Posts Tagged ‘communication’

GOOD L~U~C DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE

Last week, I spoke before a group of business professionals about dealing with difficult people. It seems that no matter where we are in life, whether at home with our families, in social settings, at work, or just out and about, we encounter challenging and obnoxious people. The first issue we must identify, however, is who the insufferable person is. Look in the mirror. Is the reflection one that others would label demanding, obstinate, stubborn, unmanageable or irritable? While it is not always easy to recognize our own imperfections, it is absolutely critical that we do so first. For if in fact, we are the one who is creating the difficulty, then a simple adjustment on our part can alleviate the problem and enable greater ease and cooperation with others. Remember Ghandi’s words: “I must first be the change I want to see in others.” If you are uncertain as to whether or not the issue is you, ask others for their assessment and input. Then listen open-mindedly to their response.

Having established that you are indeed the thoughtful and cooperative person, you realize that you seem to be a magnet for problematic people. Argumentative, stubborn, demanding, arrogant – whatever the nature of their behaviors – sometimes we are obliged to interact with them and do not have the option of disengaging. In such cases, is there a way we can collaborate with them that will make matters easier for all parties? Absolutely. It just takes a bit of Good L~U~C.

1. Listen. Very often, those who test our limits do so because they feel unimportant and are seeking recognition. Every human being desires to be heard, to have someone willing to listen to what they have to say. Whether it’s an opinion, feelings, sharing a dream or goal, discussing a regret from the past, or any other matter, genuine, undivided, from-the-heart listening sends a powerful message to the other party that they matter.

Time is one of our greatest commodities; it is one of the ways we measure what matters most to us. We make time for the people and activities that hold the greatest importance to us. Taking precious time away from a task, another person or even ourselves in order to hear what someone has to say lets them know that in that instant nothing matters more to us than they do. Being heard validates their worth. (Time is money; time is valuable. Therefore, if I give you my time it’s because you are important to me.) This simple act has unlimited benefits to all parties. It can boost a person’s self-esteem, bond both parties long after the experience is complete, offer an opportunity to practice selfless giving and concern, fosters mutual respect, alleviates stress, depression, anger, frustration, loneliness, feelings of isolation, and more. It hones our communication skills, promotes compassion and empathy, builds healthy relationships, and overall makes both parties feel good.
Listen with the intent to understand, not to respond.

2. Understand. In addition to being heard, all humans crave being understood. Listening to learn the facts about a person or issues is a far cry from fully understanding the nature of the matter or how it impacts the other party. Too often, we only listen half-heartedly. Our minds are divided between the person speaking and another interest. We hear their words and may understand intellectually what they are saying. But true understanding goes far beyond that – it also involves empathy, the ability to feel what the other person is experiencing.

In my “15 Minute Conflict Resolution Solution” training that I provide to corporations, I spend a significant amount of time on communication strategies. One of the most profound is something I call “Heart/Brain Communication”. It goes beyond the intellectual understanding of facts and figures and introduces the element of compassion, the ability to feel the feelings of the speaker along with a strong desire to alleviate any suffering they may be experiencing. This brings communication and understanding to a much deeper more personal level. This is what all of us seek.

Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying: understanding facts is critically important as well. So often, when people discuss an issue there is clearly a lack of knowing the specifics of what is being said. Misunderstandings, miscommunication, being vague or ambiguous leads to frustration, increased levels of stress, arguing, possible accusations and false judgments, aggravation, yelling, hurt feelings, and ultimately a breakdown in the relationship. Each of these elements leads to a distrust based not on a person’s deceitfulness but on a lack of clear communication masquerading as dishonesty or lies. Listen to understand on a factual level as well as an emotional one.

3. Cooperate and Compromise. When a lack of trust is not forthcoming in a relationship, whether warranted or imagined, people oftentimes become stubborn, arrogant, or difficult as a means of self-protection. Whether protecting their integrity, their feelings, needs, desires or wishes, their opinions or actions, people do so when they don’t feel safe in the other person’s company. By that I mean, they must know unequivocally and believe fully that they will not be ridiculed or criticized, that their well-being is of great importance to the other one, and that they will not be cheated or betrayed but rather treated fairly and with respect. Once a trust is established, they will naturally become more relaxed and cooperative.

One of the easiest and quickest ways of building trust is by being accommodating from the get go. Search for ways of working with them in a supportive role. Offer to be helpful whenever possible. Be willing to peacefully and respectfully negotiate whatever issue is before you agreeing to make whatever adjustments are possible in order to accommodate their needs and desires. Express your concern for their happiness and well-being verbally and follow through in your actions. Remember, too, that trust is built on integrity and promises kept. One indiscretion or broken promise can completely destroy that trust and it can take a long time to rebuild.

