Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Conflict Management- Dealing with difficult people

Part 1: Aggressive Difficult People

Do any of the following examples sound familiar?

“Michelle, will you come into my office please” ordered her boss Ron.
As Michelle entered the office, Ron closed the door and went into an immediate tirade.
“I told you and everyone else that there was to be no food in the work area!  For some reason, you didn’t think I was serious.  You know we have a problem here with germs; yet you purposely defied my order.  What is wrong with you?  Can’t you do anything right?  You just don’t seem to want to listen to me so I have to write you up.  It’s not my choice, you brought this on yourself! I don’t know how long we can keep you here if you won’t follow the rules!”
Larry screamed to Sheila,
 “What are you—an idiot?  You are so stupid; I don’t know why anyone would want you.  You embarrass me all the time.  My friends come over and think you run my life.  Next time you want to correct me, you do it in private—not in front of everybody.  You are always doing this to me and I’m not going to put up with it anymore.”
Does this sound familiar, or some version of something that has happened to you at work or at home? 
These are examples of a bull. 

The two examples shown above are men; however, women can be just as effective at being a bull.  While researching for this series of articles, I found lots of tips for dealing with difficult people; however, they all gave the same tips for all difficult people.  The problem is dealing with a bull or bully takes different strategies than dealing with other difficult people such as the “Know it all” or “Slippery Pete.”  Yes we have many names for many types of difficult people.

With the help of my research assistant, Shannon, we have identified 9 difficult people (there are many more) and categorized them into three areas:  Aggressive People, Attention Seekers, and Stressed out People.
In the next few blogs we will describe the person using our pet names, and give some tips on how to deal with them.  It takes different strategies for each person.  One size does not fit all.  First, we will discuss the “Bull.”
Examples of the Bull opened this article.  She/he is usually incompetent, devious, deceptive, evasive, manipulative - and cheats.  The Bull wants you to feel shame, embarrassment, guilt, and fear so s/he can control you.  Sometimes you need help to deal with the Bull.  The following are some tips.

·         React differently to the Bull: Be calm and stand up
·         Give the bull time to blow off steam and run out of things to say.
·         Get the Bull to sit down and you sit next to the Bull. Do not put a desk or table between you.
·         Talk for yourself only using “I” statements and observations
·         Avoid a battle; this will only escalate the Bull

If you can not stop the Bull from Bullying, start keeping a journal. The Bull will try to build a power coalition against you and will get others to believe you are the problem.  The Bull will lie and explain every incident away as your fault.  If you keep a journal, you can establish a pattern and the Bull will not be able to explain away a pattern.  Also, a journal will calm you down.
Life is too short, we don’t want to get our feathers ruffled the minute we drive into the parking lot at work or home and see the Bull’s car.  That seems to ruin the day at the get go.  Don’t avoid the Bull, you will suffer and the Bull will find satisfaction with getting to you.  Follow these tips and start to enjoy work and family again.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Help your audience hear what you are saying

 Are you contributing to better listening?

How do we increase the effectiveness of our message and get the listeners to listen better?

Six strategies will help your presentation be dynamic and memorable. All strategies involve analyzing your listeners. Take the time to get to know your audience, then apply the following strategies:

One, make it interesting to that group by personalizing your message for them.

Two, use visual aids to make your talk memorable, interesting, and clear. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Visual aids are especially effective with a group of International listeners.

Three, change your voice tone, pitch, and volume during your presentation. Nothing puts people to sleep faster than a monotone voice or a tired presenter.

Four, use movement when delivering your presentation. Try not to pace, but move around the room and engage the audience.

Five, make eye contact with as many listeners as possible. Give each listener the feeling you are talking to each one personally.

But, that was only five, what about the sixth one, you may be asking right now. Good observation. I have separated the sixth one out because it is the most important.

Six, use REPETITION in your presentation.

There is an old maxim for public speakers: Tell them what you are going to say, tell them, then, tell them what you said. This maxim is so true and so powerful. Many folks resist this because they think it will be insulting the listeners; however, you will never insult the listeners this way.

In fact, they will appreciate this strategy.

Don’t do this in your writing because if the reader doesn’t understand something or “drifts off” while reading, s/he can go back and reread. However, when “drifting off” while listening, the listener cannot go back and re-listen. So it is the responsibility of the speaker to say it again.

So the strategy of repetition has three parts:

Introduction: tell the listeners what you will be speaking about.

Body: tell the listeners your information with clear points all supported by evidence.

Conclusion: tell them what you said with one example to jog their memory back to what you said.

The Pay Off:

It is so important that we understand why listeners do not hear or understand everything we say. With this understanding we can use the six strategies to help them understand our message. We will have more patience and the listeners will be more informed.

