Friday, May 14, 2010

What is Holding You Back in Life? Part II:

Fourth Killer Constraint: The Critic (Too Demanding, Nitpicky, or Harsh)

Critics tend to be very intelligent, and at the heart of their nature, I believe they are the world’s problem solvers. They see the flaws of this world and they have the answer. However, they could really work on their delivery and their attitude. No one enjoys constant criticism (even if you add the word “constructive” to it). Critics tend to focus on the flaws, so the flaws become so big in their mind that they can’t see anything else. Critics don’t take time to smell the roses, they just complain about the thorns. Critics can also be very judgmental, and they love building cases against people or organizations. Critics can be near impossible to live with and they often times end up isolated and alone.

One of the most important things for a Critic to learn is restraint. Critics need to earn the right to give input and opinion, especially if it is a negative one. I came across this article about how the brain process negative information vs. positive information and found this quote to be very interesting: “How many positives are needed to offset one negative? At least two-to-one, experts say. Researchers have concluded that when applying this formula to our most intimate relationships, the ratio of positives must be even higher. Among those researchers is psychologist Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington. Gottman says the formula should be five-to-one for married couples.” Here is the link if you would like to read the entire article:

Critics would be wise to keep that ratio in mind, two-to-one in normal relationships, five-to-one in intimate relationships. Flip says that children who have critics as parents are “destined to have a fear of failure.” (pg. 92)

How do you deal with a critic? Validation is extremely important to a Critic. Telling them they make good points and communicating to them that you will take their advice into consideration will greatly reduce their anxiety, and it will model for them how to interact with others in a positive fashion.

Try not to take it personally when a Critic comes at you with all of their opinions. It’s not really about you, it’s about the way they see the world. If you are feeling overwhelmed, tell them. And ask them if they could point out the positives along with the negatives.

Fifth Killer Constraint: Icebergs (Low Nurturing)

Icebergs are the world’s highest achievers. They are independent trail-blazers that work best alone, and they have little or no value for other people. It’s not that they don’t love others, it’s that generally they don’t need others. I believe Icebergs were born to run ahead of the crowd in order to discover new things. Their nature is to do it alone. But because of this, they can seem very cold, distant, unloving and devoid of affection. Icebergs usually don’t say out-loud what they are feeling or thinking inside. So they may feel very passionate about someone or something, but they don’t remember to express it. This in turn makes the people around them feel shut out. Icebergs think logically not emotionally. Flip says “They can be distant, demanding parents, and they make tough, detached bosses.” (pg. 97)

My oldest son, Nick tested very high on the Iceberg scale. I’ve been working with him to develop this constraint at a young age, because I know if I left it and didn’t address it, it could really hold him back in life. One thing I’ve done is constantly stressed to him that right now he doesn’t feel like he “needs” his brothers, but one day he will. One day they will be his best friends and they will share their ups and downs of life, and be there for each other like no one else will. I told him one day, “Nick, you don’t even like sleeping alone so you need your brothers just to sleep at night.” He thought about it and said very non-emotionally “Well, I only need one of them to sleep at night.” Hehe, let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Icebergs need to change the way they see others. They need to see that people all around them have true value. Not because of what they can do for you, but because of who they are. Training themselves to outwardly show value and affection for people will make them much more approachable.

How do you deal with Icebergs? It is best to be direct. Asking questions like, “do you love me, do you like what I did, are you mad at me?” will work well with them. Think of them as a well of information that you have to patiently draw from. And remember, they are not purposely withholding information. It is just not natural for them to offer it up. Be prepared for them to accuse you of being needy. It’s not you, it’s them.

Sixth Killer Constraint: Flatliners (Low Passion, Vision or Drive)

Flatliners struggle with accomplishing anything. They are very indecisive and they often times float through life trying to find where they fit in. They have a hard time identifying what they are good at and feel like they don’t know themselves very well. Many times they are able to maintain a lifestyle like this because somewhere someone is supporting them (usually enabling parents, sometimes an enabling spouse). Passivity can be devastating. Flip states that research has found that passion and drive are learned behavioral traits. But once you pass the age of 30, it is extremely difficult to develop those two things.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “If you do what you love and are passionate about, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Flatliners really need to find something that brings them joy, and then pour their energy into that thing. Flatliners also need to get rid of excuses they have been using their whole lives, show up early and push themselves harder.

Without Flatliners in the world everyone would be super uptight. It’s ok to appreciate easy-going laid-back personalities. To motivate them though, offer small rewards for completed tasks or goals. Baby steps are the key for Flatliners. Small successes will build their confidence and soon they will have large successes.

Next blog: Bulldozers, Turtles, Volcanos, and Quick Draws.

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