Tag Archives: assumptions

More Flies With Honey…

Summer is almost over. Frankly, I enjoy stretching the “untangling money” frame of this blog a bit more in the summer, so here’s a last hurrah. The topic is something my clients and I often talk about. It comes up when they have a weird client, a grumpy mate, a looming conflict. It’s the “Jane, you ignorant slut” temptation…

janeRemember the classic danSNL ‘Point/Counter Point’
routines of Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd? Every time he had a comeback or retort, it started with “Jane, you ignorant slut“. It’s a great example of bullying and playing nasty. It’s also a clear example of how NOT to engage in a discussion. The thing that makes it so amusing is the way that Dan delivers this slur in such a neutral, matter of fact tone, as if he’s just stating a simple fact.

Many of our grandmothers, mine included, talked about “catching more flies with honey than you could with vinegar” and I agree, with modifications. Often what they meant, for us girls, was that we should be “sweet” and “modest”…hmmm. That really translated to something more like manipulating others to our way. Sometimes this was effective, but it was never respectful, was it?

Respect is an important component in any relationship. A primary way to achieve that is to keep the disagreement from becoming personal. If we all refrain from slinging mud or attacking someone else’s character, then we might actually get to the issue and get something resolved.

Most people use one of these two options during a conflict or disagreement:

Blame: This one starts with the equivalent of “Jane, you ignorant slut“. It’s full of judgement, criticism and attacks on personality and character.

Complaint: This is a clear, simple statement of the issue, hopefully without emotional hooks attached. You can express how you feel but you’ll be sliding over to the Blame model if you somehow imply that those feelings are the other person’s fault. It’s that old “I” statement model. You make statements about yourself instead about the other person. For example, “I felt left out.” rather than “You ignored me.”

There are a couple of really helpful things to remember in any challenging conversation:

It’s not about you: Yep, even if it sounds like it is, it’s probably not. It may be that you didn’t do what the other person wanted or expected but it’s not about you personally. So before having the conversation, repeat “It’s not about me” to yourself about five times and then do that again.

You are probably making assumptions: We all do that. We assume that the person meant this or that. For example: Many of my clients will assume that the person is going to complain about the cost of something, so they start discounting before they even bring up the price. It’s this thing in their head. They are trying to stop something that might not happen and in the process perpetuating an idea that probably isn’t even true. If you just stated your fee (without a discount) and they complained, you could handle that, couldn’t you? (Ah, yet another blog topic, popping up for next time. Well, look at that! I still managed to make this blog about money…wow!)

The bottom line here is to resist the “Jane, you ignorant slut” temptation and keep it calm and neutral. Try it. I’ll bet you get better results with honey, honey.

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503.258.1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Information Extremes

Around some things we say way too much, and around others not enough.  Sometimes we research and gather data like crazy, sometimes we just wing it. How we gather and process information is yet another place where we do that black/white, on/off, base 2 extreme thinking.  To paraphrase Dr. Phil, let’s take a look at how that’s actually working for us…

What’s really under this thing I’m calling Information Extremes seems to be something about assumptions.   We assume we already know everything we need to know.  We assume we can’t learn more.  We assume others already understand.

I really ran into this when I lived for two very long years in South Carolina.  Now in many ways, this was not the best place on earth for me.   It felt odd.  I didn’t understand the culture or how to maneuver through it.  One of the things that really made it hard was a perspective I named ‘Everybody Knows’.  It worked liked this.  No one felt the need to extremessupply details about places, events or many other things because ‘Everybody knows’.  When the newspaper has a head line that says ‘Fourth of July Fireworks at the Fort’ I actually have some questions.  Questions like which gate do you use, is there a fee, what time does it start, can you bring food, what are the rules of the event.  None of that information was available because ‘Everybody Knows’. Except of course those of us that don’t.  This phenomena extended to all sorts of things including directions to turn at the corner where the filling station was, the one that was torn down 30 years ago was.  It came from this community having done things the same way for many, many years.  Somehow, anyone naïve enough to move there was just supposed to tap into some strange collective unconscious to figure things out.  I know this happens in small towns all over the place, yet the city I was in was the state capital with a university and a large military presence, so I wasn’t by any means the only person who couldn’t qualify for the ‘Everybody Knows’ club.  As you can no doubt tell, I felt less than welcome.

