When we talk about the art of influencing and effecting change, people often explore how words and actions have impact. Much of the discourse is around what can be said and what actions can be taken. And, indeed these can be useful interventions. But, what I want to talk about today is something more fundamental — your state.
Your state is the ground against which your actions and words arise. In one sense, no matter what you do and say, if these do not come from an authentic and honest place, they will be hollow. And, this hollowness is likely to be felt by others, subconsciously if not consciously.
Human beings are incredibly good at sensing intent. These are instinctive skills, which our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably relied on in more dangerous times to distinguish friend from foe. And, we too possess them. This is why for those of us who are not professional con-artists, a disconnect between our actions and what we really feel matters. This disconnect is a fundamental roadblock to making genuine connections and engaging with others. It is then a disconnect that ultimately affects our ability to live more fully.
I recently worked with a client who was experiencing significant tension with a colleague. She would say and do things to placate them, but nothing seemed to work. We discovered that despite how nice she tried to be on the surface, her own underlying state during interactions was one of agitation, anger and hidden hostility.
She uncovered that her hostility towards her colleague was more to do with difficult experiences from her own past. Difficult experiences whose memory was being triggered in her by her colleague. This deeper understanding of her underlying state and its roots led her to have more compassion. Compassion for not only her colleague, but also for herself. What she was able to make was an important shift in her state. A shift from habitual unconscious hostility, to more self-awareness and compassion.
What was incredible was that their relationship improved very quickly, in a matter of days. It was almost as if the change in her state was felt immediately by her colleague. She was no longer inviting confrontation by the manner of her being. This example is also a reminder of how swift our ability to change as human beings can be.
When trying to effect change and connect with others, focus on words and actions by all means. But, also ask yourself: What is my underlying state? Is there a disconnect between what I say and what I feel? What am I unconsciously projecting? Am I inviting certain things by the manner of my being?
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