Paula is the only woman in the building.
And you guessed it. The “good ol’ boy” network wasn’t sending referrals her way. For years, this crushed her business. For years, it was her story.
But then (after coming to my Uplevel Your Business retreat), Paula chose to drop this story, to step into her power as a leader, and start creating her own outcomes by Upleveling her marketing, her positioning, and her clients’ experience.
Well, guess what? It worked.
In a short time, she doubled the number of clients she had the prior year. PLUS, her team got happier – and she was in control of her business for the first time in a long time.
And guess what else?
The “boys” weren’t happy about it.
One day out of the blue, they confronted her about the extra work she’d done. They accused her of not honoring “the group.”
In situations like this, most of us react. In an instant, we rush AWAY from our center and rush TOWARD the drama. We want everyone to know that “Wait just a bloomin’ minute! We’re the ones who are the victims here!”
And that’s what Paula did.
“Sure, you can say we’re a ‘group,’ but none of you were referring anyone to me – so I had no choice but to do something about it.” (In other words? She was helpless! They forced her into taking action!)
Eventually, Paula made it through the conflict, but she felt bruised by the conversation and wanted some coaching.
Here’s what I told her:
When you Uplevel, the people in your life often don’t know how to face their own feelings or reactions, so they might try to “hook” you with drama. They may accuse you of causing harm to them, rather than claiming their own feelings.
This can catch you off guard – and suddenly, you find that, instead of standing in your power, you want them to know that YOU are the real victim.
Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, calls this “racing to occupy the victim position in the relationship.” He writes that almost every argument among couples is about this dynamic of trying to be the victim. (Just think the times you’ve said, “Well, YOU’RE the one who…”)
Even though this wasn’t a marriage, Paula raced to the victim position. She stepped out of her power and personal responsibility.
It’s understandable, of course. But there’s a way to stay clear in the face of conflict.
Here’s what to do:
1 – Get present.
When you are caught “off guard,” it means that your focus falters. In any situation where someone accuses you or hooks you into a drama, the very first thing to do is call on your most powerful tool: Your attention. Be fully in your body and call your attention to the present moment.
2 – Put off the conversation for 24 hours.
When the time comes for your response, thank the person for their observations. Let them know that you’d like to address each one, but that you would like to schedule time later in the week. Assure the person that you will be able to give him a higher level of attention when you meet.
3 – Remember the drama triangle.
Many people spend their entire lives moving from position to position on the drama triangle: perpetrator, victim and rescuer. Be aware of this and get clear on your response by making sure that you are not playing into the drama triangle. Step out of it and find a more powerful platform to speak from!
4 – Take time to explore the accusations.
When you are quiet and centered, ask yourself if there was any truth in the accusations. If there were highly-charged accusations, shift to language that is neutral. See if you can find any lesson or truth in what was said.
5 – Share your intentions. Admit your mistakes.
When the time comes, start by thanking the person for his observations. Tell him you’d like to address each point he made and ask him if he’d be willing to listen until you are complete.
Share your intentions, and admit where you messed up or could have done something better.
The end result will be a higher level of communication and resolution.
The coolest thing about NOT racing for the victim position is that you learn how to handle yourself OUTSIDE of the drama triangle. You learn that there is a more powerful way to respond than the knee-jerk methods that have been modeled for us all our lives.
In the coming weeks, Paula was able to communicate with her colleagues more clearly, and slowly the conflict was resolved. (They even began asking her for marketing advice!) She felt an even stronger sense of her own power, and was no longer scared of unexpected conflicts. She had a way to handle them!
So, what do YOU think?
This is a topic people rarely talk about when it comes to their businesses, so please add your thoughts, experiences or questions below. I’d love to chat with you about this!