Compromise is another important component of cooperation. Again, people can be difficult due to latent fears they harbor that dictate they will not be treated fairly, that somehow their needs will be considered less important than others or hold no value at all. Making sure that their needs are addressed and fulfilled early on alleviates their concerns and the need to resist or to be defensive. “It is in giving that you shall receive.” Give a little upfront and you will receive their respect, trust, and support in return.

Depending on the nature of the relationship and the issues at hand, on some occasions it is perfectly acceptable to simply walk away from the difficult party and let things work themselves out. In other circumstances one must address the individual and find a way of getting along as best as possible. Don’t necessarily take the easy way out but know when it’s best to stay and when it’s best to walk away.

Remember, “The only way to defeat your adversary is by making him your ally. And you can do so with a little Good L~U~C: Listen, Understand, Cooperate and Compromise.” So Good L~U~C to all of you!

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ANGRY? GET OVER IT!

Today my husband and I had our fifth fight. Not bad for a twenty year marriage but regardless, for an anger management professional such as myself, I didn’t handle it very well. Actually, fight is not an accurate description as it was more like a huff, that is we got annoyed at each other. Let me explain: I asked Mac to show me how to use the power washer so that I could prep the tool shed to be painted. I had mentioned several times that this was a priority chore for me this year. The day prior, I told him that I wanted to get started this weekend. So this morning, I requested that he show me how to use the machine to which he become annoyed. “It hasn’t been used in three years,” he snapped. “I don’t even know if it works!” I made a critical mistake by taking personal offense to the way he spoke to me and responded with my own anger. “You and I are never on the same page! I try to do as much heavy work around here to make it easier on you. And you can’t even make sure the tools I need are working properly. I’m done!” I stated emphatically. “You can do it yourself!” With that, I turned and walked out of the room. He got in his car and drove off in a bad mood.

Mac in no way deserved to be on the receiving end of my ire. For certain, an apology was in order. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge so I can let go of my own anger quickly. But I also needed to do some immediate damage control as well. While he was gone, I reassessed the situation. What was really going on? Both of us are under constant pressure from our jobs, taking care of our home, dogs, and family. Stress lessens one’s ability to be patient and rational. Relatively insignificant issues can be blown out of proportion and simple requests can be seen as being demanding, threatening, offensive, or irrational. Under less stressful conditions, neither of us would have responded with such disrespect towards each other. Having said that, we both feel added pressure on the weekends to accomplish an abnormal number of chores, denying ourselves any respite from our demanding workday responsibilities.

Anger is the outward expression of either hurt, fear, or frustration (the three root causes). For certain, I was feeling frustrated. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my “to do” list and I feel as though I (and my husband) keep falling further and further behind. Secondly, I allowed myself to be hurt by his (mildly) rude behavior which in truth had absolutely nothing at all to do with me. I fully understand that he was merely expressing his frustration as well. Upon closer examination, there were also elements of fear that surfaced. I’m concerned (a mild form of fear) that we will not have all of the larger tasks completed on our home once we are ready to sell it.

So how did I get over my anger? By considering the following 10 questions:

1. Did this situation warrant my anger or was I over reacting? In this case, I completely over reacted. This issue was relatively minor and I was reacting to my own frustration rather than my husband’s response.
2. Was I being fair and reasonable to my husband? Absolutely not! It was highly insensitive of me to think that he should immediately take action on my request. Initially I thought I had given him enough forewarning but in retrospect I realized that based on his personality, I had not.
3. Were my expectations of him, his needs, and his reaction realistic? Again, absolutely no. I know him well enough to know that he needs time to process and plan anything I request of him. He has his own day scheduled and when I interfere with that he feels pressured and minimized (that my needs take precedent over his).
4. Was the intensity and duration of my anger justified for this specific incident? Intensity? No. Duration? I’ll give myself a pass on that since it literally lasted less than five minutes. But again, the issue at hand was not a matter of great urgency as proven by the fact that I had plenty of other work to occupy my time. And I will eventually get the shed taken care of.
5. Did I fail to see his perspective and consider it equally as valid as my own? In the heat of the moment, yes, I failed to recognize where he was coming from and respect his position as much as my own.
6. What needs of mine were not being met? (Unmet needs will trigger anger.) I needed his help and reassurance that he would take care of his responsibility in a reasonable period of time (which at that moment, for me, was immediately).My fear was that I was being blown off and what I wanted to do was not important to him and would be put at the bottom of his “to do” list, thereby possibly never getting done.
7. What needs of his did I fail to provide? He definitely needs his space on the weekend to take care of his personal errands and chores without interference or pressure from me. He also needs to be asked questions (“Is there a chance we could get to this today?”) rather than demanded (“I need you to get the power washer working now.”), regardless of how polite I think I am being.
8. How can each of our needs be fulfilled? What is my role in doing so? I need to be more sensitive to what matters to him. By giving him enough notice and asking if he is able to assist me (I tend to take it for granted since he’s so talented), I can alleviate putting any unnecessary pressure on him. I can also reach out to others for assistance when necessary or for instructions so that I may rely more on my own abilities. If possible, there is always the option of hiring someone to do what we don’t have time to do on our own.
9. If changes are not immediately forthcoming, can I accept that the situation will remain status quo for now? Can I find some sort of internal resolution with my circumstances? Of course. I am actually quite good at doing so and have in many situations before. If the situation is temporary, I can call upon my patience to get me through while keeping myself occupied with other important projects.
10. If the situation is permanent, can I find internal resolution as well? Absolutely! Much in my life has not complied with my preferences and I have been perfectly fine. Understanding that life is not always meant to follow my dictates and that there are important lessons to be learned in such circumstances enables me to grow on many levels, put the event into its proper perspective, and ultimately be at peace with my current situation.