This is a prime example of how we assume the yes/no logic will work.  Long ago in my initial coach training they talked about yes/no not really being a choice.  That really struck me.  Think about politics: are two options really enough?  Aren’t we settling there?  I find I frequently don’t actually get to vote for what I really want, but more for the option that I dislike the least.

It’s like when you are watching the courtroom scene on the telly.  How irritating is it that the person on the stand has to answer yes or no, with no explanation or elaboration allowed.  Creates a pretty narrow view doesn’t it?

Here’s the money piece to this.  We assume we don’t know, and never will.  We assume it’s too hard, too confusing, too scary…too extreme.  We pick feast or famine as a model.  If I’m scared of money and have avoided looking at it, I assume the only way out is to get a green eyeshade and analyzes every money transaction in great detail.

What about the middle?  What about choosing that?  What about taking steps to something new, learning and applying one new skill or tool at a time? What about just looking?  How about a dimmer switch.  I love those things.  I have options between all the light or no light.  I can have some, a little light, more light.  Every little piece of money information you choose to gather or learn about brings more light to the topic.

So when it comes to money, and choices about all sorts of things, forget the Information Extremes, say boo to Everybody Knows, and exchange the switch on the wall, and the one in your head, for a dial!



Unwritten Contracts

We have these unwritten and often unspoken contracts all over our lives; with friends and neighbors, with business associates, with companies, with relatives and lovers, with ourselves and, yes, even with money.

I’ve had several clients talk to me about “broken contracts” with their spouses.  What they really mean is that there was an agreement that was either ignored, neglected or broken.  This lapse, for these clients, meant that the contract was broken.  And once the contract is broken, there are often far reaching repercussions.

An irony of this is that often none of it gets talked about.  The actual initial agreement
contracts.jpg isn’t talked about.  The breaking of the contract isn’t talked about.   Even the repercussions aren’t talked about.

We all have this going on all the time.  It’s about expectations, isn’t it?

Many times in life I have had the experience of noticing when the contract, big or small, got broken.  Here’s an odd (at least to me) example that might help clarify this.

You meet someone at an event and they give you their card.  You later call the number on the card.  Turns out it is a cell phone number.  They answer the call with a certain urgency in their voice and say something like “oh, it’s you, I’m at the dentist, I can’t talk now”.  Awkward, to say the least.  This is an example of a “two-fer”.  The contract is broken on both sides.  How is the caller to know that the person is at the dentist and busy?  And the person receiving the call assumes that they need be left alone at the dentist.

Ah, so it’s about expectations and assumptions.  Both of which get us into trouble when they aren’t made clear.

Now, turn this contract concept to you and your money.  Trust me, it’s there.  You expect certain things from money that it doesn’t necessarily deliver.  You made a “contract” with money when you were very, very young.   You’ve expected money to perform and you have been very disappointed when it doesn’t create the expected results from the original contract.

Please consider this.  You haven’t actually outlined for yourself, or money, what the contract was.  And you certainly haven’t revisited or renegotiated it.

On top of it, your contract with money is actually a contract with yourself.  Money only does what you tell it to do.  It doesn’t actually spend itself…you decide where it goes.  And it certainly doesn’t earn itself…it comes in based on your efforts and choices.  Even when your money makes interest, it makes the interest based on your investment choices.

Bottom line, review your contract with yourself.  What did you expect, what did you assume, and what would actually work better.

The most important agreements at keep are the ones with ourselves.  When we don’t keep them there is hell to pay.