Our “edge” is that relationally dysfunctional move we do (when we are not at our best) in times of stress or conflict. Donald Trump, for example, repeatedly goes on the offensive when someone challenges him on his actions. Therefore, one of Trump’s edges is defensiveness, and, in particular, it’s defensively going on the offensive (he likely believes that “the best defense is a good offense.” If you don’t like what they’re saying to you, then go on the attack and blame them). Basketball coach Bobby Knight’s edge is rage. When he doesn’t like what someone is doing he will rage at them and become extremely abusive. In the short run, his rages shut people down and leave him the space to vent. My edge is becoming passive-aggressive. I don’t have to directly deal with someone’s anger, yet I get to stick it to them all the same. Someone else’s edge might be shutting down and silencing, whereas still another person’s edge may be placating and pleasing.
The bottom line is—we ALL have our edges. If you are a human being, you have your “edge.” And most humans, have two or three edges that show up time and time again with anyone and everyone. You see, the thing about edges is, they’re ALL about us. They’re NOT about the person facing us. In fact, that person is practically irrelevant. We will do what we do with everyone we meet—at work, at home and out in the world. Obviously our edges will show up the most with those closest to us, however, the truth is we do the same move time and again with anyone who pushes us in some way—when we’re not at our best.
So if everyone has their edge then what’s the big deal? The big deal is that our edges get in the way of our success at home and in life. If you tend to be a hothead, then while your anger may shut people up in the short run, it also pushes people away in the long run. If you tend to constantly defend against feedback, people will stop giving it to you in the short run—and will begin to lose hope in your potential in the long run. In business, a person’s edge is often the culprit causing firings, low business success, being passed over for promotions or having a high staff turnover rate. People don’t like to work for erratic bosses or be surrounded by colleagues with tough edges. And clients prefer to hire those who are able to manage their upset in healthy, relational ways. So, why work our edges? Because to not do so hurts us.
Five ways your edge is harming you at work and home:
1. Your edge keeps you stuck in repetitive patterns that set you up to experience the same problems again and again.
2. Your edges get old to those around you and they begin to pull away, give up or tune out when you refuse to change them.
3. Clients lose faith in your ability to take care of them or help them and will start to go to your competitor if you don’t show up differently.
4. Your edges get passed down to the next generation if you don’t work them. This leaves your children having to unfairly battle with the same struggles you have.
5. Your edges, left unchanged, stop you from growing into your greatest self and prevent you from reaching all the success you were meant to have.
When it comes to your edge—WORK IT. Humbly look at what you do when you are not at your best and get clarity about what your edge is. Then courageously work to manage it and change it.
Challenge: Don’t defend against your edge—own it. With clarity you can change it. With denial, you’re destined to repeat the dysfunction.
Note: For helping professionals interested in working their edges–come join us for a 6-week teleclass https://lisamerlobooth.com/working-edges/