Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘conflict resolution’ Category

Not Fighting Back is Exhausting and Rewarding

In anger management, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, communicating, communicating by phone, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, fight or flight, Gurus, interpersonal skills, professional behavior, Uncategorized on April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

A few years ago, I was challenged by a very difficult client in a fairly visible, corporate position. She would routinely drop the ball on important details and cause mayhem in accomplishing tasks. She bullied and blamed others for problems that she caused. When confronted with a problem (of her making) would say, “Do you know who I am?” (Oh yes, she did!) Anyway, I had to deal with a lot of stress just to ensure that my service to her company was successful, beyond, and in spite of her.

So there I was, someone who touts herself as being an expert in interpersonal effectiveness, and I was failing to build a bridge of trust and rapport with this person, despite all efforts. And after dealing with her for so long, I frankly disliked her so much that it felt too insincere to want to build rapport. Yet, I had to remain professional.

In the midst of all this, she sent me an urgent email to call her ASAP. Taking a deep breath, I called. She then reprimanded me for failing to read the details of one of her emails, berated me for writing back without having done so, and projected onto me her own feelings of being so out-of-control by claiming I was chaotic and acting like a wreck.  Rage boiled and I could feel the sizzle in my brain. I thought I was going to explode and tear her fragile sense of importance into little tiny shreds. (That would have been my old way of coping with someone like this.) But no, I decided to walk-the-walk and model what I teach others to do.

I noticed several things happening as I was holding back my anger and thinking about what to do. First, I know that the act of thinking clearly during high-levels of negative emotions uses more stored glucose than the release of intense emotion. As a result, I found myself getting physically and mentally exhausted. The FIGHT response, my automatic protector, had a full tank of cortisol (stress hormone) at its disposal. My pre-frontal cortex (executive brain) was working really hard to find my way around these feelings and take charge of the conversation. And that was the good news. I had been working to build muscles to think when stressed, and had access to it. I simply used my mantras, “Detach and Breathe” (I wrote an article about the importance of using mantras to manage stress) and, “My feelings are none of her business.” They worked!

Once I got my emotions under control, I used a technique that David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute refers to as “Choose Your Focus.” The idea is to stay out of the DRAMA, PROBLEM and even DETAIL and move up the ladder to where constructive dialog can occur. The areas of focus are on the PLANNING and SOLUTION. So, here’s what the conversation sounded like:

CLIENT: “You need to calm down. If you had read my email you wouldn’t have had to write so many. This is absurd and it cannot continue this way.”

ME: “I think we’re talking about a breakdown in communication, and that’s fixable. So, if I understand correctly, we still need to determine the dates for the training.”

CLIENT: “Yes.”

Once she agreed, I held to the facts, and followed up the conversation with an email. It’s really that simple looking in; you just don’t go down there with the other person. But the effort to keep calm is zapping!  She will never know how much energy I spent keeping myself in a neutral and thinking place.

As challenging as this situation is, I see her as my Guru keeping my skills sharpened. It is so true that “Your Most Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher.”

Calmly yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Responses to Questions about How to Deal with a Bullying Boss

In anger management, arguments, Ask Jackie, asking open-ended questions, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, bullying, Bullying Boss, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, Deal with Bullying Boss, dealing with a male boss, Detach & Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, insecure bosses, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, open-ended questions, people skills, personal power, professional boundaries, remaining calm, Uncategorized on February 6, 2017 at 4:31 pm

The new video in response to questions about the previous video >>>>

The original video, “How to Deal with a Bullying Boss.” >>>>

I received many responses in support of the original, but I also had questions about how I handled the boss from unsatisfied viewers.  Ideally, I would have been able to demonstrate how to change my boss, gain power over the situation, and fix the problem  – but none of these were what I was trying to convey.  Instead, the idea was to empower people to act and think in ways that don’t end up back-firing on them.  This is because we can never control anyone but ourselves.

