange about giving affirmations to get, right? It’s not really a compliment if the intention is only to receive one back. But when we’re present, engaged, and in the moment, a genuine compliment comes naturally. We’re connecting with another person, and they will see us in the light for who we truly are. We’re putting forth positivity and will receive positivity in return.

Not only does affirming, liking, and giving out positivity bring positivity back to us, but it also simply makes us feel good. When we express likes for someone or something, we feel a surge of affirmation.

As we grow and seek a life of more fulfillment, we may find ourselves liking even more. The more satisfaction we have in our lives, the more we bring to us. We call this FLOW. The more fulfilled we are, the more we radiate and bring in even more positivity.  You will radiate and attract more of whatever it is you want—that’s the real law of attraction.

How Liking Speaks to Our Deeper Yearning

When we tell a coworker or friend we like what they are doing, they’re more likely to do it again. Our desire, expressed through our agreement, has encouraged them to continue their behavior or way of being. On many levels, our likes create momentum in the direction we desire.

Genuine liking reflects our deepest yearning—what nourishes and fulfills us. When we like, we’re expressing our yearning to be seen, to be heard, to be affirmed.


Our words have power because we’re declaring a position and making a commitment. A “like”—something we like or are agreeable to—suggests we have a desire, a passion. We feel attracted to or take pleasure in someone’s actions, and our “like” impacts that person.


Our agreements also hold great power. When we agree, it suggests harmony of opinion, action, or character. We strengthen the position of or increase the value of whatever we agree with. Conversely, studies have shown that when we disagree with others, they tune us out (and strengthen their own opinion).  We often influence an outcome by merely aligning to it or finding parts of it that we can align to.

Our agreement not only promotes a statement or concept but also reflects a position or a stand we’re taking. And agreements don’t always need to be spoken. Our silent agreement is just as powerful (sometimes more powerful) than our spoken words.

Discover the power of liking and agreeing. Experiment and develop more clearly defined preferences by expressing likes and agreeing in business meetings and with family. We can let people know our likes and agreements. Show people what we like and what we agree with by language like, “I really like…” and “I agree with…” Lead with the positive to build rapport throughout the interaction.

As we build up our “like” muscle, we’ll learn to better express preferences with employees, coworkers, family, and friends. We should like and agree with things that are good for us, serve us, empower us, and fulfill us. By doing so, we’ll reinforce movement, activities, people, and directions. We’ll get MORE of what we want in our life by learning to “like” in real life.

If you’re ready to receive more positivity and boost your “like life,” start expressing your likes today! Explore our personal development courses to help you get more of what you want out of life. We have an array of informative courses available for streaming on Wright Now. Start getting the life you want today!


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Engaging in Silence:
The Art of Active Listening

Wish you were better at active listening? Here’s how to unlock one of the most potent conversational tools.

In conversation between two people, active listening is vital for real, genuine connection.

 


When we’re involved in a conversation, we may often forget that one of the most powerful engagement tools we have is silence.

Often, we’re eager to fill up space in our social interactions by talking and chatter. We may even find silence is…well, a little unnerving.

So what do we do instead? We discuss the time, the weather, current events, and “thank goodness it’s Friday.” This is often merely conversational noise meant to make others and ourselves more comfortable because silence feels awkward.

Yet, in silence there is power. We learn more by active listening with intent. In fact, silence is integral to engagement.  If we want to engage and truly connect with someone, we must do more than talk and hear; we must learn active listening.

Get Better at Active Listening

We’ve all heard the guidelines for active listening skills:

  • Nod.
  • Repeat the most recent points.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Mirror actions.
  • Keep our body language open.

But it’s entirely possible to do all those actions without really connecting with our conversation partner. We may think we’re practicing active listening by hearing what others are saying. We might nod along, even mimic their facial expressions, or reiterate all the conversational points back to them.


And while these are all excellent active listening skills, the real question becomes—are we just “hearing” their voice, or are we actually engaging fully with our conversation partner?


Are we present with them in the moment? Do they have our full attention? Are we holding the space together? Are we unlocking the meaning of the dialogue? Did we set our intention to truly meet the other person and get the most out of the interaction?

For those who aren’t familiar with “engagement,” the concept may seem like just a more intense way of paying attention. What does it mean to really engage? As discussed in the book, Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living, engagement is more than listening:

Are you engaged at work? As a parent? With your spouse or partner? When you take the train to work or when you go to church? When you jog in the morning and when you read a book at night? Are you engaged in your overall life project—not just a work project with a tight deadline or an interesting home project?

If you’re like most people, you’re scratching your head and wondering what we’re really asking. Some of you may believe that engaging means paying attention. You listen to every word your husband says (and could even repeat it back). Some of you may think it means focusing on the task at hand. You concentrate on your work assignments and don’t allow your attention to wander.

These are all forms of engagement, but they are probably not full engagement because you have feelings, urges, and yearnings that you aren’t bringing to bear.

