Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

The 3 Secrets to Conflict Resolution

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Good leaders are great at resolving conflict. Great leaders keep conflict from arising in the first place. Here’s how they do it.

In engineering “friction” can be defined as any waste of energy that has been harnessed to produce work. Entrepreneurs grow wealthy by reducing the economic friction between buyers and sellers. In business there is a form of friction that all too often kills plans, wastes energy, and ruins friendships: people fighting with each other.

I’ve investigated my fair share of work place squabbles. I almost never found two-legged villains at the heart of the problem. Instead I discovered hard-working, well intentioned people that had unintentionally allowed a disembodied demon into their midst: Ambiguity.

In one instance a sales department and shipping department were at each other’s throats. Both sides were convinced that they were the victims of a combination of incompetence and evil intentions on the part of the other. After scraping away the rancor, I discovered that the sales department was upset because product was not being shipped “on time.” Shipping was fed up with getting a flood of orders late in the day that they could not possibly ship without working into the night. The real problem was that both sides were operating from entirely different assumptions about what “on time” meant. I quickly brokered an agreement: any order received by shipping before 2:00 PM would ship the same day. Later orders would ship the next. I wrote the new policy down and distributed it. When the ambiguity disappeared so did the problem and the rancor.

I have often argued that a trait that distinguishes great leaders is an ability to creatively use the tension produced by ambiguity. Great leaders don’t live in a black or white world. Instead they love shades of grey. However, this trait is most effective when applied to strategic decisions. It is ambiguity surrounding execution that so often leads to disaster. Business execution is like an intricate, multi-faceted relay race. Ambiguity about who is passing the baton to whom by when almost certainly means that the precious baton will hit the floor and the postmortem recriminations will begin. In business, “crisp execution” is the Holy Grail, and crisp execution relies on eliminating ambiguity.

Again and again I’ve brought warring parties together and patiently heard them out. Then I would politely make a request: “Where’s the paper trail?” In almost every case there was none. All I had to work with were verbal communications based solely on memory, open to an almost infinite variety of contradictory interpretations. This internal friction was usually not the result of either incompetence or bad intentions. It was the result of people operating from entirely different assumptions about their respective responsibilities.

I have developed a tactic to eliminate the problems caused by ambiguity before they can arise. While my memory is still fresh, I summarize in writing everything that was agreed upon in a meeting or phone call and send it to all the participants. I make sure to invite everyone to either “sign off” or get back to me if my summary is either incorrect or incomplete. I also copy everyone not at the meeting that may be affected by our decisions in order to avoid “blindsiding” them further down the road.

We often hear that success is largely a factor of how many friends we make. However, success also depends on how few enemies we make. Clear, written communication has proven remarkably successful at keeping my enemies to a minimum. This discipline also forces me during meetings to focus on negotiating clear, unambiguous, mutually agreed upon action items. This in turn moves the meeting, project or sale along much more quickly.

The vast majority of internal squabbles are leadershipproblems rather than people problems. It is management’s job to make sure that the process by which people enter into agreements is formalized without becoming burdensome. When disputes arise from miscommunication and misunderstanding, it is management’s fault for not having the policies, procedures, and processes in place that prevent such conflicts in the first place.

In our own company, we made it clear that we had zero interest in refereeing “I said, she said” disputes. It was our policy that substantive meetings should always produce an internal “contract;” and that these contracts should be clearly written, mutually agreed upon, and meticulously kept. Staying on top of this process took discipline, but in the long run it paid off handsomely in increased productivity, team work, and perhaps most importantly, morale. Once our people discovered that without the proper documentation their pleas for “justice” would fall on deaf ears, they quickly adapted and disputes were practically non-existent.

The first step to removing crippling ambiguity is overcoming our distaste for writing and learning how to write clearly and unambiguously. A commitment to follow up “soon” is ambiguous. A promise to follow up at 3:00 PM on November 16th is not.

The second step is overcoming the misconception that creating a paper trail is a waste of valuable time. My typical summary takes three minutes to write. These communications not only make things run far more smoothly, but have saved me countless hours in ex post facto conflict resolution.

Step three is overcoming our tendency for using ambiguity as tool for staying off the hook. Ambiguity in business is often connected to our fear of accountability. We resist making clear commitments because someone may hold us accountable if something goes wrong. Much of human interaction, consciously or unconsciously, is an attempt to hold others accountable while avoiding accountability ourselves. We crave wiggle room and plausible deniability. As a result, we often default to ambiguous commitments like “I’ll try” rather than “I’ll do.” Only by courageously embracing accountability in our business and personal lives can the friction of ambiguity be successfully overcome. If you want accountability from others, you must offer it first yourself.

Article By, August Turak
(As appeared on forbes.com)

How to Deal with Difficult (Even Impossible) People

Friday, November 10th, 2017

She thinks you’re having a conversation, but you don’t get to speak a word. Something doesn’t go according to plan and you’re the one he blames. Whether it’s a family member, a co-worker or (worse) your boss, highly aggressive and challenging people can turn a perfectly good day into a dramatic experience without any reason. When walking away is not an option, what do you do?

We have all met people who are so prickly and difficult that no one wants to handle them. In most situations, walking away is an option, and you escape with no more than ruffled feathers. But some situations are inescapable. You can wait until the thorny personality is gone and moan “She’s just impossible” to a friend. Far better, though, to begin to develop skills in practical psychology.

First, take responsibility for your part of the interaction. Animosity is created in your own heart. Even the most impossible person had a mother. He was loved by somebody. If you can deal with your own reaction and take responsibility for it, no step is more productive. Detachment is always the best response, because if you can interact without having a reaction, you will be clear-headed enough to make progress in relating to this difficult person. Next, try to name what specifically causes the difficulty. Is the person clinging, controlling, competitive? We all tend to use descriptive words loosely, but it helps to know exactly what is going on.

Photo: Sam Edwards/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Clingers

Clinging types want to be taken care of and loved. They feel weak and are attracted to stronger people. If desperate, they will cling to anyone.

What doesn’t work: Clinging types cannot be handled with avoidance. They are like Velcro and will stick to you every time you get close. They ignore a polite no, but you can’t use direct rejection without making an enemy. Neutrality hurts their feelings and makes them feel insecure.

What works: Clinging types can be handled by showing them how to deal with situations on their own. Give them responsibility. Instead of doing what they want, show them how to do it. This works with children, and clinging types are children who have never grown up (which is why they often seem so infantile). If they try the gambit of saying that you do the job so much better, reply that you don’t. The stronger and more capable you act, the more they will cling. Finally, find situations where you can honestly say, “I need your help.” They will either come through or walk away. You will probably be happy either way.

Photo: John Wildgoose/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Controllers

Controlling types have to be right. There is always an excuse for their behavior (however brutal) and always a reason to blame others. Controlling people are perfectionists and micro-managers. Their capacity to criticize others is endless.

What doesn’t work: Controlling types won’t back down if you show them concrete evidence that you are right and they are wrong. They don’t care about facts, only about being right. If they are perfectionists, you can’t handle them simply by doing a better job. There’s always going to be something to criticize.

What works: Controlling types can be handled by acting unintimidated. At heart, controlling types fear they are inadequate, and they defend against their own insecurity by making other people feel insecure and not good enough. Show you are good enough. When you do a good job, say so and don’t fall for their insistence on constant changes. Be strong and stand up for yourself. Above all, don’t turn an encounter into a contest of who’s right and who’s wrong—you’ll never outplay a controlling type at his or her own game.

Photo: Image Source RF/Cadalpe/Getty Images

Competitors

Competitive types have to win. They see all encounters, no matter how trivial, as a contest. Until they win, they won’t let go.

What doesn’t work: Competitive types can’t be pacified by pleading. Any sign of emotion is like a red flag to a bull. They take your tears as a sign of weakness and charge even harder. They want to go in for the kill, even when you beg them not to. If you stand your ground and try to win, they will most likely jump ship and abandon you.

What works: Competitive types are handled by letting them win. Until they win, they won’t have a chance to show generosity. Most competitive types want to be generous; it improves their self-image, and competitive types never lose sight of their self-image. If you have a strong disagreement, never show emotion or ask for mercy. Instead, make a reasonable argument. If the discussion is based on facts, competitive types have a way to back down without losing. (For example, instead of saying “I’m too tired to do this. It’s late, and you’re being unfair,” say “I need more research time on this, and I will get it to you faster if I am fresh in the morning.”)

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Self-Important People

These people have their say. You can’t shut them up. Mostly you can ignore their contribution, however. They tend to forget what they said very quickly.

What works: If they domineer to the point of suffocating you, stay away. The best strategy—the one used by those who actually love such types and marry them—is to sit back and enjoy the show.

Photo: Henglein and Steets/Cultura/Getty Images

Chronic Complainers

These people are bitter and angry but haven’t dealt with the reality that the source of their anger is internal.

What works: Your only option is generally to put up with them and stay away when you can. Don’t agree with their complaints or try to placate them. They have endless fuel for their bitterness and simmering rage.

Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

Victims

These people are passive-aggressive. They get away with doing wrong to you by hurting themselves in the bargain. If they arrive half an hour late at a restaurant, for example, they had something bad happen to hold them up. The fact that you are the target of the inconvenience is never acknowledged.

What works: The best tactic is to get as angry as you normally would, if called for. Don’t take their victimization as an excuse. If the victim is a “poor me” type without the passive-aggressive side, offer realistic, practical help, rather than sympathy. (For example, if they announce that they might lose their job, say “I can loan you money and give you some job leads,” instead of “That’s awful. You must feel terrible.”)

In the short run, most of the everyday difficult types want somebody to listen and not judge. If you can do that without getting involved, lending your ear for a while is also the decent thing to do. Being a good listener means not arguing, criticizing, offering your own opinion or interrupting. If the other person has a genuine interest in you—most difficult people don’t—he or she will invite you to talk, not simply listen. Yet being a good listener has its limits. As soon as you feel taken advantage of, start exiting. The bottom line with practical psychology is that you know what to fix, what to put up with and what to walk away from.

Article By,
Deepak Chopra, As appeared on oprah.com

Managing Conflict at Work

Monday, November 6th, 2017

 

Confrontation and conflict between people is as old as, well, people. Any time you have humans operating together there are going to be times when people disagree, don’t get on, have differences of opinion or just plain can’t stand each other! So how should conflict be managed in teams?

It is a mistake to think that no conflict means the team is effective. Maybe that is true for some teams, but it is more likely that people are focused on maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat, following the team “rules” or staying friendly with others no matter what the cost.

Lots of conflict is unhealthy too. Team members who bicker, run each other down, oppose ideas, power play, compete and freeze each other out are toxic.

Effective teams do have conflicts, but they have methods of resolving it constructively. Conflict is seen as a necessary part of life, disagreements are aired, explained, explored and acknowledged.

So how do you create a team environment where disagreements are constructive?

1 — Have team ground rules or behaviors. These should be developed by the team in a workshop environment and facilitated so all views are heard and the whole team signs off and agrees to “live by the rules.” The rules should include “how we manage conflict respectfully.”

2 — Develop a good balance of praise and challenge. If every idea is challenged by the team eventually people stop bringing ideas. Have an agreement that challenge is about improving or building on the idea, not cutting it down.

3 — Develop coaching skills in the team. A good coach doesn’t say “that idea won’t work,” but rather “who do you think will be most impacted by the proposed change? Do you think our customers are ready for a change of this magnitude?” Testing ideas using coaching skills promotes learning rather than shutting the ideas down.

4 — When disagreements occur, encourage people to air them constructively. If the issue is too great a neutral third party can help work it through.

5 — The leader needs to manage issues between people as they occur. Don’t assume the people will work it out. Team conflict when left to fester detracts from performance, impacts engagement and can lead to serious issues, like bullying claims.

When conflict happens:

  • Explore the source of the conflict
  • Bring the parties together to discuss
  • Clarify everyone’s expectations
  • Agree a way forward
  • Evaluate the results

On the receiving end of bad workplace behavior? Raise the issue with the person concerned.

  • Outline the behavior: “I often feel that you shut me down when I am speaking.”
  • Be specific: “It happened at the team meeting on Monday, when I was giving my project update and you spoke over me a number of times.”
  • Explain how it impacts you: “When this happens, I find it frustrating as it feels as if you place no value on my contributions.”
  • State your preferred outcome: “It would add more value for me if in team meetings you could listen to my ideas and save your comments and questions until the end.”
  • Ask them to agree to behave differently: “I would appreciate it if you could agree to this change.”

If you are suddenly confronted by a colleague who is angry and making a point in public:

Keep your own behavior constructive. Ask them politely to stop the discussion and book a meeting to discuss. This will give them time to calm down and you time to prepare. (If the behavior was extreme and you felt threatened, report it immediately to your manager and/or HR.)

Don’t be afraid to ask for a third party to mediate if you feel that you won’t be able to have a calm and constructive discussion.

In the meeting, listen with an open mind. Stay calm, don’t get either defensive or aggressive. Walk your colleague through these steps:

  • What is the issue?
  • Can you give me an example, or specifics?
  • What is the impact?
  • What would you like to happen instead? What would be a good outcome?
  • How can we resolve this? What specifically can we both do?
  • And finally: What have we agreed to do?

By keeping your own behavior as positive and constructive as possible you will be working to a resolution, not fueling workplace conflict.

In any workplace conflict there are often two sides. Asking yourself “what contribution am I making to the issue” and being honest in your answer is always a good place to start.

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Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy specializing in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organizations. You can interact with Ros, learn more about leadership and management, and download a complimentary copy of her e-guide on leading change at her website.

Dealing With Difficult People

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Recognizing what drives them is the first step.

When you were 5, it was all about getting the cookie. Did you ask respectfully and get the cookie? Or did you yell and scream? Did you avoid making waves to get it? Or did you go behind your parents’ backs to get that cookie? Kids figure out what works and that communication style becomes part of their personality.

Being direct and open—communicating assertively—is healthiest and most efficient. While most people have a default style of communication, we all tend to use all four styles, depending on the situation and the person with whom we’re speaking. Communication is a learned skill, but it’s important to know we have a choice in how we communicate.

Passive-aggressive communication is the most challenging for others. If you’re faced with it, you don’t know where you stand; you may think the passive-aggressive is your friend, and you probably open up without realizing you risk being sabotaged. The passive-aggressive mode of operation is: “I will be nice to your face, but behind your back, I will do things to make you suffer in hell for the rest of your life.”

If you’ve ever thought about making that certain someone who needs to be taught a thing or two suffer—even just a teensy bit—you’re stepping close to that sneaky and devious world of the passive-aggressive. Don’t go there.

One passive-aggressive trait is gossiping and tattling. Anyone who says, “I am not a gossip,” probably is. If you hear disparaging words one minute followed by, “But she really is my good friend,” that’s another red flag.

When confronting someone for their passive-aggressive tendencies, realize they are motivated to seek revenge when they perceive an injustice done to them. You didn’t necessarily do them any wrong, but they believe your behavior inappropriate, unacceptable or unjust. Because they often believe their lives are controlled by others, they lack the skill, knowledge, desire and confidence to be assertive.

To deal with someone who communicates in a passive-aggressive style:

  • Talk openly and honestly to set an example of healthy, assertive communication and to minimize attacks.
  • Confront them and hold them accountable. Have them say to your face what they usually would say behind your back. If they’re giving you the silent treatment, ignore them.
  • Do not back down when they’re openly disagreeing with you.
  • Challenge inappropriate behavior in a positive, upbeat way, but prepare for the counterattack.

Indecisiveness:

The Passive Personality

Another difficult personality is the passive person, who wants to avoid confrontation at all costs. Passives don’t talk much and question even less. They don’t want to rock the boat because they have learned it’s safer.

Passive people lack self-confidence to communicate assertively. They don’t trust other people to respond positively to their assertive attempts. Passive people act like everything is perfect and put everyone else first, but inside, they often are a seething mess.

Why bother learning how to deal with passive people? They are the saintly, never-cause-a-fuss, do-whatever- you-want people, right? In truth, passives constantly create havoc because they never let you know where they stand. They’re too busy keeping the peace.

To deal with a passive person:

  • Be open, direct and honest, modeling assertive behavior.
  • Establish trust. Help passive people have the confidence to share their feelings and concerns by making them feel worthy and respected.
  • Encourage an environment of solving problems and discussing options.
  • Don’t let the passive person avoid confrontation. Resolve the issue immediately, rather than avoiding the problem as a passive personality is accustomed to doing.
  • Give the passive person permission to be decisive and praise them for their participation.

Inflicting Anger and Hurt:

The Aggressive Personality

Aggressive personality types use manipulation by inducing guilt, hurt, intimidation and control tactics. Covert or overt, aggressive people simply want their needs met—and right now!

People who communicate aggressively do it because it works. They’re bullies with words.

Aggressive communicators differ from those who are being assertive. While assertive people are forthright and open, aggressive communicators say what they mean, but they hold nothing back, usually at the expense of others’ feelings.

To deal effectively with someone communicating aggressively:

  • Assert yourself to neutralize the onslaught.
  • Confront them. Don’t let them get away with their manipulation or they won’t respect you.
  • Avoid emotional impulse reactions.
  • Be clear that the aggressive behavior is unacceptable.

The Healthy Personality:

Assertiveness

An assertive communication style is the only way to effectively deal with difficult people. Unfortunately, people use it the least.

Communicating assertively lets people know your needs, concerns and feelings in an open and honest way without threats, manipulation or hidden agendas. Assertive people ask questions, seek answers, look at all points of view and engage in meaningful, open-ended dialogue without anger, hurt feelings or defensiveness.

Remember, you always have a choice in your style of communication. You also have a choice in how people talk to you. Assertiveness will help you diffuse anger, reduce guilt and build relationships professionally and personally.

Article ByConnie Podesta
As appeared on success.com

 

 

How To Manage Conflict At Work

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do.  I was recently reminded of this by a comment from a reader in response to a post (10 Things Successful Business People Aren’t Daunted By). Her observation? “I’ll be printing this off and putting it where I can read it every morning,” she wrote.  “Dealing well with conflict (instead of running and hiding) has been one of my biggest challenges as a relatively new manager, so thank you for reminding me that conquering that fear of conflict is worth it!”

Actually she shouldn’t feel bad – she has lots of company.  While now and then you’ll come across a manager who enjoys conflict, really relishes confrontation and dispute, the vast majority of people would much prefer not to deal with it, if given a choice.

Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice.

Angry face
Looking back now over my own career I can recall conflicts with the many people I managed over just about everything: salaries, promotions, recognition, evaluations, other team members, being managed too much, not being managed enough, projects that were too tough, projects that were too boring… and once in a while someone who was just for no discernible reason downright insubordinate.  I never liked conflict.  But I realized early on that if I expected to be paid a reasonable amount of money for management, trying my best to deal with conflict fairly and directly was a crucial part of the job.

In that spirit, following are a few things I learned about it:

Accept the inevitability of conflict in management – As mentioned above, just recognize that addressing it is part of the job.  Don’t waste energy ruminating about it, and don’t feel bad you feel bad about it.   Just accept it for what it is: It comes with the managerial territory.

Don’t be a conflict-avoider.   Difficult interpersonal workplace problems won’t disappear by ignoring them; they’ll only get worse.   Chronic conflict-avoiders will end up losing the respect of their employees – and their own management.

Stay calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can.   There are some memorable lines from the famous Rudyard Kipling poem IfIf you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you/If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you/But make allowance for their doubting too…  And after several verses the poem concludes: Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it/And – which is more – you’ll be a man, my son.  (Or a woman… Kipling wrote this in 1895.)   Though it wasn’t written for business, I always felt there was management relevance in the message.

Maintain the moral high ground – A close cousin to the point directly above.  You’re management.  You’re the voice of reason.  Don’t lose control or pull rank or cede the moral high ground – calm control is a much more advantageous position to manage and negotiate from.

Partner with HR –  Though Human Resources operatives have become joking stereotypes on TV and in movies… I’ll state this in bold letters:  When I was in management, my colleagues in Human Resources were of inestimable valuable to me on many occasions.   I never hesitated to call on them when I faced difficult employee conflicts.  They were unfailingly an objective third party, a sounding board, a valuable source of reasonable counsel.  My philosophy was always, In delicate situations, get all the help you can.

Document meticulously – When serious conflict occurs, as a manager you’ll need accurate records of it.  During employee performance appraisals, you’ll need clear documentation to avoid discussions dissolving into “he said/she said” disputes.  And when it’s necessary to terminate someone, you of course need detailed documentation (again, a time to work closely with HR) or you may well have legal exposure.

Don’t’ think in terms of “winning,” so much as constructively resolving – No point winning the battle but losing the war.  Management’s role is not to “defeat the enemy” (even though that may feel cathartic at times!), but to elicit optimal performance from the area you’re managing.  Accordingly, best not to leave bodies in your wake but to get conflicts resolved fairly, expeditiously, and move forward as constructively as you can.   Get closure and move ahead… the sooner, the better.

I don’t want to give the illusion any of this is easy.

It isn’t.  It never is.

But if you can develop a consistent, rational approach to managing conflict, it can make your difficult job a lot less stressful than it would be without it.

Article by, Victor Lipman , an executive coach and author of The Type B Manager.

 

 

 

As appeared on forbes.com

How Smart People Handle Difficult People

Friday, October 6th, 2017
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negativity they spread, while others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos.
How Smart People Handle Difficult People

Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus — an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success — when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions — the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people — caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize difficult people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

1. They set limits.

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

2. They rise above.

Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos — only the facts.

3. They stay aware of their emotions.

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way — if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

4. They establish boundaries.

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

5. They don’t die in the fight.

Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

6. They don’t focus on problems — only solutions.

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

7. They don’t forget.

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Smart people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

8. They squash negative self-talk.

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

9. They get some sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

10. They use their support system.

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing It All Together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

Article by,

 

Stop Letting That Difficult Person Ruin Your Day

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Understanding why some people become more difficult or negative, and when they are more likely to act that way, can prevent you from obsessing about that one difficult person to the exclusion of all the others who were quite pleasant and appreciated your work. By reflecting on your role in these difficult interactions, you will be in a better position to learn strategies to head off and/or counteract the stressful effects of these encounters with difficult clients.

SO WHY ARE PEOPLE DIFFICULT?

Why do some people see the cup as being half empty instead of half full? The answers may lie in different areas, some related to the environment and some related to the “payoff” of using certain behaviours.

Some people learn very early on that the more noise they make, the more likely those around them will respond to their “squeaky-wheel” or “my-way-or-the-highway” approach. These are the people who enter our offices with complaints in hand and use their bodies and voices to intimidate.

Some people feel so hopeless and powerless in their life that they may develop the attitude of “what difference does it make?” These clients may be hard for us to work with, because they are often indecisive, resistant to change or have difficulty expressing their opinion.

For other clients, negative attitudes and behaviours are expressed when they are stressed out and just don’t have the energy to use better communication skills, judgment and manners.

Being stressed out is chronic in today’s society. We often have too much to do, are running behind schedule or working with incomplete information. It takes a lot of energy to be positive, to keep things in perspective and to actively look for the good in someone.

The difficulty behind these attitudes and behaviours is that they are highly “toxic.” We may be functioning just fine when we suddenly have to change gears and deal with someone else’s difficult behaviour or negative attitude. This brings us down, makes us feel grouchy and out-ofcontrol.

The next thing you know, we ourselves complain, grow stubborn and more negative or difficult. This bad attitude then ripples out to those around us, infecting them and becoming entrenched in the workplace.

Fraught with difficult people and negative attitudes, our work environment becomes a daily scene of excessive finger-pointing, backstabbing and gossiping, higher rates of absenteeism, lower productivity and decreased quality of customer service.

Can we stop negative attitudes and difficult behaviours from rearing their ugly heads in our workplace? Unfortunately, the answer is no — but we can control how we respond and desist from (inadvertently) rewarding behaviours that shouldn’t be encouraged.

The main premise to work from is that difficult people use negative behaviour to get what they want. It has worked for them before and they are counting on it to work for them again. Our goal is to stop rewarding these irritating behaviours.

To do this, we must understand what people expect to gain from being so difficult. Some want to feel more in control. Some want to feel important and listened to, and some want to avoid outright conflict, but will act out their annoyance or disagreement through other negative behaviours.

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS ON WAYS TO STOP DIFFICULT BEHAVIOURS AND REDUCE THE IMPACT OF NEGATIVE ATTITUDES THAT WE ENCOUNTER IN OUR DAILY AFFAIRS.

1. How can we help someone to feel more in control? Well, we need to ensure that we have clear job descriptions, are not overloaded and have realistic expectations for what we can accomplish. Staff should still be responsive to clients’ needs and concerns, rather than caught up in red tape and “by-the-book” procedures.

2. Even though it is very easy to give the impression to those we are talking to and interacting with that they are important to us, we often forget or ignore these simple strategies. We need to start with our body language. Have you ever been in a hurry and talked without looking directly at the other person? What message does that convey? Turn and face the person. Make eye contact. Be in the moment and treat each person as if they are all that matters.

3. Try and remember details about the person. Write them down and mention them the next time you’re chatting. It is hard to be difficult with someone who makes us feel special.

4. Watch how you are communicating. Bring potential or recurring problems out into the open. Are you listening to people or are you formulating your answer while they are still talking? Are you raising your voice or becoming agitated? Ask clients if there is anything you can do to improve their visit – even when you don’t want to hear their answer.

5. Give clients as much information as you can. I was recently waiting in an emergency room with my son. When the doctor arrived and began her assessment, she received an emergency page and quickly left. I was very annoyed, as my son grew restless. A nurse came by and said that the doctor had to deliver a baby and would be back shortly. That information was all that I needed to hear to make me feel better about the situation.

6. Look at the procedures that the person has to work their way through. Are you keeping them waiting, but expecting them to be on time? Make a realistic schedule, but if you are running behind, leave a message even if they may have already left for their appointment. It shows that you respect them and regret causing them any inconvenience. Can you offer them an extra service or a small token of appreciation for their patience — before they become annoyed by the delay?

7. What does your workplace environment convey? Is it comfortable, peaceful and engaging? Though the “extras” may seem unnecessary in accomplishing the business of the day, they may be just the things that clients remember. If you say you cater to families, does the environment of the office really convey that when clients with children walk in? There is nothing more stressful to a parent then to try and occupy a child in a confined space. Even being a few minutes behind schedule can upset the calmest of parents. To decrease the incidence of difficult behaviours and negative attitudes, make your workplace a visual, auditory and aromatic haven in their hectic day.

8. Get a feel for some typical reactions and attitudes that you may face and prepare yourself in advance to deal with them. Be sure not to reward difficult behaviours by giving in or backing off. For some personality types, you need to keep your composure, be assertive and know exactly what it is you want to communicate. Get comfortable with people who need to vent and express themselves – however, do not tolerate abuse.

Try using the person’s name to gain their attention when they are on a rant. Sometimes, you will get more useful information if you ask the person to write out the issue that concerns them, as there is less chance of the situation escalating into a “big production.”

9. Move difficult people away from problem identification and into problem-solving. Help them generate ways to improve the situation. When we are stressed out, we often have difficulty looking forward. However, if you hear the same complaints time and again, it may be that it is you (and not the client) who needs to move into problem-solving mode.

10. It is essential that you take care of yourself. Dealing with difficult people requires extra energy and focus. Maintain balance in your life – be sure to have other pursuits that you can count on for pleasure and distraction. Eat properly to control mood swings and to feel more energetic. Cut out caffeine, which heightens our responses and makes us more sensitive to those around us. Get plenty of sleep – probably more than what you are getting now. This too will give you the energy you need to think on your feet and provide the extra attention that some people need. Have someone to vent to – but not so often and for so long that you alienate that person. Lighten up, have fun and remember to smile. All of these positive behaviours will buffer you against the effects of dealing with tough situations.

To sum up, by understanding what people expect to gain from using undesirable behaviours, we are in a much better position to deflect and defeat the difficult behaviour and move the person from problem identification to problem-solving. We need to help people feel more in control, more important and listened to. And we need to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and maintaining our own sense of humour and balance. By using these tips, we may be able to stop difficult behaviours and reduce the impact of negative attitudes. And if you find yourself saying that what I am recommending will never work – well then, it may be time for you to reflect upon the negative vibes that you may be sending out.

WRITTEN BY BEVERLY BEUERMANN-KING

Building Resiliency Through Stress and Wellness Strategies. Stress and resiliency strategist, Beverly Beuermann-King, CSP, translates current research and best practices information into a realistic, accessible and more practical approach through her dynamic stress and wellness workshops, on-line stress and resiliency articles, books, e-briefs and media interviews.

Dealing with conflict in the workplace

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
People want leadership roles for a variety of reasons, but the opportunity to manage conflicts is rarely at the top of anyone’s list. It’s a skill that many have a hard time mastering — and let’s face it, avoiding conflict tends to be the first inclination for most of us.
Workplace conflicts can emerge in any number of forms, but there are some general, garden-variety types that I see on a repeated basis: conflicts with the boss, conflicts with peers and conflicts among a manager’s direct reports or teammates.

In all of these cases, leaders need to consider two basic questions. How important is the issue? And, how important is this relationship? Your answers will determine whether to let it slide or try to resolve it. Let’s explore each type.

Conflict with the boss

I have encountered a lot of people who have conflicts with those in more senior positions, sometimes because their boss isn’t doing enough to support the team or is doing too much micromanaging.

The relationship with your boss is obviously important for getting work done and for getting ahead. As a result, you should invest the time needed to resolve the conflict. The key question then becomes: What’s my role in the conflict, and what can I do to improve the situation?

While it’s easy (and maybe legitimate) to blame your boss, this unfortunately isn’t the most productive option. If you actually want things to get better, you’ll need a different approach. Schedule a conversation or a lunch so you can understand your boss’s goals and motivations, express your concerns and explore ways to work better together. Getting insight into your boss’s reasoning and outlook may spark ideas about new techniques for handling the situation.

Plus, the conversation will send a clear signal that you’re interested in building a better bond and resolving the tension that exists. Finally, make it clear that you are quite willing to carry out any directions being given (assuming they are not immoral or unethical), but that you would first like to suggest a better way that can be helpful.

Conflict with a peer

In today’s working world, very little happens in isolation. You inevitably rely on others to get things done. For better and worse, however, we don’t all operate in the same ways and so conflict is inevitable.

One of the best strategies I’ve heard for resolving conflicts with a peer comes from Solly Thomas, a coach in some of the Partnership for Public Service’s leadership programs. Thomas, a former government executive, suggests identifying a colleague who has an effective working relationship with the peer who is giving you problems.

Make clear to the other colleague that your goal is to resolve the conflict and get work done, then tap into his or her knowledge of the other person for tips in getting along. Try out the advice, and perhaps also tactfully attempt to break the tension by talking with your colleague about possible middle ground.

Conflicts among direct reports or teammates

Leaders at nearly every level have been the uncomfortable witnesses to conflicts among teammates. Your choices are basically to look away or jump into the fray.

If the conflict is with people you supervise, and you know they are not going to react well, avoiding the conflict is tempting but ineffective. One of my colleagues recounted a situation in a former office when — after spending too much time avoiding a confrontation with a subordinate who had a history of causing disruption — he decided to have the difficult conversation with her. He made sure to focus solely on the job-related behaviors and not infer motivation. Still, she became irate and cursed at him before storming out of his office. However, the next day she gave him a letter of resignation. Conflict resolved.

As a leader, you want to allow for a certain amount of creative tension, but the moment that conflict becomes counterproductive, you need to act. While the issues that cause conflict vary in importance, your relationships to teammates and the relationships among teammates must be functional if you hope to have a productive environment.

One option is to sit down with employees – separately or together – and make your work-related outcomes and behavioral expectations clear. Then, treat the employees as adults and ask them to resolve their differences. Let them know they will be held accountable if they don’t.

Article by, Tom Fox

Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership, is a vice president at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. He also heads the Partnership’s Center for Government Leadership.

How To Handle A Difficult Boss

Friday, September 15th, 2017

difficult bossIt’s the end of the day and you’re exhausted, frustrated and wondering why you put up with your difficult boss. Understanding why some people become more difficult or negative, and when they are more likely to act that way, can prevent you from obsessing about your difficult boss to the exclusion of all the others who were quite pleasant and appreciated your work. By reflecting on your role in these difficult interactions, you will be in a better position to learn strategies to head off and/or counteract the stressful effects of these encounters.

So why are some bosses difficult?

The answers may lie in different areas, some related to the environment or sources of stress and some related to the “payoff” of using certain behaviours. Occasionally, the person who ‘pushes-our-buttons’ may be our boss. Bosses can face a variety of special challenges and sources of stress throughout the day that may increase their difficult reactions. According to the Executive Challenges Survey, by Axmith and Adamson, leaders face increased challenges associated with attracting and keeping talented staff, managing constant uncertainty, handling the bombardment of information from various levels, and maintaining a strong financial performance.

Often we cannot change these sources of stress for our leaders, so, can we stop their negative attitudes and difficult behaviours from rearing their ugly heads? Unfortunately, the answer is no – not always — but we can control how we respond and desist from (inadvertently) rewarding behaviours that shouldn’t be encouraged.

The main premise to work from is that difficult people use negative behaviour to get what they want. It has decreased their stress before and they are counting on it to work for them again.

Our goal is to stop rewarding these irritating and negative behaviours.

To do this, we must understand not only what people are going through but also what they expect to gain from being so difficult. Some want to feel more in control. Some want to feel important and listened to, and some want to avoid outright conflict, but will act out their annoyance or disagreement through other negative behaviours.

Our role is to find alternate ways of meeting their needs for control, importance or safety.

In addition to appreciating their sources of stress, developing insight as to what reward there may be in using particular behaviours and finding alternate ways of meeting these needs, here are:

5 quick tips that may also be helpful when dealing with a difficult boss

1. Learn and understand your leader’s supervisory style – sometimes conflict occurs due to differences in styles of supervising and styles of needing to be managed

2. Clearly communicate your intentions, projects or workload – often we assume that our leader should intuitively ‘know’

3. Provide only the facts and if possible offer solutions

4. Plan ahead for negative comments or questions

5. Consciously provide positive information and reinforce your leader’s positive behaviours

Working with a difficult or negative leader can lead to burnout and take us away from a job/project that we may really enjoy. When the issue that we are working on is important, it is up to us to try and find alternate ways of working together to ensure that we are successful. Having a thorough understanding of the sources of stress for that leader along with understanding their typical reaction to these stressors can go a long way to decreasing our own personal stress.

