the hieno

It’s always so nice whenever I get to stay at home, do nothing, and just read books + spam netflix!

I’ve finished three books in 2 days. One book is “The Law of Human Nature” by Robert Greene, and the two others are materials by Matthew Hussey. Matthew Hussey is a {and I quote} “human-dynamics coach” with an expertise in romantic relationships. Different from so many “other love coaches”, he is really a skilled communicator and negotiator evident from the framing in his language.

Today I just want to take some time out to write about why I value “a safe atmosphere” .

the hieno

“Safety” and the corollary of an “ego” were mentioned repeatedly in the above books.

Robert Greene seems to argue from the position of “the world is so damn dark–hence don’t anyhow bruise people’s egos”, whereas Matthew Hussey approaches the topic from the space of “you can be so much better, let’s work together to make things work in a safe context”.

Whenever a person’s ego is bruised, they will operate from a combative space. Whereas whenever a person feels safe, they will operate from an inspired space of authenticity.

2018 Has Been An Awesome Year In A Crazy Industry– Thanks To People Create Safe Atmospheres!

I am currently in a pretty safe atmosphere.

Having said that, I am not sure whether to attribute this to luck or to an overall increase in emotional awareness– Recently I’ve been very blessed by people around me who have the ability to in turn make people around them feel safe. I’m very thankful about this!

Actually, it was only this year that I realised most people don’t tend to place a premium on this atmosphere of safety, because they probably haven’t been in terribly unsafe situations before.

I have. For example, there was one time this year in a closed-door VC networking event that one of the VCs in the spotlight asked me for sex. He initially touched my waist, and could have touched other places if not for the fact that I used to do waitressing work in a club before (in Japan), and literally wriggled my way out.

Now note that I was properly and professionally dressed, so there is no way that anyone can say that I acted in a suggestive manner. I think the VC guy was just trying his luck. Needless to say it was a tad awkward meeting him in future VC related events, though I hide awkwardness really well, LOL.

I’ve also been in work situations before where certain stakeholders would just flare up and become very personal to other stakeholders, so needless to say that was an unsafe situation to me as well. Where every single time, I had to think in advance of what to say, what not to say, what sort of way to stroke the ego, what sort of egg shells to tenderly step on.

It soon gets really tiring.

What is “Creating an Atmosphere of Safety”?

Personally, I’ll define “creating an atmosphere of safety” as “bringing out the most authentic/ good side of a person” by reassuring the ego that it is not being attacked.

This is politically different from boosting one’s ego. Boosting one’s ego mindlessly is largely about seeking approval from the other party. If done too often it kills any forms of intimacy in interpersonal relationships. This form of communication is not authentic as it creates various forms of unrealistic expectations.

On the flipside, continuously boosting one’s ego deliberately is also not very authentic. I’m usually careful when people in business do this because it seems that the next step would be getting me (?) to do things for free LOL. Usually I will then have a script to inform them of my professional service rates. ~ ^^

“Creating an atmosphere of safety” is about creating the ability to have an open (sometimes difficult) discussion with a clear, positive goal in mind, while communicating that you value and appreciate the other person. This form of communication is also authentic.

In short, anything related to ego comes from a position of fear, combat and vanity. Anything related to safety comes from a place of authenticity, love and speaks directly to the heart/ core-self.

People Who Can And Want To Create Safe Atmospheres Are Incredibly Attractive (To Me!)

To be honest, it is almost like an art to facilitate a robust discussion under a safe atmosphere. Some people can do it naturally, while other people cannot. Personally, I find people who can and want to create safe atmospheres as incredibly attractive, and I tend to work very well with them.

Which is why I place a premium on the market-value of people who make me feel safe. I want to constantly be close to them!

According to Matthew Hussey, people who create safe atmospheres have the following characteristics:

  • Even when they argue, they let each other know that they are both safe and loved.
  • The key to relationships is not to give the other party something to rebel against.
  • Confidence and competence (in communication) are two sides to the same coin. A person can feel confident and still not be competent in communicating his/her feelings accurately, and with consideration of the other person’s feelings.

Matthew Hussey also has a systematic approach when creating an atmosphere of safety:

  • Force empathy — “Put the other person in your shoes”
  • Positive identification— “Give the other party a positive label as a person, and show him/her how what he/she has done is not representative of this positive image you have of him/her.
  • Lead with standard— “I have high standards when it comes to ABC, that’s why I was hurt when you didn’t do the same for me.”
  • Assume the best motives
  • Appeal for help— “Help me understand your perspective”/ “help me overcome this feeling”.
  • Get back to basic premise— “We are a team and we love/ have best intentions for each other”.

He also highlights language to avoid when there is the intention of creating an atmosphere of safety:

• Do not make vicious threats.
• Avoid personal insults. Always address the consequence of the problem and search for solutions.
• If you must criticize something someone has done, be sure to label the action and not the person: i.e. “you DID a selfish thing” not “you ARE a selfish person”.
• Do not get competitive with who cares the least. E.g. “I’ve got guys queuing up who want to be with me. I don’t need to deal with this shit.”
• Do not make it sound like you’ve given up on dealing with the problem.

Then, he encourages the use of “non-combative words” such as “hurt”, “upset”, “vulnerable”, “sad” as opposed to combative words like “angry” or “annoyed”.

So interesting!!

Conclusion: The Ego Exists To Keep Us Safe

The “ego” is often used as a word with some sort of negative implication. Yet the ego exists really, to keep us safe.

If we can soothe the ego by creating a safe atmosphere, more authentic sides of people and better forms of discussions can emerge, I’m sure. ^^