Are more of your most retold stories anchored by positively or negatively felt incidents? Those who are most resilient, energetic, caring and involved with others tend to link their stories to redemptive themes. The role you most often play in the stories you tell reveals your view of the world, how friendly or hostile, and more.
1. Anchor Your Stories in Redemptive Themes So We Are Moved to Live Up to Them:
Rather than making yourself the victim or the hero in the stories you tell, describe a daunting time of loss, crisis, or criticism or where you made a mistake or acted badly, yet you were eventually able to learn from it. Such stories show vulnerability and a desire to grow and live fully rather than in fear.
Then that facet of you can be the place where others can positively and productively connect with you, hard-earned strengths firmly attached together. You can support each other in reinforcing redemptive characterizations and action.
Some people sap our energy and even dull our smarts because they are on the “diminisher” end of the continuum, where “multipliers” are on the other end, according to Liz Wiseman and Greg Mckeown, co-authors of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Diminishers stifle mutuality. Recognize both by the roles they adopt.
Diminishers become Gatekeepers, Tyrants, Know-It-Alls, Decision-Makers and Micromanagers. Multipliers become Talent Finders, Liberators, Challengers, Community Builders and Investors.
Tip: Take a quiz to see if you are a well-intentioned yet inadvertent diminished.
3. Help Narcissists Feel For Others While Growing Your Empathic Instincts
By specifically asking, in advance, someone who’s highly narcissistic to feel more caring about the other person in a situation, you can prime that person to feel more empathic when they otherwise would not, according to researcher Erica Hepper. In Hepper’s study, extreme narcissists watched “a 10-minute video of a woman — identified as Susan — describing her experience as a victim of domestic violence.” In advance they were asked to “Imagine how Susan feels. Try to take her perspective in the video, imagining how she is feeling about what is happening….” After watching, “their empathy suddenly kicked in” – a result that was confirmed via physiological testing to confirm that they weren’t attempting to simply look admirable.
To boost mutually caring, even in non-narcissists, consider making the same request. Whether true or not, act as if you believe that’s what they would do anyway, thus supporting their better sides.
Prior to a first meeting of a potential self-organized or assigned team or simply a social setting where people will be meeting for the first time, suggest to individuals you know that you believe they will want to step into the shoes of the people they meet to see the world their way, and you’d like to hear how they feel about what happens in the situation.
Asking in advance for that conversation afterwards, moves your suggestion closer to the top of their minds, thus becoming a stronger nudge for their feeling empathic while there.
Tip: Make this advance nudge a ritual between you and your project partner or spouse, prior to going to meet others. A couple I admire make a point of saying to each other before going out, “Honey, let’s step into their shoes to care and share their way, and have a sweet time there.”