WRITTEN BY BEVERLY BEUERMANN-KING

Building Resiliency Through Stress and Wellness Strategies. Stress and resiliency strategist, Beverly Beuermann-King, CSP, translates current research and best practices information into a realistic, accessible and more practical approach through her dynamic stress and wellness workshops, on-line stress and resiliency articles, books, e-briefs and media interviews.

How to Deal With Employees Who Don’t Get Along

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Blame it on personality, lifestyle or other factors, but sometimes employees just don’t mesh. And friction in the ranks can make your office feel like a war zone.

The tension can make the workplace uncomfortable for other employees and have a dramatic effect on productivity.

But, conflict between two employees isn’t always a bad thing. It can lead to healthy competition, process improvements, innovation or creativity.

Here are some tips to help you tactfully put out fires between feuding employees.

Step 1. Encourage employees to work it out

Remember you’re their manager, not their mother. Use your judgment when it comes to addressing employee complaints. Managers should want their employees to be as self-sufficient as possible. Encourage your employees to manage their issues on their own. By reacting to every whine from a worker you may actually make the situation worse by feeding into the drama. This might be perceived as favoritism and turn other employees against you.

To do this successfully, first determine whether the situation is emotionally charged and the severity of the conflict. When you’ve assessed the issue, if appropriate, talk to each employee individually to let them know that you’re aware of the situation. You should also encourage open communication and resolution among employees. Ask them if they feel comfortable going to the other employee and handling it one-on-one.

Understand that many people don’t like confrontation, so they may need guidance or talking points on how to approach the other person. Hold them accountable for their actions and for resolving the issue.

Step 2. Nip it in the bud quickly

Unfortunately, some situations won’t work themselves out and you’ll be forced to step in. Like a bad sore, if ignored too long, employee disputes can fester and infect the entire workplace and ultimately taint the reputation of your company. Workplace disputes that aren’t addressed eventually end up sucking other employees into the drama. This “employee sideshow” can further derail productivity. Get to the root of the problem and stop the landslide before it starts.

Step 3. Listen to both sides

By the time you get involved, your office may already be buzzing with gossip. Don’t assume you know the situation based on the whispers you’ve heard around the office. First, deal with the two individuals or group of people who are directly involved in the incident and worry about refocusing other staff members later. Sit the feuding employees down and ask each to explain their side of the story.

Some experts recommend this be done individually, while others believe you should discuss the problem with both at the same time. But before you do that, be sure to evaluate the degree of hostility between them. This way you can be sure you’re create an environment where you can discuss facts, not emotions.

If you determine that speaking to the employees at the same time is the best course of action, provide each employee uninterrupted time to give their (fact-based) side of the story. Once all employees have had this opportunity, ask each of them to offer ideas on how the situation could be resolved and how all parties could move forward.

As a manager, you need to be as objective as possible. You never, ever want to take sides. This will only fan the flames and make matters worse.

Step 4. Identify the real issue

Often the cause of an argument between a group of employees can get clouded by the all the emotions that surround it. Try to get each employee to articulate the issue in a calm way. Ask them what they want to see as an outcome. Like a doctor, treating the symptoms only puts a Band-Aid over the issue. To avoid future flare ups, you need to get to the source. Only then, will you be able to come up with a permanent solution.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or you don’t think you can be impartial, you may want to consider hiring a third-party mediator to handle the situation.

Step 5. Consult your employee handbook

Deciphering right from wrong may mean reviewing your company’s policy. Employee handbooks are designed to lay down consistent rules that each employee is expected to uphold at all times. Some examples policies that you may want to add into your employee handbook are “guidelines for appropriate conduct” and/or “conflict resolution policies.” More severe instances of conflict may move into the category of harassment or discrimination, so your handbook should also contain these policies as well as directions on how to file a complaint.

In order to offer a fair resolution, you’ll need to make sure your decision is aligned with company policy. No employee should be above the laws set forth in the workplace. Letting an employee slide when they’ve clearly gone against the rules will weaken your authority and cause resentment in the ranks.

Step 6. Find a solution

Employers need to get employees focused on the job at hand. Employees don’t have to be best friends; they just need to get the job done. That might require reorganizing teams or giving the employees time to “cool off” before they work together again. And remember, you have a business to run. If the conflicts continue, they could seriously affect productivity. And in some cases you may need to reevaluate your staff. One antagonistic employee can wreak havoc on the rest.

Step 7. Write it up

Employees may not like it, but it’s important that you document all workplace incidents. This will help you monitor behavior over time and keep an eye out for repeat offenders that may be polluting your office. Documenting incidents can also protect your business should a disgruntled employee try to take you to court. Always write down details from each run-in an employee has had. Ensure that your write-up is fact-based and that you keep a copy in all involved employees’ files. Include the who, what, when, where and how as well as the resolution to which all parties agreed and committed.

Step 8. Teach them how to talk

For some troubled employees, talking out a situation isn’t enough. Typically, people who have these problems have communication issues already. If you’re experiencing a lot of strife among your staff, you may want to provide communication and problem solving training. These courses teach employees how to effectively articulate their thoughts and emotions in a nonthreatening way. The techniques they learn will help them diffuse conflicts before they blow up.

Step 9. Lead by example

Much of your company culture is based on how everyone interacts with one another. A culture of respectful communication is a “top down” proposition. Business owners, directors, managers and other supervisors set the tone for interaction in the workplace.

By speaking to your employees in an honest and respectful manner, you create an environment that values integrity and communication. When you are open and honest, employees are more likely to do the same.

Looking for more tips on how to positively influence your team as a leader? Download our free magazine, The Insperity Guide to Leadership and Management.

 

Article by, by  in Leadership and management

Dealing With Difficult Employees

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

difficult employeeThere are a few employees at my store who are great workers, but who really create tension among other staff members. How should I address this situation?

Understanding why some employees become more difficult or negative, and when they are more likely to act that way can prevent that build up of tension from happening.

So why are people difficult?

The answers may lie in different areas, some related to the environment and some related to the “payoff” of using certain behaviours.

Some employees learn very early on that the more noise they make, the more likely those around them will respond to their “squeaky-wheel” or “my-way-or-the-highway” approach. These are the employees who use their bodies and voices to intimidate.

Some employees feel so hopeless and powerless in their life that they may develop the attitude of “what difference does it make?” These employees may be hard for us to work with, because they are often indecisive, resistant to change or have difficulty expressing their opinion.

For others, negative attitudes and behaviours are expressed when they are stressed out and just don’t have the energy to use better communication skills, judgment and manners. Being stressed out is chronic in today’s society. We often have too much to do, are running behind schedule or working with incomplete information. It takes a lot of energy to be positive, to keep things in perspective and to actively look for the good in someone.

The difficulty behind these attitudes and behaviours is that they are highly “toxic.” We may be functioning just fine when we suddenly have to change gears and deal with someone else’s difficult behaviour or negative attitude. This brings us down, makes us feel grouchy and out-ofcontrol.

Before you know it, we ourselves start to complain, grow stubborn and get more negative or difficult. This bad attitude then ripples out to those around us, infecting them and becoming entrenched in the workplace.

Our goal is to stop rewarding these irritating behaviours. To do this, we must understand what employees expect to gain from being so difficult. Some want to feel more in control. Some want to feel important and listened to, and some want to avoid outright conflict, but will act out their annoyance or disagreement through other negative behaviours.

Here are a few tips on ways to stop difficult behaviours and reduce the impact of negative attitudes that we encounter in our workplaces.

1. How can we help someone to feel more in control? Well, we need to ensure that we have clear job descriptions, are not overloaded and have realistic expectations for what we can accomplish.

2. Even though it is very easy to give the impression to those we are talking to and interacting with that they are important to us, we often forget or ignore these simple strategies. We need to start with our body language. Have you ever been in a hurry and talked without looking directly at the other person? What message does that convey? Turn and face the person. Make eye contact. Be in the moment and treat each person as if they are all that matters. It is hard to be difficult with someone who makes us feel special.

3. Watch how you are communicating. Bring potential or recurring problems out into the open. Are you listening to people or are you formulating your answer while they are still talking? Are you raising your voice or becoming agitated? Give as much  information as you can.

4. What does your workplace environment convey? Is it comfortable, peaceful and engaging? Though the “extras” may seem unnecessary in accomplishing the business of the day, to decrease the incidence of difficult behaviours and negative attitudes, make your workplace a visual, auditory and aromatic haven in their hectic day.

5. Get a feel for some typical reactions and attitudes that you may face and prepare yourself in advance to deal with them. Be sure not to reward difficult behaviours by giving in or backing off. For some personality types, you need to keep your composure, be assertive and know exactly what it is you want to communicate. Get comfortable with people who need to vent and express themselves – however, do not tolerate abuse.

Try using the person’s name to gain their attention when they are on a rant. Sometimes, you will get more useful information if you ask the person to write out the issue that concerns them, as there is less chance of the situation escalating into a “big production.”

6. Move difficult people away from problem identification and into problem-solving. Help them generate ways to improve the situation. When we are stressed out, we often have difficulty looking forward. However, if you hear the same complaints time and again, it may be that it is you who needs to move into problem-solving mode.

7. It is essential that you take care of yourself. Dealing with difficult people requires extra energy and focus. Maintain balance in your life – be sure to have other pursuits that you can count on for pleasure and distraction. Eat properly to control mood swings and to feel more energetic. Cut out caffeine, which heightens our responses and makes us more sensitive to those around us. Get plenty of sleep – probably more than what you are getting now. This too will give you the energy you need to think on your feet and provide the extra attention that some people need. Have someone to vent to – but not so often and for so long that you alienate that person. Lighten up, have fun and remember to smile. All of these positive behaviours will buffer you against the effects of dealing with tough situations.

To sum up, by understanding what employees expect to gain from using undesirable behaviours, we are in a much better position to deflect and defeat the difficult behaviour and move the person from problem identification to problem-solving. We need to help our employees feel more in control, more important and listened to. And we need to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and maintaining our own sense of humour and balance. By using these tips, we may be able to stop difficult behaviours and reduce the impact of negative attitudes in your workplace.

WRITTEN BY BEVERLY BEUERMANN-KING

Building Resiliency Through Stress and Wellness Strategies. Stress and resiliency strategist, Beverly Beuermann-King, CSP, translates current research and best practices information into a realistic, accessible and more practical approach through her dynamic stress and wellness workshops, on-line stress and resiliency articles, books, e-briefs and media interviews.

Managing Conflict at Work

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Confrontation and conflict between people is as old as, well, people. Any time you have humans operating together there are going to be times when people disagree, don’t get on, have differences of opinion or just plain can’t stand each other! So how should conflict be managed in teams?

It is a mistake to think that no conflict means the team is effective. Maybe that is true for some teams, but it is more likely that people are focused on maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat, following the team “rules” or staying friendly with others no matter what the cost.

Lots of conflict is unhealthy too. Team members who bicker, run each other down, oppose ideas, power play, compete and freeze each other out are toxic.

Effective teams do have conflicts, but they have methods of resolving it constructively. Conflict is seen as a necessary part of life, disagreements are aired, explained, explored and acknowledged.

So how do you create a team environment where disagreements are constructive?

1 — Have team ground rules or behaviors. These should be developed by the team in a workshop environment and facilitated so all views are heard and the whole team signs off and agrees to “live by the rules.” The rules should include “how we manage conflict respectfully.”

2 — Develop a good balance of praise and challenge. If every idea is challenged by the team eventually people stop bringing ideas. Have an agreement that challenge is about improving or building on the idea, not cutting it down.

3 — Develop coaching skills in the team. A good coach doesn’t say “that idea won’t work,” but rather “who do you think will be most impacted by the proposed change? Do you think our customers are ready for a change of this magnitude?” Testing ideas using coaching skills promotes learning rather than shutting the ideas down.

4 — When disagreements occur, encourage people to air them constructively. If the issue is too great a neutral third party can help work it through.

5 — The leader needs to manage issues between people as they occur. Don’t assume the people will work it out. Team conflict when left to fester detracts from performance, impacts engagement and can lead to serious issues, like bullying claims.

When conflict happens:

  • Explore the source of the conflict
  • Bring the parties together to discuss
  • Clarify everyone’s expectations
  • Agree a way forward
  • Evaluate the results

On the receiving end of bad workplace behavior? Raise the issue with the person concerned.

  • Outline the behavior: “I often feel that you shut me down when I am speaking.”
  • Be specific: “It happened at the team meeting on Monday, when I was giving my project update and you spoke over me a number of times.”
  • Explain how it impacts you: “When this happens, I find it frustrating as it feels as if you place no value on my contributions.”
  • State your preferred outcome: “It would add more value for me if in team meetings you could listen to my ideas and save your comments and questions until the end.”
  • Ask them to agree to behave differently: “I would appreciate it if you could agree to this change.”

If you are suddenly confronted by a colleague who is angry and making a point in public:

Keep your own behavior constructive. Ask them politely to stop the discussion and book a meeting to discuss. This will give them time to calm down and you time to prepare. (If the behavior was extreme and you felt threatened, report it immediately to your manager and/or HR.)

Don’t be afraid to ask for a third party to mediate if you feel that you won’t be able to have a calm and constructive discussion.

In the meeting, listen with an open mind. Stay calm, don’t get either defensive or aggressive. Walk your colleague through these steps:

  • What is the issue?
  • Can you give me an example, or specifics?
  • What is the impact?
  • What would you like to happen instead? What would be a good outcome?
  • How can we resolve this? What specifically can we both do?
  • And finally: What have we agreed to do?

By keeping your own behavior as positive and constructive as possible you will be working to a resolution, not fueling workplace conflict.

In any workplace conflict there are often two sides. Asking yourself “what contribution am I making to the issue” and being honest in your answer is always a good place to start.

—-

Article by, Rosalind Cardinal

Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy specializing in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organizations. You can interact with Ros, learn more about leadership and management, and download a complimentary copy of her e-guide on leading change at her website.

Rosalind CardinalPrincipal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consulting firm that helps companies leverage the talents of their team members.

Five Conflict Management Strategies

Friday, August 4th, 2017

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Kenneth Kaye once said, “Conflict is neither good nor bad. Properly managed, it is absolutely vital.”

Highly effective leaders identify, understand and develop swift and smart resolutions to workplace conflicts, most of which demand some level of confrontation. Yet I’ve found many coaching clients dread confrontation, shifting the focus toward diversionary topics or simply turning a blind eye to avoid tough conversations. But running from conflict will not serve anyone well. Ultimately, the elephant in the room only grows or becomes much more unwieldy.

The implications of shunning confrontation range from a breakdown of communication and damaged relationships to lowered organizational productivity and morale. Here are some questions to consider when evaluating your ability to effectively confront employees during times of conflict. Be sure to write down your answers:

• On a scale of 1-5, how comfortable are you with having tough conversations?

• What is your go-to method for handling conflict with employees? E-mail, phone, face-to-face or other?

• Is it hard for you to manage your emotions effectively when talking about a challenging or fear-inducing situation?

• How do you create an open dialogue with your team, regardless of difficult circumstances?

• How do you exhibit poise and self-control in the presence of confrontations?

• How comfortable are you with giving what might be perceived as negative feedback?

If your answers to the above are less than appealing, the following tips can guide you to build a healthy workplace culture that faces confrontation at the right time with courage and confidence:

1. Identify the opportunity. Shift the lens through which you view conflict. By adopting a positive outlook on confrontation, you’ll discover that every conflict is a new opportunity for both the other party and you to grow, develop and learn. After all, if you have tended to avoid conflict, the underlying topics and details are likely things that you have rarely, if ever, discussed, representing growth opportunities and innovative approaches you have yet to uncover.

2. Build a culture that encourages giving and receiving feedback. Ask your team for their frequent, healthy feedback, and you will begin to show boldness and encourage transparency through your example. Allowing unpleasant truths to trickle out gradually fosters a sense of camaraderie and understanding within your organization, in turn reducing the risk of future conflict. What’s more, creating honest dialogue lets your employees know their opinions are valued, raising their level of engagement. Finally, when confrontations do arise, they will feel far more inclined to receive your concerns with an open mind and an appreciation of your opinion instead of reflexively thinking the sky is falling.

3. Be proactive, but resist jumping to conclusions. Prevent problematic behavior from escalating beyond repair by taking swift action, but do not jump to conclusions before reaching a full understanding of the situation. Assume positive intent to immediately activate a spirit that diffuses the situation. Another way to be proactive is to measure your words to avoid being the source of conflict in the first place. Saying, “I need to see you in my office at 3 p.m.” has the potential to spiral reactions that “Can we prioritize the risks on your project in my office at 3 p.m.?” would otherwise sidestep.

4. Do not use e-mail for conflict. If e-mail is your go-to to manage conflict, it is time to get comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. Let your level of fear be your compass. The more emotion you are feeling, the more the situation is likely to be faced in person. If you don’t, you are subjecting yourself to the gravitational forces that pull these types of situations southward. Effective conflict management will require real-time awareness of the facts and your undivided attention.

5. Engage productively using storytelling. Before any confrontation, consider that the other person may be right from the beginning and question your own opinion. When you do present your concerns, start with storytelling if you can, rather than headlining with any abrupt, premature summaries of your stance on the matter(s) at hand. We experience our lives through stories, which are entertaining and engaging. Make your case and then create space for the other person to process and respond to you, and truly listen to them.

Using Humor To Alleviate The Burden Of Confrontation

Here’s an example conflict of a peer ignoring your emails or requests. Say you have an eight-year-old named Janet.

You: “You know, it’s hilarious that lately when I call Janet in the other room, I can holler four or five times, and no answer.”

Peer: “You, too, huh? Yeah, no one is exempt.”

You: “But if I yell something like ‘Hey, it’s time for ice cream!’ she’ll break furniture and run over the dog to get to me.”

Peer: (laughing) “As I said, no one is exempt.”

You: “I think I’m going to start sending you e-mails about ice cream.”

Now it’s all in the delivery, and every relationship requires its own special touch, but humor and storytelling, like in the example above, are much more effective than just sending an instant message or e-mail. Wouldn’t that be ironic saying, “Why don’t you answer any of my e-mails?”

By being fully accountable to the demands of leadership, and committing yourself to the above steps, almost every confrontation you have can be redirected toward a productive outcome. Those former self-doubts and insecurities that hindered your ability to face conflict will be replaced with confident, courageous resolve and an understanding of the healthy dynamics that can move your business forward faster than you ever thought possible.


Article by, Laura Berger
Laura Berger is principal at the Berdeo Group

How to Deal With Difficult People

Friday, July 28th, 2017

James C. Collins wrote the best seller: “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t.”  It has stood the test of time and sold over 4 million copies according to Wikipedia.

Jim has some very good advice that is contained in his seven characteristics of companies that went from good to great. For this column I am only going to deal with the first:

First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. This is all about finding the right people and trying them out in different positions.

Of course to get the right people on the bus, you have to find out who may be the wrong people on the bus that perhaps have to get off.

Well that is all well and good if you are in a management role and have the authority to ask someone to politely get off the bus. What if you are a fellow rider and have to work with someone who should have been asked to get off a long time ago but for one reason or another, is still on the bus.  Now what?

Forbes.com published Kevin Kruse’s article “Dealing with Difficult People”.  The full article can be found here, but I am just going to summarize his excellent advice:

  1. Don’t get dragged down. Don’t get sucked into their world of negativity.
  2. Listen. Use good listening techniques.  They think no one is listening to them.
  3. Use a time for venting. Let the Downer vent for 5 minutes. Then move on.
  4. Don’t agree. Appeasing them only adds fuel to the fire.
  5. Don’t stay silent. Silence will be interpreted as agreement.
  6. Do switch extremes into facts. Switch them to fact-based statements.
  7. Move to problem solving. Help them move to a problem-solving mode.
  8. Cut them off. Nothing worked? Then politely shut them down.

You want to enjoy the company of those with whom you work while the wheels on the bus go round and round.

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver.

How To Deal With Explosive Anger

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

               

 

 

I was on a mini vacation with my mom, and we were golfing on a beautiful Saturday with my uncle Ron and my cousin Debbie. My uncle is an average golfer. Some days he plays very well, and other days he isn’t so lucky.

Saturday was one of the best days he ever had on the golf course, and he was hitting the ball for miles (and he had a big grin on his face to show his pleasure with it too). It was turning out to be a great day.

Until the 4th hole.

Uncle Ron stepped up to the tee box and shot a drive that looked like Bubba Watson got a hold of it. Probably the best drive of his life. Perfectly straight, almost on the green (it was a par 4). And, about 50 yards past the group of golfers in front of us.

For those of you that are golfers, you realize that he just made a major gaff. You should never hit up to the golfers in front you, let alone past them. Someone could get seriously hurt by doing that.

Uncle Ron was 100% at fault and immediately felt terrible for this amazing shot. Terrible for what could have happened. Fortunately, he didn’t hit anyone (he was well over their heads actually).

One of the group in front of us was very upset by this (rightfully so) and hopped in his golf cart, and came racing back to us.

When he got to us before he said anything my uncle Ron started to apologize. He took full responsibility and was very good about his apology.

This wasn’t good enough for Mr. Golfer. He screamed and yelled. Uncle Ron said “I apologize” about four more times and then stopped talking. Clearly, nothing he said was getting through to Mr. Golfer.

Then, he threatened all of us. Seriously. Now it is pretty hard to back down from a physical threat that was uncalled for. I gave my uncle credit though. Although he clarified “Are you threatening me?” he didn’t take the bait and didn’t get into it with Mr. Golfer. Clearly, he knew that this was a recipe for danger.

When we stopped responding, and he finished screaming, he got in his cart and started to drive away. On his final look at my cousin Debbie, he wagged his finger and told her “Not to be smiling at all about this!” She had a look of “holy cow!” on her face that was not a smile.

So, what would you have done in that situation?

I am guessing it was very difficult for my uncle not to defend himself (or us) as we were being threatened. It was very difficult not to yell back “I’ve said I’m sorry four times – what else do you want me to do?” It was very difficult not to get baited.

But it was the right thing to do. Yes, being threatened is wayway out of line. But the only way to make this guy go away was to stop talking. What would have been accomplished by arguing with him? Potential danger for sure.

Sometimes the right answer is to not respond. Many times that is the hardest thing to do.


Article by,

How to Handle Aggressive Behavior

Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Three Tips for Dealing with a Person with Aggressive Behavior

Learning how to deal with aggressive behavior in your team members, your peers or even your manager will contribute to a healthier organization.

Our company has expertise in providing coaching for abrasive and aggressive managers.

In our Front Line Leadership program, we do an activity from a company called Human Synergistics that helps leaders identify whether the people they have conflict with are constructive, passive or aggressive.

Most leaders have the biggest challenge with aggressively defensive people and are eager to hear some tips for how to communicate more effectively with an aggressive individual.

It’s important to realize that aggressive behavior is defensive in nature.

While the majority of people protect themselves with more passive strategies like avoidance, playing by the rules or being liked and accepted by others, some people believe a strong offense is a good defense.

Their aggressiveness works most of the time by keeping people around them, back on their heels and fearful of the confrontation.

There are few defining characteristics that indicate a person is aggressive defensive.

First, they tend to argue and criticize, sometimes even when they don’t understand an issue.

By pointing out the flaws in others, they try to keep people from seeing their own flaws.  They’re reluctant to make suggestions for fear that it will open them up to being criticized by others.

Secondly, aggressive people tend to be overly controlling and like all decisions and information to flow through them.

They don’t share well and they don’t like to admit when they’re wrong.

Third, aggressive people tend to be overly competitive and constantly comparing themselves against others.  They hate losing and if they perceive even the chance of losing, they’ll tend to withdraw and retreat.

Here are three tips for dealing with an aggressive person:

#1 Be Direct

The only language an aggressive person understands is directness.

Hinting and beating around the bush will only add fuel to an aggressive person’s fire.

While it might take some courage standing up to an aggressive person and directly telling them to stop, you will usually gain their respect and cause them to be less aggressive – at least with you.

#2 Be Prepared with Facts and Figures

Be prepared by having the facts and figures on hand when communicating with an aggressive person.  This will help you counteract their strong opinions.

Remember that an aggressive person will form strong negative opinions in the absence of full information.  Your best tool to counteract those opinions is with good support of data.

The aggressive person will tend to withdraw rather than concede defeat so don’t expect them to change their mind or tell you that you’re right and that they’re wrong.

#3 Stay Engaged

It’ll be tempting for you to avoid dealing with the aggressive person.  Even though it will go against your instinct, keep building relationships with them.

Remember that they’re counting on their ill temper to keep people at a distance and protect their lack of self confidence and self esteem.

By continuing to engage them in small talk and involving them in decision making and problem solving, you’ll show them that they don’t have to be defensive towards you.

This could cause them to be less aggressive with you in the future.

Remaining confidently calm with aggressive people you interact with, will help you get maximum value from their contributions to the team and it might even help them get along better with their co-workers, because of your positive influence.

To continue your growth as a leader, you are invited to check out our books, videos and training workshops and join our Facebook community at: frontlineleadership.com

Action you can take:

Develop the leadership skills that front line supervisors, team leaders and managers need to improve safety, productivity and quality, while maximizing the involvement of all team members. Whether you need foundational skills or a specialized workshop, reach out and start a conversation today.

Article by,
Greg Schinkel, CSP, President
Front Line Leadership Systems
Develop the skills your team needs to drive results and maximize engagement.  Call us at 1-866-700-9043 or email info@frontlineleadership.com or use the link below to contact us today.

10 More Tips for Effective Conflict Resolution

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

We all experience conflict; whether we choose to master it or let it master us determines our destiny. Due to the popularity of my blog “10 Tips for Effective Conflict Resolution,” I decided to make a YouTube video and also provide you with 10 MORE tips to work through conflict:

1) Don’t react. While this is not easy to do because we are biologically primed to fight or flee, sometimes not reacting is incredibly effective. It takes two to play tug-of-war, and if you refuse to engage, there is no game to be played. An intentional pause serves as a mirror for the antagonizer, as their aggressive words reverberate in the silence and seem to hang in the air, hopefully inspiring reflection and awareness. If you refuse to sink to the same level, you can be the bigger person and anchor the conflict in a more civil place before it spirals downward. This requires strength, patience, groundedness and detachment from ego (for it is the ego that gets hooked during conflict and feels compelled to fight until proven the victor). Pause, count to 10, breathe deeply and see what happens from there.

2) Respond from a place of sadness, rather than anger. When we are angry, it is to protect our feelings of sadness. When we speak from our anger, we can scare people, make them defensive, and can negatively impact our relationships. When we speak from our hurt, we are sharing from a deeper and more vulnerable place of truth, and are not as threatening to others. If we teach others how to care for our wounds, rather than biting them back, we can expedite the healing process.

3) Do not triangulate. Triangulation is when you don’t speak directly to the person with whom you are having a conflict and involve somebody else. For example, speaking to your mother-in-law about your agitation at your wife. Or, throwing your BFF under the bus when you are mad at your boyfriend by saying she thinks he is a selfish ass as well. While it is very tempting to vent to others or to use them as allies, none of this is useful. Triangulation is counterproductive as it causes additional relational strain with others and takes the focus away from the primary issue at hand. Furthermore, it simply isn’t cool.

4) Understand conflict is neither bad, wrong nor a sign of failure. We are human: We all regress and act like babies sometime. Cut yourself some slack, don’t be afraid of your mistakes, make amends and forgive yourself and others. Chalk it up to growth and learning and forge ahead.

5) Before speaking, ask yourself, “Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?”
Take some advice from Shirdi Sai Baba and ask yourself these three questions before tossing verbal (or written) grenades. If the answer to even one of these questions is no, bite your lip and choose words that meet all of these criteria. The conflict will diffuse and your relationship will deepen.

6) Be specific about what you need. Sometimes we want people to magically know what we need in order to feel better. This is normal, yet irrational. Speed things along by being direct and specific for what you need (i.e. “I need for you to say you are sorry for calling me that name” or “I need for you to give me the rest of the weekend alone to reflect” or “I need for you to hold me and stop trying to make it better with words.”).

7) Be willing to let go and “reboot.”
My colleague Ross Rosenberg recommends a mental rebooting when at the point of stalemate in conflict resolution. This involves letting go of any mental energy that is keeping you fixated on the conflict. In a moment of quiet reflection, imagine you are dropping your sword and hitting the “refresh” button on your psychological browser, and revisit your relationship with renewed perspective and energy.

8) Be grateful for the wisdom the conflict brought you. Conflict can be emotionally exhausting and it is easy to be annoyed that it even took place. Look at the good part by reflecting on any lessons that could be learned about yourself, the other party, the relationship, or life in general. Give thanks for this wisdom so that the universe knows you have sufficiently learned this lesson and it isn’t presented for you again!

9) Enjoy the intimacy in making up and reconnecting. Conflict is like fire: While it can be destructive if left untended, it can promote warmth and heat if managed effectively. Resolving conflict promotes intimacy (the term, “make-up sex” didn’t come from nowhere…) Also, there is great reassurance knowing that loved ones can “stand a little shaky ground” and has “got the guts to stick around” (thank you, Bonnie Raitt).

10) Understand nobody is perfect and learning effective conflict resolution is a life-long process. Working on conflict resolution is an indication of maturity, integrity and character. We are all works in progress. Commit to these conflict resolution strategies in order to improve your relationships and become your best self.


Article by,


Joyce Marter
Psychotherapist
Follow Joyce Marter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Joyce_Marter

Top 10 ways to manage conflict in a business

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

When conflict arises in the workplace—as it inevitably does—many smaller organizations and family enterprises are not prepared to handle it. It takes some careful crafting of policies, as well as genuine self-reflection, to get the team back on track. These tips will get you started.

1. Understand and evaluate people’s emotional responses When employees have strong emotional reactions to a workplace dispute, their whole internal defence mechanism may resort to a fight or flight reaction, and their ability to think and reason will typically take second place. The best strategy is to communicate with those involved after the anger and upset has dissipated. Arguing with someone who is emotionally triggered usually leads nowhere.

2. Be self-aware Are you a conflict avoider or an aggressive leader? Be aware of who you are, how you deal with conflict, and the significant impact you are having on the situation. Not everyone may respond well to your style and there will be times where you may need to adapt and demonstrate better leadership.

3. Consider the views of all parties involved No one wants to be told they are wrong. In fact, dialogue is often halted when someone is made to be wrong. Are the leaders in your organization creating conflict by not allowing others to have a voice or make contributions? Are team members too righteous to foster team work? It’s important to always consider different points of view.

4. Get to the root of the issue Sometimes a conflict is a manifestation of a deeper issue, either at the management level or on the ground. A great resource is the 1981 classic bestselling book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury. It provides a simple step-by-step method for getting to the source of the issue and moving beyond it.

5. Accept people for who they are and who they are not People process information and make decisions differently. Knowing how your team members approach their work provides invaluable understanding, allowing them to draw on the strength of others rather than discredit their work styles or habits.

6. Implement regular feedback meetings Consider implementing weekly “open sessions” for the sole purpose of brainstorming what is working and what isn’t. This will allow you to address issues when they are small before they escalate.

7. Have the team create a conflict resolution protocol where everyone buys in People tend to accept what they helped to create. Investing the time to create a conflict resolution protocol will pay huge dividends in the long run.

8. Have the team adopt communication guidelines Not all forms of communications are acceptable in the workplace. Have your team recognize unacceptable and counterproductive manners of communication and create guidelines that they are willing to abide by. Include yourself in this exercise because you may be communicating in a way that is not fostering open dialogue, which in the long run may be the source of much conflict within the organization.

9. Be vigilant and enforce the measures that the team developed No one likes to deal with conflict or reprimand people. However, once there are clear conflict resolution and communication guidelines, they must be implemented in a strategic and consistent way.

10. Do you have the right people? If a team member is not functioning well or is creating conflict, evaluate if that person’s skills would be better suited for a different team or position, or whether that person fits in at your organization.

Article by, Nathalie Boutet

Toronto lawyer and family law expert Nathalie Boutet focuses on negotiating to keep disputes out of court. A pioneer in the field of neuro family law, which integrates brain science, psychology and legal negotiation, Ms. Boutet was nominated in 2015 to receive the prestigious Canada’s Top 25 Changemakers award by Canadian Lawyer.

As appeared on theglobeandmail.com

How to Deal With Difficult People at Work

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Why You Must Deal With Difficult People

Boxing glove punching hand

Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. Dealing with them is much tougher when they are attacking you or undermining your professional contribution.

Difficult people come in every conceivable variety. Some talk constantly and never listen. Others must always have the last word. Some coworkers fail to keep commitments. Others criticize anything that they did not create. Difficult coworkers compete with you for power, privilege, and the spotlight; some go way too far in courting the boss’s positive opinion – to your detriment.

Some coworkers attempt to undermine you and you constantly feel as if you need to watch your back. Your boss plays favorites and the favored party lords it over you; people form cliques and leave you out. Difficult people and situations exist in every workplace.

They all have one thing in common. You must address them. No matter the type of difficult situation in which you find yourself, dealing with difficult people or situations is a must.

Why You Must Deal With Difficult People

Trust me. Your situation won’t get better; left unaddressed, it usually gets worse. Unaddressed, necessary conflict simmers just below – and often erupts counter-productively above – the surface at work.

Initially, people go into shock when they are treated unprofessionally, so if you take some time to understand exactly what is happening to you, you are not alone. Once you are fully aware of what is happening, deciding to live with the situation long term is not an option.

You become so angry and feel so much pain that your efforts to address the situation become irrational.

It’s far better to address the difficult person while you can maintain some objectivity and emotional control.

Constant complaining about the coworker or situation can quickly earn you the title of whiner or complainer. Managers wonder why you are unable to solve your own problems – even if the manager’s tolerance or encouragement of the situation is part of the problem.

Worse Case Scenario If You Fail to Deal With Difficult People

Most importantly, if you are embroiled in a constant conflict at work, you may not only get blamed for being “unable to handle the situation like a mature professional,” you may be labeled as a “difficult” person, too. This label is hard to escape and can have devastating consequences for your career.

