Have you ever felt that the people around you were acting like children and you were the only real adult in the room? It could be at work, or at a family gathering, a community meeting, or reading some blog. Maybe you listened to people gossip, share opinions as if they were facts, or watched as people argued without listening to each other. Or, you were the teacher or leader and no one was interested in accomplishing the goals. Or, people were yelling, getting upset, and insisting on their own rightness. What do you do, if at the moment, you are the only real adult in the room?

First, breathe and calm your racing mind. Step back and observe what is happening, keeping your observation nonjudgmental.

Second, pray. Prayer, in this sense, is for setting your ego aside and allowing a Higher Intelligence to emerge in your thinking. It may be as simple as saying: "Help me to see truly in this situation." As you set aside ego needs (need to be right, need to have your way, need to control others, need to impress others, need to run away from this, etc) ask what needs to happen. If you can rise above the pettiness and the conflicts for a few minutes, and listen, you'll get a sense of what needs to happen and how to go about getting there.

Third, lead everyone toward the goal. The goal may be as simple as changing the topic of the conversation, or to stop hurting each other. It may be helping people to see that the goal is important to them. It may be that they have some strong unmet needs and they need you to listen. Move toward the goal with confidence trusting you are doing the right thing. If you trust and you are confident, you will speak with authority. If you speak with authority, people will listen.

In order to lead people in this way, there are a few things you must do to prepare:
1. Take nothing personally. If you are taking it personally, your ego is in charge. You must set aside any need you have to be offended, self-righteously right, or the victim. You are only attacked if you feel attacked. Remind yourself that it really isn't personal. People are trying to get their needs met, however inappropriate their actions may be.

2. Stay focused on the goal. All of your thoughts, speech and actions should help you toward the goal. Anything else you can release. For example, sarcasm, whining, and complaining are usually counterproductive.

3. Be concerned for the well-being of everyone. Those you exclude will challenge your leadership.

A real adult is an effective center of influence. Everything you think, feel, say, and do has an effect. If your focus is on what impact others are having on you, you cannot lead well. When you feel affected, let that be a signal for action. Shift your focus from your needs to the needs of others, and become aware of your effect. It takes courage to step up like this, and we need your courage. At any moment, the rest of us could forget ourselves and act like selfish children. We need you to be the one sane person in the room who will lead us back to sanity. We need you to be an adult.

Author's Bio: 

William Frank Diedrich is a speaker, executive coach, and the author of four books. His new book, Adults at Work: How Individuals and Organizations Can Grow Up, is now available at http://adults-at-work.com or at http://intelligentspirit.com/catalog.html . Adults at Work is an insightful and practical book that links spiritual, emotional, mental, and organizational development.