Can I Make a Difference? Insights from The Open Organization

October 1, 2014

The collective consciousness of America appears turbulent and anxious. The fears don’t seem to be abating:

  • The threat of war and terrorism
  • Financial Markets are tumbling
  • World Economies are sputtering
  • Real Estate is fragile
  • Health Care, Energy and Food costs are increasing
  • Job Losses and insecurity are mounting
  • The need for more performance with less resources are rising

With all these fears and anxieties, how can I cope? What can I do to make a difference?

First of all, denying my fears doesn’t help. In my bravado, I may not admit my anxiety. I may only look at the positive possibilities. Yet, my fears lurk just below the surface, and the tension in my body tells me that I’m “fluffing” up, pretending that it will all go away. While it may be true that “problems” are temporary, they are also real and not to be ignored or denied. In fact, my denial insures that my fears will continue. My authentic self knows the truth of my anxieties, and only by facing my fears will I create the possibility of moving beyond them.

Secondly, after I face my fears, what then? My ego stands in the way of new truths, new possibilities. My ego is a “point of view that defends itself from other points of view”. As I allow the “truth” of others to be expressed, I create new paths, new possibilities, that before were unavailable because of my resistance, my defending my position or point of view.

Finally, if I want to make a difference, I need to start with myself. I can change my attitude, my beliefs, my behaviors. I can only control myself.

However, even as I follow a new path of my convictions, my fears of the unknown will re-assert themselves, and I will need to apply, again and again, skills such as “letting go”, “being present”, “non-defensiveness”, and “active listening” . I will need the support of like-minded people and a strong discipline to overcome the habitual thinking that sustains my fear.

A simple but profound model of human behavior and self awareness, together with the 12 skills of effective relationships are demonstrated in The Open Organization’s “Leadership from the Inside Out”.

Whether an alumnae, or someone new to these skills, attending our May 29th and 30th workshop will elevate you in your professional and personal life.


Join the Discussion Today! – Your thoughts are welcome and encouraged post your comment.

Gary Eyring

Executive Coach and President

The Open Organization

The Open Organization is a Seattle-based Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Team-Building consulting company providing customized services for executives, management teams, board members, human resource professionals, and other business people seeking to positive organizational change through interpersonal and leadership skills development.

Manipulation – Insights from The Open Organization

September 1, 2014

Manipulation is to manage, influence or shrewdly/deviously change, adjust and maneuver situations for ones own gain. When a person, race, gender, or nation (the entity) has a need that is not being met, they can become manipulative in their behavior. At a fundamental level, human emotional needs consist of these key components.

  • “Significance” – attention, connection, or even fame,
  • “Competence” – control/power
  • “Likeability” – authenticity, love, caring

Conversely, there are fears that may also generate manipulative behaviors:

  • “Ignored” – isolated, segregated, alone
  • “Incompetence” – humiliated, embarrassed
  • “Rejected” – cast out, shunned, disliked

When the needs of an individual, gender, race or nation have been socially and individually censured to a point where they have been suppressed, the entity no longer dares demonstrate their needs openly. They still possess sufficient energy to express some feeling on the matter, and so what they feel comes forth covertly and often manifests itself as manipulation.

It is important to remember that the entity that is manipulating may be acting this way because of a bad experience where they were behaving “overtly” (in the open) with clarity. Their behavior became suppressed by another or others, leaving the entity’s only avenue of expression, in their reality, to covertly manipulate.

It can also be a perception of “lack” or “not enough to go around” that can motivate manipulative behavior. It becomes a lack of Trust that needs cannot be met openly and fairly.

To handle this, as a leader or teammate, they should identify a specific incident, clearly evaluate what happened and passively confront the entity, either individually or as a group.

An example, for an individual: “I noticed some figures were adjusted on the quarterly review statement. Can you tell me about that?” This lets the person know you saw their behavior. Passive confrontation, by asking them a question, reduces or eliminates the feeling of “threat”.
It is important to persist here without being critical or starting an argument. Criticizing and arguing just drives the problem further underground.

Political orientation aside, the recent speech by Senator Obama on race relations was an excellent example of passive confrontation – asking and exploring questions without blame or shame with the intention of “opening” a conversation.

Practicing the art of passive confrontation allows the leader to deal with issues without creating a defensive reaction. In addition, the person who feels the need to manipulate in order to express themselves may begin to experience the value of an “open” conversation.

Is your organization functioning in such a way as to suppress open clear behaviors in good people and forcing them underground to manipulate or other covert actions rather than full open expression?

