…and authentic communication starts from “OK-Ness”.
So, what is “OK-ness”? “-ness” is a suffix to indicate a state of being. It makes an adjective into a noun. Eg. Happiness = the state of being happy. “OK-ness” means the state of being fully OK with yourself and with others. As with every state of being, it comes from within. We can’t “do” happy or “do” OK; it’s something we are or we aren’t. OK-ness is a life position.
Let me share with you in a bottom-line style the history of “OK-ness”. (*)
According to Eric Berne, the father of Transactional Analysis, the life position we adopt depends on our belief in our own value and the value of others at any given time. Thomas Harris (Author of the book “I’m OK, you’re OK”) further suggested four basic life positions that can change depending on how we respond to the situation, and the way we perceive and experience a situation depends upon our life position. Franklin Ernst diagrammed this in a repertory grid that his friend Stephen Karpman suggested he call the “OK Corral”. The four positions discussed at the that time are as follows:
- I’m OK (by me) and You’re OK (by me) – (+/+)
- I’m not OK (by me) and You’re OK (by me) (-/+)
- I’m OK (by me) and You’re not OK (by me) (+,-)
- I’m not OK (by me) and You’re not OK (by me) (-/-)
Dr. Taibi Kahler postulates that there is only one existential life position: “I’m OK, you’re OK”. All the others are behavioral life positions, indicating that the person is in some form of distress, wearing a mask, and therefore contributing to more miscommunication. The table illustrates the life positions and how they relate to communication and miscommunication.
Authentic leadership communication starts from OK-ness. Because only when we start from OK-ness, we have access to our full potential and the capacity and ability to really connect with the other person. Only when we truly connect, trust can build and people are willing to lean in and engage.
It’s not always easy to stay in OK-ness. When we are stressed, we are no longer in an OK-Zone and shift to an “I’m OK, you are not OK” or “You are OK, I am not OK” position. (or I’m not OK, you’re not OK) It is in these positions that we experience negative thoughts and emotions. From this place, we loose the connection to our authentic Self and communication cannot take place, nor can it be positive or productive. Furthermore, when we communicate from one of these positions, we loose leadership impact and trust, as the tone we use gets more aggressive, blaming or sad depending on the behavioral distress masks we wear.
There is no life without stress and we all have our predictable mechanisms that can sabotage our relationships. The advantage of knowing your own distress mechanism well is that you can better manage it and choose to spend as much time as possible in your positive, authentic Self.
Choosing to lead from your OK-zone is the key to experiencing the power of transparent leadership. Choosing to live and work as much as possible from OK-ness is a choice that goes with inner work and growth. It’s much more than a skill. It’s a mindset, a way of life.
The energy created from OK-ness is open, resourceful, promotes transparency in relationships and fosters trust.
Choosing to lead from OK-ness goes beyond the words we communicate. It’s also about the messages we transmit with our being. I can apply a learned technique and speak words that “sound good”, but if on the inside I’m not yet back into my OK-ness (e.g. I look down on the person I’m speaking with), my leadership impact will not be positively powerful. Even if we try to manage ourselves well, this “energy” will be in the room. The other person will sense this, real connection cannot happen and trust cannot build. This makes the difference between “applying a skill” or having integrated a skill like a muscle in such a way that is has become part of who you are.
Once you have chosen to live and lead from OK-ness, you can allow yourself to step into transparent leadership and be fully authentic. There’s nothing to hide.
Let’s play and experiment with this: I would love you to focus this week on spending as much time as possible in OK-ness.
- On a regular basis through the day, just check-in with yourself if you are in OK-ness.
- If you are not, ask yourself what you need for you to get back into OK-ness.
- Bring the power of OK-ness into your leadership communication and when you enter conversations, think and feel “I’m OK, you are OK”.
- If you become aware of stress and you notice that you are no longer in “I’m OK, you are OK”-position, try to get yourself out there and re-affirm with your mantra “I’m OK, you are OK”
- Feed Nicole’s curiosity and let me know how it went and what the experience has brought you!
- what leading an organization through change from OK-ness would mean…
- how a difficult conversation looks when it is starts from OK-ness…
- what becomes available to you, once you have made a choice to live you life and lead your organization from OK-ness.
Would you like to expand from within and explore more?
- If your way of learning is most productive in group settings, we recommend you to attend one of our next seminars on the Process Communication Model by Dr. Taibi Kahler. We train in a transformative, experiential way, so that your experience will go beyond the model. We guide you towards the integration from within.
- If your way of learning is most productive in a one-to-one setting, contact Nicole to explore if Executive Coaching is your preferred choice.
(*) The text and table illustration on OK-ness are quoted from the new book “Parlez-vous Personality” by Gérard Collignon, Pascal Legrand, John Parr.