Finally, if the situation continues to deteriorate over time, the organization and your boss may tire of you. The boss may decide you are a “high maintenance” employee, easily replaced with a more professional or cooperative person, and you could lose your job.

Dealing With the Difficult Coworker

I’ve experienced workplaces in which all sorts of dysfunctional approaches to dealing with a difficult coworker have been tried. Putting an anonymous note in the person’s mailbox is not an option.

Placing a can of deodorant on a hygiene-challenged coworker’s desk is not a productive option either. Confronting the ​bully publicly can often lead to disaster. Putting dead bugs in his desk drawer can leave your boss no option other than to fire you. So, let’s look at more productive ways to address your difficult coworker.

Are you convinced that in almost all cases you need to productively deal with your difficult coworker? Good. Then, read on to find ten ways to approach dealing with difficult people.

These are ten productive ways to deal with your difficult coworker. Let’s start with the first five.

  • Start out by examining yourself. Are you sure that the other person is really the problem and that you’re not overreacting? Have you always experienced difficulty with the same type of person or actions?Does a pattern exist for you in your interaction with coworkers? Do you recognize that you have hot buttons that are easily pushed? (We all do, you know.) Always start with self-examination to determine that the object of your attention really is a difficult person’s actions.
  • Explore what you are experiencing with a trusted friend or colleague. Brainstorm ways to address the situation. When you are the object of an attack, or your boss appears to support the dysfunctional actions of a coworker, it is often difficult to objectively assess your options. Anger, pain, humiliation, fear, and concern about making the situation worse are legitimate emotions.Pay attention to the unspoken agreement you create when you solicit another’s assistance. You are committing to act unless you agree actions will only hurt the situation. Otherwise, you risk becoming a whiner or complainer in the eyes of your colleague.
  • Approach the person with whom you are having the problem for a private discussion.Talk to the coworker about what you are experiencing in “I” messages. (Using “I” messages is a communication approach that focuses on your experience of the situation rather than on attacking or accusing the other person.) You can also explain to your coworker the impact of their actions on you.Be pleasant and agreeable as you talk with the other person. They may not be aware of the impact of their words or actions on you. They may be learning about their impact on you for the first time. Or, they may have to consider and confront a pattern in their own interaction with people. Worst case?

    They may know their impact on you and deny it or try to explain it away. Unfortunately, some difficult people just don’t care. During the discussion, attempt to reach agreement about positive and supportive actions going forward.

  • Follow-up after the initial discussion. Has the behavior changed? Gotten better? Or worse? Determine whether a follow-up discussion is needed. Determine whether a follow-up discussion will have any impact. Decide if you want to continue to confront the difficult person by yourself.Become a peacemaker. (Decide how badly you want to make peace with the other person and how much you want your current job. Determine whether you have experienced a pattern of support from your boss.) If you answer, “yes,” to these questions, hold another discussion. If not, escalate and move to the next idea.
  • You can confront your difficult coworker’s behavior publicly. Deal with the person with gentle humor or slight sarcasm. Or, make an exaggerated physical gesture – no, not that one – such as a salute or place your hand over your heart to indicate a serious wounding.You can also tell the difficult person that you’d like them to consider important history in their decision making or similar words expressed positively, depending on the subject. Direct confrontation does work well for some people in some situations. I don’t think it works to ask the person to stop doing what they’re doing, publicly, but you can employ more positive confrontational tactics.

    Their success for you will depend on your ability to pull them off. Each of us is not spur-of-the-moment funny, but if you are, you can use the humor well with difficult coworkers.

Want five more tips? Fleeing is definitely an option.

  • If you have done what you can do and employed the first five recommended approaches with little or no success, it’s time to involve others – your boss or a manager. Note that you are escalating the situation. Prepare to talk with your boss.Take notes and address the issues, not as interpersonal problems, but as issues affecting your productivity, the work and your progress on projects. Tell your boss exactly what the difficult person does.

    Make a plan to address the issues. Perhaps involve your coworker’s boss. Recognize that a good boss is likely to bring your difficult coworker and his supervisor into a three or four-way discussion at this point. Expect to participate in follow-up over time.

  • Rally the other employees who might have an issue with the difficult person, too – carefully. Sometimes, a group approach convinces the boss that the impact of the behavior is wider and deeper than she had originally determined. Be careful with this approach, however. Know what works with your boss. You want to solve your problem, not make it look as if you are rabble-rousing and ganging up on another employee.
  • If these approaches fail to work, try to limit the difficult person’s access to you. Protect the needs of your business, but avoid working with the person when possible. Leave voluntary committees, Choose projects he or she does not impact. Don’t hurt your own career or your business, but avoidance is an option.
  • Transfer to a new job within your organization. Depending on the size of your company, you may never have to work with this difficult coworker again. Fleeing is definitely an option.
  • If all else fails, you can quit your job. What, flee, you ask? But, I wasn’t the employee with the problem. I was not the difficult coworker. All I tried to do was my job. You’re right. But, what price, in terms of your happiness and success, are you willing to pay to stay? You need to decide whether the good in your current situation outweighs the bad or whether the bad outweighs the good.If the good wins, stop complaining and get back to work. Backtrack on these recommended steps and retry some of them when appropriate. If the bad wins, redirect your energy to leaving your current employment. You’ll be glad you did. Check out the second part of this article to find out how to conduct a stealth job search and much more about job searching.

Article by, Susan M. Heathfield
As appeared on thebalance.com

How to Manage Conflict

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Last November, Philippe, a 33-year-old French banker, left Paris for a new challenge in London. He thought that a new job in a fast-growing British investment bank would give him valuable international experience and develop some new skills. The bigger salary and bonus were also a draw.

One year on, Philippe has a different view of his move. When I met him last week, he explained that the year had been a disaster and his job was in danger as staff had made formal complaints about his management style. He had found it difficult to adjust to his new role, but he had not realised that his style had created such conflict within his team.

Philippe felt he had been acting appropriately, but his colleagues and team members felt he had been inconsistent, favouring some members of his team and undermining others. His line manager had recommended coaching to help him improve his communication skills, understand the culture and develop his people skills. Philippe had agreed to the coaching but felt aggrieved that the bank had not done more to prepare him for his role with training and a proper induction. The main problem, he said, was the bank’s matrix structure and its focus on profit-making, which encouraged managers to fight for territory and resources rather than building teams and developing people. In short, the bank deliberately created a culture of conflict rather than collaboration.

Of course, both sides have a point. Philippe needs to change, but so does the environment in which he is operating. I am often asked to work with individuals in a conflict situation, but rarely does the organisation ask for feedback on why the conflict occurred and what they might do to prevent it. In truth, little is done at the organisational level to mitigate conflict.

Organisational conflict is emerging as a key workplace issue among the people I coach. They tell me that there is a lack of will and/or skills to deal with conflict and have many theories as to why it occurs and what happens when it takes root. From being an unwelcome distraction, conflict in a team or department can quickly spread, to damage relationships, lower productivity and morale and in extreme cases lead absenteeism, sabotage, litigation and even strikes.

So why are so many people experiencing conflict at work? There are two key factors.

First, the matrix structure adopted by many organisations has resulted in unclear reporting lines, increased competition for resources and attention and general confusion as managers try to develop an appropriate management style.

Second, globalisation has caused change and restructuring so that businesses operate more flexibly. There has been a rapid growth in virtual teams, with people from different backgrounds and cultures working across vast regions and time zones. Email and electronic communication are the most practical ways to connect, but these can be anonymous and lead to misunderstanding.

In addition to matrix management styles and globalisation, there are a number of other sources of conflict, including:

• Different cultures and assumptions
• Differing values, opinions and beliefs
• Lack of sensitivity to race, gender, age, class, education and ability
• Poor people skills, especially communication
• Volatile, fast-changing workplaces
• Limits on resources, physical and psychological

So what are the ways to manage conflict? How can managers ensure that it does not escalate out of control? According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Instrument, there are five key styles for managing conflict:

• Forcing — using your formal authority or power to satisfy your concerns without regard to the other party’s concerns
• Accommodating — allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your own
• Avoiding — not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve it
• Compromising — attempting to resolve the conflict by identifying a solution that is partially satisfactory to both parties but completely satisfactory to neither
• Collaborating — co-operating with the other party to understand their concerns in an effort to find a mutually satisfying solution

Another way to look at conflict is to decide the relative importance of the issue and to consider the extent to which priorities, principles, relationships or values are at stake. Power is also an important issue – how much power do you have relative to the other person?

As a rule, I would suggest collaboration is the way to deal with important issues, although forcing can sometimes be appropriate if time is an issue. For moderately important issues, compromising can lead to quick solutions but it doesn’t satisfy either side, nor does it foster innovation, so collaboration is probably better. Accommodating is the best approach for unimportant issues as it leads to quick resolution without straining the relationship.

And lest we forget, conflict does have a positive side: it can promote collaboration, improve performance, foster creativity and innovation and build deeper relationships. As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, “all the good-to-great companies had a penchant for intense dialogue. Phrases like ‘loud debate’, ‘heated discussions’ and ‘healthy conflict’ peppered the articles and transcripts from all companies.” The more skilled managers become in handling differences and change without creating or getting involved in conflict, the more successful their teams and companies will become.

 

Article by, Gill Corkindale

As appeared on https://hbr.org/2007/11/how-to-manage-conflict

Overcome Your Fear of Confrontation and Conflict

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Build Your Conflict Resolution Skills

Multi-ethnic business people having a meaningful and appropriate confrontation.

A former colleague holds complete conversations in his head with people with whom he is angry. He rarely speaks directly with the other person. This anger in his mind continues to build because of his frustration, yet he never lets the other person know that he is frustrated and subsequently angry.

His conflict avoidance almost cost him his marriage because he didn’t let his wife into the conversations he was having with her but by himself.

It was almost too late by the time he did bring her into the real conversation.

His need to avoid confrontation is so strong that he has a safe confrontation in his mind and feels that he has dealt with the issue. As you can imagine, this doesn’t work – especially for the other person involved.

Are you guilty of holding mental conflicts and confrontations?

Many people are uncomfortable when it comes to confrontation. I understand the concept of having the conversation in your head; so you can plan out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Sometimes these mental conversations are enough to settle the issue, as you realize you are making too much out of a simple situation.

I know that I have spent hours lying in bed at night having conversations with people with whom I am angry and frustrated. Not only does this practice disrupt your sleep, your attitude, and your health, it never really resolves the issue, and is potentially damaging to your relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that you need to confront every action. If you have the conversation once in your head, don’t worry about it. If it comes back and you have it again, perhaps start thinking about holding a real conversation.

By the third in your head confrontation, you need to start planning how you will deal with the real confrontation because it looks as if you are going to need to do that.

How to Hold a Real, Necessary Conflict or Confrontation

Start by preparing yourself to confront the real issue. Be able to state the issue in one (or two), non-emotional, factual based sentences.

For example, assume you want to confront your coworker for taking all of the credit for the work that the two of you did together on a project. Instead of saying, “You took all the credit, blah, blah, blah…” and venting your frustration, which is what you might say in your mind, rephrase your approach using the above guidelines.

Say instead, “It looks as if I played no role in the Johnson account. My name does not appear anywhere on the document, nor I have been given credit anywhere that I can see.”

(I’ve used additional communication techniques such as I-language as well in this statement. Notice that I avoided using the words I feel because that is an emotional statement, without proof and facts. The facts in this statement cannot be disputed, but an I feel statement is easy for your coworker to refute.)

Make your initial statement and stop talking.

When the person you are confronting responds, allow them to respond. It’s a human tendency, but don’t make the mistake of adding to your initial statement, to further justify the statement.

Defending why you feel the way you do will generally just create an argument. Say what you want to say (the confrontation), then just allow the other person to respond.

Especially since you’ve probably held the conversation in your head a few times, you may think you know how the other person is going to respond. But, it’s a mistake to jump to that point before they have the opportunity to respond. Resist the temptation to say anything else at this point. Let them respond.

Avoid arguing during the confrontation.

Confrontation does not mean fight. It means that you need to state what you have say. Listen to what they have to say. Many times it actually ends right there.

Do you need to prove the other person right or wrong? Does someone have to take the blame? Get your frustration off your chest, and move on.

Figure out the conflict resolution you want before the confrontation.

If you approached your coworker with the initial statement, “You took all the credit, blah, blah, blah…” her response is likely going to be quite defensive. Perhaps she’ll say something like, “Yes, you have been given credit. I said both of our names to the boss just last week.”

If you already know what you are looking for in the confrontation, this is where you move the conversation. Don’t get into an argument about whether she did or didn’t mention anything to the boss last week – that isn’t really the issue and don’t let it distract you from accomplishing the goal of the confrontation.

Your response could be, “I would appreciate if in the future that we use both of our names on any documentation, and include each other in all of the correspondence about the project.”

Focus on the real issue of the confrontation.

The other party will either agree or disagree. Keep to the issue at this point, and avoid all temptation to get into an argument. Negotiate, but don’t fight.

The issue is you aren’t receiving credit, and you want your name on the documentation. That’s it. It isn’t about blame, about who is right or wrong or anything other than your desired resolution.

You will rarely look forward to confrontation; you may never become completely comfortable with, or even skilled in confrontation. However, it is important that you say something when you are frustrated and angry. If you can’t stand up for yourself, who will?

We Are All Mediators: How to Solve Conflict in the Workplace

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

business analyst Conflict HandshakeMost employees and managers have a story about a conflict in the workplace that got out of hand. Sometimes, the events remain in the past, but sometimes they take root and lead to rifts within an office. 

Cold exchanges are made in the breakroom, two employees avoid eye contact in meetings, and projects slow to a crawl because of a breakdown in communication.

This all can be avoided with solid conflict resolution techniques.

Next time a problem flares up in the office, follow this method to identify the problems, find solutions and work toward fostering a positive team environment.

Conflict Occurs in Every Workplace

Even the most congenial offices face workplace conflicts throughout the year.

A.J. O’Connor Associates reports that American employees spend an average of 2.8 hours per week managing conflict, which results in $435 billion in lost productivity annually. The differences between a cooperative and a toxic office lie in how long problems take to get solved.

However, the survey also shows that conflict can be an opportunity for growth. In fact, 75 percent of employees said they have experienced positive outcomes from a well-managed conflict that might not have occurred without the conflict in the first place.

The key phrase here is “well-managed conflict,” as so many problems within the workplace are handled poorly.

The Two Types of Workplace Conflict

Before you can start to solve conflicts in your office, you need to know the types of conflict you’re dealing with.

In a study of 2,100 UK employees, CIPD found that 38 percent of employees experienced some sort of interpersonal conflict at work in the past year, and 25 percent said conflict is a normal part of the workplace. The team at CIPD then divides these incidents into two types: isolated disputes and ongoing conflict relationships.

While an isolated dispute occurs because of an event and can may only last a few days, ongoing conflict relationships can last for months and build with every new problem.

The type of conflict you’re dealing with will dictate how you solve the problem, but understand that they aren’t mutually exclusive conflicts — an isolated dispute handled poorly can lead to an ongoing conflict.

Addressing Conflict is a Key Management Skill

Business Analyst Conflict Meeting

Regardless of the level or severity of the issue, conflict needs to be addressed. The question is how it should be addressed.

The leadership team doesn’t have to step into every disagreement, but they should be able to in order to prevent problems from growing out of control.

“Leaders and employees who are not trained in conflict resolution often do not understand that conflict can be resolved as quickly as it comes on,” Dr. Bill Howatt writes at The Globe and Mail. “But when they are not resolved in a collaborative way and instead are left to fester, then the conflict has the opportunity to escalate.”

Howatt writes that conflict is a natural part of the workplace and can lead to important changes and a better understanding through communication.

Glenn Llopis agrees with Howatt. He says the tension must be addressed head-on, and management shouldn’t assume that the employee’s frustration will subside over time.

“Adversity is very big when it is all you can see,” he writes. “But it is very small when in the presence of all else that surrounds you.”

Acknowledging your colleague’s or your employee’s perspective (even if they’re still not getting their way) can validate their feelings and help both of you move toward a solution.

Evaluating the Severity of the Conflict

Before you address the conflict, you should evaluate the working relationship between the two parties in question. This will help you decide whether you should get involved or step back.

“In all of these cases, leaders need to consider two basic questions,” Tom Fox writes at the Washington Post. “How important is the issue? And, how important is this relationship? Your answers will determine whether to let it slide or try to resolve it.”

Fox highlights the relationship between employees and managers as an example. This is a highly important relationship, as both parties will have to keep working together even after the issue is solved. In this case, a third-party mediator (like a co-worker or higher-level employee) could help create a platform for communication.

Five Steps to Mediate Workplace Conflict

When mediating between two parties, it helps to have an established framework to use in order to fairly evaluate both sides. By being fair and procedural, you reduce the risk of isolated incidents becoming ongoing relationship conflicts.

Dr. Beverly Flaxington has created a five-step sample model that you can apply to most conflicts:

  1. Specify the desired outcome: Let each party explain what they’re hoping to achieve.
  2. Highlight and categorize the obstacles: Let each side voice their problems with the other’s goals or solutions.
  3. Identify the stakeholders: Talk about who will be affected by the decision outside of this meeting.
  4. Brainstorm possible alternatives: Find ways to meet in the middle or use a third option to solve the conflict.
  5. Take action based on the solution: By taking immediate action, you show that the discussion is over and there’s no point fighting against the decision.

Again, by giving both parties a fair chance to lobby for their choices, you’re validating your team members and treating them with respect.

Emotion and Fact Are Often Hard to Separate

Business Analyst Conflict Argue

“Humans are creatures of emotion,” writesReuben Yonatan, CEO of GetVoIP. “If you haven’t already realized how combative people can become when they think their ideas are under attack, you’ll learn soon enough within a team setting.”

Most, if not all, conflict will be tied to some sort of emotion. Your goal as a leader is to separate the facts from the emotion and make the best possible decision.

For example, an employee might fight back against a new process because he says it’s too complex, but his real issue could be a fear of change or disengagement within the company. One incident is a symptom of a larger problem.

“When we are under stress, we revert to our primitive fight or flight response — the brain doesn’t appreciate that it’s not a lion attack but an irritable colleague,” Macarena Mata writes at HRZone.

“In very quick succession, effective communication becomes less effective, assumptions become ‘facts,’ psychological insecurities become our platform of communication and suddenly destructive workplace conflict erupts.”

Tapping Into Workplace Emotional Intelligence

The fact that conflict is so closely tied to emotion highlights the value of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Emotional intelligence is your ability to accurately track your emotions as they happen and evaluate the emotions of others. It is your ability to control how you react in certain situations while understanding why others might react differently.

Dr. Travis Bradberry reports that emotional intelligence (the foundation for traits like empathy, change tolerance and problem solving) is one of the most useful workplace skills and accounts for 58 percent of success in most positions.

He found that 90 percent of effective performers have high levels of emotional intelligence, but only 20 percent of the bottom performers do.

Learning to Recognize When You’re the Problem

In an article for She Owns It, Karen Doniere admits that it’s not a comfortable feeling to realize that there are emotional problems, cultural differences or generational rifts at the root of a problem — especially when it’s your own biases holding the team back.

However, if you’re mature enough to accept responsibility for the conflict and move forward, you can prevent the other parties from having a long-term personal conflict with you.

Identifying emotions can actually help managers resolve conflicts. By isolating the facts, they can focus on the core issues at hand instead of getting involved in personal disagreements.

Overcoming Your Fear of Conflict

The modern workplace has trained us to avoid conflict.

Employees worry about losing their jobs if they confront problems, and many managers are likewise scared to face issues and address their employees’ concerns. But the best managers know how to address conflicts in a productive manner.

“When you avoid conflict, you’re actually putting the focus squarely on yourself,” Amy Jen Suwrites at the Harvard Business Review.

Avoiding conflict means your fear motivates you — whether it’s the fear of having an idea shot down or the fear of causing tension in the workplace. This fear ultimately makes you an ineffective employee because the needs of the business will always be second to your own personal discomfort.

Creating a Conflict Discussion Roadmap

Rhonda Scharf has also seen fear paralyze her co-workers. She knew one man who almost lost his marriage because he wouldn’t communicate his problems to his wife. He would write entire conversations in his head addressing the issue but couldn’t bring himself to open his mouth!

To abate these fears, Scharf created a four-step process that people can follow when they want to address conflict in a way that opens the door for healthy discussion:

  1. State the issue in one or two non-emotional, fact-based sentences.
  2. Make your first statement, and then pause to let the other person address it.
  3. Figure out your ideal solution before the confrontation.
  4. Focus on the real issues of the confrontation.

Team members who fear conflict can mentally write out what they want to say following this process to temper the messiness of confrontation. In many ways, voicing your problems is a learning process. The more you do it, the better you will get.

The Dangers of Avoiding Office Conflict

Business Analyst Office Conflict

Even the best conflict-resolution managers avoid difficult conversations sometimes. However, difficult issues need to be addressed for the health of the company.

James Kerr notes that when management refuses to acknowledge conflict, the results are often diminished teamwork, reduced productivity and unresolved conflicts that ultimately can compel your top employees to leave.

“Those that can will move on to greener pastures when their current work environment becomes unbearable,” he writes. This often leaves management with just the people who benefit from the status quo. Companies constantly fight to recruit top talent, but a passive management style that doesn’t stop conflict could leave you with the worst people, not the best.  

Conflict Without Leadership Can Cause Bullying

The Trade Union Congress reports that 29 percent of workers have been bullied at work. Nearly half of these respondents said it has affected their performance along with their mental health.

By failing to address conflict in a fair and timely manner, you could be contributing to a culture of bullying within your office. Even if the bullies don’t realize the effects they have on their co-workers, your bullied employees will certainly see that you’re not doing anything to address the problem.

Ignoring Conflict Won’t Make it Go Away

Failing to address conflict doesn’t mean it isn’t there; it just means the conflict is occurring somewhere outside of your control.

“Organizations in which managers try to keep a lid on differences — of opinion, personal style, and cultural preferences — are usually riven with the undercurrents of unproductive conflict,”Muthu Subramanian writes.

When leaders encourage teams to address differences instead of suppressing, both parties can come up with opportunities to overcome and even embrace challenges.

Bullying, turnover, lost employees and a toxic workplace; is all of that worth giving into the fear of addressing conflict?

By improving your conflict-resolution skills, you will be able to solve more isolated problems and create a more positive work environment for your team. Furthermore, you will grow as a manager and continue to be an asset within your company.

Article Source: bobtheba.com

Conflict Management Styles: The Start of Effective Conflict Management

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Conflict is part of life. Conflict is any situation in which people have incompatible interests, goals, principles or feelings and experience.  In other words, conflict means that two people experience discomforting differences.

Despite our best efforts, we find ourselves in disagreements with other people in all aspects of our lives:  at work, in our relationships, in our volunteer activities.  How we respond to provocation can determine if conflict moves in a beneficial or a harmful direction.  The good news is that we can learn skills, strategies and processes to manage conflict.

The goal of  conflict management is to manage yourself and others so as to bring about the best possible resolution of a conflict situation in terms of the issue at hand, the relationship.  When handled effectively, conflict carries with it opportunity:

Better Relationships:
Conflict is a signal that changes might be necessary in the relationships or the situation so conflict management can build relationships. It also encourages listening and taking the perspective of the other person for greater rapport.

Better Outcomes:
Conflict stimulates problem-solving and open communication to arrive at better solutions.

Less Stress:
Conflict provides a means for expressing emotions which can ultimately clear the air and reduce tension.

Let us examine the first step in becoming an effective conflict manager:  knowing how to use the 5 conflict management styles and strategies.

Conflict Management Styles

The start of being an effective conflict manager is being aware of your style in conflict and the style of those that you deal with.  These styles were identified by two psychologists, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann in the 1970’s to illustrate the options that we have in dealing with conflict.
There are 5 different styles for managing conflict.  These are tendencies and we may use any one of these styles at different times.  However, people tend to have one or two preferred or default waysof dealing with conflict.

1.    Avoid
A person who avoids conflict does not deal the issue at hand when it arises.  This means that neither his own concerns nor those of the other person are addressed. Avoiding might mean diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or withdrawing from a threatening situation.

2.    Accommodate
Someone who accommodates the other person in a conflict prefers to satisfy the concerns of the other person, thereby neglecting his own concerns.  Accommodation carries with it an element of self-sacrifice.  This mode might involve selfless generosity or charity or yielding to another’s point of view.

3.    Compromise
The individual who prefers to compromise wants to find an expedient, mutually acceptable solution. Compromising addresses an issue more directly than avoiding, but does not explore it in as much depth as collaborating. Compromising might mean splitting the difference, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground position.

4.    Collaborate
In collaboration, the individual prefers to work with the other person to find a solution that fully satisfies the concerns of both. This is the best way to achieve the win/win solution:  one where each party feels that he or she achieved his or her goals.  It involves exploring an issue to identify the underlying interests of the parties in order to arrive at an outcome that meets both sets of concerns. Collaborating might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights, or looking for a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.

5.    Compete
An individual who competes pursues his or her own interests without regard to the other person’s goals and seeking to impose his power in order to win his position. Competing might mean standing up for one’s rights, defending a position believed to be right, or simply trying to win.

Conflict Management Strategies

These styles translate into 5 different strategies for managing conflict which are based on 4 factors:

•    issues: the extent to which the conflict involves important priorities, principles or values are involved in the conflict;
•    relationship: the importance of maintaining a close, mutually supportive relationship with the other party;
•    relative power: the power balance between you and the other party;
•    available time:  how much time you have to resolve the issue.

By knowing when to use each strategy, you can begin to make choices about which is the most appropriate to the situation.

Let us take a closer look at when to use each strategy:

1.    Avoid

Avoiding is an appropriate strategy where there is a clear advantage to waiting to resolve the conflict.  When used as a choice, it helps to cool things down and reduce stress. Avoiding is appropriate when
•    the conflict is small and relationships are at stake
•    you are upset and need to time to cool off
•    there are more important issues to deal with
•    you have no power and you see no chance of getting your concerns met
•    you are too emotionally involved and others around you can solve the conflict more successfully.

However, if either the issue or the relationship between the parties is important, avoidance is a poor strategy because important decisions may be made by default and postponing resolution of the issue may make matters worse.

2.    Accommodate

Accommodate is a good strategy when you find yourself in conflict over a fairly unimportant issue and you would like to resolve the conflict without straining your relationship with the other party.  Someone who accommodates builds good will and can be perceived as reasonable. Collaborating is also an option, but it might not be worth the time.  The focus is on the relationship, as opposed to the outcome.
Accommodate is the right strategy when
•     an issue is not as important to you as it is to the other person
•    you realize you are wrong
•    the time is not right to resolve the issue and you would prefer to simply build credit for the future
•    harmony in the relationship is extremely important.

The downside is that your ideas do not get sufficient attention and may be neglected, causing you to feel resentful.  Moreover, you may lose credibility and influence if accommodation becomes a pattern.

3.    Compromise

When dealing with moderately important issues, compromising can often lead to quick solutions.  However, compromise does not completely satisfy either party, and compromise does not foster innovation the way that taking the time to collaborate can.  Compromise helps to get to solutions and is good for overcoming impasses. It works when:
•    people of relatively equal power are equally committed to goals
•    you can save time by reaching intermediate resolution of parts of complex issues
•    the goals are moderately important.

However, compromise can backfire if the parties overlook important principles and long-term goals for the sake of the details.  Moreover, it is not the best way to reach an optimal solution on important issues.  The parties also risk engaging in excessive “horse-trading” while losing sight of the big picture.

4.    Collaborate

Conflict management experts advocate collaboration as the best way to resolve a conflict over important issues.  The premise is that teamwork and cooperation help all parties to achieve their goals while also maintaining the relationships. The process of working through differences will lead to creative solutions that will satisfy both parties’ concerns.  Collaboration is the way to achieve the best outcome on important issues as well as build good relationships since it takes into account all of the parties’ underlying interests.
Collaboration works best when:
•     the parties trust each other
•    it is important for all sides to buy into the outcome
•    the people involved are willing to change their thinking as more information is found and new options are suggested
•    the parties need to work through animosity and hard feelings.

The downside is that the process requires a lot of time and energy.  If time is precious, compete or compromise might be a better solution.

5.    Compete

Compete is a useful strategy when the outcome is extremely important and an immediate decision needs to be taken.  It is efficient and effective when you need to take a stand. In that case, one must sometimes use power to win.  Compete is appropriate when
•    you know you are right
•    time is short and a quick decision is needed
•    you need to stand up for your rights.

However, when used too often, compete can escalate the conflict, breed resentment among others and damage relationships.

How to Use Conflict Management Strategies
The first step in managing your conflicts is to be aware of your default style.  Where has it worked for you?  Where did it let you down?  What were the consequences?

Once you know about the other styles and strategies, you can begin to apply them in the appropriate situation.  The good news is that this is a skill that you can practice and eventually master.

In addition, once you know the different styles, you can identify them in the people with whom you are in conflict.  This can help you to understand their perspective and frame the appropriate response.

By knowing the styles and how to use them effectively, you can begin to take charge of those uncomfortable conflict situations.

With these principles in mind, you are now ready for action. For more information, here is how  to prepare for a conflict meeting and conduct a conflict negotiation.

Article by,

© Astrid Baumgardner 2012

 

Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success.  In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and  Personal Branding and Networking.  She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success and blogs on career development and personal development for musicians creative professionals at www.astridbaumgardner.com/blog.

How Smart People Handle Difficult People

Friday, April 28th, 2017
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negativity they spread, while others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos.
How Smart People Handle Difficult People

Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus — an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success — when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions — the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people — caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize difficult people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

1. They set limits.

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

2. They rise above.

Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos — only the facts.

3. They stay aware of their emotions.

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way — if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

4. They establish boundaries.

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

5. They don’t die in the fight.

Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

6. They don’t focus on problems — only solutions.

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

7. They don’t forget.

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Smart people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

8. They squash negative self-talk.

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

9. They get some sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

10. They use their support system.

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing It All Together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

Keeping Your Cool: Dealing with Difficult People

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

By: Dr. Rhonda Savage

People today have a short fuse—everyone is stressed.  And when people are stressed, they can become difficult to be around. Chances are, you’ve worked with at least one difficult person in your organization.  You recognize the behaviors of a difficult person, such as a bad attitude, apathy, difficulty handling change, and terrible customer service. Difficult people give you the silent treatment or worse–they can be verbally aggressive.Unfortunately, if you don’t address this kind of behavior, one of two things will happen:  Employees will become resentful and think less of you as a leader.

Employees will start modeling the behavior of the person who is not being corrected.

It’s important to understand that there’s only one reason anyone behaves in an unacceptable manner: the person gets away with it! So, who’s responsible for difficult people? The answer is anyone who tolerates them. Every time you give in to a difficult person, every time you choose not to confront him or her, you allow a difficult person to continue this rude behavior.

What does a difficult person in your office look like?  Often, he is the one who gets the better schedule. He may come in late or leave the office early, leaving his or her work for others to finish. The individual might take a longer lunch, hold long personal calls during work hours, or refuse to lend a co-worker a hand. Individuals in the office don’t ask the person to work with them because they don’t like the individual.

So, how can you change this situation? Confrontation is one answer. Unfortunately, it can be hard for anyone to address this issue. However, it’s important to understand that dealing with the issue will facilitate a more harmonious atmosphere in the office, leading to increased productivity, improved morale, and a healthier bottom line.

You’ll need to set boundaries, expectations and guidelines, and then hold the person accountable for his or her behaviors. Here are some tips, whether you are an employee dealing with a difficult supervisor, a worker dealing with a co-worker, or a manager dealing with a challenging employee:

Owner or Manager to Employee: Have you ever had an employee who was demanding, condescending, abrupt, tearful, insecure, and high maintenance—yet he or she did an excellent job? Were you worried about losing the person because of the great work? Just because someone does great work doesn’t make him or her a good employee. If you have a person whose behavior is affecting the morale and productivity in the office, and you’ve already coached the employee on the issue, this person needs a formal corrective review.

The employee should be given a copy of the corrective review; a signed copy is placed in his or her employee file. Let the employee know the specific behavior you need to have changed, your clearly defined expectations, and a time frame to work within. Have a follow-up meeting within a designated time period to give the employee the feedback needed. Be sure to provide clear oversight.

Employee to Manager:  What if the difficult person is your boss or manager? Approach your employer or supervisor first by asking: “I need to talk with you about something.  Is now a good time?” If not, schedule a time to talk. Begin by expressing your intention and your motives. Explain your concern about a loss of business and unhappy clients, and that your intentions are to help make the workplace not only productive but also satisfactory to clients.

Another approach is to talk about how certain behaviors in the office are decreasing efficiency. Explain that you’d like to talk about ways to improve the systems in the office. By first addressing the issues as though you’re tackling a problem or a system issue, your supervisor or employer will not be defensive. Always be tactful, professional, calm, and polite. Ask your employer or manager for his or her goals and offer to give suggestions to help meet those goals.

Use the “feel, felt, found” method: “Many of our customers feel uncomfortable when you speak to the other employees; they’ve expressed how they’ve felt when you left the room. I’ve found if I convey customer concerns to my supervisor that our sales have increased.”

Employee to Employee:  If you have a problem with a co-worker, the best course of action is to go to that person directly. Do not talk about the issues with your fellow co-workers behind the other person’s back! Go to the person privately and tell them about it.

There are three steps to this.

Let the person know you’d like to talk about something that’s been bothering you. Ask him or her, “Is this a good time?”

Describe the behavior with dates, names, and times. Be specific. Begin by saying:  “I’d like to talk with you about this. This is how I felt when….” Speak only for yourself and how the behavior affects you.

Describe what you would like to see changed. Try to resolve the issue first personally and privately. If the situation does not change, request a meeting between yourself, the other person and your employer.  Everyone can choose his or her attitude. Each day, when someone walks out the front door to go to work, that person has a choice in how his or her day will play out.  You can’t always choose the people who surround you but you can try to make them aware of their behaviors.  If you have a difficult person in your life, set the boundaries, explain your expectations, and then hold that person accountable.  Be calm when you’re doing this!  The person who is calm and asks the questions is the one in control.

