Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Within the first few sessions of a coaching conversation with many new clients, I find myself teaching some of the most impactful and time-tested principles. One of my favorite tools I call The Being Principles, based on the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
When I bring this up, some say, "Yes, I read that book a while ago!" However, in many cases, this is a new concept. If you have read the book, how are you applying it?
These are a set of principles I teach to all my clients from the get-go. And I noticed that when they start to apply them, they get themselves out of difficult situations, resolve conflicts expediently, and strengthen their relationships at work and home.
You can use the being principles as a GPS.
When you are navigating through sticky situations, you will have the ability to pinpoint precisely what is causing the problem and how to change your actions and behaviors to fix it.
Consistently applying these principles has become a game-changer for my clients and me, and that's what inspired me to write this article.
I'm going to dive right in and walk you through each of the four agreements as you would use them to resolve conflicts or misunderstandings in your work and personal relationships.
Being Principle #1: Be Impeccable with Your Word
The first question to ask yourself is, “Am I being impeccable with my word in this particular situation?” And if your answer is no, “How can I be impeccable with my word?
I'm going to share an example at the end so that you can put it all together.
Being Principle #2: Don’t Make Assumptions
The next question to ask yourself when facing conflict is, "Am I making assumptions in this particular situation?" or "What kind of assumptions am I making?
You will find that in 95% of the cases, we make many assumptions about the people involved.
How about in our role? What was said, and what did it mean? Is making those assumptions helping us to take constructive action? Typically, these assumptions make us go into fear, self-doubt, questioning whether we did the right thing.
Not making assumptions but instead validating them is going to be an essential principle to follow.
Being Principle #3: Don’t Take Things Personally
The next question to ask yourself when faced with a dilemma is, "What am I taking personally?" This one is huge!
How many times are things happening and we think it's about us. People are reacting or behaving in a certain way, and we are in their presence and immediately assume it's about us, when in fact it's about them.
The moment we make it about us, we lose objectivity and our ability to see the "real" situation and solve it accordingly, if that's part of your role in that case.
The perfect example to illustrate this principle is when someone comes into a meeting, and they're agitated, and you think, wow, what did I do? Why does this person seem so angry with me? When, in fact, this person could have had a horrible morning, a terrible commute, and not be mad at you. There's something else going on with them, and they're reacting without realizing it. People have a different grasp on how to self-manage. Some people know they are triggered and don't dish it out on those around them, while others are oblivious. This behavior is not uncommon.
Self-management is one of the four components of emotional intelligence, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Through our coaching and training programs, we help our clients develop their emotional intelligence, which is critical, especially for leaders.
Don't take things personally is another tool you have in your back pocket when you are in a difficult situation.
Being Principle #4: Always Do Your Best
The fourth and last being principle is always do your best.
When we are impeccable with our word, when we don't make assumptions, when we don't take things personally and do our best, that is all we can possibly do in a situation.
If things don't work out after you take all these measures, that is the best you can do given your resources. If you have taken all these steps, then you could sleep soundly at night. Right?
When you are not doing your best, the great question is, "What would doing my best look like here?" E.g., communicate more clearly, listen, admit that you made a mistake, apologize, provide support, etc.
These are the four principles, being impeccable with your word, not making assumptions, not taking things personally, and always doing your best.
These principles are your go-to whenever you are in the middle of a conflict in your work or personal life.
In your work, how does this look? There's a big problem: a production issue; a report went out incorrectly; your team missed a deadline or sales quotas; the client is upset. Something is going wrong.
When this happens, I recommend taking a little sticky note and writing down the four principles:
Be impeccable with your word.
Don't make assumptions.
Don't take things personally.
Always do your best.
Take that sticky note, put it by your work device, or take your smartphone and write them down somewhere. Whatever you need to use to keep these principles handy, do that.
Whenever you get into a rough situation like the ones I described, ask yourself:
Am I being impeccable with my word?
Am I saying what I’m doing and doing what I am saying? Check.
Am I making any assumptions?
You may find that you were making some assumptions about when something was due or about who was supposed to do it, and those suppositions were incorrect.
So, then the question is, what assumptions am I making, and what would happen if I didn't make those assumptions? In other words, you are looking to validate your assumptions.
Am I taking anything that's happening personally?
You may find that yes, I am. For example, when so-and-so came by my desk and asked me for the numbers, I assumed that he didn't trust me and didn't believe that I have them, vs. they're looking for certainty--they want to know that the numbers are accurate and that they are in the latest reports.
Am I doing my best?
Sometimes we discover that in the said situation, we’re not doing our best. We may show up, and we're not fully engaged or fully present, and it shows in our outcomes, in our results. And if that's the case, ask yourself, what would it look like to do my best in this scenario?
The same questions apply when you have a situation at home, especially if you have a conflict in any of your relationships.
Am I making any assumptions? Am I being impeccable with my word? What am I taking personally here? And then finally, what would it look like if I were doing my best?
What this does is it gives you a new perspective. It allows you to zoom out and look at the situation from a birds-eye view, objectively, to come up with solutions that make things, not about you but the actual issue or the people involved.
I would love to hear how applying these tools is making a difference for you. My wish is that you can reap the benefits as my clients and I have.
Stay safe and healthy, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
With love and appreciation,
Coach Ginny 💕
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About Dr. Ginny A. Baro
Dr. Ginny Baro is an international speaker & executive coach, and the #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work. She is the CEO and founder of ExecutiveBound™ and Fearless Women @Work™ and the creator of the innovative and proven method, C.A.R.E.S. Leadership Success System™.
Ginny specializes in helping executives develop inclusive leaders. As a career strategist, she partners with talented individuals who are navigating a corporate hierarchy or transitioning into an entirely new phase of their professional careers.
She has successfully facilitated leadership training and coaching programs for global companies with over 140,000 employees and delivered keynotes impacting international audiences larger than 7,000 people.
For over two decades, Ginny held multiple Director and senior leadership roles in financial services and technology. Her academic degrees include a Ph.D. in Information Systems, an MS in Computer Science, an MBA in Management, and a BA in Computer Science and Economics. She's a Mastermind Professional and Certified Professional Coach (CPC), accredited by the International Coach Federation. For more information, visit www.executivebound.com.