The goal of the original video was to:

  1. Show how to ask open-ended questions instead of becoming defensive (as in the 1st version of that video).
  2. Use a mantra to try and calm — Detach & Breathe — to clearly and remain in control of my emotions.
  3. Remain friendly towards the boss; to remind him that I’m an ally.
  4. Agree on how to move forward, and in this case, to handle the situation on my own, taking another risk, but deciding it was the only way to proceed.

It’s also important to note that there are many variances in levels of bullying.  This situation was dealing with a bully who is overly sensitive to criticism, fearful for his job, emotionally out of control and in turn victimizes others without giving the benefit of the doubt.  Basically, a pain in the butt!

That being said, there is bullying going on out there that is pure harassment and can cause severe emotional distress to the point of disabling one from managing work and life.  If this is happening to you, please seek legal counsel and professional counseling.

I hope you find these explanations helpful.  Please stay safe out there.

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do Your Co-Workers Like You?

In arguments, avoiding arguments, being different at work, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, career-related problems, communication skills, compassion, conflict resolution, feeling accepted, feeling safe at work, impress, Insults, keep negativity to yourself, Liked by coworkers, professional behavior, professional boundaries, Respect, respect by coworkers, self-worth, Uncategorized, work relationships, work-related problems, work-related stress on January 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Hey, who doesn’t want to be liked? The problem is we can’t be liked by everyone and that’s a hard concept to take in. In fact, some people get so stressed about how much they’re liked that they’ll go out of their way to be part of the group: hanging out after work even if they’d rather be alone; going along with someone else’s idea (even if they think it’s a bad one), and being ingratiating and over-complimentary (while being insincere). It’s all an attempt to feel accepted, included and made to feel a-okay. It’s so understandable.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “People cannot make you feel inferior without your permission.” Think about that. Are you giving away your power to someone else’s judgment of you? True that it’s demoralizing to be ostracized by a colleague with a strong personality or by a team of followers. But, any act that undermines one’s self-worth to fit in is not the route to being liked, anyway.

So, are you actually liked? In truth, people generally think mostly about themselves and gauge others on how safe they are around them. When I say ‘safe’ I mean that the brain is checking every 12 seconds or so to see if we are safe. If you, for whatever reason, are not safe in another person’s mind, you are probably not liked. It may have nothing to do with anything you’ve done to that person, it could be because you are confident and assertive, or are generating more revenue than your colleague, or you’re thinner, or you’re up for a promotion…whatever the trigger is for that person, decides how safe you are. However, if you are not a trigger (meaning, not perceived as a threat) you are probably liked. It’s such a subjective thing. While being liked might feel safe to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are respected, especially if you are going out of your way to be liked!

My advice to you: go for being respected. Respect goes a lot further in helping you, your team and the company. Here’s how to gain respect:

  1. Always be sincere and diplomatic in your honesty. So, instead of saying, “No, I don’t like your idea,” you say, “I like your courage to change the program and think that the idea itself needs more flushing out.”
  2. Don’t get pulled down into others’ fear, anger, or jealousy. Say someone’s trying to undermine you; is talking behind your back and condemning you. Don’t Energize. Rise! Don’t try to mollify or ingratiate yourself. Don’t try to retaliate. Don’t gossip about it. Look within. What about you might be causing this reaction to you? What can you do to improve? What about him/her would create such jealousy or fear? Let your insights help you become stronger. Focus on being the best you. Yes, it’s unfair! But remember that you are being shown how to separate yourself from negativity – you are learning to set boundaries and keep your emotions in check. (Now, this is very different from hearing that a co-worker is upset and doesn’t know how to address you. In this case, you gently work to improve communication and ask that person what you may have done. Sincerely look to patch things up. Be accountable and work to compromise. That action gains respect.)
  3. Avoid being argumentative. State your opinion only after you’ve made sure that others feel heard and validated. You can even agree to a point of their opinion without actually agreeing to something that goes against your beliefs. Instead of “I don’t think we should just hike our fees next year by 35%.” You say, “I can agree that we should initiate a new fee structure; it protects our company. If we do this incrementally, clients will be more apt to go along with it. I hope we can figure this out together.”
  4. See things through others’ eyes. Judgment is being placed upon you, yes. But, you can stay above the negativity by not judging others. People are where they are in their level of conscious understanding and awareness. You be the one with the high awareness and objectivity. When you can free yourself from judging others, you can climb to a place of compassion.