Join the Discussion Today! – Your thoughts are welcome and encouraged post your comment.

Gary Eyring

Executive Coach and President

The Open Organization

The Open Organization is a Seattle-based Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Team-Building consulting company providing customized services for executives, management teams, board members, human resource professionals, and other business people seeking to positive organizational change through interpersonal and leadership skills development.

The Power of a Story

March 23, 2014


Arcelor-Mittal Steel, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO. The new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers. On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business. He asked the guy, “How much money do you make a week?”

A little surprised, the young man looked at him and said, “I make $400 a week. Why?”

The CEO said, “Wait right here.”  He walked back to his office, came back in 2 minutes, and handed the guy $1,600 in cash and said, “Here’s 4 week’s pay. Now, GET OUT and don’t come back.”

Feeling pretty good about himself the CEO looked around the room and asked, “Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?

From across the room a voice said, “Pizza delivery guy from Domino’s.”

Perhaps none of you have ever gotten such an expensive lesson  in the value of checking the stories we tell ourselves. Or perhaps you have. My own former habit of not checking out my assumptions and the anger that came with it cost me a lot and was very painful. I’m more careful now.

Principle # 6 of the 12 Principles of Openness is called Check My Story“‘Truth’ is somewhere between my truth and the other person’s.  Before taking action, I verify that my perceptions are accurate.”

We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment about how a story affected you.

Nailing down the differences…

February 26, 2014

Sometimes, the biggest illusion about communication is that you’ve had it. So, we’re curious: what do you think about the differences in the way people think about challenges? Take our poll, and leave your comments… and then if you’re feeling brave, talk about it with people you care about.

Need some help navigating the great barrier reef of communication? Drop us an email or call us. We’ll listen without trying to pull the nail, unless of course you’re ready for that.
(206) 441-9292
(253) 678-5039

We invite your comments. Let’s talk!

Reflections for the Week of 2-24-2014

February 24, 2014



A Secret of His Own: The Strength of Being Needed

Manuel lay back on the warm carpet of moss and leaves and breathed in the heavy scent of the jungle. Tonight, he was a man! His place was guaranteed. How he had longed for this day to come! He felt the sharp sting of a mosquito on his bare shoulder, but he didn’t slap at it.

“Drink as much as you want amigo! Tonight, you drink from a man’s veins, and a man can afford to be generous.”

His mind wandered back over the last hunting trip. Many times he had asked his father, “Am I ready yet, Papa?” But the answer never came, only silence.

“But Papa! I’m nearly as tall as you,” he would press. “If I don’t get a secret soon, how can I live with the shame? Most of my friends already know their secrets. My sisters know their secrets. When is it my turn?”

Still he heard no answer, just the padding of soft feet in the underbrush. So it had been for the last five hunting trips. But today! Today was different. Jorge, the oldest and most revered man in the village came to his hut before the frogs had stopped singing and woke his father. “Rafael, he must take his place.” His father nodded imperceptibly.

Without a word, Manuel followed the limping, stooped figure out of the village and into the heart of the jungle. Pulling aside vines, and stepping onto the narrow trail, he remembered Papa telling him how an elder taught him his secret during his fifteenth summer of life. “Your secret will be something that only you and the elder teaching it to you will know,” he promised. “But one day, we will need what you know, and you must help us.”

After an hour of silent hiking, the old man took one of the two bags from his shoulder, sat on the ground and spread out its contents. After several seconds of silence, he intently peered into his young student’s eyes and said, “A poultice made from these herbs heals snake bite. You must memorize the recipe, and learn to distinguish between herbs that heal and herbs that do nothing. You must learn where they grow, and be able to find them quickly.”

Manuel could hardly believe what he was hearing! “You will be a healer!”

Eagerly, he spent the day foraging for herbs, concocting the poultice over and over, each time looking into the brown weathered face for approval. If he was fast enough, and brought the correct herbs, then he was allowed to make an imaginary cut in the old man’s leathery ankle and pretend to suck out venom and apply the poultice. If not, he received a firm correction, and an admonishment to move faster. Finally, just as the frogs began to sing again, the old man instructed him to put the herbs away. He obeyed quickly, and handed the bag back to him.

“You have learned well, Manuel. I believe in you,” he intoned.

With that, he suddenly un-slung the other bag from his shoulder and shook it out at his feet. In horror, Manuel saw a snake coil, and in the gathering dusk, it struck, clinging for one awful second to Jorge’s ankle before slithering into the underbrush. The old man cried sharply in pain.

