an Integral Enneagram of Consciousness; a model of consciousness, including
all aspects, for designing practical
paths of personal development and evolution.
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Clipping the Wire
Regardless of our best intentions, it seems that certain people or
situations trigger a reaction. Either we have a kind of knee-jerk,
unconscious reaction that creates a mess, or we freeze in our tracks,
trying not to have a reaction at all. This freeze up is kind of like
"not thinking about a pink elephant," and you know how well that works.
The subject of being triggered or triggering others is too broad to take
on in its entirety here, so for now let’s focus on the linguistics part
of the show. Words and language affect triggers, or become triggers in
themselves, so what can we do to minimize conflict and maximize
effective communication? Those of you familiar with my work, whether
through coaching, writing, or speaking, know that circumventing these
triggers is a big part of what I help people do. In many ways, it’s like
defusing a bomb. You need to either clip the wire, or re-wire the
Low Hanging Fruit
We like to get results as quickly and easily as possible, so let’s look
at some verbal triggers that are so general as to not even need specific
language. When we’re paying attention, we can see them way ahead of
time, and not get caught by them.
For the most part, people are pretty focused on themselves (I hope I'm
not shocking anyone here) and a great deal of what we take personally is
absolutely not about us. You see, we tend toward projecting (again, big
surprise?) The expression "it takes one to know one" and "it takes a
thief to catch a thief" were born of this kind of projection and
extrapolation. So what’s the action step?
Whenever someone accuses you of something (their words dripping with
judgment) you can pretty much be assured that they’re telling you
exactly what they can’t stand about themselves. This is an extension of
the old “ if that were me” projection.
For example, someone says, “you can’t make it as an artist!” Rather than
reacting to whether or not you feel you can, or you want their support,
or any of the other roads you could go down, the most likely meaning of
their statement was: “I don’t think I could make it as an artist.” Their
motivation for trying to dissuade you is a whole other conversation.
What you need to do is remember to not take it personally, and listen to
their “confession of anxiety” in their accusation or judgment.
When you recognize that they’re indeed confessing their own anxieties,
it’s much easier to feel compassion toward them, rather than be
triggered into defenses or arguments.
The Other Side -
As communication is a very two-way street, there are things that you may
say that can trigger the other person. This is a far more difficult
situation to avoid (unless you know them and their triggers well). You
can have the most innocent of intentions, and it’s almost shocking when
they blow up at you, or withdraw and disappear.
Again, let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’re trying to connect with
someone, and you share a common ailment or issue with them, with the
intention that this commonality will bring you closer together. If the
other person hasn’t reconciled or come to terms with this issue, your
intention could be completely lost on them, and all they hear is you
pointing out what they’re miserable about. They might even react to your
desire for connection as an attempt to steal their spotlight, as it’s
all about them and their issue.
This pushes their trigger, and they go reactive. There’s not a lot you
can do here, except to apologize for pushing their button, and probably
back off. Trying to “correct their perception” will rarely work in the
moment, because they’re too consumed with their own reaction. The play
button has been pushed on their internal audio device, and there’s no
room for input.
There are very specific triggers that are primarily semantic in nature,
and these can be dealt with using more conscious communication. As our
view of the world shapes the words, images, and metaphors of our
language, you can reverse engineer from the words back to a person’s
If someone sees the world in very qualitative ways, with many
possibilities and contingencies, speaking in absolutistic terms can
trigger them into reactive behavior. The opposite is of course just as
true, and an absolutistic person is very triggered by qualifying
language. They’re likely to react with “It is or it isn’t!!” “Give me a
yes or a no answer!”
Being able to recognize the linguistic cues that people give you, so
that you can match them in their communication style gives you the
ability to create much faster rapport with them. Being able to create
better rapport may be the single most important skill-set you can
develop for your business and personal relationships.
The reason people buy from you, listen to you, hire you, or want to date
you, is how easily they feel they can connect with you, and most
importantly of all, how much they feel that you “get them” and their
experience. We all want to be heard or seen, and when you can give
someone that, you’re immediately on their team.
Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible?
Want to grab your life with both hands and
make it intentional and extraordinary? Come visit the
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contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.
- Ian J. Blei
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Institute for Integral Enneagram
Without Losing Your Soul
about you having
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Circumstances will always be
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is written for you,
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We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The
good news is: they can be overcome. The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."
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