One Rule of Engagement–The Three Times and You are Out Rule

We all have personal rules for engagement with other people. We may be consciously aware of those rules, we may make them explicit, or they may be unconsciously conducted and definitely implicit instead of explicit.

I made a point some years ago of studying my personal rules for engagement, making choices about the ones I wanted to keep for a fulfilling life, and making conscious aware choices of new rules I wanted to add for my well being.

I wanted to share one of those with you as an example. My example might be a rule of engagement that suits you as well. First, it is important to acknowledge for yourself that it is up to you about what your personal energy is available for and what it is not available for. It is from this basic understanding that you develop your personal rules for engagement with others.

One of mine is that I am unwilling for my energy to be available to people who don’t keep their word, and my energy is available for people who do keep their word. One key root cause of conflict everywhere is people saying one thing, and then doing a totally different thing. As my husband says, “don’t pay so much attention to what other people are saying as their truth…watch their feet”.  In other words, pay attention to whether their actions align with their words.

If someone breaks a promise to me once, I speak up and say so, letting the person know that my energy is not available if promises are not kept. The person is likely to apologize and I accept the apology. We all have goof ups in regard to promises.

It is at this point that I start paying attention to my ‘Three Times and You Are Out’ rule. I am willing to keep my energy engaged for up to three times of the same person breaking a promise. Each time, I draw this situation to the awareness of the person, accept whatever apology is given, and get to agreement that this will not be the pattern in the future. I make it clear that my energy is not available to be entangled with people who don’t keep their word. Yes, in the moment, the apologies are heart felt and I get that. And then, I ‘watch their feet’, paying attention to how this unfolds in the future.

At the third time, should it happen, I don’t make a fuss, I don’t initiate a conversation. I simply acknowledge to myself that my energy is not available for this. I accept that it is my responsibility, and not the responsibility of any other person, to make my decisions of how my energy is to be used.  This Rule for Engagement and my follow through with it keeps my energy available for working and living from the best of my personal potential.

What tips do you have for managing your energy when you are faced with people who say one thing and do another? What tips do you have to keep your own promises?

Birgitt Williams
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Birgitt Williams is an international management and organizational solutions consultant, author, meeting facilitator, teacher, keynote speaker and executive coach. Her business focus is to create inspiring work environments that are highly effective in achieving their purpose and fulfilling their vision.

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