Posts Tagged ‘communicationstrategies’

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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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.

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Continuing from where we left off last week, remember that there is a time to speak and a time to keep our mouths shut. Here are more examples of when it’s best to remain silent:

11. When you are tempted to outright lie. People lie for a variety of reasons: to protect themselves or another person, out of fear of being judged or condemned, to create drama or damage another person’s reputation. Take a moment and reconsider, for those who lie will eventually be revealed and suffer scars upon their character as well as have to face the consequences of their actions. Proverbs 10:21 “The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.”

12. If your words will damage another person’s reputation or cause them any unnecessary hardships. We all have dirt on one another – those little secrets that others think we don’t know about. And we all have things about ourselves we would like to keep private. We have a choice as to whether we share that information with others or allow it to remain confidential. Before revealing anything that could possibly cause anyone any harm, examine your motives. Is this absolutely necessary that I do so or is it in the best interest of all to allow said information to remain concealed?

13. If your words will destroy a relationship, either yours or someone else’s. At times, we’ve all wanted to tell people what we really think about them. In the heat of anger, true feelings are often revealed without thought as to how they will affect either or both parties. Criticisms, complaints, bitterness, jealousy, judgments, and hatred can all destroy relationships. A moment of contemplation before speaking can prevent a landslide of devastation. Even those unkind words we say to ourselves can cause irreparable damage to our self-esteem. Make certain your words always emanate from a place of kindness.

14. When you are tempted to criticize. Constructive criticism is an oxymoron. It does not exist. It is a ploy that disguises a hurtful comment as helpful one. The one criticizing gains a sense of power over the other person, eliciting feels of shame, hurt, remorse, or self-loathing from them. Criticism in its authentic form is demoralizing and cruel. Keep in mind, too, that one must first live in a spotless house before condemning another’s. I recommend offering constructive suggestions to bring forth positive change.

15. If you can’t speak without yelling. Humans somehow believe that in order to gain someone’s attention or cooperation they must raise their voices to an extreme decibel level. “The louder I speak the more they’ll hear me.” Like the sound of loud construction equipment, people at excessively loud noises and take measures to protect their ears from damage. People either tune out shouting or, like me, physically remove themselves from the source. Take a deep breath before speaking and keep the volume at a reasonable level.

16. When it’s time to listen. Isaiah 50:4 “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” We are commanded to listen to and obey the Word of God. Keep in mind that God created two ears and only one mouth – for a reason! We are meant to listen twice as much as we speak. But listening involves more than just the ears: we must also be willing to listen with our hearts so that we may feel what the other is saying.

17. If you may have to offer an apology afterwards. Carpenters have a rule of thumb: measure twice, cut once. There is much wisdom in this ethic as one wastes less time and material by taking careful measures to make an accurate cut the first time. We would be wise to apply this knowledge to our words as well: think twice, speak once. Too often, we are careless in our choice of words and in retrospect realize they were not the best choice. In these cases, it becomes necessary to offer an apology for any insensitive comments we made. As powerful as an expression of remorse it, it cannot undo the damage our words causes. Like a board that was incorrectly cut, the carpenter can glue it back together but the blemish remains forever.

18. If you have already said it more than once. I have learned that people will either hear you or not. They will chose to understand you or not. Regardless of how often you repeat yourself, some people are simply not interested in what you have to say or they may not be capable of understanding it. You may offer a bit of clarity if the other person is unclear on what you meant. But to keep repeating the same thing over and over is called nagging. People turn a deaf ear to badgering.

19. When you are tempted to support, agree with, encourage, or condone a person’s bad behaviors. Would you ever advise your children to use drugs or drink and drive? Of course not. Any good parents would always encourage their children to make smart choices. Those who are believers in God teach them to live a morally righteous life, to follow God’s Commandments, to always be kind and honest. How, then can I support or condone immoral behavior from others? To tell my coworker to get even with a colleague who betrayed them is reprehensible on my part. To hope a criminal gets the death penalty for the heinous crime they committed violates Divine Law. Unless I can be the voice of reason, the bearer of virtuous behavior, I need to remain silent rather than give morally wrong advice. Ephesians 4:29 ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

20. When you are supposed to be working instead. There’s an interesting passage in the Bible in Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit but mere talk leads only to poverty.” I have always had difficulty talking and working at the same time. I am unable to put my full concentration on the task at hand. In that regard, I would often make careless errors or costly mistakes. One needs to put their full mental concentration on the task before them in order to put forth their best work. Idle chatter is distracting and counter-productive.

21. When you’re fighting a losing battle. When disputes arise, we often feel compelled to continue to try and convince the other party that we’re right and they’re wrong. Unless we are dealing with facts, Truth, or issues of morality, differences are not necessarily an indication of being right or wrong. They are simply disagreements, each party seeing things from a different perspective. If you find yourself trying to prove your “rightness”, let it go. This type of behavior is all ego based: one needs to prove themselves superior over another.

22. When what you are about to say will only make matters worse. If someone has made an error or is feeling poorly about themselves, we have the option of being a light in the darkness for them, helping them to see the goodness in who they are, or contributing to their already low self-image. If your son doesn’t make the football team because he’s overweight and out of shape, offer some assistance in helping him to improve so he can try again next year or try out for a sport more suitable for him. Make certain that your words are always encouraging and uplifting.
Proverbs 21:23: “Whosoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from trouble.”

23. When you talk just to fill up the silence or to hear yourself talk. People are often uncomfortable in the silence. They feel compelled to offer a distraction by filling the space with words. However, as an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, idle chatter can be just as dangerous. Rambling can lead to all sorts of foolish statements, irreverent comments, offensive observations, rude humor, and so on. Additionally, when we are busy chattering we are not listening – to the other party or to God. Silence truly is golden for it is in the stillness that one hears the Word of God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, o let your words be few.”

Conversation is highly overrated. There is both intelligence and beauty in silence. Listen to the stillness. Know when it’s best not to say anything at all.
Q: “Life isn’t a competition. It’s a cooperation. Until we are willing to stop fighting to prove our superiority and gain dominance over others and join together to uplift one another, we will never establish world peace.”

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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