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PAX~World News

Newsletters from Alison Armstrong specially selected to intrigue and inspire.

PAX-World News Embraces Squirrels

Issue 40

One of the biggest complaints women have about men is that "it's soooo hard to get through to them." There are several reasons for this and one of the biggest is: Because Women Avoid Using Men's Words.

Case in point: Women never have problems. Oh, no, no, no. You will not catch us with a problem. Problems are taboo. Instead, we have issues, concerns, complaints, challenges and things we need to talk about. These are the words we use instead of saying, "I have a problem."

And you want to know the problem with that??? Men understand "problem." Men are compelled to solve "problems." Problems have solutions. Problems are finite. Solving problems can even be fun!

But "issues?" As my husband, Greg, said about issues, "I'm heading into the swamp. Bye guys. Nice knowing you."

Try this: Interview the men in your life about all of the above words. Ask them what each word means to them and whether it makes them want to act...or something else entirely. This might inspire you to go have some problems...

As one man said so eloquently: "A problem to a man is like a squirrel to a dog!"

In Understanding Men, we explore the top 6 words that communicate with who men are and how men are motivated. Used in partnership, these words are a gift to men and the source of much satisfaction for women. But they are all uncomfortable to say and mean. "Problem" is the 7th word. Use it well and often and sincerely!

PAX~ World News Recognizes the Accountable Feminine

Issue 35

Many years ago I heard someone say that people were more accurately described as "Human Doings" than Human Beings. If you are almost too busy to read this, you can probably relate.

In our productivity-oriented culture, the value of a person is often calculated by how much they produce and how much they are in charge of making happen. In other words, folks are as valuable as they are accountable. Since women survive by adapting to the prevailing values, women have become increasingly productive and pursue leadership and accountability as if their lives depend upon it. The result: women are exhausted by spending so much of their time and energy being masculine because accountability is inherently masculine.

But what if there was a feminine version of accountability?

I suggest that the "Accountable Feminine" pays attention not to doing, but to being. The Accountable Feminine provides extraordinary ways of being, as her contribution to others. Another name for this? We call her the Queen. Please take a moment out of your busy-doing day to celebrate the Queen you are and the Queen's you have around you. What extraordinary qualities of being can you be counted on for? What extraordinary qualities of being do the women you love bring to your environment every day?

You can count on me for Freedom, Truth, Partnership and Contentment.

Whatever we appreciate, we get more of naturally. I'm for more being - if only because it makes all the doing more satisfying. Understanding Women

PAX~World News Has a Great ASK

Issue 31

A persistent problem we all have is getting what we need from each other. For men and women, with our same gender and the opposite sex, not getting what we need is our most frequent complaint, the sorest point of contention and the greatest source of hurt feelings, and experiencing being disrespected, disregarded and unappreciated.

What if you could fix this by developing a Great Ask? What if the best compliment you could give another is, "Wow, now that's a great ASK!"

Fresh back from Core Partnership, I'm bursting with gratitude for learning how to have a great ask. If you want one too, keep reading...

Elements of the Great ASK:

  • TELL: What I need is (stated simply; one word or sentence)
  • TELL: What that would look like is (say what happen and what would not happen)
  • TELL: What this would provide for me is (describe what you could be, do, have, express, think, contribute, enjoy, etc.)
  • ASK: What do you need to give me what I'm asking for? (and then give them the space to think about it and listen with an open mind).

These elements are bulleted rather than numbered, because the order in which you say them depends on your partnership. In a solid partnership where the fact that you need it is sufficient to get their interest, you can start at the top and let the dialogue evolve from there. Your partner will often ask for most of the other information if they need it to agree.

In a work relationship, without a history of responding to your needs, it may work better to start with what it would provide - specifically, what you'd be able to be/do/have/contribute to them. For example, to your boss: "I know you want my most creative, out-of-the-box solution for this problem, and there is something I need to be able to think like that..."

With someone who has less confidence about being able to satisfy you, you may want to start at the bottom, e.g. "In a moment I'll ask if there's anything you need to help me with this. Could I explain what I need and why?"

Having a Great ASK - and then making sure to APPRECIATE the effort someone puts into providing what you need - can quickly clear up most of the frustration people have in this area.

To your freedom,

P.S. After you develop a great ASK, the amount of pressure you exert, and the aftermath must be worked out. Some of us exert too much or too little pressure. Some of us micro-manage the delivery and drive our partners crazy. While others abandon our partners to work out fulfilling on the request without sufficient clarity, support or appreciation. These problems are addressed in future issues. A Great Ask and Beyond

PAX~World News Appreciates the Difference

Issue 29

For two decades, I've been learning about the motivations of men. What compels and inspires them; what sends them to a job day-after-day, even if they hate it; what has men go the extra mile for others, even when it's out of their way; what gets them up off the couch to help, even when they're dog-tired. The words are Honor, Duty and Obligation. And it's important to understand the difference.

We could go into the dictionary and explore the nuances between each of these words. But more important is how men experience the difference. For instance, a man will do something for his mother out of duty and obligation. Not because she nagged or pressured him but because taking care of her is part of his definition of himself as a man. He may hate what he has to do; he may even complain about it every time. But not doing it is not an option. Not because he's afraid of upsetting his mother. It's not an option because of who he is.

So what's the difference between something being a duty or obligation and an honor? Whether or not it is appreciated! Same effort, same action, same use of energy and resources...completely different experience for him, when it's appreciated. A duty or obligation can become an honor, all because of how well it is received.

If the men around you do what you ask but complain about it or drag their feet, you're probably not providing enough appreciation. Either because you think you shouldn't have to, or you're holding out until they do it perfectly. Or you might be appreciating them in your world, but not in theirs. Try this: Ask the men in your life how they like to be appreciated. Ask them what forms of appreciation make the biggest difference for them. You'll probably be surprised. It's often a smile, a sincere "thank you," or a soft touch on the arm. Baked goods and B.J.s are popular too! (You count on me for the truth, don't you?)

