Tom’s a man who makes thing happen–at least that‘s what he tells people. He’s started several successful businesses, he’s made a lot of money. But Tom’s problem is, he can’t seem to make it happen with women. He reads the books, goes to the workshops – does all the right things. He knows what to do; hell, he tells other men how to do it. So why can’t he create the relationship he wants?
If Tom watched a video of himself with a woman, he would see what his behavior is really telling them. Then he might under
stand the feedback women give him: he doesn’t listen, it’s all about him. In that video, Tom would see that as soon as a woman speaks, he interrupts her with his opinion or suggestion. In spite of feeling interested, and wanting to connect, his behavior is telling the woman the exact opposite: he has no interest in what she has to say.
We have all known Toms. Do you know the unintended consequences of your behaviors? I am constantly learning more about how my experience or intent may not be what is experienced by another. We are usually blind to our unconscious behaviors. Making them conscious is the first step to changing them.
In our men’s groups, we often see men ramble on with their story. Joe is into telling his story. He isn’t in relationship with the group. Joe is in his own head, replaying a story. He is not connected to the group. The group is in a trance, checked out, just like a kid when he is being lectured by his parent. The problem is, Joe is attempting to shift a problem. But he is only reinforcing that problem by telling his story, sticking to the facts, rather than figuring out how he feels about the story, about what emotions the story brought up.
When one of the men in the group wakes up and tells Joe he’s rambling, all the other men wake up and agree. Once Joe shifts to sharing what he is experiencing, the group connects with him. Joe was attempting to connect with the group and have the group connect with him, but neither happened until he connected with himself.
What do your behaviors really say?
Think about the places in your life that are not producing the results you want. Is it your primary relationship? Is it with your extended family? Is it work? Where is it? What are your behaviors really saying? Tom’s behavior was saying I want to be in charge. Joe’s behavior was saying, “I want an audience”.
I used to train trial attorneys how to read body language and how to change their own body language so their unconscious messages were consistent with the message they were verbalizing. If attorneys can learn to be aware and change, so can you.
How to wake up to your behaviors
It’s often easier to learn by watching others. Watch their body language, their non-verbal signals, and notice how they make you feel. Focus on everything but the words. Then once you get a sense, go back to listening to their words. Do they match? Once you’ve done it with others, start doing it with yourself. Occasionally check in with your non-verbal signals. Observe what your response is to others. Are you breathing? What emotions are you feeling, but not verbalizing, that your behavior expresses?
The more your communication is expressing what you actually feel, the more WHAT you are saying will match what you WANT to say. It is the disconnect, or disharmony, between what you say and what you feel that causes the sideways expressions that get you in trouble.
Get feedback from others about how your behaviors and words match up–particularly where you aren’t getting the results you want. Take the risk, speak your truth. State clearly with your words what you are feeling, so your unconscious behavior doesn’t state it for you.
There is no better place to do this than a men’s group where men are honest with each other. Yes, there are moments when it is hard to hear the unintended impact you are having. But what better place to learn and practice than a group where there is no consequence outside the group itself? You can ask the group to hold you accountable to make this change. They can keep directing back to your feelings and your truth. They also will tell you when you did it right.
I have seen a group meeting start as a train wreck. After honest feedback and the direct love that men give, men start aligning their feelings with all their behaviors and their words. The group shifts, everyone relaxes. There is nothing more powerful than you speaking your truth. It is always heard. It might not be liked or acted on, but you are in integrity with yourself.
Where do you need to better align your words with your body language and your behaviors?