Before Erik Granqvist was a goalie coach, he was a kindergarten teacher. He noticed with young children that when everything was not as they wanted it to be, they went on a strike. “They stand in the corner, or they storm off the playground and just stand in isolation and go on a silent strike. When I would see this happen, I would acknowledge the child, go up to them, and without any judgment I would say, ‘Ah, I see you’re on a strike now. Well, tell me when you want to join again.’ In my experience, it would take maybe 15 seconds before they wanted to join again. The only thing they wanted was to be seen. They wanted someone to see that they were treated unfairly, or someone to see that they were sad.
Erik noticed that it’s not just kindergarteners – many of us do this ourselves when we’re feeling hurt or angry. We put up walls to protect ourselves, to avoid saying something we might regret, or because we’re frustrated and want to be seen.
So with older goalies, I started to do this same thing. With one goalie I had, if the first 10 shots were wrong in a practice, he went on a strike. He got really stubborn and frustrated and angry and closed off to the players. He was literally in a strike mode for one hour because the expectations for how practice started were not to his liking.
It might be difficult to be honest with yourself because it can sound a little juvenile, but how often do you close yourself off or shut someone out because you’re feeling stubborn or hurt? Erik went up to the goalie and said, “It looks like you’re on a strike now.” At first he was upset and was embarrassed that someone was calling him out on his behaviour, but later that night Erik received an e-mail from the goalie apologizing. After thinking about it, he understood what he was doing and realized that he does the same thing with his wife – he just shuts her out. When he became aware of the emotions behind his behaviour, he was able to eliminate the mental obstacle of the strike, and he became a better goalie (and probably a better husband!) as a result.
We build these walls and shut people out, but they won’t know what is upsetting us or how they can help if we don’t communicate. We need to fully expose ourselves and reach out to let people know how we’re feeling.
Game Plan: Try not to waste time making a point or waiting for others to acknowledge you. Recognize those times when you do go into strike mode and ask yourself if there is a better way to remedy the situation in a way that benefits both you and the relationship.
Quote source: Tanya Lord
The Power Within by Mike Valley and Justin Goldman