With this compassion, you awaken to the point that you don’t NEED them to like you. You will stop seeking acceptance from people who can only project who they think you are through a lens that is foggy, at best. Instead, you will be liked – and admired – by people who see who you truly are; those who are self-contained, aware and compassionate, and not threatened by your greatness or your differences. The best news is that the more you become the detached, respected professional, the more you will find yourself surrounded by people just like you!

Do your co-workers respect you? That’s the real question and the thing most worthy of your focus.

Respectfully,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Handle Opposing Political Views at Work

In anger management, anxiety, arguments, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, building rapport, bullies at work, business relationships, change, Change the Subject, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, keep negativity to yourself, political beliefs, politics, sharing political views at work, Uncategorized on December 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

You are thrilled that Trump won. Or, you’re horrified. It doesn’t matter; trying to be right and fighting for your beliefs in this extremely divided climate isn’t good for healthy work relations.

Sure, you and a team of co-workers may be in agreement, and you feel relatively secure speaking your mind with them. But, not only is it likely that there’s the one or the few or the many within hearing range of your political conversations; those people may end up causing you and your friends some very undesirable consequences.

What I mean is that most people already don’t handle conflict well in the workplace. I’m talking about the kind of conflict that arises out of a need for power, control and to be right, which plays itself out with things like: how to handle a client, who should lead a project, etc. What’s erupting now is a type of conflict that arouses hate and vitriol, hence what’s happening on our streets. The stakes are extremely high and walls between folks are being fortified. So, the goal here is to not mix political views with business needs. Avoid creating a hostile environment that will make being at work unnecessarily impossible.

So, what do you do if you are hearing political views that you find despicable?

  1. Concentrate on the common ground you have with the person on the work-front. In what ways do you need to cooperate? Focus on the work.
  2. Remind yourself that everyone is coming from their unique experience and has the right to an opinion without being told, “You’re wrong.”
  3. Remember that no matter how factually correct you can prove yourself to be, the office is not the place to persuade people to change their political views.
  4. See yourself as tolerant. Behave with tolerance. This is what a great leader does.
  5. Remove yourself from political conversations that could disturb others. Tell your friends that you don’t want to inadvertently alienate anyone and want to stick with work-related topics.

Whether you’re anticipating that great things will unfold or are scared to death by what is happening, remember that we are truly all in this together and are all going through change. At the least, you can play your part in keeping your workplace a safe place.

Wishing us all the best,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Stop a Binge-Talker On the Spot

In anxiety, asking questions, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, Binge-Talkers, Binge-talking, body language, boring speaker, brain, breakdown in communication, building rapport, business relationships, Change the Subject, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, engagement, gossiping, human relations, improve communication, interpersonal skills, lack of relatedness, listening, manage stress at work, open-ended questions, People Who Talk Too Much, profesional boundaries, saying no, sharing information, stress and worry, work relationships on October 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm

How to Manage Your Personal Power with an Insecure Boss

In aggression, arguments, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, business relationships, career challenges, career path, career-related problems, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, effective communicating, emotional balance, empowerment, gossiping, handling tough boss, insecure bosses, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, person to person dynamics, personal growth, personal power, professional behavior, professional boundaries, professional development, team-player, Uncategorized, women in the workplace, work-related problems, working with a younger boss on September 11, 2016 at 5:42 pm

I have been told many times that I am like a lightening rod; I tend to ignite a riot. Let me say this: I don’t mean to, my energy is like that. It creates reactions in others and it makes people like me difficult in a corporate environment. I think independently, I’m self-motivated and truly out-of-the box in the way I approach things. This can be very rattling for those who adhere closely to “the way things are done here.”

