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Principle 2. Step Away from Personal Gains and Losses

What often stops one person from reaching out to build trust with another are negative beliefs. Sometimes these beliefs are about the other person: “He manipulative,” “she is controlling,” for example. Listening to rather than questioning these beliefs, we convince ourselves of the hostility of others’ motives. Sometimes the negative beliefs are also about ourselves; for instance, “Who am I to think I have something to offer.” And sometimes it is a cloudy combination of the two. These negative belief sets usually hide some type of longed-for gain for who we are or some feared loss. For example, if I win an argument, I may feel personally validated in getting my way. But I also feel (and this is the true gain) more empowered and secure. If I lose the argument, however, perhaps I’ll not only have to go along with someone else’s “win,” but I’ll also then be subject to derogatory judgments from myself and from others. I’ll fear for my reputation for being better than others.

Some common things people like to gain are “winning,” “being right,” “being smart,” “my way” and/or “being good,” “changing the situation,” “changing the relationship,” “changing the other person.” Some common things people fear losing are “influence or power,” “security,” “accomplishment,” “personal freedom,” “reputation and stature,” “relationships,” “current position, rewards or perks.”

When you begin to disconnect from these potential gains and losses, all representing some form of self-interest or self-protection, you can begin to frame reaching out from within the context of your own “best self” or “true self,” which often turns out to be more “selfless.” Stepping away from gains and losses is powerful precisely because in working to do so we experience our real underlying addictions to the hopes and fears that run our lives for us. We can begin to see those hopes and fears collectively as a single snakeskin and once that snakeskin becomes conscious it immediately also becomes too small to suit us any longer. We begin to feel the process of reaching out as breaking through our own constrictions.

Perhaps the most important aspect of detachment from gains and losses is that we become less concerned with outcomes. We may not be able to change or influence a situation or a person at all. But that does not change the motive force of our own growth and learning through the act of reaching out. There are absolutely no guarantees that our actions will change anything at all. In fact, they could lead to either gains or losses. But once we are free of those gains and losses – all of them – and we bring that true self forward, clarity, confidence, and real choices become more available.

Case Study: George lost a potential promotion, and in doing so quickly found himself with a new boss, Oscar, hired from outside the corporation. George knew Oscar was aware he had also applied, he but never brought that up and frankly, it was hard for George to know where he stood. Some days it seemed like Oscar was being cool, reserved and, in a small way, judgmental. Other days, he seemed more comfortable and outgoing. However, one day, about six months after George was hired, he made an odd comment at a staff meeting that suggested George was "still holding a grudge" about losing the promotion. It was one of those comments that seemed to be intended as a joke -- but uncomfortably so. George let it go by in the moment but after a week he was still thinking about it and wondered about his reputation. Did Oscar really think he was had been angry? Was he "power-tripping" by making his comment? George also felt frustrated that Oscar had never approached him or opened up the issue of his feelings about not being promoted. As he considered the situation, he found in fact that he did have a few left over sentiments, which Oscar's off hand comment had caused to come to the surface. It all seemed he was being judged unfairly. He decided it was time to reach out to Oscar and break down the subtle wall of ambiguity that might interfere with their work and communication. In order to do that he would found he needed to put aside his desire to judge Oscar for not approaching him first, judge himself "right" or worry about any "loss of face." He immediately set a time to meet with Oscar to "recalibrate" their relationship by talking through his experiences since Oscar came on board and learn more about Oscar's. As soon as he opened the conversation, Oscar apologized for his remark and welcoming the opportunity to get to know George better.

Links to the other principles:

1. Draw on inner strength

3. Focus on both the good and the true

4. Connect through appreciation and ownership

5. Engage to stay engaged