About the Author

Dr. Rhonda Savage is an internationally acclaimed speaker and CEO for a well-known practice management and consulting business. As past President of the Washington State Dental Association, she is active in organized dentistry and has been in private practice for more than 16 years. Dr. Savage is a noted speaker on practice management, women’s issues, communication and leadership, and zoo dentistry.

4 Easy Steps to Deal with Difficult People

Friday, March 24th, 2017

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz

It seemed like a simple task. Please switch my gym membership from gold to silver level. I’m not cancelling, just switching.

That was now the third time I repeated my request, each time a little more calmly and a little more slowly, despite the beginnings of blood boiling feelings.

The person on the other end of the phone could not have been ruder. It was as if I was asking for a kidney instead of a membership change. A harsh tone and harsher words ensued. Why, I still have no idea.

You have undoubtedly met them. You have maybe been one, once or twice.

Why are some people continually difficult to deal with? What makes Joe easy to get along with and John such a struggle? Here are the major reasons and what can be done about it.

1. We feel triggered when our needs aren’t met.

We love it when we are acknowledged. We may not be crazy about when we are criticized, but it beats Option #3: being ignored.

Being ignored is a terrible feeling for humans and one that we avoid like the plague. When this occurs, some people revert to “problem child” mode. These are the set of behavioral responses that are so ingrained that it is a reflexive series of actions. It is the default mode.

When you find yourself in such a situation, ask the big question: What is my positive intention here? What am I trying to accomplish? (Or: What is the other person trying to accomplish?)

If you can leave enough of the heated emotions aside, clearing enough space for some patience and I dare say, compassion, the root cause of the behavior often becomes crystal clear.

What are you trying to accomplish? Great. Let’s find a way of getting what you want in a healthy fashion…

2. Fear can lead to confrontation.

If we could somehow, some way reduce fear, 99% of the world’s problems would be resolved. Fear causes more complications and melodramatic dilemmas than all other emotions combined.

Fear is typically at the root when dealing with difficult people. They want something and fear it is either not being heard and will never be heard, or they are not deserving of having their voices heard in the first place.

Are these true? Probably not. They are stories we tell ourselves and believe as fact. Spoken enough, cycled enough in our heads, we proceed to “know them as truth” and act based upon these fictional anecdotes. Our bodies react with—you guessed it—fear.

Fear is a root emotion that originates from the kidney energy. The kidney energy is the source of all energy. Knowingly or unknowingly, we try to protect this at all times. Fear is the prime, albeit most ineffective method. How ironic!

Steering the person away from this base emotion is the key here. By choosing your words carefully and speaking them kindly, you can help divert a person from fear into the more advantageous and effective emotions. Once this occurs, the rest is easy.

3. A feeling of powerlessness can make people combative.

One of the most misquoted and misunderstood martial arts is the popular art of Aikido. Most people state that in Aikido, one is using the attacker’s energy against them. Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, founder of Aikido stated something much differently. He said, “We use our opponents’ energy to protect them…”

When there is a feeling of powerlessness—real or imagined—there is a tendency to go on the attack, so to speak. If one engages, things begin to escalate. That feeling of lacking personal power is the underlying reason. “I have no power so I must go on the offensive to protect myself, to regain lost power.”

We cannot take power from anyone without their consent. When we recognize this and remind the other person with compassion, we’re better able to defuse hostility. The more we acknowledge personal power, the less conflict arises.

4. We argue because we don’t want to “lose.”

The late self-improvement master Alexander Everett used to set up situations in schools that were based on cooperation, not competition. For example, track events were not Person A running against Person B; rather, they were about whether or not the team had an improved (total) time this month versus last month.

If they improved in April compared to March, the team was considered victorious.

When a conversation (or argument) is set up whereby there is the illusion of a  “winner” and a “loser,” conflict is bound to continue. Ill feelings are the “award” and nothing productive is accomplished.

How can the situation be set up so that both people receive what they desire? Note that this is much different than compromise. Compromise is a situation where a third option is agreed upon and neither party is happy with it.

At the end of the day, people are people. There are no truly difficult people, only those who have unrefined communication skills. Given the opportunity, everyone eventually finds their pure voice.

Profile photo of David Orman

About David Orman

David Orman is the creator of the country’s foremost anti-aging formula, Hgh Plus found at www.hghplus.net. He is also the author of the blog DocWellness.wordpress.com.

Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Difficult People

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Learn to Play Nice

I think it’s safe to say that all of us, at one time or another, have had to deal with a difficult person at work. But the good news is, you do not have to let them get the better of you! Below are proven tactics that can help you get past a co-worker’s difficult behavior.

From Know-It-Alls to Hecklers

Everyone has met these people. You may not have taken the time to categorize them, but difficult people generally fall into the following categories according to a Huffington Post article:

  • Talk hogs – dominate the discussion, either in a positive or negative way
  • Know-it-alls – chime in whenever, about whatever, no matter what is being discussed
  • Resenters – use dismissive hostility to make it known they would rather be anywhere else but at work
  • Hecklers – use off-putting remarks, backhanded compliments, and tasteless jokes
  • Gripers – constant complainers, always pointing out the negative side

No matter what kind of difficult behavior these people subscribe to, the air can be sucked right out of the room, and productivity screeches to a halt. It’s been said before and it will be said again, the only person you can truly control is you, so don’t let Debbie Downer or Steve the Bully get to you!

Don’t Let Them Push Your Buttons

There are four tactics to utilize to keep difficult people from getting a rise out of you:

  1. Keep emotion in check; stick to the facts of the situation, calmly state what you know, and what you can do to help
  2. Consider an alternative; in some cases it’s better to remove yourself from the situation (especially if the person just rubs you the wrong way and there is no way of getting past it) or engage a third party as an intermediary
  3. Don’t personalize it; when others are being difficult, sometimes the easiest course is to take it personally. Don’t; because it usually doesn’t have anything to do with you
  4. Collect yourself; for example, if you are conversing with a difficult person on the phone, pause and take a deep breath before responding, sometimes that moment makes all the difference in the world

Not matter what technique you may engage to deal with a difficult person, the situation may not be able to be diffused. In this case remember, only address the unwanted behavior, and not the person. No one benefits when it crosses the line and becomes personal.

I recently encountered a know-it-all when I was presenting to a group of about 35 individuals. She constantly interrupted and tried to correct me. It could have really rattled me, but I did not personalize it. I found out later that she does this to compensate for her own lack of self-esteem. I didn’t realize this until I personally witnessed her crying in front of another presenter. It took me back – I realized then that she was not the person who I thought she was.

Safety First, My Friends

Difficult can cross to scary before you know it, so be mindful of workplace safety for yourself and others. Remember the following:

  • Ask for help from others
  • Don’t get cornered
  • Avoid being alone with a difficult person
  • Try not to turn your back on a difficult person
  • Don’t take it personally

 

Article by, 

Dealing with difficult people: A guide

Monday, February 20th, 2017

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the Gleneagles Hotel for the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland July 7, 2005. Aid, debt relief and climate change will top the agenda when leaders of the G8 - the Group of Seven industrialised nations plus Russia - meet for three days in Gleneagles. UNICS REUTERS/Jim Young CRB - RTRGQCN

Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize difficult people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

They set limits. Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They rise above. Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.

They stay aware of their emotions. Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way—if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

They establish boundaries. This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

They don’t die in the fight. Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They don’t focus on problems—only solutions. Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

They don’t forget. Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Smart people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They squash negative self-talk. Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

They get some sleep. I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

They use their support system. It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing It All Together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

Article by,

Travis Bradberry, President, TalentSmart

6 Tips For Dealing With Difficult (Even Impossible) People

Friday, February 10th, 2017

1. I Am Really Ticked Off. Do I Have To Be Forgiving?

The last two years I’ve had several difficult personal and professional problems, which left me feeling mad, victimized and obsessed with a few people’s General Awfulness.

This is what Hell feels like: to be obsessed with a generally awful person who isn’t even aware of the turmoil he or she is causing. Heaven is to have forgiven — or to have forgiven-ish, the best you can, for now. When your heart is even slightly softer toward that person, and you are less clenched and aggrieved, you’ve been touched by grace.

Grace is spiritual WD-40. It eases our way out of grippy, self-righteous stuckness. The question is, how do we avail ourselves of it?

I’ve learned that if you want to have loving feelings, do loving things. We think we’ll eventually figure something out, and get over the grudge, and that this will constitute forgiveness. But it’s the opposite: We take an action and the insight follows. Any friendly action will do; intention is everything. We show up somewhere knowing the person who aggrieved us will be there, and we go up and say hi. If the person is a relative, we ask for help with the dishes. (This is very subversive.)

Any warm action will yield the insight — life is short, and Earth is Forgiveness School.

All of my resentments have been healed. That doesn’t mean I want to have lunch with those people, but my heart has softened, which is a miracle. One person still judges me, and bears false witness against me, but thankfully, that is not my business or my problem, because I have chosen freedom. Nothing is more wonderful.

Anne Lamott is the author of Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair.

2. What’s A Respectful Way To Defend My Beliefs?

When I became a political commentator, I looked for a refresher course in persuasion. Unfortunately, Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion, by Jay Heinrichs, had not yet been published. (I highly recommend it.) I did stumble across the Monty Python “Argument” sketch (“This isn’t an argument.” “Yes it is.” “No it isn’t.” “Yes it is.”), which sounds a lot like our current political discourse.

I approach every argument as if I’m trying to get out of a speeding ticket: with humor and respect. I listen. And when things get tense, I pretend I’m in a restaurant, debating what to order. Public policy isn’t coleslaw versus French fries, but persuasion starts with respecting that there are many valid choices. Another trick? Slow down. Powerful speech can come in at around 120 words per minute—angry or nervous speech can be about twice that. When all else fails, make a joke. There’s no better tool for reaching across the “I’ll.” Yes, I just said that. A little pun, even a bad one, goes a long way.

Donna Brazile is a syndicated columnist, political strategist, and contributor to CNN and ABC News.

3. What’s Code For “Mind Your Own Business?”

Dorothea Johnson is the founder of The Protocol School of Washington, and actress Liv Tyler is her granddaughter. They are the authors of Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top.

Liv: Say, “Thank you for trying to help, but I’m not comfortable talking about that right now.” Often you can shut someone down by mentioning your feelings.

Dorothea: Offering thanks is diplomatic. Kill ‘em with kindness!

Liv: Even if something really offends you, ask yourself whether it contains some truth worth exploring later.

Dorothea: And don’t get argumentative about unsolicited advice. Take the high road. The low road is so crowded.

4. How Can Friends Stay Friendly?

Pals Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have coauthored eight books; the most recent is The First Affair.

Emma: Going back to grade school, girls find comfort in friends who have the same tastes they do. Any difference can provoke anxiety. Some of our greatest tension has been about whether a character’s curtains should be cream or ecru!

Nicola: We’re with Ben Affleck: Like a marriage, friendship takes work — the same honest communication and frequent check-ins you need with a partner. Celebrate your conflicting opinions. They only make the relationship stronger.

5. Can I Maintain Sanity In My Nutty Office?

Even in toxic environment we can achieve a sense of calm, through meditation. No one has to know what you’re up to. Spend five minutes sitting at your desk, with your back straight but relaxed; try not to look directly at your computer. Breathe at your normal pace and frequency, then sharpen your focus by noticing the sensations in your nostrils, chest, abdomen. You’ll feel more balanced with each breath. And the next time a coworker frustrates you, be grateful that her nastiness comes your way only in two-minute bursts; she has to live inside that energy all the time.

Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg is the author of Real Happiness at Work.

6. Why Should I Hang Out with People Who Think Differently Than I Do?

Cultivating contacts outside your social circle brings a little ordered chaos into your life. Most of us find the idea of chaos stressful, but history suggests that the disorder following upheaval often brings unexpected benefits: The Plague, for example, helped usher in the Renaissance. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for catastrophe to strike; just form relationships with all kinds of individuals. I call them “unusual suspects,” because they’ll naturally push your thinking in new directions. Ask yourself which groups have made you a bit uncomfortable in the past, and try reaching out to them. (I’m from Israel, and one of my unusual suspects runs a church.) Make a point of getting together with your new connections with no agenda. Even if you just chat, you’ve created an opportunity for ideas to be born.

Article by, Ori Brafman

Ori Brafman is the coauthor of The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success.

Human Interaction: The Skill Nobody Ever Teaches You

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

What’s more important: knowledge, work habits or the way we interact with others?

Recently, one of my clients was creating a project team. Several people volunteered, yet when they found out that Ms. So and So was going to be part of it, they quickly retracted their offers. The project hadn’t even started, yet they were already jumping ship at the mere thought of having to work with Ms. So and So.

Here’s the weird part: The person nobody wanted to work with was highly regarded for her knowledge of the subject, and she was generally known as a hard worker. What’s more, most of the team believed she probably wanted the best for the organization as a whole.

She was smart, she wanted to help and she had a good work ethic. So why didn’t anyone want to work with her?

Because her personality was so negative that she sucked the life out of people. With everyone already overworked to the max, they quickly decided that they weren’t willing to muster up the extra emotional energy needed to deal with her.

What’s sad is that I doubt she has any idea how she’s coming across. She probably thought all her criticisms and negative commentary were actually helpful.

Negative people rarely recognize just how challenging they make it for everyone else. However, seasoned managers quickly learn that the extra effort you have to expend managing a complainer just isn’t worth it.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Fortune 500 or the PTA. A negative attitude will overshadow a high IQ, a strong desire to serve and even a great work ethic.

Ironic, isn’t it? We place so much emphasis on knowledge and work habits, yet the thing that often derails people is their interpersonal skills.

What’s even more ironic is that unless you’re a speech, drama or broadcast major, you can go all the way through college without ever getting any meaningful feedback on how you’re being perceived by others.

The challenge with over-the-top negativity is two-fold. First, the offender is usually so interpersonally unskilled he or she doesn’t recognize the problem. Numerous studies reveal that competent people tend to rate themselves much more harshly than incompetent people because a person’s incompetence literally blinds them to their own incompetence. (You’re entitled to a self-satisfied chortle here.)

But the second challenge is that no one calls them on it because we often assume that they’re doing it on purpose and that they like being a project killer.

So the smart, on-time-with-their-work-yet-emotionally-clueless person continues to over-complain (or needle people about inconsequential issues, or whine, or make negative assumptions, etc.), oblivious to the fact that the rest of the team is deflating by the moment.

The solution is simple: Get some training. We don’t expect people to learn chemistry without a teacher; why should we expect people to instinctively know how to create positive interactions?

Don’t get me wrong: You don’t have to ooze charisma or become a Pollyanna. People are just fine working with shy, quiet people, and nobody expects a non-stop cheerleader.

But if every comment you make is negative or critical, you’re probably detracting from the group more than you’re adding to it. Your knowledge may be valuable, but if you consistently serve it up with a scowl, nobody is going to want to hear it.

Bottom line: Learning how to evoke positive feelings in others isn’t cutesy; it’s critical.

Can I Quit

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Is it OK to give up on your difficult person?

There may come a time in your relationship with your difficult person when you realize it is never going to work out. You are never going to reach a middle ground. You are never going to change their behaviour.

Is it OK to give up? Absolutely!

We have choices to make in life. Times when you have to decide to accept a situation, change it, or leave it.

Accept the situation the way it is. Emotionally detach yourself from it (thereby removing all of the stress the situation causes). This is the “let go of it” approach to dealing with your difficult person. Just let it go. Accept that it is what it is, and decide you aren’t going to worry about it anymore. I have accepted that it snows in January in Ottawa, and I don’t give it another moment of thought. I have accepted that politicians don’t always do what they say they are going to do. I have accepted that my teenaged daughter is not ever going to clean the way I want her to.

Try to change the situation so it works better for you. You’ve probably already tried to do this. Tried to make the situation tolerable or to deal with it in some way. You attended a seminar on dealing with difficult people, you read books, you searched the Internet for advice. You formed an action plan, a strategy and had an end result in mind.

Walk away from the situation entirely. In the case of a difficult person, this means leaving the relationship. Quit your job, change departments,  no longer work with this person ever again. It means leaving the relationship and the family that goes with it. You can say hello when you see the person in the future, but the relationship will be similar to what you would have with a stranger. You leave the relationship emotionally.

When you give up, you choose to either accept the situation or leave the situation.

Accepting and leaving are not the same as quitting. By choosing to accept or leave, you are making a choice that is right for you. That isn’t quitting. Quitting implies a lack of choice. When you choose to accept or leave, you are making a choice. You have chosen what is right for you.

I ended a friendship I had with someone who became too high-maintenance for me. She moved into the category of difficult person because it seemed that I could never be the friend she wanted me to be. It didn’t matter what I did, it wasn’t enough, or it wasn’t right.

I tried for a very long time to find the middle ground in our friendship. I was never successful. I thought about accepting her the way she was, giving her what she needed and not worrying about what I needed. I was unable to do that stress-free (because I couldn’t emotionally detach myself). I tried to find middle ground (change things), and wasn’t being successful. So I left the friendship. I gave up on it, and I’m OK with that.

What I didn’t do was continue the friendship, complain about her high-maintenance personality and continue to be stressed during our time together. It wasn’t worth it to me.

I decided to walk away. That was the right solution for me.

Go ahead and give up on your difficult relationship if that is the right decision for you. It’s a smart person who knows when to stop pushing forward and try another path.

– As appeared in The Huffington Post January 31, 2017

How To Deal With Difficult People

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Article by, Darylen Cote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Whiners, Know-It-Alls, and Steamrollers: Strategies to cope with even the most hard-to-take personalities.

We’ve all been there. There are just some people we can’t stand! Perhaps it’s the Whiner whose complaining drives you to distraction. Or it may be the Steamroller who makes you crazy—the person who pushes her ideas and never lets others get a word. People like this can make your PTO leadership experience seem endless and stressful, even blocking achievement of some of your most critical goals.

Every person has his own triggers when it comes to dealing with difficult people. Those triggers stem from your background, perspectives, and from your goals in the situation at hand. But there is good news. There are ways to deal with even the most difficult people that can bring out both their best and your best.

The first step, described by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner in their book Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, is to get to know your difficult person—to know what needs that person may be trying to fulfill that cause the problematic behavior. Successful leaders listen carefully to figure out the underlying motives.

Generally, people in any given situation are task oriented or people oriented. Their concerns center on one of four goals: getting the task done, getting the task done right, getting along with people, or being appreciated by people. When they perceive that their concern is threatened—the task is not getting done, it is being done incorrectly, people are becoming angry in the process, or they feel unappreciated for their contributions—difficult people resort to certain knee-jerk responses. Responses range from the passive, such as withdrawal, to aggressive, such as steamrolling or exploding. The difficult person often does not recognize that his behavior contributes to the very problems that he is attempting to address.

Brinkman and Kirschner identify 10 different behavior patterns often exhibited by people under pressure.

  • The Steamroller (or Tank): Aggressive and angry. Victims can feel paralyzed, as though they’ve been flattened.
  • The Sniper: The Sniper’s forte is sarcasm, rude remarks, and eye rolls. Victims look and feel foolish.
  • The Know-It-All: Wielding great authority and knowledge, Know-It-Alls do have lots to offer, are generally competent, and can’t stand to be contradicted or corrected. But they will go out of their way to correct you.
  • The Grenade: Grenades tend to explode into uncontrolled ranting that has little, if anything, to do with what has actually happened.
  • The Think They Know It All: A cocksure attitude often fools people into believing their phony “facts.”
  • The Yes Person: Someone who wants to please others so much that she never says no.
  • The Maybe Person: Procrastinating, hoping to steer clear of choices that will hurt feelings, he avoids decisions, causing plenty of frustration along the way.
  • The Blank Wall (or Nothing Person): This person offers only a blank stare, no verbal or nonverbal signals.
  • The No Person: He spreads gloom, doom, and despair whenever any new ideas arise, or even when old ones are recycled. The No Person saps energy from a group in an amazingly short time.
  • The Whiner: Whiners feel helpless most of the time and become overwhelmed by the unfairness of it all. They want things to be perfect, but nothing seems to go right. Whiners want to share their misery.

Just Get It Done!

Chances are you have had to deal with at least a few of these characters. These are not odd or weird people. They may even be you upon occasion. Everyone has the potential to be difficult given the right, or wrong, circumstances. To understand why, return to the concept of a basic orientation toward people or task. Couple that with the typical ways people respond under pressure, on a continuum from aggressive to assertive to passive. Then add in the goals people have under different circumstances.

According to Brinkman and Kirschner, when the goal is to “get it done,” people with a task orientation and aggressive temperament tend to dig in and become more controlling. They are the Snipers, the Steamrollers, and the Know-It-Alls. From their point of view, the rest of us are goofing off, obtuse, or just plain taking too long. The Steamroller can run over you if you get in the way. The Sniper often uses sarcasm to embarrass and humiliate at strategic moments. The Know-It-All dominates with erudite, lengthy arguments that discredit others and wear down opponents.

When the goal is to “get it right,” people under pressure who still have a task orientation but a more passive personality become helpless, hopeless, and/or perfectionistic. They become the Whiners, No People, and Blank Walls. When Whiners are thwarted, they begin to feel helpless and generalize to the entire world. Instead of looking for solutions, they complain endlessly that nothing is right, exacerbating the situation by annoying everyone around them.

No People feel more hopeless than helpless. Like A.A. Milne’s Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, their sense of gloom carries its own cloud. Their certainty that things can never be right can pull down morale for an entire group. Blank Walls simply withdraw. They will bear no responsibility when things aren’t exactly right.

Drive To Survive

People who want to “get along” tend to focus more on the people in a situation. When they are innately passive, they become approval-seeking Yes People, Maybe People, and sometimes Blank Walls. Yes People overcommit and underdeliver in an effort to please everyone. Their lack of follow-through can have disastrous consequences for which they do not feel responsible, because they are just trying to be helpful. When, instead, the people they want to get along with become furious, they may offer to do even more, building their lives on what other people want and also building a deep well of resentment.

Maybe People avoid conflict by avoiding any choice at all. Making a choice may upset someone, and then blame will be heaped on the person who decided. Maybe People delay choosing until the choice is made for them by someone else or by the circumstances. When Blank Walls have a people orientation, they want to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. The old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all” gets carried to the ultimate extreme in this case. But Blank Walls also avoid sharing anything genuine or honest about themselves and therefore never really achieve the “getting along” goal.

Like To Be Liked

To “get appreciated” is the ultimate goal of people-focused, more aggressive folks. They include the Grenade, the Think They Know It All, and sometimes the Sniper. They share attention-seeking behaviors that never accomplish what they intend. The Grenades are aggressive Rodney Dangerfields; they think they get no respect or appreciation. When that feeling builds to a certain point, they have an adult temper tantrum. It’s not pretty and it certainly gets attention, but blowing up never gets them to the ultimate goal of appreciation.

The Think They Know It All person knows a little bit about a lot. He is so charismatic and enthusiastic that his half-facts and exaggerations can sound plausible and persuasive. When people discover that these people really don’t know what they are talking about, the attention they seek becomes negative.

The Sniper in this case is attempting to gain attention by being playful. Many people engage in playful sniping, but we all need to be careful about how it is being received. Whether it is funny or painful is truly in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes this kind of sniping is passed off as teasing, which can leave scars even when it’s friendly.

Looking in the Mirror

So what can you do to change the course of your interactions with these difficult people? There are some simple strategies that work well with practice and patience.

In general, when your difficult person speaks, make your goal habit number five in Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand.” Often, unless you’re dealing with the Grenade or other overt hostility, it helps to mirror some of the nonverbal cues the person displays. Don’t overdo, as it can look like mocking if you copy every gesture. Your aim, according to Brinkman and Kirschner, is “blending.” If you adopt some of the same traits as your person, such as a facial expression or posture, you send the message that you are “with” them, on the same wave length. Blending begins to facilitate trust. Often we do this kind of thing without even noticing that it’s happening. You also need to blend vocally with the person you’re trying to understand. Volume and pace are two examples of how to blend with another person. Blending is how you begin to build rapport with people and signal that you are really listening. The only exception is yelling.

Also, some of what the person says needs to be repeated in a technique that counselors call “reflection.” This is a way of feeding back what you’ve heard, on both feeling and content levels, so that a person is sure that you’ve heard him. With no interpretation and without parroting exactly, use some of his actual words to demonstrate your understanding. How much to do it depends on the person you’re dealing with. With Steamrollers, keep reflection to a minimum. With Know-It-Alls, Yes People, and Maybe People, a great deal of reflection may be useful. This is especially true on the feeling level with Yes and Maybe People.

Get to the Real Issues

Next, ask clarifying questions to help your difficult person open up and to ensure that you fully understand all she has to say. The kinds of questions you want are open-ended, those to which there is more than a yes or no answer. They begin with what, how, where, who, when, and sometimes why—without an accusatory tone. A simple “Tell me more about…” can also serve the same purpose.

The importance of this information-gathering stage cannot be overstated. It keeps you out of a reactionary mode and helps you bring all of the issues to the surface. At the same time, it shows that you really care about what the person has to say. It can also begin to defuse emotions and help the person think more logically.

Finally, still in a “seek to understand” mode, summarize what you have heard and confirm your understanding. Do not assume you “got it.” Ask, “Did I get it right?” If not, keep listening until the person is satisfied that you understand.

The next step in the process has to do with attitude. Search for and acknowledge that the other person’s intentions are positive. This means giving the person you are dealing with the benefit of the doubt. Brinkman and Kirschner advise, “Ask yourself what positive purpose might be behind a person’s communication or behavior and acknowledge it. If you are not sure about the positive intent, just make something up. Even if the intent you try to blend with isn’t true, you can still get a good response and create rapport.”

Some Specific Responses

Consider this example.

“One of the duties of the vice president is to choose which six members go to the PTO Show this year,” Jerry reminded Jennifer again. “You have only two weeks before the deadline. Do you have any idea whom you want to go?”

“Not yet,” said Jennifer. “I want to be sure I make the right decision.”

“People need to make their plans, and we need to commit the money. The sooner you make a decision, the better for everyone,” prodded Jerry.

“OK. I’ll get to it,” promised Jennifer.

The next week, when Jerry inquired again, Jennifer said, “I’m still thinking about it!”

Jennifer is a Maybe Person. She will delay her decision until there is almost no decision to make because the deadline has passed or people can no longer rearrange their schedules with the short notice. Jerry might say to Jennifer, “I appreciate the care you are taking with this decision, Jennifer. I know you don’t want to leave out anyone who would like to go or who deserves this special reward. Who have you considered?” Simply stating understanding of Jennifer’s positive intention may unlock her indecision enough to move forward.

The next step to take when conflict emerges is to go beyond people’s stated positions to identify underlying interests or objectives. Brinkman and Kirschner call these “highly valued criteria.” They are the “reasons why” people desire specific outcomes.

Here’s another example:

Susan had agreed to chair the annual PTO carnival. The second planning meeting was underway when Marge, the vice president of the group and also the immediate past chairperson, barged into the room and started to berate Susan. “I heard that you’re eliminating the dunking booth! What a dumb decision. Don’t you have any brains at all? I thought you’d do a good job and now you’re making decisions that will ruin our carnival! Now here’s what you have to do…” And with that she barked orders while everyone else on the committee stared in disbelief. As quickly as she had come, she turned around and left.

Marge typifies the aggressive, angry style of the Tank or Steamroller. Once Susan gets her calmed down, it would be important to ask, “Why the dunking booth?” If she replies that the day invariably is hot and people enjoy the splashing and cooling effect of the water, then you have her underlying interest on the table. Another water game might satisfy that interest just as well, but you do need to slow the Steamroller down before you can get to the whys.

Say What You Mean

Stephen Covey’s habit number five also has a second part. Part one, “Seek first to understand …,” is followed by part two, “…then to be understood.” Once you have put in the time and hard work of deep listening, the goal is to speak so that you may in turn be understood. But watch your tone of voice. The old saying applies: It’s not just what you say but also how you say it.

The next step is to state your positive intentions: “I care that people at the carnival have a chance to cool off, too. I want to make it a fun and safe day.” When the Steamroller starts to interrupt again, tactfully intervene. Repeating someone’s name over and over until she stops to listen can accomplish that end. So Susan might say, “Marge. Marge. Excuse me, Marge.” Once the person has paused, you can insert your positive intent or a clarifying question, for instance. Then speak about the situation as you honestly see it. Use “I” statements, be as specific as possible, point out the impact of the behavior, and suggest a new behavior or option.

So Susan might say, “Marge, I appreciate your input. I know you want the carnival to go well, the same as I do. We replaced the dunking booth with another feature for a good reason. When you try to override our decisions without asking why, it sure makes the rest of us feel like our work isn’t worth much. Would you sit down and discuss our plans with us?” Marge may try to raise the volume and continue to steamroll, at which point Susan would need to start repeating her name again until she stops. Once Susan gets her piece said, she will need to be ready to stop and listen again.

When you have a Blank Wall, the person who chooses the ultimate passive response instead of an aggressive response, your tactics need to be a little different. First, even though you may not feel particularly relaxed, calm yourself. It will not help to push, so plan plenty of time. Ask the open-ended questions with an expectant tone and body language. Try to lighten things up with absurd guesses as to the cause of the silence. Be careful with humor, but if you can get at least a smile, it’s a beginning.

Make It a Habit

Difficult people are really all of us. Depending on the circumstances and our own perspectives, our behaviors can slip-slide into the childish, rude, or even churlish realms. The key is to think first instead of simply reacting when we feel pressured by time or by the competing interests and needs of others.

Thoughtful responses can help people identify their real needs and break negative behavior patterns that don’t serve anyone well. If you make a habit of listening deeply, assuming best intentions, looking for common ground, reinforcing and expecting people’s best behavior along the way, then the difficult people in your life may come to view you as a respected friend—as opposed to one of their most difficult people.

New Supervisor Worries

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Help Me Rhonda:

I’m new to my company, in my first supervisory position. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I want to be seen as a friendly boss but I feel like I’m being tested every day by my new staff members. For example, two of them will often be chatting to each other (in what is clearly a personal conversation), completely ignoring a ringing phone or the work they have to do. They won’t even stop when I walk by, and it feels like they are almost daring me to say something. How do I fix this situation without pulling rank or being too bossy?

Signed,
Cautious of Overstepping

Dear Cautious of Overstepping,

You’re absolutely right, they are testing you and right now you are not getting a passing grade.

Remember when we were in high school and a substitute teacher would come in? We’d put that poor teacher through the ringer just to see what we could get away with. We’d learn very quickly which substitutes would tolerate our bad behavior and which ones wouldn’t let us get away with anything. Your employees are doing exactly that to you.

At the moment, you seem more concerned with them liking you as a person than doing your job effectively. Work is not a popularity contest. They don’t have to like you. You do have to pay the rent and buy groceries though, so given a choice which would you choose, making friends or being effective as a supervisor? (Hint: If you choose making friends, then I would suggest that a supervisory position is not the right one for you).

The good news is that you can be an effective supervisor without alienating your employees. You can be friendly and still garner the respect your position deserves and ensure that the work gets done. If they decide to dislike you because you are expecting them to do their jobs, it sounds like they wouldn’t be the best kind of friends anyway.

The key is for you to be respectful, polite, specific and clear. That will demonstrate that you see what is happening but you aren’t making a big deal about it. The next time you walk by and the telephone is ringing, say: “Diane, could you please answer that ringing telephone?”

She will probably give you a funny look, but answer the phone anyway; or she’ll tell you why she isn’t answering the telephone. If she refuses, or if it happens over and over again then you’ll need to have a more detailed conversation with her.

Let’s assume the testing is continuing, the phone is continuing to ring, and you don’t feel that your instructions to answer the phone promptly are being followed when you aren’t around.

That’s when the DESC strategy will come in handy for you. DESC lets you plan what you are going to say:

D – Describe the situation objectively (rather than subjectively). Keep it black and white; state the facts with no interpretation of those facts yet. Your goal is to get them to look at you and wonder where you are going with this. Their likely response will be, “So?”.

“Diane, I couldn’t help but notice that the last four times I came out of my office you were engaging with Michelle in a conversation that didn’t appear to be work related.”

E – Explain the problem. This is where you give your interpretation and perhaps the consequences of the situation. After you make this statement, you should be prepared for a defense statement from them.

“It actually makes it look like you do more socializing than working, and when deadlines aren’t met I can’t help but think that if you chatted less and worked more we could get everything done on time.”

S – Solution. Offer a solution or ask for a solution. Always begin with the end in mind. Know what you want the solution to be before you ever have the confrontation.

“Could you and Michelle please restrict your socializing to coffee and lunch breaks?”

C – Commitment or Consequence. You want to get the other person to agree with you or make some type of comment that at least affirms that they have heard and understood you. You don’t want this to be a lecture, but more of a discussion.

“Does that sound reasonable to you?” (wait for the answer).

or

Consequence. If your position warrants it, and it’s necessary, you can give a consequence.

“Since this is the second time that I’ve mentioned it to you, I will tell you that if we need to have this conversation again, it will be an official conversation and a record of the conversation will go into your personnel file.”

Let them speak, defend or whatever will keep the conversation going. Don’t lecture. Do your best to get agreement (commitment) from them during the conversation. If necessary, follow up with an email.

You don’t have to be a tyrant but you are being paid to supervise, and although you are working with adults we all sometimes need to know what we can get away with and what we can’t. Set boundaries. Say what needs to be said, respectfully and professionally.

Your job is to be an excellent supervisor, not make friends. However, you can do both if you approach situations methodically and professionally.

Good luck.
Rhonda

3 Steps To Managing Workplace Conflict With Emotional Intelligence

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

No matter how great a corporate culture you create, no matter how good a role model you are, it’s inevitable that situations will arise that require you to mitigate emotional stress within the ranks. Personal conflicts, outside pressures, and job-related stress will eventually become a factor to be dealt with in any workplace setting. How well leaders handle those situations depends on their emotional intelligence.

Managers often make one of two common mistakes when dealing with an emotional situation.

  • The manager attempts to invalidate or downplay an emotional conflict and becomes a player in the emotional drama himself.
  • The manager simply ignores the job-affecting emotions, hoping they will resolve themselves.