As a coach, having worked to become self-aware and accountable for my actions, I always try to use my lessons for the betterment of others. So, I only share this background about myself because work can be hell for a person like me who reports to an insecure manager. I was a victim and contributor of hell for many years during my twenty-plus-year career in advertising sales, until I made the decision to work with my authentic self in a constructive way. Until then I was clueless about managing this energy of mine.

Now, as a brain-based coach and trainer, and I hear stories like mine from the highest levels of corporate leadership to mid-level and even junior level professionals. If this is your plight, you must first acknowledge that you may be delivering a sting with your beam. Here are a few questions for you. See if you say yes to more than two.

  1. Do you make unilateral decisions when you know your boss should be included?
  2. Do you dismiss his/her ideas?
  3. Does your boss side with your co-workers instead of you?
  4. Is your boss inaccessible unless to criticize you?
  5. Does s/he steal your ideas without acknowledging you?
  6. Are you being blocked from a deserving raise or promotion?
  7. Are you overlooked for invitations to important meetings?

It’s time to stop blaming your boss for being bad, wrong, insecure, etc., and start looking at what you can do to create a positive connection.

Here are some critical dos and don’ts:

  1. Directly acknowledge what your boss does that impresses you – be sincere.
  2. Seek your boss’ opinions on real issues (don’t make things up just to ingratiate yourself) and apply what you receive to your work.
  3. Maintain your composure regardless of your boss’ mood swings.
  4. Show respect for his/her views.
  5. Do not gossip to anyone about your boss. It will come back to you with a vengeance.
  6. Do not attempt to become friends – keep your professional boundaries at all times.
  7. Demonstrate that you are a team-player. Share the glory!
  8. Be your confident self and be humble.

Your authenticity is not at stake when you are aware of how to use your brightness and get along with others. People perceive you by how you make them feel. Bosses are just as vulnerable as any of us – and if you’re a boss you know this to be true.

Lastly, corporate cultures can vary and it’s important to know when you don’t belong. On the other hand, use any tension and adversity you are experiencing to teach you about you. It’ll make your experience valuable beyond the years you spend in any particular job.

 

 

Brightly and happily yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher

In aggression, assertiveness, business relationships, career, communicating, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, gossiping, handling tough boss, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, office politics, passive-aggressive, people skills, professional behavior, professional development, Uncategorized, Winning, working with a younger boss on May 25, 2016 at 1:24 am

The most challenging people are our greatest teachers. We can use our reactions to them to start taking control of ourselves.

You’ve got a challenge in the office — that thorn in your side, or actually, more like a knife in your gut.  You dread every minute you have to interact with this person. You have dreamed about ways to get rid of him or her, coming up with some ominous fantasies that have words in it like, “extermination.”  Or, perhaps there’s such a lack of trust and respect that you believe s/he’s going to attempt to hurt your job or career.

On a day-to-day basis you find yourself snapping, yelling, arguing.  You and your enemy go at it freely. Co-workers are warning you that they’re sick of your complaining, but you’re stuck deep in the mud. When you do find someone else with whom you can commiserate, you share war stories and eat up valuable work time letting off steam behind closed doors.

Maybe you’ve even tried the exact opposite approach– showing too much appreciation, flattering him or her, praising this person to the point where you feel nauseous and certainly disingenuous. And, it’s still not working.

Good news!  You’ve been blessed by having this individual cross your path.  Let me explain.

Recently, an ambitious 20s-something, whom we’ll call Joe, told me about his boss’ executive assistant — a woman in her mid 50s (whom we’ll call Gina).  Joe was beside himself with exhaustion because Gina refused to return his work on time, or if at all, despite the fact that it’s part of her job.  Gina’s attitude is profoundly bitchy and argumentative.  It reduces Joe to arguing, yelling and then finally backing off. Since their boss won’t intervene or help Joe, Joe ends up doing the work himself.  Even worse, despite complaints about Gina by others, the company refuses to let her go or even send her to anger management courses.

Joe, being exhausted and frustrated, realized that he was about to throw away a great job for this co-worker.  Instead, he came to me to learn how to deal with Gina. Here was the process we used to help him realize he was being given a tremendous opportunity to learn from her.

