Joyful Musings – September 2010

Joyful Musings

By Joy Birnbach Dunstan, MA, LPC, MAC

Managing From the Heart


Before I begin this column, I’m proud to announce the release of my first book, Joyful Musings. It is a memoir of sorts about my growing up and learning about life, both north and south of the border. It is available directly through me, as well as at Diane Pearl’s Colecciones and And now, to this month’s topic.

Many years ago I was fortunate to hear an unexpectedly memorable talk from a co-worker at the large organization where I worked. He shared ideas from a then-new book entitled Managing from the Heart. It focuses on developing relationships based upon respect and compassion to achieve optimal loyalty and productivity.

While most of you reading this have left the workforce, these principles translate well to personal relationships as well as dealings with fellow volunteers and household helpers like maids, gardeners, and the myriad repair people who help us take care of our homes.

These are the five basic principles for managing from the HEART:

Hear and understand me.

Even if you disagree please don’t make me wrong.

Acknowledge the greatness within me.

Remember to look for my good intentions.

Tell me the truth with compassion.

Let’s look at these one at a time.

Hear and understand me—It is important for people to feel fully listened to and understood. When they feel this way, they are more ready to hear what you have to say in return. Don’t interrupt or form your response before the other person has finished speaking. Common courtesy says that you hear the person out, even if you think you know where the conversation is going. Rephrasing their statement or question before you respond ensures that you under­stood the other person’s true meaning.

Even if you disagree, please don’t make me wrong—Nobody likes to have their worth as a person questioned or made to feel stupid. People always resent it, and if they don’t get mad, they get even. This principle is especially important here in Mexico where blame is so hurtful it is even avoided in the language. In Spanish, one would not say, “How did you break that bottle?” Instead, a Spanish speaker would say, “How did that bottle break itself?”

Acknowledge the greatness within me—People tend to respond positively to anyone who addresses their potential greatness, even if no current evidence of it has yet surfaced. Take the time to share your knowledge or experience without talking down to others. Don’t let cultural differences or lack of formal education fool you into thinking someone is any less capable and deserving of your full caring and respect. Everyone has an innate value and the potential to grow.

Remember to look for my good intentions—This means that when someone proposes an idea or completes a task, no matter what you think of the idea or the results, you explicitly acknowledge that the person has positive reasons for what they said or did.

Tell me the truth with compassion—This means talking to people rather than at them, and doing it in a respectful and caring way rather than sounding disdainful or condescending. You can say virtually anything to anyone if you say it with kindness and respect.

Approach all of your relationships with an open mind and an open heart. You’ll get far more back than the effort it takes to do it.

Editor’s Note: Joy is a practicing psychotherapist in Riberas. She can be contacted at or 765-4988

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