When the manager or group leader tries to downplay or dismiss a worker’s emotions, he or she inevitably creates a bigger problem. Not only does this raise the emotional stakes, but it now creates a situation in which negative emotions are directed at the manager. Though this is very common and, arguably, a natural form of response from busy managers with plenty on their plates, it’s incumbent upon leaders to avoid leaving an employee feeling slighted in this way.

Likewise, ignoring the problem often creates a snowball effect, where resentment and negative emotions continue to grow, making the situation worse. It’s always better to address emotionally-wrought problems earlier rather than later.

There is a three-step formula, however, which comes naturally to emotionally intelligent leaders. It is one that can easily be employed by any manager to take the edge off an emotional situation. This formula does not attempt to solve the problem itself, but is geared toward addressing and neutralizing the emotions so that the problem can then be approached in a more objective and effective manner.

Step 1: Acknowledge

More than anything, people want their feelings to be acknowledged. It may seem overly simple at first, but a statement such as, “I want you to know, I understand you are feeling very stressed right now,” can go miles toward lowering the emotional stakes of a situation. Everyone wants to feel understood, and acknowledgment is not difficult or compromising to do. Further, it doesn’t concede agreement with the emotional state; only empathy.

Step 2: Positively substitute

There is great power in a positive outlook and almost any negative situation can be framed in a positive light. A manager with emotional wisdom may say something like, “I know you are under a lot of stress, and I know a great deal of it is because you are a great employee and want to do the very best job you can.” What the manager has done in this example is to mitigate a negative emotion with the positive emotion of personal pride in a job well done. This doesn’t alleviate the first emotion, but it adds a positive perspective into the conversation.

Step 3: Suggest, re-acknowledge and appreciate

Not all situations are within the control of the manager. An increased workload that has come down from above may not be able to be removed, for example. What the manager can do is suggest ways he or she might be able to help, re-acknowledge the emotions involved and offer appreciation for the employee. “I cannot promise anything, but I will try to see if there is any way to lighten your load. I understand you are feeling stressed and I want you to know I really appreciate your efforts.” By saying this, you have reassured the employee without making binding promises, and reinforced a sense of empathy and appreciation.

Article by, Scott Allen

Scott “Social Media” Allen is a 25-year veteran technology entrepreneur, executive and consultant. He’s coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first book on the business use of social media, and The Emergence of The Relationship Economy.

How to Deal with Difficult (Even Impossible) People

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

She thinks you’re having a conversation, but you don’t get to speak a word. Something doesn’t go according to plan and you’re the one he blames. Whether it’s a family member, a co-worker or (worse) your boss, highly aggressive and challenging people can turn a perfectly good day into a dramatic experience without any reason. When walking away is not an option, what do you do?

We have all met people who are so prickly and difficult that no one wants to handle them. In most situations, walking away is an option, and you escape with no more than ruffled feathers. But some situations are inescapable. You can wait until the thorny personality is gone and moan “She’s just impossible” to a friend. Far better, though, to begin to develop skills in practical psychology.

First, take responsibility for your part of the interaction. Animosity is created in your own heart. Even the most impossible person had a mother. He was loved by somebody. If you can deal with your own reaction and take responsibility for it, no step is more productive. Detachment is always the best response, because if you can interact without having a reaction, you will be clear-headed enough to make progress in relating to this difficult person. Next, try to name what specifically causes the difficulty. Is the person clinging, controlling, competitive? We all tend to use descriptive words loosely, but it helps to know exactly what is going on.

Clingers

Clinging types want to be taken care of and loved. They feel weak and are attracted to stronger people. If desperate, they will cling to anyone.What doesn’t work: Clinging types cannot be handled with avoidance. They are like Velcro and will stick to you every time you get close. They ignore a polite no, but you can’t use direct rejection without making an enemy. Neutrality hurts their feelings and makes them feel insecure.

What works: Clinging types can be handled by showing them how to deal with situations on their own. Give them responsibility. Instead of doing what they want, show them how to do it. This works with children, and clinging types are children who have never grown up (which is why they often seem so infantile). If they try the gambit of saying that you do the job so much better, reply that you don’t. The stronger and more capable you act, the more they will cling. Finally, find situations where you can honestly say, “I need your help.” They will either come through or walk away. You will probably be happy either way.

Controllers

Controlling types have to be right. There is always an excuse for their behavior (however brutal) and always a reason to blame others. Controlling people are perfectionists and micro-managers. Their capacity to criticize others is endless.What doesn’t work: Controlling types won’t back down if you show them concrete evidence that you are right and they are wrong. They don’t care about facts, only about being right. If they are perfectionists, you can’t handle them simply by doing a better job. There’s always going to be something to criticize.

What works: Controlling types can be handled by acting unintimidated. At heart, controlling types fear they are inadequate, and they defend against their own insecurity by making other people feel insecure and not good enough. Show you are good enough. When you do a good job, say so and don’t fall for their insistence on constant changes. Be strong and stand up for yourself. Above all, don’t turn an encounter into a contest of who’s right and who’s wrong—you’ll never outplay a controlling type at his or her own game.

Competitors

Competitive types have to win. They see all encounters, no matter how trivial, as a contest. Until they win, they won’t let go.What doesn’t work: Competitive types can’t be pacified by pleading. Any sign of emotion is like a red flag to a bull. They take your tears as a sign of weakness and charge even harder. They want to go in for the kill, even when you beg them not to. If you stand your ground and try to win, they will most likely jump ship and abandon you.

What works: Competitive types are handled by letting them win. Until they win, they won’t have a chance to show generosity. Most competitive types want to be generous; it improves their self-image, and competitive types never lose sight of their self-image. If you have a strong disagreement, never show emotion or ask for mercy. Instead, make a reasonable argument. If the discussion is based on facts, competitive types have a way to back down without losing. (For example, instead of saying “I’m too tired to do this. It’s late, and you’re being unfair,” say “I need more research time on this, and I will get it to you faster if I am fresh in the morning.”)

Self-Important People

These people have their say. You can’t shut them up. Mostly you can ignore their contribution, however. They tend to forget what they said very quickly.What works: If they domineer to the point of suffocating you, stay away. The best strategy—the one used by those who actually love such types and marry them—is to sit back and enjoy the show.

Chronic Complainers

These people are bitter and angry but haven’t dealt with the reality that the source of their anger is internal.What works: Your only option is generally to put up with them and stay away when you can. Don’t agree with their complaints or try to placate them. They have endless fuel for their bitterness and simmering rage.

Victims

These people are passive-aggressive. They get away with doing wrong to you by hurting themselves in the bargain. If they arrive half an hour late at a restaurant, for example, they had something bad happen to hold them up. The fact that you are the target of the inconvenience is never acknowledged.What works: The best tactic is to get as angry as you normally would, if called for. Don’t take their victimization as an excuse. If the victim is a “poor me” type without the passive-aggressive side, offer realistic, practical help, rather than sympathy. (For example, if they announce that they might lose their job, say “I can loan you money and give you some job leads,” instead of “That’s awful. You must feel terrible.”)

In the short run, most of the everyday difficult types want somebody to listen and not judge. If you can do that without getting involved, lending your ear for a while is also the decent thing to do. Being a good listener means not arguing, criticizing, offering your own opinion or interrupting. If the other person has a genuine interest in you—most difficult people don’t—he or she will invite you to talk, not simply listen. Yet being a good listener has its limits. As soon as you feel taken advantage of, start exiting. The bottom line with practical psychology is that you know what to fix, what to put up with and what to walk away from.

Article By, Deepak Chopra

5 Conflict Management Strategies

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Don't let conflicts get out of control.In any situation involving more than one person, conflict can arise. The causes of conflict range from philosophical differences and divergent goals to power imbalances. Unmanaged or poorly managed conflicts generate a breakdown in trust and lost productivity. For small businesses, where success often hinges on the cohesion of a few people, loss of trust and productivity can signal the death of the business. With a basic understanding of the five conflict management strategies, small business owners can better deal with conflicts before they escalate beyond repair.

Accommodating

The accommodating strategy essentially entails giving the opposing side what it wants. The use of accommodation often occurs when one of the parties wishes to keep the peace or perceives the issue as minor. For example, a business that requires formal dress may institute a “casual Friday” policy as a low-stakes means of keeping the peace with the rank and file. Employees who use accommodation as a primary conflict management strategy, however, may keep track and develop resentment.

Avoiding

The avoidance strategy seeks to put off conflict indefinitely. By delaying or ignoring the conflict, the avoider hopes the problem resolves itself without a confrontation. Those who actively avoid conflict frequently have low esteem or hold a position of low power. In some circumstances, avoiding can serve as a profitable conflict management strategy, such as after the dismissal of a popular but unproductive employee. The hiring of a more productive replacement for the position soothes much of the conflict.

Collaborating

Collaboration works by integrating ideas set out by multiple people. The object is to find a creative solution acceptable to everyone. Collaboration, though useful, calls for a significant time commitment not appropriate to all conflicts. For example, a business owner should work collaboratively with the manager to establish policies, but collaborative decision-making regarding office supplies wastes time better spent on other activities..

Compromising

The compromising strategy typically calls for both sides of a conflict to give up elements of their position in order to establish an acceptable, if not agreeable, solution. This strategy prevails most often in conflicts where the parties hold approximately equivalent power. Business owners frequently employ compromise during contract negotiations with other businesses when each party stands to lose something valuable, such as a customer or necessary service.

Competing

Competition operates as a zero-sum game, in which one side wins and other loses. Highly assertive personalities often fall back on competition as a conflict management strategy. The competitive strategy works best in a limited number of conflicts, such as emergency situations. In general, business owners benefit from holding the competitive strategy in reserve for crisis situations and decisions that generate ill-will, such as pay cuts or layoffs.

Article By,
Eric Dontigney as Appeared on www.smallbusiness.chron.com

Avoiding Confrontation Is Not The Answer

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

REFUSING FLOWERS

I’m dealing with an avoider. I find it very frustrating.

Every once in a while you will encounter a situation where you want to deal with it in a calm, professional manner, and the person with whom you want to deal with, does not want to deal with it at all!

An avoider is someone who truly hates confrontation. They would rather the situation sit and fester than to sit down and handle the issue with you directly.

In fairness, many of us prefer to avoid than to have a confrontation. I mean, who really likes confrontation? Not I that’s for sure. However, it is important to deal with some issues instead of avoiding them and having them potentially blow completely out of proportion.

When an “issue” occurs, you have 24 hours to start to deal with it. It might mean that you say to the other person that you want to talk about it, you might arrange a meeting, but you must do something within the first 24 hours to show that you are willing to deal with the issue and not avoid it.

I called Mary and outlined the situation. I was careful that I used “I” language instead of “you” language (to avoid making her defensive), I was very aware of my tone of voice and I was well prepared for what I wanted to say.

When I called Mary, I got her voice mail. My message outlined quickly what the situation was. I avoided placing blame. I told her I was wanting to speak to her directly so that we could reach a mutually acceptable solution. I was professional, clear and upbeat. I asked her to call me back at her convenience.

She sent an email to our office manager, Caroline (and thereby avoided me all together) asking to be removed from our distribution list and wanted to avoid further contact from our office.

Not exactly the nice friendly approach that I way I was hoping we could deal with this misunderstanding.

I called her again and left another voice mail asking if we could talk about this, as I wanted to avoid any hard feelings whatsoever. In my voice mail I did mention that I would follow up my call with an email with my proposed solution.

I hate dealing with these types of issues on email. Be sure to use email as a confirmation tool, instead of a confrontation tool.

Long story short, I have had no direct contact whatsoever with Mary. She has only responded to Caroline via email, refusing to discuss anything with her or me.

I did everything I could do to deal with the situation professionally, but she was unwilling.

Sometimes we will meet others who are not nearly as professional or courteous as we are. Sometimes we will have to deal with the situation in a manner that makes us uncomfortable.

Remember to always take the high road. I regret nothing that I did in the encounter with Mary. I do regret that her need to avoid discussing the situation meant that there would be hard feelings.

When dealing with confrontation follow a few simple rules:
– use “I” language, instead of “you” language
– avoid blame, and focus more on solving the situation
– be prepared so you are not reacting to the situation, and are responding to the situation
– take the professional path (the high road), even in your personal confrontations
– know when to walk away

I’m sorry a simple misunderstanding has become a major issue. I have learned that even the “right” approach doesn’t always work, and that you need to be flexible when dealing with confrontation. I wonder what Mary learned from our encounter.

Article by,
Rhonda Scharf Headshot

As appeared in the Huffington Post on December 13, 2016

The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People: It’s About You

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Do you have someone at work who consistently triggers you? Doesn’t listen? Takes credit for work you’ve done? Wastes your time with trivial issues? Acts like a know-it-all? Can only talk about himself? Constantly criticizes?

Our core emotional need is to feel valued and valuable. When we don’t, it’s deeply unsettling, a challenge to our sense of equilibrium, security, and well-being. At the most primal level, it can feel like a threat to our very survival.

This is especially true when the person you’re struggling with is your boss. The problem is that being in charge of other people rarely brings out the best in us.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton said way back in 1887. “There is no worse heresy than the office that sanctifies the holder of it.”

The easy default when we feel devalued is to the role of victim, and it’s a seductive pull. Blaming others for how we’re feeling is a form of self-protection. Whatever is going wrong isn’t our fault. By off loading responsibility, we feel better in the short-term.

The problem with being a victim is that you cede the power to influence your circumstances. The painful truth when it comes to the people who trigger you is this: You’re not going to change them. The only person you have the possibility of changing is yourself.

Each of us has a default lens through which we see the world. We call it reality, but in fact it’s a selective filter. We have the power, to view the world through other lenses. There are three worth trying on when you find yourself defaulting to negative emotions.

The Lens of Realistic Optimism. Using this lens requires asking yourself two simple questions when you feel you’re being treated badly or unfairly. The first one is “What are the facts in this situation?” The second is, “What’s the story I’m telling myself about those facts?”

Making this distinction allows you to stand outside your experience, rather than simply reacting to it. It also opens the possibility that whatever story you’re currently telling yourself isn’t necessarily the only way to look at your situation.

Realistic optimism, a term coined by the psychologist Sandra Schneider, means telling yourself the most hopeful and empowering story about a given circumstance without subverting the facts. It’s about moving beyond your default reaction to feeling under attack, and exploring whether there is an alternative way of viewing the situation that would ultimately serve you better. Another way of discovering an alternative is to ask yourself “How would I act here at my best?”

The Reverse Lens. This lens requires viewing the world through the lens of the person who triggered you. It doesn’t mean sacrificing your own point of view but rather widening your perspective.

It’s nearly certain that the person you perceive as difficult views the situation differently than you do. With the reverse lens, you ask yourself, “What is this person feeling, and in what ways does that make sense?” Or put more starkly: “Where’s my responsibility in all this?”

Counterintuitively, one of the most powerful ways to reclaim your value, when it feels threatened, is to find a way to appreciate the perspective of the person you feel devalued by. It’s called empathy.

The Long Lens. Sometimes your worst fears about another person turn out to be true. He is someone who bullies you unreasonably and seeing it from his perspective doesn’t help. She does invariably take credit for your work.

When your current circumstances are incontrovertibly bad, the long lens provides a way of looking beyond the present to imagine a better future. Begin with this question: “Regardless of how I feel about what’s happening right now, how can I grow and learn from this experience?”

How many times has something that felt terrible to you in the moment turned out to be trivial several months later, or actually led you to an important opportunity or a positive new direction?

My last boss fired me. It felt awful at the time, but it also pushed me way out of my comfort zone, which is where it turned out I needed to go.

Looking back, the story I tell myself is that for all his deficiencies, I learned a lot from that boss, and it all serves me well today. I can understand, from his point of view, why he found me difficult as an employee, without feeling devalued. Most important, getting fired prompted me to make a decision — founding the company I now run — that has brought me more happiness than any other work I’ve ever done.

Article by, Tony Schwartz



Tony Schwartz
is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.


Why Employee Conflict Is A Good Thing

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

 

Have you dealt with conflict amongst your team lately? If not then you should be concerned.

You see too often leaders try to stop conflict that exists amongst their employees, but the reality is conflict is a natural outcome when putting a diverse group of employees together. In fact there are numerous benefits to employee conflict if it’s managed correctly. Watch the brief video below to learn more. 

Please be sure to subscribe to Shawn’s YouTube channel for more strategies on how to improve your business success.

© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.

We Need To Build Bridges, Not Walls

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016
 bridge

The U.S. election has unleashed a style of aggression, anger and hatred created like no other. There have been friendships lost, families torn apart, and relationships that will take a very long time to repair. If they even can repair.

Sadly this type of situation happens all the time in the workplace. It could start from union strikes, a bully in the office, or a leader that inspires internal competition and fear.

Unfortunately when things get that bad at work, we usually decide that all the stress and frustration aren’t worth it, and we leave. Perhaps we burn the bridge with the boss, the bully, or the company; and realize that we could never go back. And we are OK with that because we made that choice.

However, in some situations, that choice isn’t an option. A union strike is an example, a divorce is an example, and a divisive election is an example.

Sometimes you can’t run away by building a wall and hiding behind it.

We need to build bridges, not walls.

The question is how do you build that bridge so that you can detach yourself from the emotions the situations causes?

Here are three things you can do to build a bridge instead of a wall:

Don’t Interrupt. When someone is saying something you don’t agree with, or making a statement that makes your skin crawl; don’t interrupt them. By interrupting, you are being the wall, refusing to hear what they have to say. Interruptions are seen as aggressive and rude. Let them finish their statement and then follow the next two steps.

Stay calm. Whatever the disagreement or difference in opinions; it is not personal. Don’t take it personally, and don’t make it personal.

Sadly the fact that many people seem to be taking the election personally is what is causing so much strife. Someone has an opinion that you don’t understand. Their point of view is different than yours. It is not your job to convince them they are wrong and don’t take it personally if they try to convince you that you are wrong.

In a perfect world, we would not launch insults or hate because someone has a different perspective. Unfortunately, it is the way it is. Be the voice of reason, stay calm, don’t take it personally and hopefully others will follow your suit.

Set Boundaries. There are some subjects that will just be off the table for discussion. I’m seeing that on social media today with the U.S. election. People are giving themselves a “free zone” where there is permission NOT to speak about anything election related. The boundary says no political comments allowed. That is a pretty safe and smart thing to do when emotions are high.

In my family there is a topic that we have all agreed will not be brought up in conversation. We realize that not everyone agrees, that no one is happy about, so we just don’t go there. Do not enter into that area of discussion.

If you have decided to build your bridge instead of a wall and the dangerous subject is brought up, it is not unreasonable to say “I am uncomfortable with this line of discussion and I’m requesting we discuss something else.” If the other person continues to have the discussion, give yourself permission to disengage and if necessary leave the room. By engaging in the discussion you are now arguing and this is not the goal. Change the subject, but don’t go there.

Building a bridge doesn’t mean we’ve repaired the divide. It means that we can move past whatever the contentious subject is and continue.

Walls create borders, sides, and promote incivility. Bridges create solutions.

Build a bridge, and get over it.

Article by,

Rhonda Scharf HeadshotRhonda Scharf
Consultant, Speaker, Trainer and Author who works with organizations to save time, money and sanity.

As appeared in the Huffington Post November 9, 2016

How to Deal With Difficult People by Mastering Yourself

Friday, November 11th, 2016

We all have some people in our lives who can be considered “difficult.” They can make life really unpleasant. That is, if we let them! We can deal with difficult people in a number of ways. The amazing thing is, when we combine these elements, we may actually help them become happier and more easy-going as well. Sound too good to be true? Read on!

Dealing with difficult people can be a drain!

The first element in dealing with difficult people is self-control. You have no control over their behaviors or attitudes, but you can always control your own response. For example, what happens when you come across an unpleasant customer service rep, or a surly sales clerk? Or if it’s the flip side of the coin and you are the customer service rep being screamed at by a hostile customer? Do you automatically become tense or do you deliberately maintain your composure? Do you try to become even more cheerful and compassionate or do you automatically become hostile too, in defense of yourself? It’s worth becoming aware of how you normally react when you’re confronted with someone who is being less than pleasant. Remember, you can always choose your response.

Don't get caught up in the negativity!No matter what the situation, you can choose to not get caught up in their negativity. You can choose to not allow them to ruin your day. Instead of letting the situation escalate, you can calm yourself by entering the slower alpha brainwave state, and prevent the automatic fight-or-flight response – in most cases, this automatic negative reaction will not benefit you. All it does is create stress and makes you less in control of your emotions and actions. The fight or flight response has undergone an evolutionary change. It is a survival mechanism based on a physical response to danger – fighting, or running away. But in modern man, that response has evolved into anger and fear, since most of us are too civilized to react with physical violence, and the situations we’re in don’t usually warrant running away. The result is stress. The adrenaline rush is still based on the physical reaction to perceived danger but today, we usually don’t need to fight or run away. Instead, we react emotionally, in the heat of the moment, with anger and fear. You can derail your automatic fight-or-flight response to difficult people by deliberately relaxing yourself immediately before the negativity escalates. The Silva Method teaches several techniques for maintaining your composure in a difficult situation. You can focus on your breath, enter the alpha state and use the Three Fingers Technique for instant self-control and relaxation.

The second element of dealing with difficult people is perception. Again – we can’t control the behaviors and attitudes of others, but we can choose to see them in a different, more compassionate light. It’s not always easy! Slowing your brain’s activity to the alpha level is essential for this to work. In alpha, you can view the person with more understanding and compassion. Maybe they really hate their job but they feel stuck and resentful because they wish they could have a better life but don’t know how to go about it. Maybe they’re having difficulties at home. Maybe they are struggling with a huge stress load. Maybe they don’t realize they are being difficult! Most of us can’t see ourselves the way others see us. We may believe we’re projecting confidence, for example, only to have someone tell us we’re being arrogant. So try to put yourself in the person’s shoes and empathize with them.

The third element is self-awareness. Are YOU coming across as difficult? For example, if you walk into a store to return a defective product, you’re already unhappy and you may unconsciously project negative energy even if you put on a pleasant face. And if you’re feeling stressed and resentful, you may be projecting it more than you think. People pick up on each other’s energetic vibrations. So become more aware of how you approach a situation. Consciously become more approachable, friendly and reasonable before you enter the situation – sometimes, walking in with a smile, makes all the difference – !  Your attitude is all-important. Self-awareness is something that comes easily when you’re in the alpha state.

Emotional mastery helps you deal with difficult peopleThe fourth element is emotional mastery. If you have a difficult family member, you are probably conditioned to automatically respond with some emotion or behavior – irritability, shutting down, anger, weepiness, etc. – so you have to master your emotions. When you feel emotional response, allow it to course through your system without becoming attached to the thoughts that generated the emotion. Let it pass. Think about the situation as you would like it to be. Friendly, cordial… not tense and hurtful. Again, people pick up on each other’s vibes. When you’re conscious of the vibes that someone is projecting, you can choose to either take that energy on, or deflect it with love and compassion. Rephrase the way you think and talk about a person. This will affect the way you deal with them, and may eventually change the way they deal with you as well.

You can choose your response to any situation!The Silva Method teaches that a part of any problem-solving or goal-setting process is to first identify the problem. In this case, you use self-awareness to identify your automatic response, your unconscious pre-conceived attitude, and the emotions that determine your reaction.

Some people aren’t going to change their attitudes no matter what you do. That can’t be helped. They may not have the self-control you do and they may not be aware they can choose their response, too. But you can choose. You can use the Three Fingers Technique to program yourself to be more compassionate, loving and understanding while at the same time programming yourself to be less prone to anger, hostility and fear. They may continue to behave the same way, but your perception of them will change for the better.

 

As appeared on Silva Life System

 

The Arguments Your Company Needs

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Asked several years ago to describe the most important argument taking place at Walmart, then-CEO Lee Scott immediately replied, “The size of our stores.” The world’s largest retailer was debating just how small its footprints and formats could bewhile still serving customer needs and its own brand equity promise. That conversation, Scott said, provoked a lot of new thinking and analysis.

The most important argument at a fast-growing Web 2.0 services provider revolved around its “freemium” offer. Should the firm aggressively test multiple ways to hybridize its free and fee services? Or would prizing and positioning simplicity above all make the most sense? For a prestigious publisher, the essential — and vociferous — disagreement cut to its entrepreneurial core: Should its popular conferences reinforce the firm’s “countercultural” vibe? Or should they comfortably embrace the world’s biggest, richest, and most established firms, as well?

All firms have strategies and cultures. But sometimes the quickest and surest way to gain valuable insight into their fundamentals is by asking, “What’s the most important argument your organization is having right now?”

The more polite or politically correct might prefer “strategic conversation” over “argument.” But I’ve found the more aggressive framing most helpful in identifying the disagreements that matter most. Of course, there’s frequently more than one “most important argument.” And arguments about which arguments are most important are — sorry — important, as well. (If people insist there are no “most important arguments,” the organization clearly has even bigger unresolved issues.)

The real organizational and cultural insights — and payoffs — come not just from careful listening but recognizing that, as always, actions speak louder than words. What role is leadership playing here? How is the CEO listening to, leading, or facilitating the argument? Is disagreement viewed as dissent? Or is it treated as an opportunity to push for greater clarity and analytical rigor?

Sentiment is as important as situational awareness. Some arguments stir organizational emotions in ways others do not. Similarly, some disagreements energize the enterprise just as surely as others drain the life out of people. Having the same most important argument for years tends to be a very bad sign.

Responses to most important arguments typically fall into one of three rough interrelated categories: strategy, values, or people. Strategic arguments tend to be the most straightforward: Do we compete in this space or not? Are we going to be a leader or not? On the other hand, values arguments are understandably more complex: Does attempting to serve a new customer base compromise who we (think) we are? Do we want to make ourselves even more data-and-analytics-driven in our decision making? Does our intense customer focus risk violating their privacy? Values arguments, even more than strategic disagreements, tend to engage a greater portion of the firm. Healthy arguments around conflicting values demand smart facilitative leaders and leadership at all levels.

Intriguingly, the worst most important arguments I hear usually revolve around people. The CEO or a particularly intrapreneurial business unit leader exhibits behaviors or makes comments that polarize. What did the CEO mean by that? Can you believe the company lets that manager get away with that? What might be called gossip in some organizations mutates into strategic or values arguments. Values and strategic arguments are played out through people and personalities. Corporate characters are alternately heroes, knaves, wizards, and fools. There’s often a fine line between strong and powerful leaders and personality cults. If you think the most important arguments going on in your organization revolve around particular individuals and their unusual mix of style and substance, watch out.

But that affirms one of the great virtues of the question: Are you having the kind of most important argument you want your organization to have? Are you having the right kind of arguments in general? Are your arguments illuminating the path forward or providing the organizations with even better rationalizations and excuses for inaction?

And if you’re not having the right kind of important arguments, then just how much is consensus and alignment really worth?

By, Michael Schrage


Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, is the author of the books Serious Play (HBR Press), Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? (HBR Press) and The Innovator’s Hypothesis (MIT Press).

Workplace Conflict: Three leadership tips to harness the positive aspects of workplace conflict

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Are you in the majority of people who see conflict as destructive and avoid it at all costs? Or do you see conflict as an essential ingredient to create a healthy organization and reap the rewards of continuous improvement?

The root cause of most conflict is ignorance – either I don’t fully understand your perspective or you don’t understand mine. Therefore the answer is education – I need to be educated about your thoughts and feelings and you need to be educated about mine.

The more emotional the reaction to conflict, the less likely that rational, logical arguments will prevail. As a leader, here are three tips to harness the positive side of workplace conflict.

Conflict Tip 1: Be Curious Not Furious 
Curiosity is perhaps a leader’s greatest asset. It replaces harsh judgement or overly passive victim thinking. Be curious about why the other person is so upset and what some possible solutions might be. Curiosity will encourage you to listen and understand the other person’s point of view and speak calmly about your perspective. Staying curious will help you discover win/win solutions that build on the ideas from multiple perspectives.

Conflict Tip 2: Acknowledge Emotion to Get to Logic
Emotion overrides logic. Listen without interruption, acknowledge what you’ve heard and then suggest alternative perspectives. To be a good diffuser of emotion it helps to match the emotional intensity of the other person without actually arguing with them. When the other person sees and hears that you “get them” they will tend to calm down and be more rational.
An example would be a two-year-old who screams, “I want a cookie, I want a cookie.” If the mother or father simply uses a calm, kindergarten teacher’s voice it won’t show an understanding of the emotional intensity. Instead, the parent could use a similar voice tone with these words, “I know you want a cookie, I know you want a cookie, and you can’t have a cookie right now because we are going to have dinner soon.”

Conflict Tip 3: Remain Calm and Respectful
Conflict situations can bring out disrespectful behavior from the leader. Talking down to someone, yelling at them or demeaning them will only cause bigger problems for the leader. Supervisors, managers and team leaders are held to a higher standard of acceptable behavior than the workers they supervise.
To help leaders stay calm and cool in difficult situation it helps to offer specific training in dealing with difficult situations and conversations. A leader can also make a conscious choice to step away from the situation for a few minutes, call for back up or breathe deeply to regain emotional control.

The value from conflict comes from harnessing the different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences of the people involved to drive the best possible outcome. We help by providing training to front line supervisors, managers and team leaders.

How to Handle Difficult People

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

The path to success can be derailed by clashes with difficult people, and even if the clash isn’t disastrous, it can make your life very unpleasant. Everyone has a store of coping mechanisms that we resort to when we find ourselves in stressful situations.

Difficult people force us to fall back on our coping mechanisms. Some of us placate, others confront. Some balk, others become aggressive. When these first-response tactics don’t work, when a difficult person makes you tear your hair out in total frustration, you have to dig deeper into yourself and find a better strategy.

First of all, not every difficult person is the same. There are tyrants, curmudgeons, aggressors, the viciously competitive, and control freaks. A psychologist can outline how each beast might be tamed, but on a day-to-day basis, one can adopt a general approach that’s the same. It’s quite a simple strategy, actually, based on asking three questions.

1. Can I change the situation?

2. Do I have to put up with it instead?

3. Should I just walk away?

When you ask these questions in a rational frame of mind, you will be able to formulate a workable approach that is consistent and effective. Most people are prisoners of inconsistency. Think about the most difficult person in your life and how you have reacted to them over time. You’ll probably find that you sometimes put up with them, sometimes try to get them to change, and other times simply want to stay away. In other words, three tactics have merged in a messy way. You wind up sending mixed messages, and that’s never effective.

So let’s consider each of the three questions in turn.

1. Can I change the situation?

Not all difficult people are beyond change, even though they are stubborn and stuck in their behavior. But there’s a cardinal rule here that can’t be ignored. No one changes unless he wants to. Difficult people rarely want to. If you have a close rapport with the person, you might find a moment when you can sit down and have a candid discussion about the things that frustrate you. But be prepared with an exit strategy, because if your difficult person winds up resenting you for poking your nose where it doesn’t belong, trying to effect change can seriously backfire.

Your best chance of creating change occurs if the following things are present.

– You have a personal connection with the person.

– You have earned his respect.

– You’ve discreetly tested the waters and found her a bit open to change.

– You’ve received signals that he wants to change.

– You aren’t afraid or intimidated.

– The two of you are fairly equal in power. If the difficult person is in a dominant position, such as being your boss, your status is too imbalanced.

A final caveat. Difficult people aren’t going to change just to make you feel better. The worst chance of getting someone else to change occurs when you’re so angry, frustrated, and fed up that you lose your composure and demand change.

2. Do I have to put up with it instead?

When you can’t change a situation, only two options remain, either put up with it or walk away. Most of us aren’t very effective in getting someone else to change, so we adapt in various ways. We are experts at putting up with things. Adaptation isn’t bad per se; social life depends upon getting along with one another. It’s a reasonable assumption that if you have difficult people in your life right now – and who doesn’t? – you’ve learned to adapt. The real question is whether you are coping in a healthy or unhealthy way.

Look at the following lists and honestly ask yourself how well you are putting up with your difficult person.

Unhealthy:

– I keep quiet and let them have their way. It’s not worth fighting over.

– I complain behind their backs.

– I shut down emotionally.

– I don’t say what I really mean half the time, for fear of getting into trouble or losing control.

– I subtly signal my disapproval.

– I engage in endless arguments that no one wins.

– I have symptoms of stress (headache, knots in the stomach, insomnia, depression, and anxiety) but have decided to grin and bear it.

– I know i want to get out of this situation, but I keep convincing myself that I have to stick it out.

– I indulge in fantasies of revenge.

Healthy –

– I assess what works best for me and avoid what doesn’t.

– I approach the difficult person as rationally as possible.

– I don’t get into emotional drama with them.

– I make sure I am respected by them. I keep my dignity.

– I can see the insecurity that lies beneath the surface of their bad behavior.

– I don’t dwell on their behavior. I don’t complain behind their backs or lose sleep.

– I keep away from anyone who can’t handle the situation, the perpetual complainers, gossips, and connivers.

– My interaction with the difficult person has no hidden agenda, like revenge. We are here for mutual benefit, not psychodrama.

– I know I can walk away whenever I have to, so I don’t feel trapped.

– I can laugh behind this person’s back. I’m not intimidated or afraid.

– I feel genuine respect and admiration for what’s good in this person.

If your approach contains too many unhealthy ingredients, you shouldn’t stick around. You’re just rationalizing a hopeless situation. Your relationship with your difficult person isn’t productive for either of you.

3. Should I just walk away?

Difficult people generally wind up alone, embattled, and bitter. They create too much stress, and one by one, everyone in their lives walks away. But it can take an agonizingly long time to make this decision. The problem is attachment. The abused wife who can’t leave her violent husband, the worker who is afraid he can’t find another job, the underling who serves as a doormat for his boss – in almost every instance their reason for staying is emotional. Life isn’t meant to be clinically rational. Emotions are a rich part of our lives, and it’s mature to take the bitter with the sweet – up to a point.

Too many people stick around when they shouldn’t. The main exceptions are competitive types, who can’t bear to be dominated or made to look bad. They instinctively run away from situations that hurt their self-image. The other main personality types – dependent and controlling – will put up with a bad situation for a long time, far beyond what’s healthy. The point, in practical terms, is that you can’t wait until you’ve resolved all your issues with a difficult spouse, boss, boyfriend, buddy, colleague, or employee. Vacillation doesn’t make you a better or nicer person. You are treading water, hoping that the dreaded day will never come when you have to sever ties. The thought of separation causes you anxiety.

