27 May 2019

Difficult relationships – and 8 tips towards something better

How many times have you overheard or said, “I could be more effective if it wasn’t for the people around me – they are just so difficult to get along with”. Or “They are just so unreasonable! I really can’t bear the way they talk to me".

If your relationships trouble you, this week great insights and 8 top tips that can be useful in every situation. Guest blogger Murray Paterson's expertise in relationships has been honed by 35 years as a senior manager in the corporate world, and also comes informed by his strong grounding as a teacher of mindfulness.

You may well find Murray's insights and tips helpful in everyday life or in your own workplace.

Also, Murray is joining Ruth as co-presenter in what could well be a life-transforming meditation and mindfulness based retreat in September, Mindful Relationships. 

The experiences and knowledge, along with the expertise Ruth and Murray bring to this key topic of relationships are very synergistic.

They make a great team.

And of course, speaking from experience, Ruth is fabulous at helping people express their emotions and build good relationships in a very practical yet truly joyful way!!! It is hard for me to quantify just how much benefit in this regard I have gained from our marriage; it has been wonderful  :)

Also this week, news of the meditation workshop Ruth and I will present in Brunswick on 15th June -  Blue Sky Mind, but first

     Thought for the day

            If you do not transform your suffering

            You will transmit it

                     Richard Rohr

From Murray Paterson…
Working in corporate life for 35+ years as a senior manager and leader has taught me that workplaces are often fraught-places! Rather than bringing us a sense of joy and fulfilment, workplaces are often a source of significant stress and anxiety, and much of this comes from difficult or challenging professional relationships.

If your professional relationships trouble you, are you actively doing something about it?

Or instead do you find yourself endlessly thinking or talking to others about what you should do, what you should say, while ruminating over these thoughts and feelings?

Do you spend your time trying to fall asleep with a sense of unresolved anguish about a professional relationship, or wake in the middle of the night tossing the issue around and around?

I often wonder about the amount of time and energy we devote to worrying about our relationships at work, and the impact this has on our effectiveness, but also on our health and wellbeing.

If this is a common experience for you, then you might like to read through the following reflections, drawn from my experiences in a professional services firm, so that you may be able to gain some perspective and begin to take control of this aspect of your life.

To set the scene, the relationships I am describing are based on particular professional and organisational characteristics of a professional services firm.

In my experience many people who work in the corporate environment

Are typically highly introverted
Have strongly held professional values around perfectionism, expertise and competitiveness
Are extremely fearful of failure
Apply their capacity for complex problem solving to relationship issues (rather than confront them directly)
Prefer to work from precedent rather than to experiment with novelty and innovation
Are addicted to speed in the execution of work
Work under extreme time pressure.

These personal and professional norms lead to relationships which are generally

Hierarchical in nature
Distinguished by silence rather than noise.

And the outcomes are often

Teams of people that do not know each other well
Very low levels of skill in developing interpersonal relationships (and a disinterest in doing so)
A strong reluctance to try to resolve problems (real or perceived) in relationships
A strong preference for judging the competence or ‘value’ of others leading to a fixed mindset  about individuals
Impatience, frustration and even animosity towards others that is largely internally felt but sometimes externally expressed
High levels of stress and anxiety
High levels of unhappiness and suffering
Lack of kindness towards others
Poor focus on tasks due to a distracted and distressed mind.

It seems inevitable that individuals in such a place would have strong deficiencies in the quality of their relationships, a low sense of engagement at work, perhaps a reluctance to come to work even, or to engage fully with those around them. What can we do to improve the nature of these relationships?

What can we do to foster improved working relationships? 

Based upon years of experience helping individuals and teams to transform all of this,
here are my 8 top tips…

1. Develop self-awareness - through learning and practising the skill of mindfulness meditation.

This will improve your capacity for focus and attention and you will enjoy the benefits of lowered anxiety and stress with continued practice.

2. Be curious about your response to the world – making time to reflect on your reaction rather than simply giving in to it.

3. Understand your emotions - the role they have on both what you think and how you think.

4. Practice gratitude - consider how much you rely on others to be where you are today, and to sustain you in the work you do, rather than behave as if you are an independent agent in the world.

5. Start with the best intention - assume that those you work with have the best intention rather than the worst: and always consult your own intention when you are about to do or say something as a method of self-regulation - and aim for your best.

6. Develop compassion - extend a sense of compassion and care firstly to yourself and then to those around you – at home, in your organisation, with your clients or customers

7. Maintain beginner’s mind - be open and fresh. Seek to witness the world from a beginner’s mind rather than one that is set in habitual belief, reaction and response. Give space for creativity.

8. Show up! - choose to bring your whole self to work, an act requiring openness and courage, but which will result in greater personal connection and reduced social isolation

These 8 suggestions may sound easy enough, yet experience tells me applying them is not so easy.

So along with Ruth, I have put together a 5 day retreat where we will gently address these issues and their solutions, along with providing time out to relax, reflect, regenerate and learn more about mindfulness and meditation, do a nice amount of practice together, have free time to walk amidst the natural beauty of the Upper Yarra Valley and its wonderful trees, be massaged, be well fed and generally looked after!

So if you would like to explore how you relate to others – both at work, and in your personal relationships, then please do come to our retreat ‘Mindful Relationships’ at the Yarra Valley Living Centre.

MINDFUL RELATIONSHIPS     9th - 13th September 
with Dr Ruth Gawler and Murray Paterson

Take time out to address what is at the heart of life - relationships

When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world,
We lose connection with one another – and ourselves.     Jack Kornfield

For better relationships with your self, with family, friends and colleagues

Mindfulness practices cultivate greater internal and external awareness
and change our relationships for the better. 

Murray Paterson has a rich history in corporate relationships and mindfulness. Together with Ruth, they can gently guide and support you to a new way of being within relationship.


Dates         Monday 9th at 11.30am (arrive from 9.30) to Friday 13th at 2.00pm, September 2019.

Venue        The Yarra Valley Living Centre, 55 Rayner Court, Yarra Junction, Victoria.

Enquiries and Bookings   Call 1300 651 211   or   Email  clientservices@gawler.org


BLUE SKY MIND  -  Saturday June 15th  -  Melbourne
an Urban day of meditation with Ruth and Ian Gawler

This workshop is suitable for everyone keen to deepen their meditation.

While profoundly instructional and regenerative, the focus will be upon direct experience. Ian and Ruth will lead and guide the day, drawing on their combined experience of meditating and teaching for over 70 years.

The day will be based upon Ian’s new meditation book : Blue Sky Mind

Date            Saturday 15 June, 10am (arrive 9.30) - 4pm.
Venue          Rigpa Melbourne Centre, Level 1, 200 Sydney Rd Brunswick, Vic
                    Easy Public Transport access; free car parking behind the centre      (enter via Edward St); lift access to level 1
Bring          BYO lunch or purchase from the many nearby cafes; morning tea will be provided
Fee              $145 full/$120 concession

Enquiries    Please contact Jenny Anderson on jenny.anderson@rigpa.org.au


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