Book: Reflections

Reflections - bringing attention to your daily life by Désirée Steinmann

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Reflections of the Week

What is The Truth in This Situation?

2011-05-07 16:44 (comments: 0)

We see everything that we experience through a unique filter, which is true only for ourselves and cannot be compared with the filters of the others. These filters result from our experiences, our culture, from the role models we’ve had and from our upbringing and last but not least, from the mood at the given moment. If a person has grown up in a supportive environment in which everybody has always wanted the best for him or her, this person will perceive all people as trustworthy and friendly. If this person meets another, who perhaps hasn’t been so blessed and grew up in an environment where violence, crime and danger were part of the daily life, they will approach each other very differently. The first person will be very open and trusting and the other very cautious and suspicious. Both would be surprised by the behavior of the other and they would form opinions about the other based solely on their own impressions. We often try to assess a situation, find reasons and find comparisons in our head– and all of a sudden a simple situation turns into a whole story, just based on our individual point of view! 

Let’s take as an example one of my recent coaching discussions.  Let’s call the client “Monika”.

Monika is very ambitious and has big career plans. She is successful, she works very hard to stand her grounds in an environment where she doesn’t have many female colleagues and where she achieves her goals with great dedication. For a long time now she’s been hoping to get promoted and unfortunately recently she’s been passed over for promotion again. During our session she really let off steam and she kept repeating that she had no choice but to look for another job. After she had vehemently complained about all that injustice and discrimination and after she had calmed down a bit, it became clear to me that in order to deal with this situation it was necessary to first discern her emotions from the facts. What was really true in that situation?

After some emotional stories we finally arrived at two facts:

  1. She was passed over for promotion.
  2. She wanted to advance in her career.

All the assumptions why she wasn’t promoted were only her assumptions and speculations without a solid proof. She hadn’t even talked to her boss about the real reasons.

In this situation we agreed on the next steps in order to gain more clarity. She decided to talk to her boss in order to understand why she hadn’t been promoted. In her own opinion she was well integrated in her team, she completed all her tasks with flying colors and delivered better results than expected. She was quite surprised to learn that the others had a slightly different picture of her.

She found out that her boss thought she wasn’t proactive enough, however he admitted that she excelled in completing the tasks that were assigned to her. She also realized that the other managers hadn’t known her too well. She has never invested time and energy in networking in order to raise the awareness about herself among the very people who would be deciding about the promotion. She trusted that her boss would simply suggest her for promotion.


Now we were ready to set clear goals:

  • to take over or to develop interesting project to show a proactive attitude
  • to take every opportunity to present her successes to the key people in order to market herself as the next promotion candidate in the decision-making circles.

Before our session Monika was ready to give up and to look for another job.  Unfortunately, as it so often happens, there was a probability that she would fall into the same trap again. After dealing with her emotions and analyzing the sheer facts she was ready to understand what was really true and what was not, and she developed a strategy which will lead her to success!




Set up as an ideal the facing of reality as honestly and as cheerfully as possible.


Dr. Karl Menninger


We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them.


Anais Nin


Reality doesn't bite, rather our perception of reality bites.


Anthony J. D'Angelo

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