But as anxious as you feel, sometimes a rupture is the healthiest thing you can do. That’s the case if you have honestly confronted questions 1 and 2. If you know the difficult person isn’t going to change, and if you’ve examined the unhealthy and healthy choices involved in putting up with them, you have a good foundation for making the right choice: Do I stay or do I walk? I’m not promising that your decision will feel nice. It probably won’t. But it will be the right decision, the kind you will be able to look back on with a sigh of relief and recognition that moving on was healthy and productive.

Andrew Lepan

Written by,

 

Strategies For Working With Difficult People

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

ANGER

Who is the most difficult person you work with? Does it feel to you like they spend each evening plotting and planning on how to ruin the next day for you? Does it drain your energy just thinking about this person? You’re not alone. It seems that every one of us has a ‘difficult to deal with’ person in our life. They take a lot of energy just to ignore, and many of us wish they would just go away.

If you can identify with this scenario, finish the rest of this sentence: “I would be more effective working with my difficult person if…”

What is your ‘if’?

Now go back and look at what you wrote. Is your answer dependant on them doing something to change? Why do you think they would be willing to change to make your life easier? You’re right, they won’t. So how are we going to be more effective when working with this person?

There are three things that you can change.

1. The System. Perhaps this person is difficult because they are a stick to the ruleskind of person and you aren’t. It can be very frustrating to you and that this person is so stuck on the system you don’t agree with. If you could just change the system it would make your life a lot easier, don’t you think? Of course, changing the system is an extremely time intensive proposition with no guarantee of any success.

There are people, like Erin Brockovich for example, who are able to change the system but most people decide that the effort does not equal the payoff. If this is your situation, you may choose to avoid trying to change the system. I’m not saying that it won’t work — I am saying that it will take a lot of your time and efforts before you see any dividends. It may be easier to take another approach with your difficult person.

2. The Other Person. You’ve probably heard the old cliché, “If you plan on changing your spouse when you get married, it makes for a very interesting first marriage.” It’s not so easy to change the other person because there is no incentive for them to change. Why should they? What they are doing is currently working just fine, isn’t it?

Consider a co-worker that listens to his music at a very loud volume. He likes I that loud, it helps him drown out all the other noise in the office. You despise the type of music he listens to, and it is far too loud for you to concentrate. You’ve asked your co-worker to turn it down every day for the past three months and it has now escalated into an all-out war between the two of you.

You are trying to get your difficult person to see that his music is too loud and you cannot concentrate. You are trying to change his perspective on the volume. Why should he turn it down? He likes it just the way it is. Trying to change the other person is often like hitting your head against a brick wall; it just doesn’t work very well. There is no incentive for the other person to take your perspective.

3. You. Of course, you do have one hundred percent control of what you do. You could try to change your perspective on the situation. Let’s assume that your difficult person is Mary, and Mary loves to complain about the company you work for. She says things like, “they don’t appreciate us”, “I’m doing all the work around here and never get any recognition”, and “this is an old boys club and women will never get in senior management positions”.

Basic whining and moaning, all the time, day in and day out. At first, you agreed with some of the things she said, and occasionally got pulled into the negativity yourself. After a while, you realized how destructive this was to your attitude and you tried to convince Mary that she was wrong. This, of course, just intensified the situation and the negativity seemed to get worse. You’ve probably moved into the same ‘zone’ that many of us do when confronted with Mary, saying “You’re right, this is a terrible place to work,” hoping that your agreement will make her go away faster.

Did it work? Not really. What Mary wants is attention and acknowledgment. You are giving her both of those things. We need to change what we are doing to get a different result.

“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done,
you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got”

You’ve heard that before, and it is completely true. If we want to change the way Mary is acting, we need to change what we are doing, and not give her what she wants. People are difficult because they are getting something out of the deal. They may be getting attention, agreement or even success because of it (think of aggressive drivers). If we want them to do something different (remember the opening question?) then we need to DO something different.

The next time Mary says “I hate this company”, don’t argue with her or agree with her, give her what she doesn’t want (agreement, attention, etc.) and say something like “I LOVE working here!” Don’t worry about if you agree with what you are saying or not, give her something other than what she wants. She wants to complain. She wants to be negative. Don’t give her what she wants.

This will work! Sometimes a lot of work too, especially if you happen to be in a negative mood that day and agree with her. Don’t give into the temptation. Be 100% consistent in this approach. For two weeks this will be very difficult for you. I promise that if you are consistent and not give Mary what she wants, then she will change her behaviour.

The next time you are asked the question “I would be more effective working with my difficult person if…” the right answer lies within you. You can change what is happening with that person. It takes time, effort, persistence and patience.

The result is worth the effort!


Article By,

Rhonda Scharf HeadshotConsultant, Speaker, Trainer and Author who works
with organizations to save time, money and sanity.

This is why you will lose your argument

Friday, June 24th, 2016

So the Great Barrier Reef has not been listed as endangered by UNESCO. And same-sex marriage is high on the national agenda. Care to argue the case? Careful, there’s a minefield ahead.

There is one thing that is poorly understood about arguing in the public arena. It is the reason that a strong case will often lose its momentum and that an obvious logical conclusion will be missed. It is one of the reasons our political leaders fail utterly to have a reasoned conversation with the population and with each other. And it’s why denialists on just about any issue can sidestep rational debate.

It’s called the “point at issue” and describes what the argument is actuallyabout. If you move away from this simple idea, the argument will be lost in a fog of related but unnecessary issues.

Finding the point

Before we can argue, we must actually agree on something: what we are arguing about. If we can’t do this, and then stick to it, there will be no progress.

Let’s consider the Great Barrier Reef as an example. Some media commentary would have us believe that the fact the reef was not listed means any concerns about its well-being are entirely misplaced.

This misses the point completely. As many articles have pointed out, that the reef has not been listed does not mean any environmental concerns are unjustified.

The point at issue is whether the reef meets the UNESCO criteria for listing as endangered. It is another point entirely to say the reef is not at risk. Conflating the two muddies the waters.

As another example, imagine someone comments that locking up refugees is psychologically damaging to them. Another person says that the policy is much better under the current government than it was under the last.

The argument has shifted from whether the processes is damaging to who manages the process best. It is not the same thing. If that is not noticed, the argument usually degenerates and we are no closer to finding the truth of the original claim.

For a third example, the federal treasurer, Joe Hockey, recently had to defend spending his accommodation entitlements when he is in Canberra on a house owned by his wife. He tried to argue the necessity of politicians to be able to claim expenses as they move into the capital for parliamentary business. But these are two different points. Arguing the second does not progress the first.

Deniers of climate science engage in shifting the point at issue as a standard part of their argument technique. One example involves moving from the fact that there is a rapid shift in global temperature to that climate has always changed.

Another example is moving from consilience and consensus in climate science as indicators of the degree of confidence within the scientific community to trying to make the debate that consensus is not proof. In both cases the latter point is true, but it’s not the point under discussion.

Changing the point at issue often flags an attempt to move the argument onto more favourable ground rather than engage with it on the offered terms.

Focusing our thinking is not easy

This type of intellectual sidestepping is the root of the straw man argument. It is the source of the common phrase “beside the point”, indicating that it is not directly relevant.

If we follow this path, the original argument remains unaddressed and we have only the illusion of progress.

The trick is to recognise when the point at issue shifts, but to do this you need to be very clear at the start about what the original argument is. If you are not clear, you are vulnerable to defeat, losing to an argument that was not your point in the first place. Recognising this shift is a surprisingly difficult thing to do.

One of the reasons we do not focus well on the point at issue, and are sometimes very bad at defining it, is that our minds range across related topics very well. We see connections, implications and perspectives on many issues. This is a useful tendency, but one that needs to be curbed to develop a sharp argumentative focus.

If the point at issue is that smoking is bad for you, don’t start talking about the individual liberty to smoke. If it’s that biodiversity in forests is important, don’t make it about logging jobs. If it’s about how well a political party is doing a job, don’t turn it into a comparison with the other mob.

Stick to the point, sort it out properly, and then move on to the next one.

How we frame an issue can define the argument

Finding the point at issue is also a matter of framing the issue correctly.

Realise, for example, that the point of not teaching Intelligent Design in science classes is one of quality control, not of academic freedom. Or that teaching about religion in schools is not the same thing as instruction in specific religions. Or that same-sex marriage is about equality of rights, not degrading them.

As Christopher Hitchens so succinctly put it when considering the issue of homosexual marriage more than a decade ago:

This is an argument about the socialisation of homosexuality, not the homosexualisation of society.

Politicians are masters at changing frames and the point at issue. Witness the use of phrases like “what the public really wants to know” or “what’s really important here” to avoid addressing the issue raised in an interview.

Journalists are often very lax about this, allowing the point at issue to change without bringing it back and pressing for an answer to the original question.

One of the skills of advanced argumentation – and of good journalism – is knowing how to keep things on track. This includes the ability to recognise when the argument shifts and to say “that’s not what we are talking about”.

It also includes knowing how to go on and explain to people that their argument may be relevant to the topic in general but it’s not relevant to the specific point at issue.

You might like to argue that many of the topics I’ve mentioned should be explored in full. That we should talk about biodiversity and jobs when discussing forests, for example. But if you think that, you missed the point at issue of this article.

There’s no reason not to pursue other arguments and other points at issue, but let’s take them one at a time for the sake of clarity and improvement. This is what will improve public debate and better hold politicians to account.

That’s what I’m talking about.

 

Author,
Peter Ellerton
Lecturer in Critical Thinking,
The University of Queensland

Positive Steps for Managing Conflict

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

10 strategies to help minimize the negative impacts of office tension

Situation: Morgan and Jose are arguing about which steps to take next to implement the Micah Project. Morgan wants to move ahead immediately; Jose wants to rethink the situation and perhaps consult with other members of the department to avoid making a rash decision. Morgan becomes impatient and blames Jose for dragging his feet once again. Jose doesn’t want to ruffle Morgan’s feathers, so he does nothing about the differences of opinion, hoping that Morgan will let up on the pressure. The result is a stalemate.

This is a typical situation where conflict freezes progress and stymies many managers. We must first ask why Jose, like so many other employees, does nothing. The answer is because he probably believes in some very common and unfortunate myths about conflict:

  • Conflict is bad and terrible things will occur if differences in opinion are aired.
  • Conflict will rip apart the team or its esprit de corps.
  • Other employees will be mad at him.
  • He would be calling too much attention to himself by making a big deal out of the situation.
  • It’s better not to engage in conflict; harmony must prevail at all costs.
  • The parties will never get over those negative feelings.
  • The issue will cause a chain reaction that will halt or delay productivity and involve other people.

At this point, you as the leader might be questioning your own views of conflict, as well you should. But do you know how to actually define conflict? No, it’s not some terrible, unmanageable, out-of-control creature. Conflict is simply defined as tension, which is neither good nor bad. Positive tension, that energy that leads to increased creativity, innovation and productivity, is a dynamic byproduct of two or more people sharing their views, even if their views are inconsistent or out of synch with each other. Negative tension is an unproductive, off-putting, harmful result of people not working together to arrive at a positive solution.

What causes tension? The list is endless and mostly individualistic. We all have our vulnerabilities and views that lead to tension, especially the more common negative tension. Most people experience negative conflict when they are supervised and fear an unfavorable evaluation. Similarly, tension arises when employees feel they are being compared with each other or are vying for the same resources, such as time, money, people or equipment. Other employees are conflicted when under deadlines, especially when they do not have the assistance of other helpful employees. Still others have great difficulty dealing with change; breaking or changing habits is almost always difficult. Even if a change seems to be positive, it often is accompanied by some form of conflict, simply due to the change or potential performance evaluation under a new system with new policies, processes or colleagues. And finally, negative tension easily and most commonly erupts with differences in opinions, especially those that are firmly held.

So what positive steps can leaders take to minimize the negative aspects of conflict?

  1. Realize that conflict is natural and happens all the time.
  2. Stress the positive aspects of conflict; just because tension arises, the world is not going to collapse. In fact, if handled well, conflict often leads to innovation.
  3. Realize that conflict can be handled in a positive way that leads to personal and professional growth, development and productivity.
  4. Encourage others to bring up conflict and differences. Allowing them to fester inevitably encourages them to erupt later, usually at a most inopportune time.
  5. Identify the root cause(s) of the conflict. You can’t begin to unravel the potential negativity in conflict and look toward progress until you determine the source of the issue.
  6. Look at the issue from all sides. Inspect the positive and negative factors that each party sees to fully comprehend what is at stake.
  7. Devise a complete list of actions to address the issue; ensure that each party believes that he/she has had input in the final product or decision.
  8. Decide on the step that best addresses and resolves the issue. Again, all parties need to see that they have had input into this step.
  9. Agree on whatever next steps are necessary to implement the mutually agreed-upon action.
  10. Review the process that you used to arrive at the final decision, hoping to implement a similar successful plan when negative conflict next arises.

An effective leader is willing to address spoken and unspoken negative tension and helps transform it into positive, productive tension that leads to increased understanding of the issues, the parties involved and the final outcome.

Article by,
DR. DAVID G. JAVITCH

How to Manage Conflict at Work

Friday, May 27th, 2016

To succeed as a manager, you can’t be a conflict-avoider.

Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do. I was recently reminded of this by a comment from a reader in response to a post on Forbes.com (10 Things Successful Business People Aren’t Daunted By). Her observation? “I’ll be printing this off and putting it where I can read it every morning,” she wrote. “Dealing well with conflict (instead of running and hiding) has been one of my biggest challenges as a relatively new manager, so thank you for reminding me that conquering that fear of conflict is worth it!”

Actually she shouldn’t feel bad – she has lots of company. While now and then you’ll come across a manager who enjoys conflict, really relishes confrontation and dispute, the vast majority of people would much prefer not to deal with it, if given a choice.

Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice.

Looking back now over my own career I can recall conflicts with the many people I managed over just about everything: salaries, promotions, recognition, evaluations, other team members, being managed too much, not being managed enough, projects that were too tough, projects that were too boring… and once in a while someone who was just for no discernible reason downright insubordinate. I never liked conflict. But I realized early on that if I expected to be paid a reasonable amount of money for management, trying my best to deal with conflict fairly and directly was a crucial part of the job.

In that spirit, following are a few things I learned about it:

Accept the inevitability of conflict in management – As mentioned above, just recognize that addressing it is part of the job. Don’t waste energy ruminating about it, and don’t feel bad you feel bad about it. Just accept it for what it is: It comes with the managerial territory.

Don’t be a conflict-avoider – Difficult interpersonal workplace problems won’t disappear by ignoring them; they’ll only get worse. Chronic conflict-avoiders will end up losing the respect of their employees – and their own management.

Stay calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can. There are some memorable lines from the famous Rudyard Kipling poem If:If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you/If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you/But make allowance for their doubting too… And after several verses the poem concludes: Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it/And – which is more – you’ll be a man, my son. (Or a woman… Kipling wrote this in 1895.) Though it wasn’t written for business, I always felt there was management relevance in the message.

Maintain the moral high ground – A close cousin to the point directly above. You’remanagement. You’re the voice of reason. Don’t lose control or pull rank or cede the moral high ground – calm control is a much more advantageous position manage and negotiate from.

Partner with HR – Though Human Resources operatives have become joking stereotypeson TV and in movies… I’ll state this in bold letters: When I was in management, my colleagues in Human Resources were of inestimable valuable to me on many occasions. I never hesitated to call on them when I faced difficult employee conflicts. They were unfailingly an objective third party, a sounding board, a valuable source of reasonable counsel. My philosophy was always, In delicate situations, get all the help you can.

Document meticulously – When serious conflict occurs, as a manager you’ll need accurate records of it. During employee performance appraisals, you’ll need clear documentation to avoid discussions dissolving into “he said/she said” disputes. And when it’s necessary to terminate someone, you of course need detailed documentation (again, a time to work closely with HR) or you may well have legal exposure.

Don’t’ think in terms of “winning,” so much as constructively resolving – No point winning the battle but losing the war. Management‘s role is not to “defeat the enemy” (even though that may feel cathartic at times!), but to elicit optimal performance from the area you’re managing. Accordingly, best not to leave bodies in your wake but to get conflicts resolved fairly, expeditiously, and move forward as constructively as you can. Get closure and move ahead… the sooner, the better.

I don’t want to give the illusion any of this is easy.

It isn’t. It never is.

But if you can develop a consistent, rational approach to managing conflict, it can make your difficult job a lot less stressful than it would be without it.

Victor Lipman

Article by,
Victor Lipman

Victor is the author of The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World (Prentice Hall Press).

8 Tips For Dealing With Difficult People

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Like the old Saturday Night Live character, Debbie Downer, some people are only happy when they’re unhappy and bringing down everyone else around them too.

Here are eight tips for dealing with difficult people at work.

1.   Don’t get dragged down—The old saying is “Misery loves company.” The most important thing is to be aware of who the Debbie and David Downers are in your company and to make sure they don’t suck you into their world of negativity.  Keep your guard up!

2.   Listen—It’s tempting to just tune these people out, but this rarely stops them. If anything, they’ll talk and argue more forcefully because they’ll think nobody cares about them. The best thing to do is to use good, normal active listening techniques, as you would for anyone else.

3.   Use a time limit for venting—Remember that there is a difference between being a perpetual pessimist and having an occasional need to vent. Everybody has tough times, and sharing our feelings can make us feel better. Use the “5-minute rule” when it comes to this. Let your colleague vent for five minutes, but after that, assume that he’s entered Downer mode, and proceed with the next steps.

 4.   Don’t agree—It’s tempting to try to appease Debbie Downer to make him or her stop and go away. As the person complains about benefits or the boss or whatever, you might be inclined to give a little nod of your head or a quiet “yeah” or shrug a “what can we do?” Even though these responses seem harmless, they just throw fuel on the flames.

5.   Don’t stay silent—If you are clearly listening but say nothing, Debbie Downer will interpret your silence as agreement. Worse, if others are present, they too will assume that you agree. Whether the complaint is about the boss or the benefits or the client, silence means you agree with the complainer.

6.   Do switch extremes into facts—Negative people often speak in extreme terms that match their worldviews. They talk about “never” and “always.” Your first goal is to switch them to fact-based statements.

Negative Ned: Andy is such a slacker! He’s never on time for our morning meetings. How are we supposed to hit our deadlines when he’s never here?

      You: Ned, you’re clearly frustrated. I seem to remember that Andy was on time at our meetings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week. He was late on Thursday and Friday. So you mean he’s late frequently, not always; right?

7.   Move to problem solving—People who whine a lot often feel powerless and believe that the situation is hopeless. Your only chance of ending their negativity is to help them to move into a problem solving mode. This doesn’t always work, but it’s the only antidote known.

8.   Cut them off—If, after all your efforts, you deem these people to be hopelessly negative, you need to cut them off. Make sure they aren’t just venting for a few minutes, make sure you weren’t previously encouraging them, make sure they can’t switch to problem solving, and then politely shut them down.

      You: Can we change the subject? You’re really bumming me out. If you want to vent for a couple minutes, fine. If you want me to help you solve the problem, fine. But life is too short to wallow. Let’s move on to something else, OK?

Creating a great workplace culture should be everyone’s job. Don’t let Debbie and David Downer harm your company or your own level of engagement at work.

________

How To Spot A Toxic Boss Before You Take The Job

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Our friend Yvonne quit her new job after six months. “I should have known my ex-boss was a psycho control freak,” she said.

“Were there signs of his tendencies during the interview process?” we asked.

“There was one sign, a huge one,” said Yvonne. “I can’t believe I missed it. He basically came right out and told me what it was going to be like working for him. I took the job anyway. I talked myself into it. I said, ‘I can make this work.’”

Of course we wanted to hear about the big sign that Yvonne missed during the interview process.

“My boss walked me out of the building to my car after my second interview,” said Yvonne. “When we got to my car he said, ‘You’re an average writer and a so-so editor, and I can make you much better at both writing and editing.’”

 “Whoa!” we exclaimed. “That’s what he said?”

“Yes, and I should have said ‘Gee, I’d hate for you to be stuck with someone who falls so far short of your requirements,’” said Yvonne. “I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything. I got in my car and I went home.”

“People do tend to broadcast their baggage,” we said. “Don’t feel bad, Yvonne. It’s easy to miss those signs when you’re thinking ‘If I get this job I can pay off my credit cards!’”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking when I took the job,” said Yvonne.

If you can check in frequently with your body during your interview process, you won’t be as likely to take a job working for someone who is going to crush your mojo and leave you battered, mojo-depleted and doubting your own abilities.

You can say, “No thanks!” to a toxic manager and keep your job search going, but only if you tell your fearful brain to pipe down and listen to your body, instead.

That takes some effort. For starters, you have to process every interview in your head and on paper. You have to talk through your interviews with a friend — in the best case, a cynical friend who will stop you and say, “The manager said what?”

You have to think through every job interview and every other interaction you have with your possible next boss, because in your excitement about being in contention for a job offer, you can lose your bearings.

You have to be on guard or you are likely to fall into the Vortex. The Vortex is the whirling place we fall into when a company is obviously interested in us. We are excited to have a real, live job opportunity in front of us. Our judgment can fly out the window.

We’re flattered that they like us, even if we’re not sure if we like them!

Plenty of people, me included, have accepted job offers because we were so happy to get a job offer.

We forgot about our own needs. We fell  into the Vortex!

Watch for these 10 warning signs that your possible new boss will make your life a living hell if you sign up to work for him or her:

1. Your hiring manager spends a lot of your interview time together talking about himself or herself. Maybe you’re a great listener. Is that what the boss is looking for — someone who will patiently listen to him or her pontificate? If so, watch out!

2. Your hiring manager asks you detailed questions about how you accomplished tasks and projects at your past jobs, but shows no curiosity about you as a person. He or she couldn’t care less where you grew up, how you chose your career path or what your goals are. That’s a red flag!

photo by Liz Ryan

3. Your hiring manager uses your interview time to try to suck free consulting advice out of you. Once you get home from the interview, he or she has more demands — to write a free marketing plan, for instance. If the manager does this while you’re interviewing for the job, don’t expect things to get better once you have the job.

4. Your hiring manager tells you what’s wrong with you before even hiring you, the way Yvonne’s manager did.

5. Your hiring manager talks about employees he or she has fired in the past. That’s a terrible sign. Run away from a job opportunity where the boss regales you with tales of the terrible former employees he or she has had to put up with. You will hate the job if you get it.

6. Your hiring manager uses your interview time to fill you in on the corporate political scene. Our client Miranda met with her hiring manager after hours, when everyone in the office had gone home. Her prospective new boss asked her “Can you get me promoted to Director level within one year?” She said “I really couldn’t say”  and didn’t come back for a second interview when invited to.7. Your hiring manager spends half of your interview time talking about her problems with her boss. You want to say, “If I’m here to give you a counseling session, you’ll have to write me a check!” but you bite your lip and draw a big red X through this job opportunity in your mind. Life is too short to work for fearful weenies.

8. Your hiring manager uses your interview time to tell you how smart or accomplished he or she is. That’s a sure sign of insecurity. When people show you who they are, believe them!

9. Your hiring manager quizzes you about insignificant details in your resume instead of talking about the work you’d be doing in the new job. Gradually over the course of your interview it hits you that this person doesn’t know how to construct an intelligent question about your background, so they devolve into asking nit-picky questions, instead. Don’t take a job working for a person with no vision!

10. Your hiring manager reminds you over and over how many awesome people applied for this job and how lucky you are to have received an interview. Run away from a person like this. They are mired in fear and are checking in to make sure you are exactly the obedient, grateful, passive and docile sheep they are looking for!

The first time you say, “No thanks!” to a job interview, your fearful brain will beat you up for three to five days afterward. You’ll go back and forth in your mind: “Should I have told those people no? I still need a job. Maybe that was a bad decision.”

It wasn’t a bad decision. Your body is your best guide. Our species has been evolving for eons. Your gut knows which people are healthy for you and which people aren’t.

The relationship between you and your boss is a critical one not only for your career’s sake, but for your health as well. Choose your next boss wisely!

 

 Article by Liz Ryan ,
Bio: I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com

Manage Conflict Well or It Will Manage You

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

2014-11-11-Manageconflict650718_s2300x199.jpgMost executives acknowledge difficulty in dealing with conflict. Conflict comes in many guises. It can be person to person or group to group. It can be an in-house clash with direct reports and attendant personnel. Sometimes conflict occurs with external vendors, contractors, and consultants. It’s not uncommon for conflict to worm its way into otherwise tight-knit leadership teams or fracture the relationship between community partners and leaders.

Conflict is omnipresent at union bargaining tables, in legal arenas, and is first-row center seat when bureaucrats and businessmen step into the ring. Depending on the size of the organization, conflict can morph into a mighty conflagration with the help of local and international media. Bottom line: any time people work together you have tinder stacked and ready for conflict.

Conflict is inevitable but its outcome depends on how it is managed. So how or when should executives deal with conflict? Sometimes the best decision is not to react and let time-bequeathed amnesia do the job. Sometimes, however, delaying a response can make the conflict worse. Conflict management isn’t ever comfortable and is all too-often avoided to the peril of the leader and the business.

Conflict is like a dance when partners step on each other’s toes while trying to figure out who’s leading or even what dance step to employ. Oftentimes the dancers go back to their respective seats limping and eager to commiserate with other dancers on the maladroitness of their clumsy oaf partner and swearing never to dance with them again. Often, other injured dancers chime in and what was an interpersonal problem becomes class warfare and the embattled leader has to put business goals on the back burners and do foot rubs to keep the conflict under control.

Conflict handled timely and effectively is carried out more like a conversation than a confrontation. And while the conversation may not be easy, doing so timely and consistently and effectively results in better outcomes. It is less likely the other party will feel affronted or surprised if a repeat conversation is needed.

Here are seven ideas and scenarios that may help as you determine a course of action or your intervention:

    1. Make it a habit to keep the issues and conflicts between the parties and practice the art of not talking with others about something that doesn’t involve them. As simple as this sounds venting to others typically makes matters worse and often word can get back to the person(s) being talked about. Gossip needs to stop if conflict is to be handled well.
  • Learning the lesson that anything one says or does can be held against them in a court of law or can show up on the news helps in managing conflict. Be discreet in how and when you speak or send a message that is conflictual.
  • Stay defenseless. When managing conflict, emotions run high. Staying defenseless and taking an approach to understand versus accuse can reduce emotions which helps to create an environment favorable for conflict resolution.
  • With customers, own mistakes and mishaps that are the company’s to own.Don’t try to defend the company; listen and own what you can. If multiple customers, families and friends are impacted, such as in an airplane crash, you may need a strong media plan to deal with communication to interested parties. The larger the conflict or the greater the consequence of it, the more public it becomes.
  • In the case of union conflict, clear and transparent communication about organizational change and activities is critical to keep union unrest at a minimum. Delaying communication tends to send the message you don’t want to communicate or have something to hide. Another tactic that is effective is to keep union representatives informed in advance of a change and activity and if possible obtain union input into the process.
  • If there are performance issues with a direct report, a vendor, or a contractor, deal with the issues timely or you risk the possibility of escalation into a real conflict. It is easier to ignore an issue or conflict than to deal with it. But when it comes to performance, the issues don’t tend to resolve without the performance being discussed. Instead, the issues continue and non-performers remain oblivious to the problem. Procrastinated conflict-resolution can unleash violent reprisals that are out of proportion for the current issue and the employee, vendor, or contractor will be caught off guard.
  1. As the CEO, getting involved in employee conflict should be a last resort unless the conflict has gone through due process and it is now in your hands to hear the concerns and determine appropriate actions. While an employee’s anxiety may be dissipated because s/he has been heard by the “top dog”, care must be taken in how the CEO resolves the situation to avoid throwing a direct report “under the bus“ by taking or being perceived as taking sides.

Make it a habit to embrace rather than avoid conflict. If you deal with anything conflictual early into the process, the results are typically more favorable than letting an issue or conflict fester.

Article by, Terri Wallin , Founder Wallin Enterprises
This post first appeared on WallinEnterprises.com. Let’s connect: LinkedIn | Twitter

Arguing Is Pointless

Monday, April 4th, 2016

It was lunchtime and the seven of us — two kids and five adults — would be in the car for the next three hours as we drove from New York City to upstate Connecticut for the weekend.

We decided to get some takeout at a place on the corner of 88th and Broadway. I pulled along the curb and ran in to get everyone’s orders.

In no time, Isabelle, my eight year old, came running in the restaurant.

“Daddy! Come quick! The police are giving you a ticket!”

I ran outside.

“Wait, don’t write the ticket, I’ll move it right away,” I offered.

“Too late,” she said.

“Come on! I was in there for three minutes. Give me a break.”

“You’re parked in front of a bus stop.” She motioned halfway down the block.

“All the way down there?” I protested.

She said nothing.

“You can’t be serious!” I flapped my arms.

“Once I start writing the ticket, I can’t stop.” She handed me the ticket.

“But you didn’t even ask us to move! Why didn’t you ask us to move?” I continued to argue as she walked away.

And that’s when it hit me: arguing was a waste of my time.

Not just in that situation with that police officer. I’m talking about arguing with anyone, anywhere, any time. It’s a guaranteed losing move.

Think about it. You and someone have an opposing view and you argue. You pretend to listen to what she’s saying but what you’re really doing is thinking about the weakness in her argument so you can disprove it. Or perhaps, if she’s debunked a previous point, you’re thinking of new counter-arguments. Or, maybe, you’ve made it personal: it’s not just her argument that’s the problem. It’s her. And everyone who agrees with her.

In some rare cases, you might think the argument has merit. What then? Do you change your mind? Probably not. Instead, you make a mental note that you need to investigate the issue more to uncover the right argument to prove the person wrong.

When I think back to just about every argument I’ve ever participated in — political arguments, religious arguments, arguments with Eleanor or with my children or my parents or my employees, arguments about the news or about a business idea or about an article or a way of doing something — in the end, each person leaves the argument feeling, in many cases more strongly than before, that he or she was right to begin with.

How likely is it that you will change your position in the middle of fighting for it? Or accept someone else’s perspective when they’re trying to hit you over the head with it?

Arguing achieves a predictable outcome: it solidifies each person’s stance. Which, of course, is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve with the argument in the first place. It also wastes time and deteriorates relationships.

There’s only one solution: stop arguing.

Resist the temptation to start an argument in the first place. If you feel strongly about something in the moment, that’s probably a good sign that you need time to think before trying to communicate it.

If someone tries to draw you into an argument? Don’t take the bait. Change the subject or politely let the person know you don’t want to engage in a discussion about it.

And if it’s too late? If you’re in the middle of an argument and realize it’s going nowhere? Then you have no choice but to pull out your surprise weapon. The strongest possible defense, guaranteed to overcome any argument:

Listening.

Simply acknowledge the other and what he’s saying without any intention of refuting his position. If you’re interested, you can ask questions — not to prove him wrong — but to better understand him.

Because listening has the opposite effect of arguing. Arguing closes people down. Listening slows them down. And then it opens them up. When someone feels heard, he relaxes. He feels generous. And he becomes more interested in hearing you.

That’s when you have a shot of doing the impossible: changing that person’s mind. And maybe your own. Because listening, not arguing, is the best way to shift a perspective.

Then, when you want to leave the conversation, say something like,”Thanks for that perspective.” Or “I’ll have to think about that,” and walk away or change the subject.

I’m not saying you should let someone bully you. This weekend I was in a long line and someone cut in front of me. I told him it wasn’t okay and he started yelling, telling me — and the people around me — that he was there all the time, which was clearly not true. I began to argue with him which, of course, proved useless and only escalated the fight.

Eventually a woman in the line simply drew a boundary. She said, “No, it’s not okay to simply walk in here when the rest of us are waiting” and she stepped forward and ignored the bully. We all followed her lead and, eventually, he went to the back of the line. Arguments: 0. Boundaries: 1.

When I went online to pay the parking fine, I tried to dispute the ticket. Before arguing my case though, a screen popped up offering me a deal: pay the penalty with a 25% discount, or argue and, if I lose, pay the entire fine. I thought I had a good case so I argued and, a few weeks later, lost the case.

Next time, I’m taking the deal.

Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs (including the Bregman Leadership Intensive), coaching, and as a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Four Seconds (February 2015). To receive an email when he posts, click here.

How to Manage Conflict

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Last November, Philippe, a 33-year-old French banker, left Paris for a new challenge in London. He thought that a new job in a fast-growing British investment bank would give him valuable international experience and develop some new skills. The bigger salary and bonus were also a draw.

One year on, Philippe has a different view of his move. When I met him last week, he explained that the year had been a disaster and his job was in danger as staff had made formal complaints about his management style. He had found it difficult to adjust to his new role, but he had not realised that his style had created such conflict within his team.

Philippe felt he had been acting appropriately, but his colleagues and team members felt he had been inconsistent, favouring some members of his team and undermining others. His line manager had recommended coaching to help him improve his communication skills, understand the culture and develop his people skills. Philippe had agreed to the coaching but felt aggrieved that the bank had not done more to prepare him for his role with training and a proper induction. The main problem, he said, was the bank’s matrix structure and its focus on profit-making, which encouraged managers to fight for territory and resources rather than building teams and developing people. In short, the bank deliberately created a culture of conflict rather than collaboration.

Of course, both sides have a point. Philippe needs to change, but so does the environment in which he is operating. I am often asked to work with individuals in a conflict situation, but rarely does the organisation ask for feedback on why the conflict occurred and what they might do to prevent it. In truth, little is done at the organisational level to mitigate conflict.

Organisational conflict is emerging as a key workplace issue among the people I coach. They tell me that there is a lack of will and/or skills to deal with conflict and have many theories as to why it occurs and what happens when it takes root. From being an unwelcome distraction, conflict in a team or department can quickly spread, to damage relationships, lower productivity and morale and in extreme cases lead absenteeism, sabotage, litigation and even strikes.

So why are so many people experiencing conflict at work? There are two key factors.

