26.10 20140

Environmentally Conscious Relationships

There is a lot of focus now on being green… being environmentally conscious. What does that really mean? It means making conscious decisions about how to treat your environment and choosing options that are not only good for the moment but are also good for the future. It means being sustainable. Not taking more than you are giving. This sort of awareness of how we treat our environment should also extend to what kind of environment that we create in our emotional world.  We should learn to have environmentally conscious relationships.

Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? Basically you become a dumping ground for the other person’s toxic materials. How does this happen? It usually starts in a small way… you tolerate a little bad behavior, and then before you know it, you are a dump for the mother load of stinking, rotten, bad behavior. The toxic person is only concerned about themselves and their needs. You feel hurt, taken advantage of and angry. Sure, your life is colorful, but instead of thinking green all you can do is see red, and the angry red takes over.

Passive aggressive behavior is the breeding ground for toxic relationships. Direct communication is the only cure. You have to open a dialogue to a possible resolution. If the toxic person is not open to the conversation, then you will know where you stand in the relationship and make future positive plans to move on.

I coach teams to become green and rid themselves of toxic waste through a direct communication exercise conducted frequently called retrospective. Feelings are often a topic of retrospectives, and thus many teams want to avoid them and say that they are not a best use of time. You can always tell teams that practice retrospectives from the ones that do not. Some measures of the level of toxicity will be demeanor of the people, productivity, and turnover.

There are some symptoms that you will feel if you are on a toxic team; the same ones you experience in a toxic personal relationship. If toxicity is high, it will seem like you cannot do anything right. Everything will always be about others and never about you. You may find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with the team or uncomfortable being yourself around team members. You will feel stifled and not allowed to grow and change.

How do you manage a toxic team or individual relationship? There are some generally accepted guidelines for managing a negative situation. First, you have to step out of denial and acknowledge that the situation is detrimental to your well-being and that the situation is holding you back from achieving your potential. You have to identify how you feel in the present and what the perks are, if any, of maintaining the relationship. You can soothe yourself by finding alternative sources of positivity outside the team or relationship… filling the hole that is missing. Being surrounded with people focusing on the art of the possible will allow you to work toward healing until you are at a point that you can let go and move on if necessary.

Hopefully, your team or relationship can be salvaged before this point. Good retrospectives are a great place to start. It is important to remember that what we say and do is never as important as how we make people feel. This quote from Maya Angelou is a pearl of wisdom, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you make them feel.”

Change the color of your relationships… move from red to green. Make conscious choices about how to treat the people around you. Choose actions that are not only good for the moment but also good for the future. Have sustainable relationships… don’t take more than you give. As Kermit the Frog says “It’s not eazee being green,” but it is well worth the effort. The benefits are long-lasting; they echo into the future.

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