While it may seem that this technique took a significant amount of time to process and resolve, in truth it took a matter of minutes for me to re examine what transpired and let go of being angry. I felt a sense of remorse for the way I treated my husband and immediately reached out to offer him the apology he rightfully deserved. For him, an expression of remorse enables him to more easily heal his own anger, forgive me, and allow us to move back into a place of being happy and loving towards one another. It was well worth the investment of a little time and effort.

Note: for those of you who are questioning, “What about his role in all of this?”, my response is this: it’s none of my business. I need only concern myself with my own issues and actions. That is where my personal power lies and where true change occurs. What he does is irrelevant. All that really matters is how I handle myself.

“Unresolved anger leads to bitterness, resentment, self-pity and misery. Letting it go invites joy and peace to enter your heart again.”

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

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TEN TIPS TO DIFFUSE A VOLATILE SITUATION

We are living in a very volatile and dangerous age. Not only have issues of domestic violence, child and animal abuse, anger in the workplace and so on been more apparent, but we are definitely witnessing a rise of violence within our communities. Gangs and individual assaults seem to be taking a back seat to protests by militant groups claiming to seek justice but who in actuality are promoting and engaging in acts of violence themselves. What could be a peaceful gathering intent on seeking a reasonable solution to a problem escalates to one of violence and often bloodshed. Angry and passionate individuals determined to right an injustice only create further mayhem by advocating and engaging in the very acts they condemn.
But is it possible for large masses of angry individuals to successfully , reasonable, and peacefully find solutions to perceived issues of extreme injustice? Yes, if both sides follow these ten recommended tips:

1. Approach other party(s) in a non hostile non aggressive way. By taking a non threatening approach the other party feels relatively confident that they are not at risk physically or otherwise and therefore the need for a defensive response is unnecessary.
2. Be open minded and fair in the way you present your grievances. Refrain from using such phrases as “you always”, “we never” “it can’t”. In each case, one assumes a scenario that is not necessarily true, appears extreme and unrealistic, and creates a mindset of preconceived defeat.
3. Be respectful in the way you speak to and treat one another. Passion need not translate into disrespectful or degrading conduct towards the disagreeing party. Always be mindful that the amount of cooperation you receive from the other party is in direct proportion to the amount of respect you afford them. So be generous.
4. Deal with facts, not simply feelings. Too often we rant about how angry or hurt or offended we are. Dealing with facts enables us to more accurately see the true nature of the incident. Adding feelings to the dialogue lends a deeper level of understanding as to how the incident is impacting both sides.
5. Keep everything in the proper perspective. Exaggerating may add an element of drama but is only effective on stage. Deal with the serious issues and leave those of lesser importance for another time.
6. Remove any extraneous issues; stick to the original topic. When discussing a serious issue, refrain from going off on tangents. It’s easy to become distracted by related issues but only takes precious resources away from the primary one.
7. Refrain from any inflammatory or accusatory statements. Quickly diffuse any that may occur. Accusations, blame, assumptions, and exaggerations can all incite. There are those who will deliberately try to provoke the other into losing control. Be aware of the intent and nature of every comment and quickly diffuse anything that can escalate to something more serious. Don’t ever take the bait.
8. Listen objectively with the intent to understand the other person, to gain deeper insight into the nature of the conflict, and to extract any possible solutions or partial solutions offered by the other party.
9. Be willing to compromise, recognizing that each side believes their position is valid and correct.
10. Show appreciation for the time and effort the other side has put forth. A little appreciation goes a long way and can enable both sides to reach a peaceful resolution more efficiently and quickly.

With true concern for the well-being of each other and a sincere desire to resolve the issue peacefully, anyone can find a reasonable solution to any challenge by following the above Ten Tips. It can be challenging but with practice and determination and a sincere regard for justice, one can realize the path to coexisting harmoniously with others. And we certainly are all deserving of that.

Let me reiterate: “The amount of cooperation you receive from the other party is in direct proportion to the amount of respect you afford them.” Be generous.

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf
Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @ http://ow.ly/OADJK
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