That night around the fire, Manuel stood taller, and his eyes shown as he recounted how he had saved his teacher’s life. The villagers shouted, and carried him as a hero, dancing around and around the fire.

Hours later, exhausted but happy, just before he dropped to sleep as he lay on the moss looking into the dense canopy overhead, he smiled. His father had said, “You see that fine man? That’s my son!

Pause and Reflect

The fear of being insignificant, unnecessary, and unimportant cause untold harm. On the other hand, the feelings of being competent, skilled, needed and recognized are powerful antidepressants.

  • How would it feel if someone trusted you with his or her life?
  • What risks would you take in order to show someone how important they are?
  • How do you feel about rites of passage? Did you have a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Quinceñeras or similar ceremony? How did that affect you?
  • How might we celebrate competence and take deliberate risks in the workplace?
  • What might be the consequences if we don’t?

We invite you to comment!

Reflections for the Week of 02/17/2014

February 17, 2014

Check Your Story, Change Your Life

A lady’s return flight was delayed, so she bought a book, coffee and a small packet of five cookies. The airport was crowded and she found a seat in the lounge, next to a stranger.


After a few minutes’ reading she became absorbed in her book. She took a cookie from the packet and began to drink her coffee. To her great surprise, the stranger in the next seat calmly took one of the cookies and ate it.

Stunned, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything, nor even to look at the stranger. Nervously, she continued reading. After a few minutes she slowly picked up and ate the third cookie. Incredibly, the stranger took the fourth cookie and ate it, then to the woman’s amazement; he picked up the packet and offered her the last cookie.

This being too much to tolerate, the lady angrily picked up her belongings, gave the stranger an indignant scowl and marched off to the boarding gate, where her flight was now ready.


Flustered and enraged, she reached inside her bag for her boarding ticket, and found her unopened packet of cookies.

 Lessons from The 12 Principles of Openness:

#6: Check my Story – “Truth” is somewhere between my truth and the other person’s. Before taking action, I verify that my perceptions are accurate.

#9: No blaming or shaming – work to understand. Harshness is the enemy of awareness.  What is my part? I cannot change you and your part; I can change only myself.

 Tell us your story!

  • Have you ever done anything like this?
  • Were you the one who silently shared your cookies?
  • What happened?
  • What did you tell yourself?
  • How did you feel about it, and how did you feel about it when you found out the truth?

I remember once eating someone else’s lunch at work because we always brought the same kind of frozen lunches, and I forgot that I didn’t bring mine. Boy was I embarrassed! Here’s a shot at fame: leave a comment about your experience…

Doing what I should do rather than what I want to do!

January 3, 2014

For much of my adult life, I’ve pursued doing what I want to do and ignoring what I need to do. In reflection, I’ve often neglected what I should do.

I’ve heard that “sacrifice is giving up something important for something more important”, but that’s not how I’ve lived. Even in pursuing my “bliss” or “what I love”, I now realize there are tasks that are not fun, not enjoyable, but “should” or need to be done to achieve the higher calling of “bliss” or “happiness” or “contentment” or just “fun”.

Success, I’m aware, is not effortless, although endless plodding is not acceptable if the end, the goal, is ever receding in front of me. I find myself more willing to do things I don’t like if what I do like seems probable.

Join the Discussion Today! – Your thoughts are welcome and encouraged post your comment.

Gary Eyring

Executive Coach and President

The Open Organization

The Open Organization is a Seattle-based Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Team-Building consulting company providing customized services for executives, management teams, board members, human resource professionals, and other business people seeking to positive organizational change through interpersonal and leadership skills development.

Chill Out!

December 2, 2013

The possibilities for 2014. Less greed, more openness, civility, caring.  Before, I wondered if the rich thought the poor were lazy, and the poor thought the rich were greedy. Now, most of us struggle.  For the first time, I joined a social network on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable development. Perhaps this is the chance to come together rather than coming apart. A friend called on New Year’s day and was measuring his life: Net worth in half,  income down, friends few (as a result of a divoce), family not close AND VERY Happy (he is with someone who is right for him).  Mmmmm! So what is important??

Waiting for???

November 1, 2013

I find myself waiting – for the weekend, for the political climate to change, for people to be different than they are, for life to give me more of what I want. I’m into action AND the future doesn’t come as quickly as I would like. Then again, some future events can be postponed – age, illness, frailty, poor eye sight. Waiting brings up anxiety. Sometimes it freezes action and activity.

I don’t live as much as I would like to live in the “NOW”. Why? Because of those expectations that I’m waiting for. Waiting for “NOW” seems silly, doesn’t it!!