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Our 2020 New Year’s Resolutions (C)

I resolve to be more positive as I demonstrate my respect for and pleasure with the successes and accomplishments of other people. The key here for me is to respect the achievements of others and actively demonstrate my respect and the pleasure I experience when they do well. Respect in this context includes holding the other person and the action or accomplishment in high esteem, feeling delighted, and actively expressing approval.

I resolve to resist the temptation to expect others to always do as well as they sometimes do. I know that is both unreasonable and counterproductive. The unspoken or perhaps spoken message is, “You aren’t giving it your best effort. You should always do as well as you did before. This applies to a sales person making an unusually big sale, a scientist making a new discovery, a team winning the big game, and so on but also applies to less consequential events and activities. It’s appropriate to expect excellent performance but I know that expecting exceptional or perfect performance every time is a sure way to demoralize and frustrate any person.

I resolve to be sure I am not using my position or authority to run roughshod over other people. I know to deal with people and problems directly and assertively. I also know that many people in positions of authority like pointing out that they always place the blame squarely on the person who did not get the job done. This is, from my point of view, a sure sign that the person in authority knows nothing about people. When a job doesn’t get done or doesn’t get done as well as expected, it’s obvious that someone didn’t get the job done. It’s also frequently easy to see who didn’t get it done. At that point, the authority junkie is quick to point a finger, “The job didn’t get done and you are the one who didn’t get it done.” Here is the glitch. The authority junkie’s approach usually appears to work. The problem doesn’t recur, performance improves, the job gets done the next time. At the same time, people become more cautious, less creative, and more concerned about avoiding the authority junkie’s ire than in developing better ways to do the job and continuously improving their performance. “Good enough” becomes the standard, good enough to avoid the pointing finger of the authority junkie. For me, the alternative to blaming and finger pointing needs to be automatic. “This is disappointing. You must be at least as frustrated as I am about it. Can we see if we can figure out how to get a better outcome next time? What would help? How can I help?” Sure, enough is enough at times, even for me. People need to be held accountable and deal with the consequences of poor performance. For me though, this needs to be a down-the-road eventuality and never where I start.

I resolve to remember that some people have a short fuse, are highly reactive, and are ready to go to war over anything, while other people are tired, frustrated, anxious, stressed, and atypically touchy and contentious. Either way, I’ll conscientiously manage my interactions, emotions, reactions, and behavior in ways that minimize conflict, animosity, and contentiousness. This doesn’t mean that I’ll hold back, equivocate, or be reluctant to pursue my point of view, opinion, or expectation. To the contrary, I’m typically assertive, clear, and forthcoming. My point here is that conflicts and disagreements are managed as negotiations and not as arguments and battles. Confrontation and power games are seldom the best choice for resolving friction points and personality clashes. I have far better and more effective tools at hand and am going to focus more on taking care to use them instead of resorting to emotionally charged war games.

I resolve to more consistently project a calm, conciliatory demeanor, avoiding any tendency to be harsh or abrasive, even when confronted by animosity or hostility from others. At the same time, I’ll do better presenting an aura of firmness, control, and self-confidence. I’ll work to be more self-contained, neither intruding into the personal space of others nor permitting others to intrude uninvited into mine, thereby letting me process reality with less interference or emotional clutter.