As a courtesy to yourself and others, please don’t feed the fox.

Photo Credit: unsplashphoto_fox-in-the-forest-by-jose-inesta

Photo Credit: unsplashphoto_fox-in-the-forest-by-jose-inesta

I have a friend who is very different from me. She is outgoing, loves to be around people, and is at home when she is the center of attention. Don’t get me wrong, she earns the center of attention with her bubbly personality, charming conversation, great sense of humor, and a heart that is bigger than Texas.

We have been friends for a very long time and in the early days she had no idea how much I cared about her. You see, I’m fairly reserved and don’t volunteer my feelings. She once told me that I was not the easiest person to get to know and I was ever so grateful that she had put in the effort. But how was she to know how important she was to me if I never said or showed it? I had allowed a fox into our friendship by not sharing my true feelings with her.

It’s risky, putting yourself out there. And there are foxes all about. Those sly foxes create doubt, insecurity, and steal joy at every opportunity. Sometimes a fox is another person with whom we don’t see eye-to-eye. Sometimes we carry the fox within ourselves. He’s on the hunt, and there are ways to eradicate him from your environment, both personal and professional.

There is a certain amount of awareness necessary for combatting foxes. You have to keep an eye out and do something about them before they have established a den in your garden. And you can’t ever feed the fox. They always come back when you feed them. Read on for some strategies to keep the foxes at bay.

Don’t believe everything you hear.
What people say isn’t always what they mean. Give them the benefit of the doubt and ask questions when what they say doesn’t align with who they are or what you know of them from past experience. Restate what you heard and ask for clarification. Getting defensive feeds the fox. And we don’t want to feed the fox.

Don’t believe everything you see.
Ever have trouble “reading” someone? Thought someone didn’t like you because every time you talked to them they had a sour look on their face? Nonverbal cues are so subtle! Crossing your arms when you talk to someone may just mean that you are cold. Don’t ignore the nonverbals altogether and don’t give them more weight than they deserve. Assumptions feed the fox. And we don’t want to feed the fox.

Don’t believe everything you read.
Emails and text messages are so convenient and so easy to misconstrue. They only offer words. They can’t convey the nuances of communication – hearing the inflection of a voice, seeing animated body language – that comes with in-person interaction. Foxes have many easy opportunities to creep under fences and jump over obstacles to steal your confidence within this realm. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Emojis won’t help if there is a misunderstanding. Ask questions, and when it gets complex, pick up the phone or hold the discussion until you can meet face-to-face. Exchanging words without meaning feeds the fox. And we don’t want to feed the fox.

Confidence is the ultimate hound. It chases down the fox, finding every trace and warning you of its presence. Feed the hound. Give it positive self-talk, good food, good sleep, and people who are supportive. Be the hound in someone else’s life. Encourage them. Clearly communicate. Ask clarifying questions. Breathe. Smile.

Would you like some help with the care and feeding of your inner hound? Consider taking “Effective Communication” from our online campus.

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