First, the matrix structure adopted by many organisations has resulted in unclear reporting lines, increased competition for resources and attention and general confusion as managers try to develop an appropriate management style.

Second, globalisation has caused change and restructuring so that businesses operate more flexibly. There has been a rapid growth in virtual teams, with people from different backgrounds and cultures working across vast regions and time zones. Email and electronic communication are the most practical ways to connect, but these can be anonymous and lead to misunderstanding.

In addition to matrix management styles and globalisation, there are a number of other sources of conflict, including:

• Different cultures and assumptions
• Differing values, opinions and beliefs
• Lack of sensitivity to race, gender, age, class, education and ability
• Poor people skills, especially communication
• Volatile, fast-changing workplaces
• Limits on resources, physical and psychological

So what are the ways to manage conflict? How can managers ensure that it does not escalate out of control? According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Instrument, there are five key styles for managing conflict:

• Forcing — using your formal authority or power to satisfy your concerns without regard to the other party’s concerns
• Accommodating — allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your own
• Avoiding — not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve it
• Compromising — attempting to resolve the conflict by identifying a solution that is partially satisfactory to both parties but completely satisfactory to neither
• Collaborating — co-operating with the other party to understand their concerns in an effort to find a mutually satisfying solution

Another way to look at conflict is to decide the relative importance of the issue and to consider the extent to which priorities, principles, relationships or values are at stake. Power is also an important issue – how much power do you have relative to the other person?

As a rule, I would suggest collaboration is the way to deal with important issues, although forcing can sometimes be appropriate if time is an issue. For moderately important issues, compromising can lead to quick solutions but it doesn’t satisfy either side, nor does it foster innovation, so collaboration is probably better. Accommodating is the best approach for unimportant issues as it leads to quick resolution without straining the relationship.

And lest we forget, conflict does have a positive side: it can promote collaboration, improve performance, foster creativity and innovation and build deeper relationships. As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, “all the good-to-great companies had a penchant for intense dialogue. Phrases like ‘loud debate’, ‘heated discussions’ and ‘healthy conflict’ peppered the articles and transcripts from all companies.” The more skilled managers become in handling differences and change without creating or getting involved in conflict, the more successful their teams and companies will become.

 

Gill Corkindale is an executive coach and writer based in London, focusing on global management and leadership. She was formerly management editor of the Financial Times.

5 Signs You Might Be A Bully

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town. –  George Carlin

In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t. “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.

“These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this in a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

While good organization is needed and commended in your office and place of business – bullying isn’t.

In trying to understand the rise in workplace bullying Shana Lebowitz wrote a piece in USA Today (http://usat.ly/1fYbxKB) and pointed out that according to a 2011 survey half of the employees said they were treated rudely at least once a week. Many said the experience of bullying had caused them to develop health issues such as anxiety and depression. Some had even left their jobs.

Bullying is a serious concern on many levels. Much has been written about being a victim of bullying, but not enough about or to the bullies. Bullying is an unfortunate issue that leaders must recognize and deal with.

Some people may pass off their bullying behavior with “it’s just my personality” not realizing that the person on the other end sees it quite different. What are some of the common bullying behaviors? What are some of the warning signs to look for? Here are five for your consideration.

You are oblivious to your meanness.

It may not be overtly intentional (although it might) but the words you choose and the way you vocalize them can rub others the wrong way. While you may feel you are only expressing the truth as you understand it, it’s not what you say but how you say it that leaves the lasting impression. Choose your words carefully and verbalize them with discretion.

You are a master manipulator.

You work behind the scenes and attempt to orchestrate things in your favor or desired outcome. It may be to freeze someone else out or get what you want by pitting one person or group against another. This type of behavior drives wedges and destroys trust. The philosophy is driven by a jealousy that says if you can’t get what you want then neither will the other person.

You are a gossip and a busybody.

While you may think you are just keeping up with the latest office news you might want to stop and consider the consequences. There is no virtue in gossiping about others and being up in everyone else’s business. If you can’t be trusted not to interfere with other people’s personal business what gives you the right to believe you can be trusted with company business?

You are a control freak.

Similar in style to the manipulator your objective is not so much about the performance of others as it is control. You are overbearing with expectations and demands and it’s simply a way to throw your weight around. If you are a leader who is displaying this type of behavior you only have a following because of your title and nothing more.

You are two-faced.

This is a common characteristic of a bully. You pretend to be one thing in public but are something else in private. You confide to a colleague in private and cut their legs out from under them in public. The end game is that it’s all about you and people are pawns.

Now that a few bullying behaviors have been identified it’s time for some honest evaluation. Have you in the past or are you now displaying any of the above mentioned behaviors? Do you notice that people tend to avoid you at work? Have you taken stock of how you treat others and look for ways to improve your people skills? Would you consider asking for help in identifying areas that need improvement?

Until you take ownership of a bullying past or present then being a bully will likely be a part of your future. Take steps now to stop it. You have a lot to lose if you don’t and everything to gain if you get it right.

What do you say?

 

© 2013 Doug Dickerson

If you enjoy reading Doug’s leadership insights you will especially enjoy reading his books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted. Visit Doug’s website at www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com to order your copies today!

The upside to workplace conflict (by Victor Lipman)

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Two serious business womenWhile most people dislike and avoid conflict at work, it can also have tangible benefits. I was thinking about this subject lately, as I was being interviewed about “Managing Conflict at Work” for the Matt Townsend radio program – and I was consistently pushing toward the negative in our conversation, as he was consistently pushing toward the positive.

The discussion made me view workplace conflict in a slightly different light, and the more I began to consider it, the more I began to see certain beneficial aspects.

As most everyone who has worked knows, it’s a fertile breeding ground for conflict. Compensation, recognition, feelings of personal worth, team dynamics… all of these (and conservatively about a thousand more) are subjects that easily yield conflict. As a manager, I often used to feel: Conflict is the currency of management.

Though conflict is usually at least temporarily unpleasant, it’s by no means all bad; in fact it can also be the pathway to something better. In that spirit, here are four tangible upsides:

You learn not to be a conflict avoider – As a manager, this is a critical skill. There’s so darn much conflict, you can’t do your job effectively without confronting it directly. And there’s a useful carryover to life outside management. How many personal relationships founder on conflict that is unexpressed, ignored or outright destructive? Learning not to avoid conflict but to manage it constructively pays generous dividends – well beyond the business environment.

Dirty laundry gets aired and (at least sometimes) clean – Conflict among individuals and teams force contentious issues into the light of day. Rather than festering below the surface, where subtle grievances and badwill undermine both personal performance and group dynamics, conflict that is openly aired has at least a (fighting) chance of being resolved. Generally a better outcome for all parties than lingering resentment

It can spur innovation – Constructive resolutions of workplace conflict can become a pathway to improvement. A study I recently came across, conducted in 2008 by the organizational development firm CPP, concluded that “increased innovation and higher performance” can be a substantive benefit. This is not completely surprising, as open workplace conflict produces bursts of activity, and increased activity can yield innovative results.

Worst enemies can end up best friends (or at least colleagues who speak to each other) – The best way I can illustrate this is anecdotally. As a manager, I developed what I thought was a reasonably creative tactic: When personal conflicts between two individuals on my teams became too intense, I gave the two of them free lunch passes and forced them to have lunch together. No one else could be present, so all they could do was talk, face to face, and (hopefully) communicate. How did this work out? I only did it a few times (I came upon the idea in the latter stages of my management career), but the results were generally positive. In these situations conflicts were diminished, and the employees involved became civil colleagues if not exactly “bffs.”

Net-net, this is naturally not meant to conclude workplace conflict is mostly positive. It would be naïve not to acknowledge that it’s painful, destructive, disruptive and costly to individuals and organizations. But if we view conflict as an inevitable element of human interaction at work, and we attempt to constructively manage it rather than avoid or eliminate it, that’s a first step to making its considerable energy work for us rather than against us.

You can follow Victor on Twitter for management-related news, tips and articles.

 

Back Stabbing CoWorker

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

It seems that unprofessional adults can be found in every workplace. Sometimes it is so outrageous that it must be deal with instead of just tolerated or ignored.

Imagine you had a coworker that was the type of person that pretended they were the boss’ friend. Your coworker was super nice to the boss when she was around, but the minute her back was turned, your coworker turned into the most negative, anti-boss supporter you’ve ever met. Constant criticism, blatant disrespect and very unprofessional.

What do you do?

Backstabbing is one of the most undesirable traits that anyone can possess. Fortunately, we were given the ability to decipher what is right from wrong and the choice to backstab or not to backstab is an easy one for most of us. But what to do when you just observe it?

To start, do not entertain any conversation that will lead to badmouthing about your boss. Don’t agree, don’t nod your head, don’t mmm mmm, don’t smile. Guilt by association is very real, so you want to make sure that you just don’t tolerate this.

Perhaps you need to walk away in the middle of the sentence, with a clear message that says you will not participate in this conversation at all.

Maybe you need to vocally defend your boss (regardless if you agree or not with what your coworker is saying, it is the right thing to do), by saying something like “I like working with her”  or “I don’t agree at all.”

If you really wanted to show your displeasure, say “Would you say this if she were here right now? Then why are you saying it now? It is unprofessional.”   You can expect that conversation will stop in a hurry. You can also expect that subsequent conversation will be about you too (but at least you are aware of it!).

Running and telling the boss is a tactic I wouldn’t recommend. You could look like a tattletale and take the brunt of the attack as well. Racing to Human Resources would offer the same advice from me.

Deal with the unprofessional coworker. Deal with it quickly, without a smile, and with a very clear message that you will not participate.

A relaxing Saturday on the links with Uncle Ron

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Have you ever been on the receiving end of an angry tirade that made you feel threatened? That’s exactly what happened to me Saturday on the golf course.

Rhonda, Mom & Uncle Ron

I was on a mini-vacation with my mom, golfing on a beautiful Saturday with my Uncle Ron and my cousin, Debbie. My uncle is an average golfer. Some days he plays very well, and other days he isn’t so lucky.

Saturday was one of the best days he has ever had on the golf course; he was hitting the ball for miles. He had a big grin on his face to show his pleasure with his success, too. It was a great day.

Until the 4th hole.

Uncle Ron stepped up to the tee and shot a drive that looked like Bubba Watson had gotten hold of it. Probably the best drive of his life. Perfectly straight, almost on the green (it was a par four).

And, about 50 yards past the group of golfers in front of us.

If you are a golfer, you will recognize immediately what a major gaffe this was. You should never hit up to the golfers in front you, let alone past them. Someone could get seriously hurt with a flying golf ball.

Uncle Ron was 100 per cent at fault and immediately felt terrible for this amazing shot. Terrible for what could have happened. Fortunately he didn’t hit anyone (the shot was well over their heads, fortunately).

One of the people in the group in front of us was very upset by this (and rightfully so). He hopped in his golf cart, and came racing back to us.

When he got to us, before he said anything my Uncle Ron started to apologize. He took full responsibility and was very good about his apology.

But it wasn’t good enough for Mr. Golfer. He screamed and yelled. Uncle Ron said, “I apologize,” about four more times. And then stopped talking; clearly nothing he said was getting through to Mr. Golfer.

Then, Mr. Golfer threatened all of us. He said, “make sure you don’t play

golf here again,” and we understood his meaning to be “or something bad will happen to you.” It was a serious physical threat. I gave my uncle credit, though. Although he clarified, “Are you threatening me?” he didn’t take the bait, and didn’t get into it with Mr. Golfer. Clearly he knew that this would be a recipe for danger.

When we stopped responding, and Mr. Golfer finished screaming, he got in his cart and started to drive away. On his final look at my cousin Debbie, he wagged his finger and told her, “not to be smiling about this!”  In fact, she had a look of “holy cow!” on her face that was not a smile.

What would you have done in this situation?

I am guessing it was very difficult for my uncle not to defend himself, or us, as we were being threatened. It would have been very difficult not to yell back, “I’ve said I’m sorry four times – what else do you want me to do?” I’m sure it was very difficult for him not to take the bait.

But it was the right thing to do. Being threatened is way, way out of line. But the only way to make this guy go away was to stop talking. What would have been accomplished by arguing with him? Potential danger for sure.

Sometimes the right answer is to not respond at all. And many times that is the most difficult thing to do.

Working with a Bully?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

You have enough to worry about at your job, and getting bullied by your coworkers should never be one of them. It is normal to fear retaliation by a workplace bully.  Running away and letting them continue to bully you is not the right approach (but you already know that!).

Write Everything Down

If you’ve been bullied, write down everything that you can about the event. Don’t forget the basics, like what day the event occurred, where it occurred, who was around and what was said.  Please be truthful and objective (black and white). Do not embellish or get emotional. Stick to the facts as best as you can remember them.  Keep in mind that your bully’s supervisor will need this information in order to be able to see a pattern if possible.

If the bully is harassing you via email, text messaging, fax, audit reports, time sheets, memos or by good old snail mail, then smile.  The work has been done for you.  Collect as many of these as you can before you go up the ladder. You can report to your boss, your bully’s boss, Human Resources, your union rep, or whoever you think will be able to best help you immediately..

Don’t Be Alone

Your bully will deny any and all of the accusations brought against him or her.  Expect that. Make it much harder for the bully by never being alone in a room with her. Make sure that someone else is always within earshot that can back you up. A bully is more likely to harass their victims when the victim is alone than even when just one other bystander is nearby.

If you can’t find a human witness, then carry a mechanical witness with you in the form of a cell phone camera or a small tape recorder.  Do a test run with your cell phone inside of a jacket pocket or lying on a table to hear how well voices record. Many cell phones have excellent audio. Carrying a tape recorder is much easier to do in the winter than in the summer, unless your blazer has an inside pocket.

Resist Revenge

This step is hard to do. You will constantly think up things you can say or do to get back at your bully.  Just think them – don’t actually do them. It’s never okay to act on these revenge fantasies, even if the bully really REALLY deserves it. They can easily backfire and cost you your job.

Whenever you do interact with your bully, keep a calm and even tone of voice. Don’t yell and don’t swear that you’ll get even. Don’t even bother to tell them you are documenting all of this. Pretend that you are being watched by the boss. If the bully tries to back you in a corner, move as quickly as possible to anyplace that would have other employees around.

Relax and Talk to Friends

You should not have to spend your off hours worrying about getting bullied again.  Since this is a problem that ís bothering you, you will need to let off some steam. Talk to your friends and loved ones.  They may have tips for you. They may also have been in a similar situation and can sympathize. Better to speak to friends that are not friends at work though.

Bullies try to make their victims feel as if they deserve to be bullied. Spending time with people who value you can not only get you to relax, but can wreck the bully’s plans.

What are you afraid of?

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Emotions are not your friend when they rule your interactions with your difficult person.  You need to be black and white, focused on the facts, calm, cool and collected. You will have no problem dealing with issues that you are not emotional about (because you don’t care), but as soon as you “care” you will have a problem dealing with the situation.

It is in your best interest to NOT respond nor react when you are being ruled by your emotions.

Take time out.  Be sure to arrange a follow up with your difficult person when you can get some perspective, when you can be calm, focused and professional.

You are emotional for a reason.  Are you being ruled by fear? What are you afraid of? If so, figure out what is at the root of that fear, and see what you can do to work around it (are you afraid you’ll lose your job, the boss won’t like you, that you’ll look stupid?). Your fear will probably not be rational. But once you can identify the fear, then you can deal with it.

Your emotions will be easier to handle when there is understanding.

So, what are you afraid of?

After the confrontation

Monday, March 28th, 2011

After the confrontation
‘Pretending’ is a valid way to begin the healing process.

When we think about a confrontation, we think about handling the situation, and we tend not to think any further than that. We assume that once we work up the nerve to confront the other person, everything will return to normal. Unfortunately, that won’t necessarily ever happen, and certainly it won’t happen immediately.

“Karen” and I had a major disagreement professionally and a confrontation to go along with it. We both got very emotional and the situation actually got to the point where mediation was required.

In the years that followed, Karen became very good at avoiding me. She stopped attending events where she knew I would be. While our disagreement was technically over, she was unable to handle the tension that followed and preferred to avoid me altogether.

I can completely relate to her approach, and in fact I have done exactly the same thing recently. I had a confrontation in my personal life that ended up in a win-lose situation. I felt that I had lost; I had not gotten what I had wanted from the situation.

This resulted in residual anger within me which caused me to avoid “John” and his wife “Jennifer” at any events we would both be attending. I backed out of events, I went the long way around rooms, and I even showed up late so I wouldn’t have to chat with them. These dodges worked well for me, and I assumed it was the best way to deal with the situation until my emotion tapered off, taking the tension along with it.

Originally, my confrontation and tension were with John. However, since most people confide in others, creating camps, he naturally confided in his wife. The tension in the relationship was no longer between John and myself; Jennifer was now part of the awkward situation.

Although this happened some time ago, it created a very high level of tension in my life for quite some time. While I practiced avoidance, John and Jennifer were downright dismissive of me. If I was unable to avoid meeting them, they would look the other way, pretend to be speaking to someone else, or look right through me as if I wasn’t there. At one point, we all descended from opposite elevators at the same time, and I felt invisible. Even though I wasn’t ready to breach our relationship gap, I pretended everything was fine and said “Hello,” hoping to start a brief, yet friendly, conversation. They didn’t acknowledge me. Not surprisingly, this caused increased tension and downright anger on my part.

Pretending
Pretence, like avoidance and dismissal, is a way of dealing with interpersonal tension. Although pretending is not easy, it is useful to get your dysfunctional conflict to a place where you can pretend that everything is fine.

That’s where I am with one of my family members. Our disagreement has existed for years. However, once or twice a year, I am in a family situation where we both pretend that we get along. We never speak of the situation that caused our initial tension. We no longer feel the need to force each other to admit she was wrong. We are polite and friendly, and although it is completely superficial, it is the right way for us to handle the tension from our previous confrontation.

Back to Karen
After several years of avoiding me, my professional colleague, Karen, finally attended an event. I didn’t want our fractured relationship to spiral downward any further. Our confrontation was over, and it was time to move on. I found Karen and asked if we could have coffee to talk about things. She agreed. It was a risky move on my part, and I don’t regret it at all. I took the high road. Enough time had passed so that I no longer wanted Karen to avoid me. I needed to pretend initially in the conversation, to at least start the talking. Fortunately, she didn’t dismiss me the way John and Jennifer had.

The next time we have coffee, I am sure we will have the requisite ‘weather’ conversation (pretending) until we can comfortably speak about what happened, agree to no longer avoid, and move on to a new level in our relationship.

Avoidance
Avoidance is procrastination. Tension will not go away if it is forever avoided. You need to get to the point where you can move to ‘pretend’ mode.

Dismissal
Dismissal is continuing to fight. There will be no winners, only scars that last a lifetime and potentially escalate to a higher level of confrontation in the future. With the dismissal I felt from John and Jennifer the tension instantly built again. While I was willing (even if not ready) to ‘pretend’ that all was well, I was angry at the disrespect I felt from them.

I’ve moved back into avoidance mode with John and Jennifer until I feel I can move into pretend mode. Until John and Jennifer are ready to do the same thing, the residual tension will continue to exist and make pretending much harder in the future. Perhaps it will never happen, but since I don’t intend to live with this tension forever, I will continue to put myself on-the-right-track by dealing with this negative emotion.

Pretending is by definition artificial, but it is a valid first step to recovery.

It is never easy to repair relationships. There are times when it isn’t necessary, because you will never encounter that person again. There are other times when you must move yourself into pretend mode as you will consistently encounter this person. Although it is uncomfortable to pretend, at least pretence, unlike avoidance or dismissal, gets you to a place where you can attempt to repair the relationship.

Meetings and your Difficult Person/Bully

Monday, March 14th, 2011

If you are attending a meeting this week, and your difficult person (or bully) is attending, make a point to sit BESIDE her, not across the table from her.

When you position yourself across the table you are placing yourself in a potentially adversarial position.  By putting yourself beside your difficult person you are in a position of equality, not competition.

This way you don’t even have to guess if she is talking about you. You know she isn’t, nor can she (you are much too close)! This will take some of the pressure off you (believe it or not), and hopefully you’ll be able to concentrate on your job more.

I survived

Monday, January 24th, 2011

You will survive

I’ve watched the TLC program I Survived a few times lately. Amazing stories of survival, amazing people in life-threatening situations.

People can survive the most amazing things. As I watch the show, I am amazed at people’s will to survive, their will to overcome, their determination to not let their attacker (whether that be another person, an animal or nature) take them down.

At the end of the show, they always explain how they survived. Sometimes it is their faith, sometimes it is their children and sometimes it is simply in their nature to fight against what is trying to end their life.

How much will do you have to “survive” at work? How much determination, how much perseverance and how much desire do you have to survive the things that get thrown at you professionally?

We’ve all had to deal with difficult people at work. We often work with people we don’t like and sometimes we work with people who don’t like us. Whether it is jealousy, insecurity or personality differences, there are people in the workplace who take the fun out of our jobs.

Statistically, two out of three adults do not like their jobs. We stay in jobs we don’t love because we need the money, we need the benefits or it suits our lifestyle. We sometimes leave jobs we do love because of the people. (Fifty-four million Americans have been bullied at work.)

Sometimes we feel trapped and are unable to leave our job—perhaps due to the economy or other factors. We may be unable to find comparable employment elsewhere.

Very few people feel that if they lost their current job, they would be able to get similar employment at the same salary. Is that you? Do you feel trapped in your current role or company? Are you in a situation in which you feel you need to survive?

So how can you do it? How can you make your will to endure stronger than that of the bully? How can you continue to work in a job where the people make your life miserable? How can you go to work each day where you are treated without respect? How can you survive?

1.     Don’t Give Up. In I Survived, the common element of all the stories is the focus on survival. The people never give up. They refuse to let their circumstances get the better of them.

  • So maybe we need to focus on surviving whatever crisis we are in. Maybe we are keeping the job we don’t love because we need the benefits for right now. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence. It is just for right now. We often tend to look too far into the future and say, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life.” Okay, so let’s not worry about the rest of your life, and say “I can do this for this week,” and so on.

2.     Stay in Control. When you let others control you, you’re writing your own death sentence. You need to continue to make the choices that keep you in control.

  • Each situation in life presents you with choices. You can choose to accept that this is the way things are, you can choose to give up (see #1), you can leave the situation, or you can choose to change the situation.
  • Accepting it means it no longer causes you stress; you emotionally detach yourself from the situation. You stop caring. Once you have disengaged emotionally from the situation, it no longer has control over you. That’s easy to say, but hard to do.
  • You can leave the situation. Leave the job, leave the relationship. It will likely come at a cost to you, but once you have decided that you’re willing to pay the cost, you can be in control. You survived by leaving the job, relationship or situation.
  • You can change the situation. Create a strategy (see #4) wherein you can continue to keep your job and still be in control.

3.     Don’t Become a Victim. Maybe the person has the authority to fire you, to ruin your reputation or to make your life much, much worse than it is now. That doesn’t mean you need to be their victim. Don’t allow your difficult person that much space in your life. Refuse to become their victim. Be aware of what they can or cannot do, but stop yourself from the negativity that becoming a victim perpetuates.

4.     Change the situation. Create a strategy that will allow you to keep your job, keep your sanity and allow you to survive the situation. Plan your actions one day at a time (one hour at a time if appropriate). Let your strategy be your secret weapon to survival.

As I watch I Survived I am riveted to the television, wondering how on earth the person was able to overcome his experiences. I am sure that during his ordeal he also wondered how he was going to survive, but because he wanted to or needed to, he was able to overcome what seemed like insurmountable odds.

I hope you are thinking that this information doesn’t apply to you. I am hoping you will never need to go back into the archives to read about survival strategies.

But if this article is speaking directly to you, keep the faith that in the end, you too will survive.

Keep on-the-right-track with your fight and be a survivor, too.

Manage Your Stress

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Dealing with a difficult person, having an unexpected confrontation or working every day with a bully is going to take it’s toll on you physically.  Your stress levels will soar, and it is important to manage your stress so you can manage your situation.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute:

76% of people being bullied suffer from severe anxiety
71% have their sleep disrupted
71% suffer from lack of concentration
47% suffer from post traumatic stress disorder
39% suffer from clinical depression
32% have panic attacks

Even if it isn’t a bully that you are dealing with, you can see how seriously these types of situations affect your stress.  When your stress is high, your ability to deal with the regular demands of life is compromised.  The simple things often become too much to handle.

Make 2011 the year to get on-the-right-track when dealing with your difficult person/confrontation or bully.  Take care of yourself first before you worry about dealing with the other person.

Surf the internet for stress articles, check out my office advice blog: http://on-the-right-track.com/office-advice-blog/ for ongoing articles, and search this blog for previous postings as well.

Expect to be stressed.  Anticipate it so that you can deal with it as well.

We are having a Stress Strategies & Solutions webinar at 2pm on February 1st.  To sign up for it, email Krysia@on-the-right-track.com and use the code DWDP2011 for a $10 reduction (only $89).

Email + Difficult Person = Trouble!

Monday, December 13th, 2010

“Can you read this over to make sure it sounds okay?”  We’ve done that haven’t we?  Don’t.

If there is tension in a relationship, the desire to turn to email is overwhelming.  i realize that we want a paper trail, we want to avoid our difficult person, and we want to ensure that we are not part of the problem.

The problem is email itself.  You may have written an email that sounds perfect to you, but you aren’t the other person!  If there is a way to read it the wrong way, that is pretty much what is going to happen.

The tension in your relationship is causing the person to read your email with a “tone” of voice that you potentially weren’t intending to put in the message.  They heard it anyway.  It isn’t about right or wrong, it is about perception.  Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

If you can, go over and speak to your difficult person. be prepared and stick to your “script”.  Follow up the meeting with an email summary, but don’t have the conversation on email.

If a live conversation is just too much to expect, then have the conversation over the telephone.  Worst case scenario, call their voice mail and leave the message.

Email is guaranteed to make it worse.

Putting a stop to email bullying

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Don't have confrontations on email

Bullying has been getting a lot of press lately. In a recent Zogby International study, 54 million Americans say they have been attacked by bullies at work. That is an astounding number.

The definition of bullying is activity that is unfair, humiliating, malicious, vindictive and intended to harm the victim. It is persistent, prolonged and it happens over a period of time.

What we’ve seen is a change in the way people are handling confrontation. Many people are uncomfortable with face-to-face confrontation, so email confrontation is increasing astronomically. People are clearly not uncomfortable with email confrontation.

I’ve recently seen several cases of email bullying. I’m willing to bet that the person involved in the email confrontation was not aware that she was being unfair, humiliating, potentially malicious or vindictive. I’m willing to bet that these people thought they were handing the situation clearly and in a businesslike manner.

That was not the case.

To begin with, confrontation should not be handled via email.

I realize that given the choice, it’s easier to have a confrontation via email rather than face-to-face. It gives us the opportunity to choose our words carefully, and to be very clear and unemotional. It also gives us a valuable paper trail so we don’t have to rely on “he said–she said” afterthought.

So I realize that sometimes these tense conversations are held via email. As much as I advise you not to do that, it does sometimes still happen. If so, here’s what not to do: add someone else to the conversation.

If it is a conversation between you and another person, don’t include others; don’t add anyone to the cc: field. Especially don’t add anyone to the bcc: field, (which includes others in the conversation without the receiver being aware of it). If you are having an issue with one person, don’t bring others into it without permission. That is unfair and potentially humiliating.

A client I’ve been coaching was having an email dialogue with a contractor in another time zone. Things got heated and unexpectedly, several VPs and senior directors from my client’s firm were added to the conversation. My client felt ganged up on; he felt that adding his executives to the discussion was unfair to him. It was certainly humiliating and he felt that his contractor was trying to harm his professional reputation.

That is bullying. Would the bully do this again? Potentially, as it probably worked well for him.

The bully in my example would have defended his position by saying that the senior team needed to be brought into the conversation. While that justification might be accurate, shouldn’t the other party be aware, and agree to that? The bully gave my client no choice.

Be careful you’re not bullying someone on email without being aware of it. How would you feel if the situation were reversed? Would you feel that it was unfair, humiliating, malicious, vindictive and intended to hurt you?

If you’ve ever called a co-worker over to read an email to make sure it sounds okay, don’t send it. I guarantee the tone you are hoping it is read in is not the tone that it will be read in. Pick up the phone or go speak to the individual in person, but don’t handle the conversation via email if there is another option.

And if you are being bullied via email, stop the conversation immediately. Pick up the phone. Find a way to speak to the person using any medium other than email. Take control so your bully cannot continue to bully you.

Help Me Rhonda? Where to meet?

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Help Me Rhonda!

I’m finally ready to have a confrontation with my co-worker.  I just can’t take it anymore.  Is there a best place to have this meeting?

Help Me Rhonda!

Help Me Rhonda!

Ready-But-Nervous!

Dear Ready-But-Nervous!

Congratulations and being willing to have the confrontation/conversation.  As you know, most people talk themselves out of the final discussion.

There are a few things to keep in mind when scheduling your meeting:
–    Keep it neutral.  You want to meet where you both can be comfortable (as much as the situation allows anyway).  Your office would put you in the drivers seat, and your co-worker might be intimidated.  If you are comfortable with the idea, meeting in his/her office is not bad. If your Human Resources department is involved, the best place would be to meet in their office.  Neutral is important.
o    What you don’t want to do is meet in the office of a “friend/supervisor” who is attending the meeting to support you either. First of all, should they even be there?
– Keep it private. You also don’t want to meet in a public setting where others can overhear your conversation.  If you work in cubicles, this isn’t the place to have the confrontation.  Neither is the coffee room, lunchroom or washroom.

Be sure to close the door and keep your discussion private.  Don’t forget to give them a chance to respond either!

Good luck; sounds like you are on-the-right-track to solution.

Should You Walk Away?

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Last week Bill O’Reilly paid a visit to the set of The View.  In case you haven’t seen the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25uyFwWPOZg.

Bill had a heated discussion with the ladies and said several very inflammatory comments.  Now lets be clear here, Bill O’Reilly enjoys pushing buttons and was probably well aware that his comments were inappropriate, but any publicity is good publicity for a guy like Bill right?

The View

The View

Both Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar stormed off the set.  They were unable to have an adult, logical discussion with Bill and were very upset by his comments.
Once they left Barbara Walters announced that we should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and walking away.

I completely disagree.

When you are dealing with a difficult person (as Bill O’Reillly was for Whoopie and Joy), and they are not willing to have an adult, logical discussion; why should you stay and keep trying?  Will anything be accomplished?

The ladies were emotional, upset and an adult, fair, logical discussion was not going to happen.  Walking away was smart on their part.

It would have been easy to say something that they would regret.  It would have been easy to call him an unprofessional name.  It would have been easy for them to destroy their own credibility.

It was smart to walk away in this situation.

I agree with Barbara that we “should” be able to have discussions without walking away in theory.  In reality, sometimes walking away is the smartest thing you can do.

Know when to have a discussion, and know when to walk away.

Dealing with Difficult People Fan Page

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Hi,

I just thought I’d send you a quick note to let you know that I’ve just set up a Facebook Fan Page.

And obviously I think you should join.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself why should I join a “Fan Page,” when I’m already buried in Farmville requests?

Well quite simply, Fan Page is not my term. If I had to choose a better one, it would be “Get Useful Information Via Facebook Page.”

Well maybe not that exact phrase – but you get the point.

So here are the benefits to you:

All my informational outlets (blogs, Twitter, Linkedin and newsletters) are automatically routed to Facebook. So whenever something changes or gets updated, you’ll see that change or update in your news feed when you next log in. You’ll also be able to share it with others or comment directly.

It’s really about bringing everything together in a place where most people already have an account, so that you can get valuable insights and information when it is most convenient to you.

So take a second and “Like” me at this link:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dealing-With-Difficult-People/166627780016958

What NOT to say during Confrontation!

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Don’t say it!

I was volunteering at water station a marathon recently.  The station was held on a residential street, so the street was closed off, all traffic diverted and the residents were asked to have their cars off the street no later than 8am.

Don't Swear!

Don't Swear!

At 8:15am a man walked out his front door.  One of other volunteers asked him if the vehicle still on the street was his and could he please remove it.

Clearly this guy was not a morning guy, nor was he in support of the marathon.  He was rude, abusive and stubborn and was not going to be moving his vehicle.

As he went back into the house, one of the volunteers shouted at him “A—hole!”

So wrong!

Regardless of the situation, regardless of who is right or wrong; do not resort to name-calling or profanity.

This is guaranteed to put the situation or relationship at a new level of tension.

I’m pretty sure that several of the volunteers that morning were thinking that exact thought, but that doesn’t make it OK to voice the thought.

Name-calling is never the right answer.  Bite your tongue.  Every time.

Our next webinar is on October 12th on Confrontation Skills

Click here for more information.

Only $99 per dial in line (unlimited attendance)

60 day recording to listen and share with others

To Register:  Email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register Me for Confrontation Skills” in the subject line.  She will send you the dial in information and password along with an invoice.

Silence can be golden

Friday, September 17th, 2010

When someone pushes your buttons, the best thing you can do is let their verbal attack hang in the air.  Say  nothing.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll ignore it forever.  It means that for now, the conversation is over.  You’ll continue the conversation later, when you are calmer and so are they.  Take a look at the confrontation between co-workers Mike and Steve:

Mike:  Steve, that isn’t the correct way to do that.  Here, let me show you how.

Steve:  I’m not listening to you.  You’re an idiot.  I can’t believe they haven’t fired you yet.  You’re constantly messing up and I don’t want your advice!

Mike: (holds extended, silent eye contact with Steve), says nothing, and walks away.

The attack seems to be uncalled for.  Clearly they have challenges together, and clearly Steve is completely out of line.  What will happen if Mike fights back?  More fighting.  Professionally (and personally) a very volatile and dangerous situation will occur.  Picking your battles is a sign of strength.  The next day Mike can approach Steve about this conversation, but now is not the time.

Take the high road in situations such as this one. It will save you from saying something you’ll regret.

Our next webinar on Dealing with Difficult People is Thursday, September 23rd at 2:00pm EDT.

To register, email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register Me for Difficult People” in the subject line.

Only $99 per dial in line – and comes complete with 30 days of free coaching!