This means YOU are the difference between duty, obligation and HONOR. Men are honored to care for those who truly appreciate what they are doing ~ spending the one life they have making yours a little easier, better or more beautiful. The Appreciation Equation

PAX~World News Breaks a Bad Habit

Issue 28

If you've been following the PAX~World News for awhile, you know that I get a lot of inspiration from being in Colorado with my young horse, Hallelujah, and my friend Michele Skerl. Lately we've been distinguishing what Training looks like in the context of Partnership. By reverse-engineering the way Michele trains horses, we've distinguished several phases in the creation of a new, empowering skill, practice or way of being.

The first phase is "Breaking a Bad Habit" and, as I've talked to Michele about it, I've discovered that intuitively we're pretty darn good at this at PAX. These are the steps we've identified to break a bad habit:

  1. Assume there's a good reason for it to exist in the first place and find out what it is. The reasons will include long-standing perceptions and beliefs that have made that habit a good idea. For example, women have a habit of emasculating men. But it comes from the misperception that men are misbehaving and therefore, deserve to be punished and need to be weakened to keep us safe.
  2. Examine the mechanics of the habit. What are the actions, step-by-step, that add up to the unproductive behavior? In Understanding Men, we unravel each step of the unconscious thought process that results in men being emasculated by women.
  3. Completely illuminate the cost of the habit. Since 1991, I've been talking to women about the short- and long-term effects of emasculating men. The short- term effects are a loss of power and an emotional response of rage or fury. When is enraging a man ever a good idea? And the long-term effects reveal that emasculating men has men relate to women the opposite of what comes naturally to men. Instead of naturally admiring and cherishing us, emasculated men will distrust women and compete with them. Instead of respect and generosity, an emasculated man will have disdain for women and be stingy. And instead of protecting women-the most natural thing for a man to do-an emasculated man will protect himself from women.
  4. Create a new commitment. Bad habits aren't actually broken-they are replaced. Since each habit is actually a day-by-day expression of an ongoing belief and commitment, the trick is replacing an old belief and an outdated commitment with one that is new and empowering. This actually takes all the struggle and effort out of "breaking a bad habit." The new commitment naturally finds ways to be expressed without a lot of struggle. If you're a graduate of Understanding Men, you have probably found that being in partnership with men and celebrating them is easier than you anticipated.
  5. Find like-minded people who share your new commitment. This step isn't necessary but it's helpful and makes creating a new, good habit a lot more fun.

Blessings to you and yours,

P.S. Each of our programs starts by addressing the bad habits women have that undermine their relationships with men and other women. For example, in Understanding Love & Commitment, we start by illuminating the way women already relate to romance and commitment that prevents them from having satisfying partnerships.

PAX~World News Wants to be a Videogame

Issue 27

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing an airplane ride with a magnificent young man on his way to a college recruitment visit. When I asked Aaron what he did for fun, he said, "videogames" and went on to explain how he had to be careful not to spend too much time at them. Writing this now, I can just imagine the groans coming from some women. Whether a man in your life in entranced by videogames, or not, there is a lot you can learn from why men love them. In fact, if you were more like a videogame, men would be equally enchanted by you!

Why? Let's take this point-by-point:

  1. In most videogames, if he just moves his player, he gets points. Translation: credit for effort! I've had men say to me, Why is there only 100 points or 0? Why don't I ever get 80 points? They're speaking to the way that women zoom in on what's missing or wrong instead of giving credit for what they're men did accomplish, even when it isn't perfect or the final result.
  2. If he takes bigger risks and succeeds he gets a lot more points. Translation: extra credit for being bold and swinging out! Do you like surprises? Then he's got to get points just for going for it, whether or not it's a home run.
  3. If he takes a risk or makes a wrong move and dies, he can push the reset button. Translation: if he totally blows it, he can try again. This is what it means to be truly forgiven. It means the world.
  4. The learning curve is graduated; the game starts out simpler, then as he masters each level, he gets to choose to up the challenge. Translation: men move from one success to another. A man who is winning with a woman while dating, may take on the "girlfriend" challenge. When he's mastered making his girlfriend happy and knows he can give her what she needs, that makes it possible for him to take on a bigger challenge~marriage.

So, who wants to be a videogame?

PAX~World News Waits for the Hero

Issue 24

Every once in awhile my brain makes a connection that is so glaringly obvious -- in that moment -- that I feel like an idiot for not having seen it years before. I made one of these connections just last weekend during Understanding Men.

For years we have been teaching women to "Wait for the Well" and to honor men's "Transition Time." The first involves waiting patiently for a man to think before answering a question. We recommend counting to 30 and he'll usually start talking in 18-20 seconds. We encourage women to do this over and over again, not assuming a pause is the end of his response. Because men are not shallow; they're more like deep wells. The second involves leaving a man alone while he transitions from one focus to another. This can take a couple of moments (to shift how he's listening, for example) or a half an hour or more to get his body and brain home from work.

The insight I had this weekend is that we not only have to Wait for the Well, we also need to Wait for the Hero. You may recall my airport adventures - another way of looking at that fiasco is that I didn't wait for my hero to get his bearings and then lead the way. I charged off without him. Translation: I act as quickly as I speak, prepared to change course if necessary because I have not committed to a plan. Unlike my hero, who takes the time to create a plan and commit to it, then execute it for my benefit.

If you're like me, you might be moving very quickly during the holidays. After all, there is so much to do! I'd encourage you to pause for partnership. Tell a man how he can make your life easier - and then wait for him to get his heroic arms around it.

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