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It’s Great to Be Authentic, but Be Prepared for the Bumps

So much energy is given to women connecting with their authentic self. Heck, that’s the work we do. What many coaches, programs, and workshops miss, and don’t prepare you for is: how will to deal with the conflict in your relationships when you start to show up differently?

We were the closing keynote speakers at the Montana Farmer’s Union Women’s Conference and witnessed the energy of women coming into their full-strength selves, being inspired by some awesome women speakers, and diving into action plans and strategy sessions to move those plans forward. We were tapped as the closing speakers and wanted to make sure all that precious, dynamic energy didn’t get zapped once we all went back home or to work!

I can guarantee you, that when anyone moves forward with their authentic selves, they are going to run smack dab into conflict. The people around them are used to them being their “decaffeinated selves” and are naturally frustrated when they show up differently.

What we didn’t want for those women at the conference, or for you, is to hit those bumps and say, “Wow, this is too hard. Never mind.” We don’t want you to go back to your comfort zone in order to make everyone else happy.

Let me give you an example, I shared from the stage.

My Story from the Stage

Way back after I got my MBA, I was hired at Arthur Andersen, as a high-powered consultant. On one project, I was the onsite manager of a six-person consulting team for a large software company in the Pacific Northwest.

At the start of the project, my Arthur Andersen boss came in and gave us our project strategy. I thought to myself, “This isn’t going to solve the client’s problem.” But I didn’t say that. Instead, I asked a question, “Do you think that’s going to solve the client’s problem?”

He said, “Yes, now get to work.”

I was catapulted back to my dad’s dinner table. (If you want know what dinner was like, watch our TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It!)

I shut up and did what my boss said.

We got to the end of the six-month project. The partners at Arthur Andersen wanted to garner more work from this client. So, they invited the Vice President of the company in and asked how we were doing. The VP turned and literally pointed to me and said, “Well, you know that project CrisMarie led? It was a disaster. A complete disaster.”

OMG! I felt like I’d been hit in the gut with a 2x4. I was humiliated.

Of course, he was right. Right, because I always knew it wasn’t going to work and yet said nothing. I vowed then that I was going to learn how to speak up.

Wanting to speak up and doing it, however, are two different things. It wasn’t a straight-line process. Sure, I learned a communication model. Yes, I studied techniques, but for some reason I still really struggled speaking my truth, especially in conflict.

My Pivotal Event

It wasn’t until one night when Susan and I had another couple over for dinner. Susan got into a passionate argument with one of them. There were loud voices, tension, and intensity. Normally, I’d jump in to facilitate a truce.

This time, I didn’t. It was as if I was simultaneously watching myself and feeling my body react.

My head dropped. I could only star at the floor. My shoulders rounded. I couldn’t breathe. My body felt frozen. I realized I needed space. I slowly got up from the table, and avoiding eye contact, I made my way down the hall into the bathroom. Once there my legs started to tremble. I put my hands on the vanity to hold myself up. I was terrified. I felt like I needed help.

I came back down the hall to the edge of the kitchen where the fighting was still going on. I simply said, “I’m scared.”

They looked at me like I was crazy, but they stopped yelling. I continued, “I don’t know what’s happening, but my legs are vibrating. I feel like I’m going to hyperventilate. I want you to stop arguing, otherwise I’ll need to leave.”

They did.

It was the first time I’d showed up so vulnerably. I was sharing how I felt and what I wanted in the midst of conflict. It had a pivotal impact on me and them.

The Healing Process

After that event, I came to realize I have a highly sensitive nervous system, which had gotten way out of whack growing up. I’d used my high sensitivity to be hypervigilant, always scanning others to pick up cues of danger. I didn’t want to be held hostage by my own nervous system. I wanted to learn how to heal.

That’s exactly what I did. I dedicated the next five years learning and using embodiment, mind-body, and trauma release processes and tools, to help me land in my body and heal.

Recovering Your Confidence and Creativity

I now teach other women to do the same, to recover from their long-held patterns in the midst of conflict. When you take the time to breathe and land in your body, you can actual feel what’s happening inside of you and around you.

Your feelings are a compass that let you know what’s working for you and what’s not. When you slow down and land in your body, you have access to many more resources.

You become present in the moment. Your confidence increases. Your creativity expands.

So what about you? Are you able to speak up in the midst of conflict? It may have less to do with knowing the right thing to say, and much more with settling yourself so that you intuitively know what to say.



P.S. Want some help healing your patterns so you can speak up? Check out our Find Your Mojo in Montana, where we incorporate mind-body tools and working with the horses to help you find your voice.

P.P.S. Want to work one-on-one? Check out my Personal Coaching Packages.

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.

Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.

Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.

Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.


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