Focusing in a Written Response

When a conversation has gone south and you want to engage in relationship repair, set boundaries for the relationship, or end the relationship, a written response can be quite useful. That is, if you refrain from sending off an email that is written while angry, hurt, or in any triggered state. If you do have the self-restraint to hold yourself back from clicking on send, then focusing is not only possible but highly recommended.

Regardless of whether you are engaged in repair, setting boundaries, or ending the relationship, staying focused on the end you have in mind is central to your response.

A basic principal to follow has to do with what you don't say as well as what you do say. In making Lord of the Rings, filmmaker Peter Jackson, used the notion of “Frotocentric” to decide if a scene went into the film or was cut. The idea, then, is to decide what is “Frotocentric” in your conversation and in this case, written correspondence.

If you desire relationship repair, it is “Frotocentric” to be self-responsible and address all the ways in which you contributed to the situation. Apologies go a long way if they are sincere and they show that you are really acknowledging your part of the situation. Being vulnerable and self-responsible actually takes more courage than to “act strong” when you are really coming from a defensive posture. Let the other person know why the relationship is important to you and how you intend to follow through. Also, ask the other person what you might do to create repair.

If you are setting limits, it is “Frotocentric” to be clear about the limits you want, state them in behavioral terms without any interpretation of the other person's motives or intent, and state the behaviors that you do want in a positive way. Remember that the brain does not hear 'no' or 'not,' so the more you are able to speak in the positive, the more likely it will be that your wishes will be carried out.

If you are ending a relationship, it is “Frotocentric” to stay out of the weeds. The details of who said what are unimportant when you are ending a relationship. Given that each person probably perceives the situation differently, it is “Frotocentric” to let go of coming to agreement or proving that you are 'right.' Staying focused might mean getting out of the relationship cleanly without creating any further pain for yourself or the other. Using a “Frotocentric” approach, you might say something about why you are ending the relationship and that you still wish the other person well.

The good thing about writing and waiting is that you can review what you wrote, show it to others and get feedback, and rewrite it or tweak it until you feel good with it. When you are ready to send it, make sure you are clear about stating what you want from the other. If you want a response, let the person know that by making such requests as: “Please let me know that you received this” or “I look forward to hearing your response as soon as you are ready” or “Please let me know when I might hear back from you. Thanks in advance.” Without any clear request, you are left wondering if your email or letter reached the other or if they have any intention of responding.

If you are ending a relationship, you may want to make a different kind of statement that clarifies that you do not want the person to respond.

Stay focused on the mission.”
- Naveen Jain

Whether you are doing relationship repair, setting limits, or ending a relationship, staying focused is akin to Keeping your Lamborghini on the Road. Careening off the road or ending up in a ditch does not get you to where you want to go.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

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