What do cows drink?

Are you a good listener?

Have you ever held a department meeting and gave specific instructions for a new procedure and someone raises a hand and asks, “How are we supposed to do the new procedure?”  Have you ever given your class an assignment and said it was due on Thursday, then right after saying so, someone raises a hand and asks, “When is this due?” Can you think of any other dumb questions you get during a meeting because people don’t listen? I am sure you can.

When talking to a group of people, this will always happen. In the next post, I will list six strategies to help with reducing those questions and helping your listeners understand your message more clearly.

Many of the principles discussed here are also applicable to relationships.

Social Science researchers claim that people listen only 25% percent of the time when someone else is talking. Do you agree with this statistic? Upon further examination of this information we understand that many things are going on in our lives. Folks are bored, tired, sick, or are having conflict with family, co-workers, the boss, and/or neighbors. Some are day dreaming, some are worried, and some are hungry. This statistic is starting to make sense, isn’t it?

In a survey conducted by Ron Adler, social scientist and author, he surveyed 4,400 college students in 1999 on their listening during an hour long presentation. Here are his results:

12% were actively listening to everything;

20% were listening most of the time; but, admitted to “zoning out” at times;

20% were worried about something in their lives;

20% were daydreaming;

20% were having erotic thoughts (remember, they are college students),

8% were thinking about what they were going to eat for lunch.

If we take the generally accepted notion that people, on average, listen only 25% of the time to what is being said, and compare this notion to Adler’s study which concludes that only 32% (12% plus 20%) are listening at any given time, then this statistic gains validity.

Now, let’s combine this statistic with another one. It is pretty well documented by the psychology field that when people listen, they can only remember 50% of what they hear immediately after hearing it. Can you think of several reasons for this? The reasons are numerous: rapid thought, stress, defensive listening, waiting for the other to stop talking so we can say what we want to say, pseudo-listening because we are busy, lack of interest, illnesses, medicine, and on and on.

Then, after eight hours, they remember only 25% of what they heard, and it slowly fades away even more after those eight hours.

Do you see the problem here?

If people are listening 25-32% of the time and they only remember, on the average, 50% of what they hear, then we have a real challenge of getting our message across. How do we increase the effectiveness of our message and get the listeners to listen better? We’ll answer that in the next post.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are we working "harder not smarter" when it comes to the job search?

The panic inducing lay off notice!

Everyone dreads the job search.  Often, we would rather stay in a job we hate because at least we know what we have than to experience the uncertainty of looking for a new job, new boss, new way of doing things, and new people.

Suddenly, we get that pink-slip! Once we find ourselves out of work, the panic often sets in.  The uncertainty is overwhelming and when we reason in times of uncertainty and stress, we function with our weakest personality type.  We seem to become someone else.

The first thing most people tend to do (I went straight home and plopped into bed for two days) is get on the Internet and look for jobs at the various job sites. We see this glimmer of hope—there are jobs listed in our field. Then we proceed to painstakingly fill out online resumes, job applications, and other forms.  It takes hours and then we sit back and wait for an answer.  Depending on the job, mostly an answer never comes.  “Why?” We ask ourselves.  “What’s wrong with me?  Why aren’t employers interested in me?  I must be a loser.”

The second thing most people tend to do is to read classified ads in the Sunday newspaper and respond to each interesting ad.  The problem here is that everyone else has already seen this job posting and has also responded. Now you are competing with hundreds of people, not just a few.

This is the extent of most people’s job search and this is where they spend most of their time looking for work.

It pains me to see people limiting themselves to the two worst ways to look for a job.  I saw a report on the NBC Nightly News on March 11, 2009 where a man took a “survival job” as a janitor to help make ends meet at home. He started each day spending over 3 hours searching the Internet and sending out electronic resumes.  He was saddened and depressed that no one responded to his posts.

Does this sound familiar?  Richard Bolles, states in his book, What Color is Your Parachute?, that out of every 100 people looking for a job on the Internet, only 4 will be successful.  Another study done in 2005, says there are over 40,000,000 resumes floating around out there on the Internet.  Richard Bolles also claims that only 12 out of 100 people will find a job through the classified ad section of the Sunday newspaper.

No wonder that hard working guy on the NBC Nightly News is having a hard time finding a suitable job.

The good news is that there are employers out there looking for you, and they are having a big problem—finding you.  Not all companies are suffering through rough times in this economy, many are growing. Other companies are losing good employees through normal attrition or to competitors looking to lure away the best people they can find in a challenging economy.  These all create new openings. Being out of work, our job is to identify these employers and make it easier for those employers to find you.