Engaging is a deeper and wider concept than just listening or concentrating, though these are important elements of engaging…. Understand that to be truly engaged, your yearning and your emotions must be involved.

Get Emotionally Involved

To be engaged with others, we need to allow our emotions to surface and show. We don’t avoid topics because they’re too in-depth or too personal. We jump into those meaty, juicy topics and speak the truth.


Engagement means being involved fully—with our heart, mind, and soul. It means being willing to step out of our comfort zone, stretch, and push ourselves further. Engagement begets a spark—an internal fire.


To be engaged is to be passionate about the situation—it means we care about the person we’re talking to. We understand what they’re saying, and we empathize. We’re focused intently, speaking honestly and openly. We’re aware of WHAT we’re saying and how it might affect the other party. We’re also mindful of what the other party is saying and how it’s causing us to feel and react. Engagement is energizing, moving, and powerful. It is brought by a sense of fulfillment and purpose—working toward a vision.

This level of conversation probably doesn’t sound like typical elevator banter or watercooler chatter. This isn’t casual involvement. It’s sharing a real, powerful connection. That said, we can still “go deep” with casual encounters. Imagine the relationships we would build and the social ties we would strengthen if we engaged in authentic conversation all the time.

Once in a while, we might run into someone who really engages with us—the cab driver who asks us about our feelings on a topic, the barista who genuinely wants to know more about our day. We’ve all had the experience where we’re suddenly involved in a meaningful conversation with a new person and might wonder how we ended up there. In fact, when we aren’t used to it, this level of genuine interest may feel unnerving or a little uncomfortable.

But if we push through that discomfort, we might find ourselves with a new social connection. It can feel strange at first because most of us are so used to operating in the shallow end of the engagement pool. We aren’t practicing the art of active listening, so we’re literally out of practice when it comes to building those ties.

When we really engage with others, we’re our most authentic. We’re honest with them and with ourselves. It doesn’t mean we’re always saying what they want to hear or we think they want to hear. We might be saying exactly the opposite—and that’s perfectly okay. Conflict is part of conversation. When we disagree and express it, we’re growing towards a more precise understanding of each other.

Active listening and engagement also don’t mean we’re filling up space or biding our time until we get to share our next thought. We’ve all been in conversations with someone who seems to be waiting for us to finish so they can share. It feels rushed and inauthentic. When we’re truly engaged, we’re present and in the moment. We’re focused on what’s being said, not playing out the next step of the conversation.

Practicing the Art of Great Conversation

It’s been said conversation is an art, and it truly is. Deep and meaningful dialogue—real engagement—requires give and take. It requires sharing and listening, knowing when to open your heart to give, and know when to hold your heart open to receive. Like a painter or a musician, we must refine and hone our craft. We must practice active listening to become better engagers.

How many times have you been part of a great conversation where thoughts were flowing? It’s almost like a dance with the other person. When you’re truly engaged and connected, it comes easily and freely. We may even receive a little pleasure boost or rush because engagement feels so good.


We long to connect with others. The desire to be seen and heard is a universal yearning. Humans want to engage. When we find ourselves holding back, measuring our response, or clamming up, it’s often out of fear. We’re afraid of being rejected or of having our feelings misunderstood. We’re afraid the other person will miss out on our truth, so we hold it back.


Similarly, silence is a powerful tool, yet we wield it as a weapon at times instead of an instrument. When we find ourselves giving someone the cold shoulder or engaging in passive-aggressive behavior, we’re misusing and weaponizing the power of silence.

Because silence is such a powerful tool, it instantly conveys a feeling. We’ve all been in a meeting when a topic was presented someone didn’t like. What do they do? They sit back, tighten their lips and even fold their arms across their chest. They’re literally closing themselves off right in front of the group. They’re putting up their shield, ready to fight with disengagement.

On the other hand, when someone’s listening and engaged, their eyes light up! Suddenly their arms are unfolded and relaxed. They might turn toward the other speaker, lean in, and even mirror their body language. Active listening involves energy. When we respond with a positive silent presence, we’re also tapping into the power of silence. Instead of using it as a weapon, we’re using it as a tool—think of it as a basket—to catch, carry and hold the conversation.

We all want to be seen and held in positive regard. We want to be listened to. When we offer positive listening company to another person, we’re meeting these important, nearly universal yearnings—to be seen and heard. We’re lifting them up. We’re engaging with them, and consequently, they will also become more engaged back. This reciprocity is the very foundation of great conversation!

So, if we’re hoping to connect with those in our lives more deeply, if we would like to have more confidence, a stronger presence, and even become a better leader, practice the art of silence. Learn active listening skills and truly hear what the other person says. Don’t work to fill the silence. Simply be present and aware in the moment.

For more ways to discover personal power, we offer many of our development courses online. Discover new insights and opportunities for growth. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to bring out your best.

 


The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.