A young woman engaged me in conversation about a challenge she was having with her boss. She shared that she felt that her boss was treating her somewhat like a child and that it was creating some difficulties for her in maintaining focus on her duties. In many ways this is very similar to what happens when traders have relationship difficulties with their significant others. It begins to get in the way of their trading, especially when the source of conflict is the trading itself. This article is designed to help those who don’t know how to talk to their partners when things become “tough.”
Allen looked quizzically at the charts on his monitors. For the fourth time today he had been stopped out, and he had only taken five trades. But he smiled to himself despite the four losses because he knew that he had traded this entire session “as” a winner (meaning that he had planned every trade, had traded every plan and he had followed all of his rules – explicitly). He knew that he had achieved a private victory today as he also realized that it was critically important to approach his trading one-day and one trade at a time. He had learned that trading requires 100% of his attention in order to focus intently on what matters most in the trade and that to do that he had to remain in the moment, for the moment, fully available, fully present and in the “now” of the trade while resonating with objective reality. He felt good about his effort and knew that as long as he created consistency in mastering the trading process (continually building his skill levels, documenting his mechanical data and internal data, and following through with his commitments) that he would build greater capacity for strength and endurance in the trade. But there was a fly in the ointment. Carol, his wife and as well her family chided Allen for doing what they thought was taking a huge amount or risk with his money and took every opportunity to tell him so; especially when he had small losses like today. Additionally, Carol felt that he was not only wasting his time but she felt angry as she considered that the money Allen used to trade with could be better applied to other family needs and investments. Allen felt dismayed by Carol’s lack of support and frequent hostility and dreaded the arguments that ensued, which disrupted their otherwise happy marriage. He wanted to keep the peace, but he also really loved trading and believed in his ability to succeed.
If you are experiencing similar discord in your relationship due to a misalignment of attitudes about your trading or if your issue is related more to the negative comments of family and/or friends due to their disapproval then that is a different concern but it requires the same response. It is time to have an open and honest dialogue about the issue and you must be willing to listen. Here are some ways to approach this conversation. These points, in part, come from my friend Stanley Wachs, Ph.D., a communications consultant. Let’s review Allen’s options:
1. Allen should make an appointment to meet with Carol and anyone else in the family who disparages his trading. In this face-to-face meeting, he should look her in the eye and say, “I need to talk with you about a difficult issue.” Then he should pause briefly. Wachs points out that these initial words are important. “He is not saying he wants to ‘chat’ with her; he is not saying that Carol or anyone else is a difficult person, or suggesting that she is only interested in herself; he is not saying he is angry. He is simply saying he needs to talk with her about a difficult issue.”
2. After this initial statement, Allen should “say what he sees.” This step includes stating in a factual way what he has observed. For example, “You have not asked me to show you what my trading entails. Additionally, you have looked away and walked away when I have attempted to bring this up in the past. This affects my ability to communicate positively with you.” Allen should again pause briefly after this statement. Wachs notes that it’s important to be forthright in describing both the behavior and the impact of the behavior. “Don’t be judgmental or offer an opinion about why she looked away or walked away.” State your observations but don’t assign motivations to the behavior you have observed.
3. The next step is for Allen to acknowledge his role in the situation or his reservations about the topic. For example, “I didn’t bring this up before because I thought the situation would change,” or “I held back from speaking to you sooner because I was new to trading.”
4. An optional step at this point is for Allen to state the good intentions of Carol. For example, he might say, “I know you want the best for us financially,” or “You are really good at coming up with ideas for us to do better financially.” If, however, Allen’s honest view is that Carol really doesn’t care, or he can’t make a positive statement in good faith, he should skip this step.
5. Next, Allen should ask Carol for her thoughts. “How do you see it?” or “Do you see the situation differently?” Wachs stresses that at this point it’s essential to be genuinely prepared to listen and understand the other’s point of view. “He must not debate or argue, but hear her side fully, without interrupting her. He must listen deeply and curiously, abandoning control about how he sees it. She may be angry with him for bringing it up. She may say she hasn’t been well. She may say she’s has looked away or walked away because she thought he was selfish. Allen doesn’t know what Carol will say and must not try to control it. His job is to hear her emotions and her passions—as well as the content.”
6. After Carol has stated her perspective, Allen should summarize what he has heard and compare their two views of her behavior about his trading.
7. Finally, Allen should ask Carol what it would take for her to support his trading more fully. He should explore with her what needs to change or what she needs in order to partner with him in his trading, or to be OK with his trading, which is very important to him. Allen should work with her to create solutions that will address her needs and his concerns.
Even in a relationship individuals have the right to express themselves through endeavors that they love, especially if of course they are positive, growth oriented and have the potential of enriching the unit. And, it’s important to approach the conflict in a proactive, positive and respectful way… just the way you would want your partner to approach you. This is still an aspect of your mental game. Remember, it’s all in your head.
Written by Dr. Woody Johnson, Online Trading Academy Instructor. Dr. M. Woodruff Johnson has actively and successfully traded stock options, forex and futures since 2000. He is the former Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente, Watts Counseling and Learning Center. He holds certifications in Accelerated Learning, Neurosensory Development and hypnotherapy, and he is a Certified NLP Master Practitioner. Dr. Woody is also an Associate Professor and teaches graduate psychology courses at Pacific Oaks College and Ryokan College. He has provided clinical staff services in hospitals and community clinics as well. He has a passion for helping others to achieve their goals and get the results in trading and life that they desire. Dr. Woody has been using mind/body healing techniques both professionally and personally with much success for many years. He is the author of “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”