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Harness the Current

Access Continuum’s Leadership Model for leading through novel unknowns

Continuum Consulting Services LLC

Being both friends and business partners for over 25 years is an accomplishment we are really proud of. But it didn’t always come easily. Indeed, we have experienced our share of tensions and disagreements, but attribute our success to one agreement we made a long time ago.

That agreement is especially critical today, given the current COVID environment of constant change, stress, financial instability, teleworking, and continually navigating the unknown.

We call this agreement SMASH the brick. “SMASH” is code language between us, an acronym that lays out the steps we need to take to get back on track and navigate the conflict successfully.

Find the Courage to “SMASH the Brick”

Have you ever walked away from an interaction and realized something another person said or did just didn’t feel right? Perhaps the impact of a comment or action made you feel angry, frustrated or hurt. That is what we call a “rub.”

Often, the impact of someone’s words and actions are not aligned with their intention, and it rubs us the wrong way. Ignoring the rub is like placing a brick in the middle of the relationship. If we’re not careful, we build a wall, brick by brick, with every interaction thereafter.

How a Brick Becomes a Wall

Depending on the situation, the rub can sit and fester and cause us to form judgments about the other person and their intentions. Soon, we will be expecting them to do it again, and before long we find ourselves treating the other person differently.

It does not take long before one misunderstanding has turned into a conflict, and for the initial brick to become a wall that feels impossible to breakthrough.

That’s why it’s critical to “SMASH the (initial) brick.”

How to SMASH the brick:

  1. STOP when you feel an uncomfortable pinch or rub in a relationship.
  2. Take a MOMENT to breathe, observe the discomfort, and replay what the other person said or did that rubbed you the wrong way. Then, share with the other person the behavior you observed and the impact it had on you.
  3. ASK the other person what was meant by the words and/or actions to understand the underlying intention or need. (This gives the other person an opportunity to say, “No, that is not what I meant at all. What I really wanted to say was ..,” or, “Yes, that is exactly what I meant to say and here is why.”) Each answer will lead to a different conversation. The goal is to gain an understanding of what is important to the other person and why.
  4. SUGGEST options for how to move forward, and what to do differently if the behavior or situation comes up again.
  5. Reach HARMONY by agreeing to the next steps and acknowledging that having the courage to address the rub and work through it together will strengthen the relationship.

Final Tips

  • Address the pinch when it happens; it’s easier in the long run.
  • Agree to use the “SMASH the brick” language, and to call out a rub when you have one.
  • Practice with less tense situations to build confidence for the bigger issues.
  • Remember that the goal of “SMASH the Brick” is to build and strengthen relationships and create a respectful, harmonious home and work environments.