In last week’s “TED* Works!®” we wrote about the all-important question, “What do you want?” as the key question to ask to shift out of the problem-focused, anxiety-based, and reactive Victim Orientation. Once you, your team, or family is entrenched in focusing on what you don’t like and don’t want, it explains why getting stuck in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) is so common.
When you pause and ask yourself what you want, you clarify the outcome you really care about and begin walking the path of a Creator, the foundational role in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®.
As we shared last week, this question is often “more easily asked than answered” and may be difficult to clarify on your own. When that is the case, we encourage you—as a Creator—to reach out to someone to serve as a Coach. This role in TED* need not be a professional coach and can be anyone who will ask questions that support you to clarify and hone the outcome you desire.
Here are two examples of how a conversation between two people might sound. One person is a friend and practicing “coach-like” language in their support of you. We call the person who is clarifying what they want a Creator and the friend acts as the Coach.
Example 1 starts with a complain about your partner:
Creator: “I want my partner to stop being distracted and to pay attention to me when I am speaking.”
Coach: “If your partner wasn’t distracted, what would you want instead? What’s possible?”
Creator: “I want my partner to stop looking at their phone when I am trying to share something.”
Coach: “I hear what you don’t want; that your partner stop looking at their phone. So, what do you want?”
Creator: “I want my partner to stop allowing emails to interrupt us.” (Notice the statement still includes what they don’t want and no reference to what they do want.)
Coach: “I understand what you don’t want. What do you want?”
Creator: “I want to feel listened to and valued.”
Can you hear her stirring declaration when she dropped her focus on what she didn’t want? What she really wanted—to feel listened to and valued—became clear.
Example 2 starts with an observation of a co-worker as you come out of a 1-on-1 meeting with your boss.
Coach: “How did your meeting go? You look a little flustered.”
Creator: “It went the way it always does. We only talked about things on my boss’s list and never talk about what is on my list of priorities.” (The problem.)
Coach: “Given the situation, what do you want?”
Creator: “I don’t want to feel so uninspired when I leave the meetings.”
Coach: “How would you like the conversation to go?”
Creator: “I don’t want to only talk about what is on my boss’s list, 80% of which I agree with, but I don’t want to leave out the things I care about.”
Coach: “I continue to hear what you don’t want. What is it you do want?”
Creator: “I want to take responsibility for the agenda in the 1-on-1 meetings. I am going to make that request.”
In both examples, there are two primary features that are included in problem-focused conversations. First is the focus is on the current state that you don’t like, and second, it does not contain a description of something you desire, want, wish, or dream about.
The “I want” statement is very different. This statement includes what you care about, what you aspire to, or dream about, and very importantly, it omits any reference to the problem.
Powerful “What do I want?” answers are always outcome focused and are identified from a Creator Orientation. This is the way of a Creator and living in The Empowerment Dynamic.