One of the essential steps to increased leadership effectiveness and more productive interactions is “acceptance” (both of ourselves and others). While it’s easy to say, our work with clients and Vistage members over the years has shown us that acceptance is “a sticky wicket” for a large percentage of leaders. I had the good fortune of spending a weekend in a two-day enneagram workshop this year sponsored by Enneagram in Seattle and led by Dr. David Daniels and Curt Micka, J.D. The issue of “acceptance” really came into focus for me at this event.
Dr. Daniels presented what he has developed and calls “The Universal Growth Process for Self-Mastery”. For me this process was a way of addressing, “How do I successfully have a difficult conversation when I’d rather have a root canal?”
Dr. Daniels’ formula is a very practical 5 steps that he calls, “The 5 As”:
1. Awareness – Meaning self-awareness, an ability to objectively observe yourself.
2. Acceptance – This is the ability to be open and receptive in the present moment. It does not mean that you are agreeing, condoning or capitulating to what is happening.
3. Appreciation – Being able to experience and acknowledge what you give and what you are grateful for.
4. Action – This has a couple of “sub-steps” to it. The first is to pause and collect yourself. The second is to be curious and in a state of inquiry. The last is to move forward with ‘conscious conduct’ instead of reactivity.
5. Adherence – This means to commit to this process and practice it over and over – lather, rinse, repeat.
What really caught my attention was his emphasis on the point that acceptance does NOT mean condoning, capitulating, or agreeing. This is where I see so many folks get hung up. They won’t even have a conversation out of a fear that listening would mean agreeing. This strategy dooms any conversation that does happen to being merely dueling monologues with both parties hopelessly attempting to convince and convert the other.
I have worked with clients for years on this point, especially with regard to their relationship with employees they view as problems. My admonition is always to share up front that you may not agree, and you will listen generously with the intention of fully grasping the other person’s perspective. What I would add to this now is to practice acceptance – meaning, work on being open and receptive in the present moment.
Keeping in mind that you are not condoning, capitulating, or agreeing, but being open to/accepting what is happening here and now will keep you centered and able to listen powerfully. It will also create new possible outcomes to the conversation and provide solutions to issues that are impossible in dueling monologues. Remember “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.” ~David Oxberg