Below is a great animation from Derek Sivers. Derek focuses on how compassion could make the internet better. Watch, then read below to see how flexible and accurate thinking by one of the characters could have changed her experience for the better.
First, Derek's making a good point. Other people matter, even when we're interacting electronically.
That said, let's look at how one of these scenarios could have been different had one individual employed flexible and accurate thinking and focused on getting more of what she wanted. This technique is included in Chapter 7, "Building Resilience with Felxible and Accurate Thinking" in Smart Strengths: A Parent-Teacher-Coach Guide to Building Character, Resilience, and Relationships in Youth. It is also covered in the MCLE-accredited distance learning course "Flexible and Accurate Thinking for Lawyers" through the Thriving Lawyers Institute.
We'll work with Sarah. She lost part of a workday and most of a weekend because her resilience was low and she struggled trying to bounce back from a critical email. Maybe it was a tough time and this was not typical for her. Tough times can drain our resilience. Or, perhaps, she has some patterns in her thinking that keep her resilience lower than it could be. Here's how flexible and accurate thinking and a focus on getting what she wants could have helped her bounce back more quickly.
Sarah's thoughts about the email caused her to feel sad, close up shop for the day, and ruminate most of the weekend. Her thoughts likely went something like this:
T1: Wow, this person is REALLY upset!
T2: She's right.
T3: I'm a loser. I don't have what it takes to succeed and everything that I thought I'd done right was just luck. I knew it, everything is going to fail!
For you resilient optimists out there who are thinking, "What?! No one thinks that way," accept for now that they do. I know. As a recovering pessimist, I used to think that way.
Using flexible and acccurate thinking, Sarah would first have noticed her heat-of-the moment thoughts are recognized that they were not helping her move in the desired direction - toward a successful business and satisfaction with her life. Having noticed this, she could have used the RAMP technique to challenge her thoughts.
Reject: First, Sarah could have looked for reasons to reject her initial thought. This might have gone something like, "She is NOT right! Much of what she writes is totally wrong. And I am not a loser, I have run this business for years and I have lots of happy customers. Many of them are even friends now."
Alternatives: Then Sarah could have thought of alternative reasons for the event and for what it meant for the future. "10 pages?!! She wrote 10 pages!! This wasn't worth that, and much of it is just venting and totally wrong. She must be pretty unhappy!"
Minimize: Sarah's on a roll now. "This isn't about me; it's about her. And I've got a policy for handling unhappy concerns. Most times, I keep the customer when I follow that policy, and I bet I will here."
Plan: Now Sarah's ready to move ahead and get more of what she wants. She thinks, "I'll send her my standard response and move on." She sends her standard customer satisfaction response and moves on to finish the afternoon. She then enjoys her weekend, and by Monday she probably has an email from the unhappy customer thanking her for her response and apologizing for the 10-page complaint. After all, we know the customer was writing more out of her bad mood than reality. And, if not, Sarah would deal with her in good faith and with good will, then keep moving forward to get what she wants out of life.
So, Sarah gets more of what she wants: success in her business and the opportunity to enjoy her life. Just by using a little flexible and accurate thinking through the RAMP technique.
Why not try it yourself? Take any of the other parties above. Generate their initial thoughts and what feelings and actions might have accompanied them, then apply the RAMP technique to generate different thoughtsand notice how the likely feelings and actions change! The practice will help improve the flexibility and acccuracy of your thinking. As a bonus, if we get ten responses, I will pick one response from a parent, teacher, or coach and send them an autographed copy of Smart Strengths. And I will pick one response from a lawyer and send a free registration to BOTH distance learning courses currently available through Thriving Lawyers Institute. But, forget about the prizes - do it for the learning! How would you coach one of these characters to RAMP his or her thinking?