Knowing from Doing the Right Thing and Achieving All Your Goals at the Same Time
Doing the Right Thing is a book about people who work in offices, why we fight, and how we can stop fighting, solve our problems, and get back to work. All materials on this site Copyright © Marianne Powers 2002. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Doing the Right Thing and Achieving All Your Goals at the Same Time

Full Book Outline:

---People Are What They Are and It's Irrelevant Anyway
---We Don't Know What Other People Are Capable of Achieving
---People Are Not Accountable for Their Thoughts and Feelings
---We Don't Know What Other People are Thinking and Feeling
---People Are Accountable for Their Words and Actions
---Assume Everyone is Doing the Best They Can
---Assume Everyone Has a Good Reason for What They Say and Do

---Listen Very Carefully
---Welcome Information, Criticism is Information
---If You Have a Choice, Don't Choose to be Hurt
---Examine Your Motives
---Targeting Problems is Good, Targeting People is Evil
---If You Want Someone to Do Something for You, You Have to Be Completely on Their Side
---When People Don't Understand, Listen Better

---State Your Position Clearly and Ask for What You Want Specifically
---Tell Them Even If You Know They Won't Understand
---All You Can Do is Tell Them, You Can't Make Anyone Do Anything
---When People Don't Meet Your Expectations, Change Your Expectations
---Give Them 100 Tries to Get It Right
---If They Can't Get It Right in 100 Tries, There Must Be Something Wrong with the Procedure
---Teach Everyone to Do Everything

People Are Not Accountable for Their Thoughts and Feelings
Unlike what we say and do, what we think and feel are not choices that we make. We are not accountable to other people for them nor are they accountable to us. Our thoughts and feelings affect other people only if we put them into words or actions. It is true that thinking and feeling usually come before speaking or doing. Still, we have many thoughts, but we don’t say them all. We have many feelings, but we don’t act on them all.

Thoughts and feelings are things we share with people who care about us and our well-being. If we have thoughts or feelings that trouble us, we can talk them over with other people and they can help us figure out what makes us feel that way. Then we may consider whether there is a different way to look at the situation, or what actions we might take. We need to tell other people our thoughts and feelings when we want their understanding or assistance.

No one has a right or responsibility to demand to know or try to guess what we are thinking or feeling in order to criticize, condemn, or punish us. We are not accountable to others for our thoughts. There are no thought police. There might be some “what I think you are thinking” police, but that is wrong on two counts -- first because we should not be held accountable for what we think and second because nobody knows what we are thinking.

Thoughts come to us out of everything we’ve ever learned and everything we’ve ever experienced. We put them together with new learning and new experiences. And we imagine things we’ve never learned or experienced. As they say on Star Trek, “infinite variety in infinite combinations.”

We think about all the possibilities and what the results might be. We remember what happened before and what we have heard happened to other people. In our thoughts is the proper place for us to rehearse what we want to say and do. We can think about what effect our actions will have on other people and make the proper adjustments in order to do the right thing and accomplish all our goals. We believe something is possible and are inspired to make it happen. We know there is danger and guard against it. We make Plan A and back it up with Plan B.

We can even indulge in ridiculous and incredible thoughts to keep our minds wide open and nurture our imagination and creativity. And it seems, too, that it is OK to have angry feelings and for aggressive thoughts to play themselves out in fantasy in our minds. We can enjoy for a moment the imagined discomfort of those who have hurt us, intentionally or not, without any real harm to ourselves or to them.

We need to allow all this for ourselves and for everyone else. Everyone can think whatever comes into their heads. No one can stop us from thinking anything at all; nor can we stop anyone else -- even if we do say sometimes, “Don’t even think about it!”

Neither are we accountable for our feelings. Feelings, too, are built from everything we’ve learned and everything we’ve experienced and are necessary for us to do the right thing and accomplish all our goals. In fact, feelings are what make doing the right thing and accomplishing goals enjoyable. But, people talk about “controlling” our feelings or our emotions, as if we could keep from having them. I do not think we can. We can control our words and our actions. We can choose not to speak from our emotions, we can choose not to act on our feelings.

At least in my case, feelings are not always a positive basis for action. I disliked a woman once, just because she reminded me of someone else. I had strong negative feelings about her that really had little to do with her. I have also loved people dearly who didn’t love me back or have my best interest at heart. I don’t worry about those feelings anymore. They just are. I might wonder about them, where they come from, but no one can demand an explanation of me. It’s my mystery to figure out or not. I just know that before I speak or act, I have to have more to go on than feelings. I have to have figured out whether what I say or what I do is right and whether it helps me accomplish my goals.

Luckily, my feelings work for me most of the time. Most of the time, I do the right thing and work toward a goal with people I like. There is nothing better than doing something you love with someone you love. Then feelings make life worth living!

If someone does tell us what they think or feel, or if we tell them, it doesn’t do any good to deny or reject those thoughts or feelings. Hearing, “You shouldn’t think like that” doesn’t keep it from happening. Telling someone, “You shouldn’t feel that way” doesn’t change how they feel. And, if that’s what we get, why would we reveal our thoughts or feelings?

Of course, people can change their minds or their feelings might be different, if they get more information, have new experiences, or see a different way of looking at something. If someone tells us what they think or feel, we can tell them, show them, or explain what we think or feel, and that could happen. Or, they might do that for us. But that is a choice that people make -- whether to tell someone else what they think or feel.

We all have a lot of different thoughts and feelings about a lot of different things. We are not accountable to anyone for what comes and goes in our heads, for what comes and goes in our hearts, nor is anyone else accountable to us for what comes and goes in theirs. No one has the right to know what we are thinking or feeling unless we choose to tell them. Neither do we have the right to know or judge anyone else’s thoughts or feelings.

Next Section: We Don't Know What Other People are Thinking and Feeling

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