Throughout the last several years, in our ongoing study of various communication behaviors, we uncovered several personality types. One very interesting personality style that we encountered in our research was the "courageous" individual. A "courageous" person possesses specific traits that indicate their tendency to perform courageous acts, more so than others. The courageous personality is about doing what is right. It runs strong on integrity and a solid sense of ethics. Courageous personalities tend to be exceptionally passionate about the causes they believe in. They bravely intervene to prevent mistakes, and don't mind being the whistleblower if it means doing the right thing for the right reasons.
If this sounds like you, you are most comfortable in work situations wherein your actions are in very close alignment with your values and sense of purpose. When you adopt the courageous style of communication with balanced emotion you provide others with clear boundaries of what you believe in and what your limits are, while remaining open to the possibility that different value systems and perspectives exist. People often admire your behavioral consistency and candid approach to communication as you rarely have a problem letting others know where you stand, and why.
Strong-minded, passionate personalities like yours can be an asset to any team -- as you are willing to bring attention to difficult problems and tend to avoid the pitfalls of "groupthink" and conformity. People can be incredibly inspired by the moral clarity of a spirited or "gutsy" voice but if you fail to keep your strong sentiments in check, you may also invite unnecessary drama and conflict into your life. Another issue for courageous types is when you feel that another has violated your sense of right and wrong. When this happens you may be quick to dismiss that individual, judging the rationale for their actions, decisions, and behavior too hastily. When your emotional state is highly energized, you can also become so attached to your interpretation of events and people that you may find yourself alone in your stance.
The world definitely needs brave "courageous crusaders" -- now more so than ever. It can be a difficult and sometimes painful role to fill. Here are three tips to help you keep your moral compass balanced, while bolstering your emotional fortitude to take on difficult situations and pick your battles wisely.
1. Release the judgment.
Keep in mind that others may not be operating with the same level of knowledge and insight that you possess. Each person has had many unique life experiences, leading to varying beliefs -- possibly unlike your own. This can lead to misunderstandings and judgment. Sometimes it is best to hold your tongue and bide your time, at least for a few breaths. Always remember that once another person feels judged, it can be very difficult for them to remain engaged with you in the future.
2. Check your own bias.
Your habit of reacting strongly to events that seem inappropriate or misguided at first blush may be caused by your own emotional intensity. You may not have all the information you need to make accurate conclusions, and even if you do, a feverish approach may not be the wisest course of action. Allow curiosity to flourish between all parties. Ask questions and consider that you may be missing a vital piece of information. Is it possible that the other person sees something that you do not? View each interaction as an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation for differing points of view.
3. Allow others to grow at their own pace.
Even if someone is clearly in the wrong, making a glaring mistake or doing something for the wrong reason, patience is still your best option. You may still have an opportunity to point out the error of their ways -- eventually -- but if you are too quick to negate their actions or beliefs they are far more likely to act defensively rather than see things your way. Give the issue or conversation adequate time for the other party to process things at their own pace. One of the best ways to handle a thorny situation like this is to allow the other person to eventually take credit for solving their own dilemma. If you can hold back on your fervor and facilitate a respectful discussion you may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Remember to ask questions, deferentially, that might lead them to their own answers.