Getting to Yes, And

Sonia Banks: Silent Agreements


Sonia Banks

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You talk in the book that we learn at an early age to keep our thoughts to ourselves and that plays out later in life at work and in our relationships.

“It literally starts with this sense of ‘am I going to get in trouble if I tell somebody what I think?’ And it's so automatic. It's like you have this conscious understanding that that's what we're supposed to do, right? Because you're told, tell the truth, articulate what you feel, stand up for your point of view. But when you get in the workplace, you sit around a conference table, the first person who tells the boss the truth ends up in a position where they may or may not be in line for that promotion or in a marital or couples situation, you can't say everything you think or feel, because you don't want to undermine the person's sense of confidence and psychological safety in the relationship.”

We’re working on a study right now about the importance of approaching difficult conversations with gratitude as a way to better navigate your problems out loud.

“One of my co-authors, Michelle Owens, refers to this as the misalignment of understanding. And when you have that gratitude and when you're looking at life in terms of abundance, you offer the alignment as a carrot, as a branch to walk out on because you know that fundamentally most of the time there are enough alignments for you to be able to complete a joint thought. This is what improvisation does, right? You message with the creative element to give you more of a buffer and more of an opportunity to see that connection, you know, the one that makes you smile and laugh and want to play through it, instead of looking for an edge or identify a reason to abandon the narrative and the conversation.”

I think it’s interesting that you talk about the silent agreements we make with ourselves and sometimes that means creating a character for ourselves rather than being our true self.

“We create almost like a movie in our mind of what people are seeing when they see us and we become that character and that's what we show up as. It's the person that we leave in the car and instead take the other identity to work because that's the one that sells. That's the one that lets us get this positive reinforcement. But we are literally killing ourselves because that isn't the human condition. And so part of what we say in the book is the way to get through your silent agreement about your health is to start by taking a look at the person that you want to be.”

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