‘How’ Skills – Effectiveness
In any situation, we should consider what we want as an outcome. For example, in an argument with a partner about which paint colour to choose, the ultimate want is to have the wall painted. So we look at how we can effectively make that happen, avoiding conflict.
Acting effectively is doing what works to achieve our goals. We focus on what works rather than being right or wrong, or what is fair or unfair. The goal is to get the wall painted with minimal suffering and upset.
To be effective, we have to first know what the goal or objective in the situation is. Having intense emotions can cloud our view of what we want, and make it difficult to express that need. Mindfulness skills allow us to pause on these emotions, observe what is actually happening, and decide what it is that we need to come out of the situation.
We have to be clear about our wants and needs, and find the most effective way to do that. For example:
“I want people to remember my birthday and get me a card, but I feel like if they care they should remember without me needing to tell them. So I won’t say anything, then I will know who cares.”
In this example, this isn’t an effective way to achieve the goal of people acknowledging your birthday. The chances are that some people will forget your birthday – not because they don’t care but because they have a lot going on with work, kids, relationships, finances, health. But, if you casually mention to people, a week or two in advance, that you are having a birthday and would like to go for drinks if anyone is interested, people have the chance to react to that and acknowledge your birthday. This is effectiveness in action.
In some situations, you may need to sacrifice a principle to achieve a goal. It’s more important to reach the goal (ie, get the wall painted or receive birthday wishes), than to stick to the idea that you must be right.