The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People: It’s About You
July 14th, 2017
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.
Just as you do, others tend to behave better when they feel seen and valued — especially since insecurity is what usually prompts them to act badly in the first place.
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.
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 Facebookand connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project
How to Handle Aggressive Behavior
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:
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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10 More Tips for Effective Conflict Resolution
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.
Follow Joyce Marter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Joyce_Marter