The High Road – Navigating Challenging Exchanges and Responding With Grace!
In a situation where you feel reactive…
stop — breath — pray — inquire — imagine — wait — choose — respond
1. Stop – do not respond now. If you can, tell them you will get back to them. Ask for time. You can just say—I really need some time right now. Can I get back to you? It may take profound discipline to not react. Honor the large context by choosing in advance that you will not react.
2. Breath – sit down, drink some water, reflect, go ahead and feel mad/sad or whatever you are feeling. Experience it as fully as you can, alone. Write in your journal if you have to. Write a letter or e-mail and do not send it!
3. Pray or Meditate – get guidance from within, or from a non-related party. Try to get grounded. To feel connected to you. To the greater work and greater issue. Use your own spiritual practice to basically chill out. Then try to get your mind off of it for a while, read an inspirational text.
4. Inquire – Ask yourself: What do I want the greater outcome to be from our exchange? What did I make up, that it might not have meant? What did they really mean? How can I make this work? Does it matter whose right? Is my ego informing my behavior? Am I responding this same way with other issues, so, is it one of my hot points? Do I really think this person meant such and such or could they have meant something else? Is it important enough to address? Does it need to be confronted? Can we move on gracefully? How can I make this work, no matter who I think is right or wrong? What is my part?
5. Imagine – see yourself creating the solution. See the low road option, see the high road option. Imagine the conversation, and the outcome. Imagine how you could bless them in this situation. Imagine acknowledging your part powerfully. Imagine what you really want to happen.
6. Wait – do not take action yet. Go about your business. Let it sink in. And if after all that – you still want to get mad at them – then perhaps it is appropriate. But if not, perhaps you are ready to take the high road!
7. Choose – Set up a time-space to talk. I do not recommend processing emotionally via e-mail. Tears, quivers and half smiles will be missed and you words cannot speak for you unless you are a master wordsmith, in which case, even more so, wait. Request a phone call or even better, a face to face.
8. Respond – Okay, this is it. Remember all the work you have done to not ruin this relationship, this bond, this ally. Whether she was right or wrong does not matter, the relationship is what matters. Keep remembering your HIGH ROAD decision and keep responding from that place instead of the victim place. Make sure they feel heard. Listen to them first. Just a note: If this person continues to act out, be abusive or manipulate you after doing this two or three times, then do it one more time, and use it to exit the relationship gracefully and ask for a “time out.” You do not need to tell them it’s because they are such a jerk. It can be about you.
Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith. – Margaret Shepherd