What is a bully?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Dear Rhonda:  I’m working with someone I think is a bully.  She is mean (like in the movie Mean Girls), she makes fun of me in front of others, and I feel like crying when she comes my way.  My co-workers tell me it is just a personality clash, but I think it is worse.  What is the difference?

Signed, “Back to Grade Three

Dear “Back to Grade Three

There is a difference between a personality clash and a bully, and it is important to look objectively at the situation to ensure it really is a bully you are dealing with.  Your approach to a bully requires a little more strategy than a simple confrontation.

Statistically 62% of employers ignore signs and complaints of bullying, stating they are personality issues and they don’t want  to get involved (Zogby study).  That number is far too high, so it is important that before you complain to HR or management, that you’ve done your homework as well.  If you are really dealing with a bully, lets be sure we do what we need to do so our company cannot dismiss it.

Personality clashes are communication style differences.  One person will be very direct, one will be passive.  One person is comfortable with confrontation, one is not.  One person likes attention, and one does not.  Personality differences are often frustrating, but they do not fall into the definition of bullying.  It is perfectly normal to have confrontations based on personality differences, and normally the company doesn’t need to get involved. The company does need to get involved with a bully.

A bully is:

What is a bully?

What is a bully?

–       unfair, humiliating, malicious and vindictive

–       someone who intends to harm the victim

–       is persistent, prolonged and happens over a period of time (and escalates)

–       will likely challenge your physical or mental health, safety and well-being

–       has the power to bully, whether that is real, perceived or sanctioned

Clearly it is more than just being different. The intent to harm is the major difference from my perspective.  What does the bully get from bullying you?  What is their payoff?  Are they trying to cause you harm (professionally, emotionally, or even physically)?  Why?

ON THE RIGHT TRACK has recently developed a brand new webinar that will help anyone in your situation deal with the bully at work:

Beat the Bully!  Keep ON THE RIGHT TRACK with strategies to deal with bullying in the workplace. December 9, 2010.  Only $99 per dial in line.  Stay tuned for more details!

To Register: email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register me for Beat the Bully”.  She will send you the webinar details, executive overview and invoice to you at that time.

For More Information, or to bring the workshop to you company:  Call toll free at 1877-213-8608 or email Rhonda@on-the-right-track.com for more information.

Emotions & Anger – Bad Combination!

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Anger and emotional situations are not a good combination.

When your emotions are high, your ability to think straight, your ability to follow a plan of action is in danger.

Recently I was in a personal situation where emotions were high. A difficult person in my life was sitting at the table, and she was unable to keep her emotions in check.  She lashed out in anger at me.  It was hurtful, uncalled for and surprised me.  It also instantly made me angry.

I wanted to deal with the situation right then and there. I wanted to be calm, I wanted to be able to say the right thing, and I wanted to hurt her back.

I also knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do all those things and feel good about it.

I said nothing in response.  I knew enough to keep quiet.  I knew that even if I did figure out the perfect thing to say, that Elizabeth wouldn’t have heard it, it wouldn’t have changed anything, and I might have completely regretted saying what I said.

When emotions are high, take 24 hours to respond.  Take the high road, which is incidentally not very busy.  In those 24 hours it gives you both a chance to cool down, to follow your strategy and to make sure that when you do respond you can feel good about what you do say.  If there are going to be regrets about what was said, it won’t be you.

Just because your difficult person isn’t playing by the rules doesn’t mean we need to stoop to that level too.

You know what they say about fighting pigs? Don’t do it – you both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

Can you keep your mouth shut?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
Christopher

Christopher

Some times the best thing to do is just keep your mouth shut, not to fight back and to take the high road.

Christopher is my 18-year-old son, and he has been working his past four summers at a local golf course. He knows what he is doing, has been doing it well (and training others), and the management at the golf course values Christopher.

Two weeks ago, Sam, an “older” gentleman was hired as a favour to the owner.  When I say older, I mean he is in his 60s.  To Christopher, this is the age of his grandfather and certainly someone worth respecting.

Chris was assigned the task of training Sam.  Unfortunately, Sam immediately tried to make changes; tell Chris that he was doing his job wrong, and basically cause quite a bit of tension in what should be a relaxing work environment.  Sam was very verbal, very negative and not at all respectful to his coworkers.  He felt that as the older person in the workplace, he knew better than the young kids he was working with.

Christopher has been keeping his mouth shut (which is hard for my 18-year-old outspoken son) while Sam has been complaining about Chris to everyone.  I’ve been coaching him to not say anything he will regret, and to take the high road.

Yesterday it all paid off for him.  Sam was blasting Chris in a public area (in front of other staff and customers) just when the wife of the owner walked in.  Needless to say, things are different at work today.

I would have been easy for Chris to give as good as Sam did. It certainly would have felt better.  It might have taken years instead of weeks for Sam’s true colours to show (if at all).  It may have caused Christopher a lot of stress in the interim.

It was still the right thing to do.  Chris can think of what he would have liked to say, but he doesn’t have to regret what he did say.  The other staff could see what Sam was doing, and Chris didn’t need to fight back in front of them.  He looks far more professional than the man three times his age.

Sam will be taken care of.  Christopher has no worries on his job.

Take the high road – do the right thing (even if it is difficult).  Plan your strategy, follow your plan, and be proud of your actions when dealing with your

difficult person.

If you need help with your ability to handle confrontations, then perhaps you should check out our upcoming webinar on Confrontation Skills.

Register with Caroline@on-the-right-track.com today!

Are you venting or solution oriented?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Many times we are more focused on the “Confrontation” than we are the solution.  Do you mistake a confrontation for a vent session?  Do you go into your confrontation (or conversation) with a solution in mind, or are you just trying to vent with your difficult person?

Lets assume the issue is your coworker who is constantly asking you to “cover” for them while they are away from the office.  You’ve done this in the past, but are now uncomfortable with this arrangement and want it to stop. You’ve spoke to your coworker before and told her that you don’t want to continue.  She says OK, but is still disappearing, leaving you to make up excuses or explanations.

You’ve had enough and won’t cover for her anymore as she has pushed you one time to many.  When you approach her to discuss the situation, are you planning on venting on how unprofessional, how unfair she is being to you?  Do you want to explain all the reasons that you shouldn’t be covering for her?  Are you focused on any solution at all?

Instead of venting (although I realize you want to do this), stay focused on the solution – or end result you want.  Tell her that you are uncomfortable (explanation and venting are two different things), and that in the future you will not make excuses, you will simply say you  have no idea where your coworker is.

The solution is where you should be focused, not the venting.  The venting will create more tension, more frustration and no solution.

Keep focused – it will be worth it!

Our next webinar is June 15th on Dealing with Difficult People.

Unlimited attendance (per line) for only $99, and it comes with 30 days of free coaching.

Register on this site, or email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register Me for Difficult People” in the subject line.

Words are permanent

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Words are dangerous.  Words hurt.  Words can leave scars.  Be very careful what you say when dealing with your difficult person.

It is easy to lash back. It is easy to say things that are meant to hurt in the middle of a confrontation, whether it is intentional or not.  When someone pushes our buttons we often strike back verbally without realizing the dangers of pushing back.  It is so tempting to want to hurt the other person the same way they are hurting us.

Don’t.

The best thing you can do is to let a verbal attack hang in the air.  Say nothing at the time.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll ignore it forever.  It means that for now, the conversation is over.

You’ll continue the confrontation/conversation at a later date.  At a date when you are calmer and so are they.

Have a look at a confrontation between co-workers Mike and Steve:

Mike:  Steve, that isn’t the correct way to do that.  Here, let me show you how.

Steve:  I’m not listening to you. You’re an idiot. I can’t believe they haven’t fired you yet.  You’re so stupid and constantly messing up, there is no way I want your advice!

Mike: (Holds extended “silent” eye contact with Steve), says nothing, and walks away.

Can you imagine if you were Mike?  The attack seemed to be uncalled for.  Clearly they have challenges together, and clearly Steve is completely out of line.  What will happen if Mike fights back?  More fighting.  Professionally (and personally) a very volatile and dangerous situation will occur.

Picking your battles is a sign of strength.  The next day Mike can approach Steve about this conversation, but now is not the time.

Try it. It will save you from saying something you regret. Take the high road in situations such as this one.

You need to calm down!

Monday, April 12th, 2010
Calm Down

Calm Down

Doesn’t it drive you around the bend when someone tells you to calm down? That is about the worst thing you could possibly say to a person who has lost their cool. So don’t say it.  Ever.

I can appreciate that sometimes people get out of hand. I can appreciate that in order for us to proceed they are going to need to calm down.  However, telling them to calm down is like throwing grease on the fire – it will just cause a big blow up.

Instead of telling the other person to calm down, perhaps we need to say “I need to take a breather before we continue.  Perhaps we could continue this conversation in 45 minutes.”

I realize that when you are dealing with a client that option is not always available and you must deal with the situation immediately. Continue to speak calmly and with extra care – but don’t tell the other person to calm down!

Keep your own cool, and remind yourself to calm down – but don’t give that advice to an angry and difficult person. It will make matters much worse.  Breathe deeply …. But bite your tongue!

Our next webinar on Confrontation Skills will be May 25th at 2:00pm EDT.  To register, email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register Me for Confrontation Skills” in the subject line.  Only $99 for unlimited attendance (per line) complete with 30 days of free coaching.  You can’t beat that value!

What can we learn from Conan and NBC?

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

obrien-cp-getty-94025389It seems that hardly a day goes by without some type of news about all that is going on with The Tonight Show on NBC.  It amazes me that these are professionals who should know better, but they continue to make some very simple mistakes that come with a lot of consequence.

They both need to learn to SHUT UP!  When you have an argument with someone in your workplace, the worst thing you can do is tell everyone else what happened, who said what, who did what etc.

This seems to be the pattern for both Conan and NBC.  Both are thinking they are getting good press for what they are saying in the public.

Both are wrong.  Sadly, they both look juvenile, and I will have a hard time supporting either in the future.

Learn from the mistakes of others.  When something is going wrong, keep your mouth shut. If you need to discuss what is going on, be very careful about who you chat with (they likely will chat with someone else), and what you say.  Take your frustrations to your family, or someone in HR, but not to a coworker, or coworkers!

If either of them had taken the high road, I would have supported them.  In the workplace, I don’t need to take sides, but it would be hard to support someone who was so obviously childish and unprofessional.

Take my advice and keep the information out of the workplace setting.  You will make the situation far worse. I would rather regret that I didn’t say anything than regret telling everyone everything.

Avoidance

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Morgan is putting in our pool in our Florida vacation home.  He is a great guy, fun to chat with, does fantastic work, but he is very difficult to deal with because he is an avoider.

Morgan hates conflict, so he tells you what he thinks you want to hear, which isn’t always the truth.

Avoider

We’ve been having a major problem with final delivery date of the pool.  It was due weeks ago, and the pool is still not done.  Morgan won’t tell us exactly why (although we clearly see that his time management is the issue); instead he avoids the question.  When asked when we can see a completed pool, he will give me a date (like, “next Tuesday”), but when Tuesday arrives, he says, “Well, maybe Thursday.”

Avoider

He avoids saying the truth because he knows that I will be upset.  He avoids facing the issue because he is uncomfortable with confrontation.  He does everything he can to keep the waters calm, to keep me happy and to avoid talking about the why it is late and when it will be ready.

Initially it was very difficult to get angry with him because he was such a nice guy.  After missing the deadline by weeks, it was easier to be angry.

He doesn’t return phone calls.  He doesn’t tell the truth.  He doesn’t want to deal with the situation, which makes him a very difficult person in my eyes.

Is his behaviour intentional?  Partially.  I think he is deliberately not returning my calls because he doesn’t want to discuss the fact the pool is still not done.  When we see him in person, he changes the subject, dances around the issue, and avoids commitment.  Is that deliberate or innocent?  A bit of both.  He has “learned” to avoid conflict and he does it without realizing he is doing it.

The bad news is that there is no easy fix. I can’t force him to tell me the truth or return my phone calls.  What I can do is be very clear on what I want, without making it seem too confrontational.  I can call him every day, or every hour until he finally returns my call.  I can ask him to promise me it will be done.

But I can’t always win.  I can’t always get the truth, and I’m still not getting my pool delivered on time.

I can choose to never work with him again once the pool is finished though.  In a workplace, that isn’t so easy.  The best you can do is be aware you are dealing with an avoider, and be very clear on expectations.  You’ll still suffer from frustration, and they will still avoid uncomfortable situations and commitments.

Not everything that is faced can be easily changed, but by not facing an issue is guaranteeing that it won’t change.  Better to do something than nothing at all.

Dealing with Negativity

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

I am nonegativityt a negative person by nature and find that negativity seems to knock the wind out of my sails.

There are several approaches to dealing with negativity, and while none of them are easy, they are simple to do without compromising your credibility at work.

I’ll share my favourite approach today.  Try to do this for the next 30 days.  It won’t be easy.

Turn every negative statement they say into a positive one.

Them: “It’s too cold outside”
You: “I love my sweater and I can’t wear it in the summer.  The cold allows me to wear it and I like that”

Them: “This company takes advantage of us all the time”
You: “I’m glad I have a job”

Them: “Bob the Boss is such a jerk don’t you think?”
You: “I’ve heard horror stories, so put into perspective,  I can deal with Bob”

You don’t actually have to believe what you are saying; you just have to say the positive version of what your difficult person is saying.  You may think that Bob the Boss is a jerk too, but if you agree with their negativity, you are actually encouraging them to be negative more often.

You must be 100% consistent with this approach though.  Always take their negativity and make it positive.  This will exhaust you. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

This won’t make them a positive person.  It just makes them take their negativity elsewhere.

That’s OK with me 🙂

Are you dealing with an “Avoider:

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I’m dealing with an avoider. I find it very frustrating.

An avoider is someone who hates confrontation. She would rather a situation sit and fester, than have to sit down and handle the issue with you directly.

In fairness, many of us probably prefer to avoid rather than have a confrontation. I mean, who really likes confrontation? Not me, that’s for sure. However, it is important to deal with some issues instead of avoiding them and having them potentially blow completely out of proportion.

When an issue occurs, you have 24 hours to start to deal with it. It might mean that you say to the other person that you want to talk about it, and you might even arrange a meeting, but you must do something within the first 24 hours to show that you’re willing to deal with the issue.

I called Mary and outlined the situation. I was careful to use “I” language instead of “you” language (so that I didn’t put her on the defensive), I was very aware of my tone of voice and I was well prepared to say what I wanted to say.

When I called Mary, I got her voice mail. My message was concise and outlined what the situation was. I avoided placing blame. I told her I was wanting to speak to her directly so we could reach a mutually acceptable solution. I was professional, clear and upbeat. I asked her to call me back at her convenience.

She sent an email to our office manager, Caroline (thereby avoiding me altogether) asking to be removed from our distribution list and saying that she wanted to avoid further contact with our office.

Not exactly the nice friendly, professional way in which I was hoping we could deal with our misunderstanding.

I called her again and left another voice mail asking if we could talk about things, as I wanted to circumvent any hard feelings. In my voice mail I did mention that I would follow up my call with an email with my proposed solution.

I hate dealing with sensitive issues via email. Email should be used as a confirmation tool, rather than a confrontation tool.

Long story short, I have had no direct contact whatsoever with Mary. She has only responded to Caroline via email, refusing to discuss anything with her or me.

I did everything I could do to deal with the situation professionally, but she has been unwilling to co-operate.

Sometimes you will meet people who are not as professional or courteous—or courageous—as you are. Sometimes you will have to deal with sensitive situations in a manner that makes you uncomfortable.

Remember to always take the high road. I regret nothing that I did in the encounter with Mary. I do regret that her need to avoid discussing the situation meant that there would be residual hard feelings.

When dealing with confrontation here are my simple rules:

–            use “I” language, instead of “you” language;

–            avoid blame, and focus on resolving the situation;

–            be prepared so you are not reacting to the situation, but rather are responding to it;

–            take the professional path (the high road), even in personal confrontations; and

–            know when to walk away.

I’m sorry that a simple misunderstanding has now become a major issue. I have learned that even the “right” approach doesn’t always work, and that you need to be flexible when dealing with confrontation.

I wonder what Mary learned from our encounter.

——

Join us for our next webinar on December 10th for Dealing with Difficult People.

Only $99 unlimited attendance (per dial in line)
2:00pm EST (New York/Toronto time zone) – lasts 60 minutes
30 day no charge coaching for all participants
Executive Overview delivered to all participants.
Recording of session to use at a later date (think of a lunch-and-learn for your team!)

Contact Caroline@on-the-right-track.com about reserving TODAY!

Take the “High Road Less Travelled”

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

It is important to never give in to your desire to lash out, fight back, or hurt your difficult person.  Tempting, but don’t do it.

I would rather regret something I didn’t say than regret something I did say.

This week, be sure that you are the consummate professional.  Be the one to take that high road.  You’ll find that the traffic up there is much lighter than the traffic on the unprofessional road.

Our next session on “Dealing with Difficult People” will be held on December 10th at 2pm EST.  The holiday season is quickly approaching and your company needs to ensure your staff is prepared to handle all the difficult people that climb out of the woodwork!

Only $99 per dial in line.  Great training for a lunch-and-learn session.

Register with Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register Me for Dealing with Difficult People” in the subject line.

Sometimes NOT giving in is right!

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

The guy who cuts our grass is someone I would easily call a difficult person.  He is strongly opinionated.  He is right and anyone who even considers a different opinion is not only wrong, they are stupid.

That type of person is infuriating.  I sometimes feel it is my responsibility to get them to at least acknowledge a different point of view.  This is not smart on my part 🙂

I listened to Alan yesterday.  Actually, I heard what he said, but I refused to be baited by his urge to get into a political discussion with me.  I wanted to get into this conversation; I wanted to get him to listen to what I had to say; I wanted him to see a potentially different, and not necessarily wrong, viewpoint.

I didn’t though, which was completely the right thing to do. I smiled and didn’t say too much. I refused to get baited, I refused to fight back.  Fighting is exactly what Alan wanted me to do.  He wanted to prove how smart he was.  By refusing to argue, I didn’t give him what he wanted.  He was well aware that I didn’t agree with him, but I wouldn’t rise to the bait.

He left the discussion a little frustrated, and I left it incredibly proud of me.

That is hard to do day in and day out when you work with your difficult person.  It is hard not to get baited, it is hard not to give your difficult person the response they are looking for.  Don’t give in to this style of difficult person.  Even if every second time you meet with them that you can hold yourself back it will be worth it.

I was proud of myself for not getting into a no-win argument. I was equally pleased that I had frustrated Alan.  Mature?  Maybe not.  The right thing to do?  Absolutely!

Take a step back

Monday, October 19th, 2009

There is always another perspective, always another way to look at things, always two sides to every story.

Force yourself to try to see the opposite point of view, even if it sounds ridiculous to you.

Whenever Warren, my husband, and I are driving and he starts to complain about the other drivers, I make a point to find some crazy, often silly, viewpoint which would explain why the other person was driving that way.

As much as it drives Warren crazy, it does get my point across, and sometimes calms the situation a bit.

Your difficult person still may be difficult, but taking the time to find another viewpoint is worth your time.  Sometimes it defuses your tension and sometimes it provides a moment of clarity, but taking a step back is always a good idea.

Keep ON THE RIGHT TRACK to dealing with your difficult person this week.

Our next webinar is scheduled for November 10th 2009.  Confrontation Skills is at 2:00pm EST (New York/Toronto time zone), and will last for one hour.  For only $99 you can get learn to confront someone while maintaining your control, confidence and composure.

To register, email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Register Me for Confrontation Skills” in the subject line.  She will send you all the information you need for your office to join our webinar.

Try the “Broken Record” Technique

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

It’s OK to say to your difficult person “This isn’t a good time for me to finish this discussion” instead of getting into a confrontation that you aren’t prepared for.

When you are being railroaded into a confrontation to discuss and issue “here and now” you do not have to agree to their terms. You aren’t being difficult back, you are just taking some control over the circumstances.

Practice the “broken record” technique.

Calmly say “This isn’t a good time for me to finish this discussion” and refuse to baited into having the discussion now – especially when it isn’t a good time for you.

The best part of the broken record technique is that you don’t run out of things to say. You calmly repeat the same thing over and over again. Find a time to continue the discussion that works for both of you.

Good luck, and keep on-the-right-track this week!

Our next webinar in November 10th on Confrontation Skills.

Email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Reserve me for Confrontation Skills” in the subject line today.

1 hour to satisfaction for only $99 (unlimited attendance per line)

Would a little compassion help?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Is your person just difficult, or are they operating in fear mode? We are in a fear-based economy and health crises right now, and people are flat out afraid of the unknown.

What if H1N1 hits my family? What if my investments are worth nothing when I retire? What if Iose my job? What if my health care isn’t as good as I have now?

If you are working in any of those fear-based industries, you are probably dealing with a lot of difficult clients right now. Makes sense doesn’t it? Fear makes people act without thinking.

Empathy and compassion will go a long way. Put yourself in their shoes. They don’t have the information that you have, and they are in panic mode.

Does that help you keep your calm demeanor and not get as riled up about their poor behaviour?

I thought so. The next time one of your clients is demanding, unreasonable, and operating in an unprofessional manner, put yourself in their shoes. It doesn’t change that they are in the wrong, but you’ll be amazed at how your viewpoint changes and you are in a better position to deal with their behaviour.

Keep yourself ON THE RIGHT TRACK to dealing with your difficult person this week.

Our next webinar, Confrontation Skills, is on October 28that 2:00pm EDT.

Sign up at http://dealingwithdifficultpeople.org/register.php today!

A lesson from Serena Williams – keep your cool!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Serena Williams lost it at the US Open last weekend. Her temper got the best of her and she reacted emotionally, inappropriately and unprofessionally.

What gets lost in the story is the calmness with which the line judge held herself.

Had the line judge yelled and threatened back to Williams, then we would have all jumped to Williams’ defense.

How people feel about footfaults being called during high-level matches would be irrelevant if the line judge had fought back. She didn’t, which was the perfect response.  And that response put all the fault on Williams who, alone, will pay for her outburst. (Williams was fined $10,000, the maximum penalty allowed for unsportsmanlike conduct in tennis, not to mention the loss of an important match and the untold damage to her reputation.)

After being called on a footfault during her serve, Williams walked over to the line judge, making a threatening gesture with her racquet and reportedly told her, “If I could, I would take this ****  ball and shove it down your **** throat.”  It is also alleged she threatened to kill the line judge, although Williams vehemently denies it.

Read more and watch a six-minute video of the confrontation at http://tinyurl.com/m2p8ka

If you were the line judge, could you have kept your cool in that situation? Could you have received those comments without fighting back?

It is important to remember that when one person loses it, the other should do the complete opposite, and remain very calm.

Do not interrupt the other person. Imagine if the line judge had angrily responded, ‘Are you threatening me?’ Even though I know that type of retort would have been wrong, I can imagine myself responding that way.

An angry response would have escalated the argument to much higher levels and Williams could have charged that she had been provoked.

Let the other person have her tirade; let her finish. If appropriate, call a time-out by saying something along the lines of, ‘This is not a good time to finish this conversation. Let’s meet again this afternoon’ – then walk away. Do not continue the conversation when tempers are flaring.

The line judge didn’t respond to Williams, but instead quickly got the referee involved.  The line judge kept her cool, even though she felt physically threatened, believing that Williams was threatening her life. That is the calm, cool exterior we want to achieve when we are in a confrontation.

A lot can be learned from this episode. Williams should have done things differently, and I’m certainly hoping she regrets her inability to control her temper.

Learn from the line judge, the referee and even Williams, so you can avoid being the front page news story at your office.

How do you respond to inappropriate statements?

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Congressman Barney Frank (Mass) became a bit of a celebrity this week by answering what many would consider an inappropriate question with an attack back: “Mam, what planet do you spend most of your time on?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYlZiWK2Iy8

While it made for an entertaining news clip, it was not the correct way to handle this lady. He followed it up by saying “Having a conversation with you is like having a conversation with the dining room table, and I have no interest. Again, he blew it. He looks immature, irresponsible and completely unprofessional.

It is tempting to resort to sarcastic low blows, to embarrass or fight back, but in a professional environment, you risk your own reputation and credibility by doing so. If you watch the above clip, he looks like the difficult person at the end of it, and I almost felt sorry for the woman.

Don’t do this regardless of how tempting it is.

Mr. Frank should have taken the “camouflage” technique to deal with this woman. To camouflage means to disguise the question/statement. I describe it as being deliberately naive when responding to it.

What should have happened:

Lady: “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy…

Mr. Frank: “I support this policy because….”

He should have deliberately left out the Nazi comment and continued.

This way the situation would not have escalated the way it did.

If we want to “take the high road” and we want to appear as the professional in any situation, we have to strategize our approach. Refuse to be baited by your difficult person, or difficult situations.

I bet that later that evening Mr. Frank regretted how he handled this woman. I also bet that if he had used the camouflage technique he would have been proud of himself.

Are YOU the problem?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Yesterday, I received an email from Sue that made me chuckle. She realized that she was the difficult person at work.

I laughed and advised Sue not to worry, as we are all someone’s difficult person.

Whoever you have labeled your difficult person has likely labeled you as their difficult person.

Why? Because at the moment, your difficult person is blocking you from getting what you want. You react to their negativity, their laziness … whatever it is they are doing that bothers you. You do everything you can to make them stop this behaviour.

For instance, lets say your difficult person is chronically negative. Every day they complain about something (the weather, the economy, the boss etc). You don’t like this and try to change your difficult person into a more positive person. So, they say “I can’t believe its raining again! I’m going to start building the ark.” You are annoyed that they let the weather bother them, so your response (to be positive) is “I love summer rain. It makes everything so green and lush and everything smells so nice. How can you complain about something so beautiful?” … and you put a big smile on your face.

Your difficult person (because they are chronically negative) labels you as difficult because you constantly disagree with them (they see you as someone who is telling them they are always wrong).

Naturally, they don’t like this behaviour and therefore label you as difficult.

If you don’t want to be difficult, then stop letting their behaviour bother you, and stop getting in their way!

Not so easy is it?

You need to do something different in order to get your needs filled. Don’t fall into the trap that if you are stronger than they are, you will win. You might – and you might not, but either way, you are being difficult.

I assume that you don’t want to be difficult (I certainly don’t), so start evaluating how you are hurting your own efforts and start taking some creative (and different) approaches to getting your difficult person to change.

If you are at the point that you need to have a conversation or a confrontation with your difficult person, you may want to attend our next teleseminar. Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 2:00pm EST is the start time for this one hour session.

$99 – unlimited attendance
Toll free phone number provided
MP3 recording of session for continued learning
30 days email coaching provided to all participants
60 minutes of your time

Email Rhonda@on-the-right-track.com with “Reserve Me for Confrontation Skills” in the subject line.

Can you detach?

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Do you take the actions of your difficult person personally?  Do you think that they sit at home at night and plot how to ruin your next day?  Do you feel that they have it in for you (and are trying to get you fired, look bad or worse)?  Of course you do.

One of the best things that you can do when dealing with your difficult person is to detach from the situation.  You have become emotionally involved and it is affecting your ability to deal with them.

OK, maybe they do have something against you.  Maybe they really are trying to get you fired, and maybe it is about you.  Realistically that rarely happens and it really isn’t about you (perhaps your position, your name, your status), but it doesn’t feel that way, so we take everything personally and get emotionally involved.  Admit it, you have lain awake at night trying to figure out why they do this to you right?

Here’s a few quick tips on how to detach from this situation:

–    Realize that they would behave this way to someone.  Remember – they act this way because there is a payoff for them. There is a reason.  The payoff for their behaviour is such that they will act like this with someone – it just happens to be you

–    Place a barrier between you and your difficult person.  Imagine it is an invisible shield that you put up whenever they enter the room, or whenever their name is brought into conversation.  Protect yourself from taking it personally

–    Watch how they treat others, and realize they do this to others as well (it is not just you)

–    Play a game with yourself.  Predict what their response, or action will be, and if you are correct, offer yourself a reward. For example, every time they speak in a condescending tone to you, you can stop at Dairy Queen.  Once it becomes a game to you, you almost look forward to their bad behaviour as you get a reward

–    Practice ‘letting go’ of your emotional reaction with them

I realize it is all easier than it sounds, but in order for you to deal with your difficult person professionally, respectfully and consistently, you will need to become detached.

Go ahead, practice, and start counting points for your team!

Our next teleseminar on “Confrontation Skills” will be held on August 29th at 2pm EST. Register today at www.DealingWithDifficultPeople.org/webinar/

What are your triggers?

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I admit it; condescension is one of my triggers.  I know that as soon as I “hear” condescension in someone else’s voice, I trigger a response.  That response is typically negative, potentially confrontational, and often unprofessional.

Our difficult people know where our triggers are, and you can be sure that they enjoy pushing them just to get a reaction from us.

Take this week to recognize what pushes your buttons, and what causes a negative reaction from you.  The more you are aware that these are potential danger spots, the more likely you are to avoid reacting negatively when they are pushed.

Pay close attention to your difficult person.  Where are your triggers with them?

The more in control you are, the easier it is to deal with your difficult person.

Wednesday July 29, 2009 at 2pm EST is our next teleseminar on Dealing with Difficult People.  Only $99 for unlimited attendance per line.

Find more details at: www.DealingWithDifficultPeople.org

To register email:  Rhonda@on-the-right-track.com with “Reserve Me for Difficult People” in the subject line.

This is just about you

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Don’t bring others into your confrontations/conversations.  It doesn’t matter that you aren’t the only one who feels this way, or that others agree with you.

Confrontation (and conversations about difficult situations) are between you and your difficult person only.

If you say “Julie feels the same way” then you have guaranteed to derail the conversation to no longer be about the issue, but about that Julie and others feel that way as well.  Your difficult person will become fixated on Julie and others instead of the issue at hand.

Besides, you have potentially created a disaster for Julie as well.

Learn to deal professionally with your difficult person at our next teleseminar on July 29th at 2pm EDT.  Only one hour for $99 which includes unlimited attendance (per line), an executive overview prior to the session, 30 days of no cost coaching, support and advice, a toll free number and a recording of your session.

Sign up today at http://dealingwithdifficultpeople.org/register.php or email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with Register Me in the subject line.

Keep on-the-right-track this week!

Scars last forever

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Forgive; sounds good

Forget; I don’t think I could

They say time heals everything, I’m still waiting.

Those are the lyrics to one of my favourite songs by the Dixie Chicks, and they directly apply to dealing with difficult people.

If you have someone who truly is a diffiult person, and if you have one of those “dreaded” confrontations, there is likely to be some type of scar.  Perhaps it will scare you away from confrontation in the future, perhaps it will make you jump faster when someone crosses the line the next time.  Whatever the result, dealing with difficult people and confrontations will leave it’s mark on you.

Make sure you are prepared before you have your confrontation.  Make sure you are prepared before you say anything.  This means to plan what you are going to say instead of relying on your instinct to say the right thing (that is not likely to happen).  Make an appointment, schedule a time to talk, but avoid saying what is on your mind as it is happening (bite your tongue!).

You may be able to forgive, you may not be able to forget, but it is up to you what you say, how you say it, and when you say it.  Take control so that you can heal from the situation.

If you need to learn exactly what to say, how to say it and when to say it, perhaps you need to attend next weeks teleseminar on Confrontation Skills.

Monday June 22, 2009 @ 2pm EDT (Toronto, NYC time zone)
60 minutes
Executive Overview sent prior to session
MP3 download for continued learning
30 days free coaching to ensure you are on-the-right-track to success!

Only $99 per dial in line (unlimited attendance).

Email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com or go directly to
http://dealingwithdifficultpeople.org/register.php
Looking forward to helping you minimize your scars.

Is there a lot of conflict in your office?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

According to Your Workplace magazine (June 2009) in a study of 5,00 full-time employees in Europe and the Americas found that only 12% of them had received formal training in conflict management.

The three work sectors where frequent conflict is most common is government (42.7%), eduation (41.8%) and not-for-profit (41.3%)

What are you doing to ensure you are part of the solution and not part of the problem?

Are you reading these weekly tips and then not doing anything with them?  When was the last time you actively ensured that you were resolving conflict and not just ignoring it?

Ensure you are ON THE RIGHT TRACK to conflict resolution!  Build your skills by re-reading some of our past tips, have a look in the mirror and truly reflect on what you’ve been doing to fix the problem, and register for our next session!

If you want to ensure that you are helping and not hurting, be sure to attend out next Confrontation Skills teleseminar.

Date:  Monday, June 22, 2009

Time:  2:00 pm EDT (NYC and Toronto time)

Length:  60 minutes

Cost: Only $99 per dial in line (unlimited attendance)

You will receive a toll free phone number and dial in instructions along with an Executive Overview to follow along with.  There will be a Q&A session, as well each attendee will receive 30 days of complimentary consulting to help you deal individually with your difficult person and confrontation skills.  Finally you will receive an MP3 download of the session for continued (and shared) learning.

Email Caroline@on-the-right-track.com with “Reserve Me for Confrontation Skills” in the subject line to register.

What is the difference?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

We typically label anyone that is difficult as a difficult person.  The actual definition of a difficult person is:

Those people who continually and chronically get in your way of you doing your job and living your life effectively (Websters)

Statistically that is only about two percent of the population.  I realize that some days it feels like we meet about a month’s worth of two percent in one shot!

What most of us are actually experiencing is conflict.  According to Websters conflict is:

A state of being that occurs over a prolonged period during which issues are not addressed, thereby adding to dissonance.

Basically it is tension.

It might make it a little easier to decide if you are dealing with conflict/tension or if you are truly dealing with a difficult person.  Sometimes it makes it easier to separate from the problem by diagnosing it correctly.

Truly difficult people are rare, and it is easy to emotionally step back from the problem because it isn’t personal.  They are just like that.

Conflict is personal and we need to realize that we are typically part of the tension that is created.  Do something different to defuse some of the tension.

To defuse you can read through some of the past tips below, or you can sign up for either of our upcoming sessions.

June 22nd – 2pm EDT – Confrontation Skills
July 29 – 2pm EDT – Dealing with Difficult People

Sign up today to ensure you get on-the-right-track!


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