1. Look at yourself through the other person’s eyes.   She is twice his age.  Been with the company for years.  She reports to Joe’s boss and yet is being asked to support Joe, who is of a lower status. This might seem unfair to her and her tenure. She doesn’t care about his success.  She’s tired of helping the young kids with their grunt work who never ask what she thinks.

The exercise of guessing of what might be on her mind opened up Joe’s mind for change. This made him more sympathetic to her. He decided that he was done screaming, fighting and seeing her as his enemy.

2. Analyze the lesson. What did Joe learn?  That Gina was his Guru.  She was the impetus for him to become more self-aware and aware of others. She helped to prepare him for dealing with difficult people in the workplace and it got him to pursue skill development. Gina was Joe’s mirror. The reflection showed him just how bad his behavior could become in the face of an opposing force, and he didn’t like himself for it one bit.

3. Accept what we cannot change. Joe’s plan was to continue seeking Gina’s assistance, as it was his right and her job. If she said no, he would accept it and move on.  Because he was done fighting with her, he was willing to do the work himself without getting into a verbal brawl.  Joe’s self-esteem rose for having the control to accept what he couldn’t change.

Think of your challenging person as your greatest teacher. Whatever negativity he or she is bringing up in you, IS IN YOU to begin with, and is merely having an outlet.  The question is — what about you is being reflected back?

If you’ve become someone you can’t respect as a result of someone else’s behavior, you are being given a golden opportunity to grow, without ever trying to win or change the other person.  We can only ever control what we say and do anyway, so might as well use the situation to teach us how to detach enough to control ourselves.

These ‘difficult’ people are catalysts for our transformation. They may initially bring us to our proverbial knees, but we can choose to get back on our feet.  Thank these “villians” my friends, they are our greatest allies.

Enjoy the lesson!

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Asking the Right Question: Closed-Ended or Open-Ended?

In asking questions, closed-ended questions, communicating, communication, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, delegating, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, effective communicating, employee engagement, engagement, How to Win Friends and Influence People, human relations, human relations principles, improve communication, interpersonal skills, interview questions, interviewing skills, managing conflict, negativity at work, negotiating, open-ended questions, person to person dynamics, professional behavior, professional development, sharing information, yes or no on November 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm

As busy professionals we try to save time by asking others quick questions.  Yes or No. In and Out. Move on.  Well, unfortunately, this sometimes backfires and shuts down a healthy conversation or the sharing of very important information, and can create negative reactions from others.

As an example, I have to let my clients tell me what they need, rather than assume.  Here’s a sample:

Wrong way:

Me: “Would you like to learn a better way of communicating?”

You: “No, thanks for asking.”

Right way:

Me: “In what ways would you like to improve your communication?”

You: “Well, I’d like to be able to get people to open up; to get them more engaged.”

Me: “Thank you for sharing.  Can you give me an example of what has happened in the past that makes this important to you?”

This is the difference between asking closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.  So many people fall into the pit of non-responsiveness by asking a question that will yield a yes or no answer, when in fact, by asking an open-ended question it can provoke thinking, participation and engagement.

There are times when a closed-ended question makes sense:

Are you hungry?

Are you ready to talk about your raise? 

Would you like to work from home one day a week?

Do you think we got the business?

The difference is this: when professionals are looking to deepen the context of a conversation, learn more from customers or colleagues; share ideas, motivate others, discover the sources of problems, it’s a good idea to know how to engage through open-ended questioning.

This is especially so when in conflict.  We use this tool to remain calm and composed.

Closed-ended:

You: “Do you want to talk this out?”

Other: “NO!”

Open-ended:

You: “Help me understand how you came to that conclusion.  What did I say that, in your words, seems unfair?”

Other: “You gave Ellen more time to explain her point of view than you gave me.”

You: “Ah,  I wasn’t aware, thank you for telling me. Okay, what did I not give you the opportunity to share?  It’s important to me to hear what you have to say.”

Imagine gently tossing a ball back to the other person, whose turn it is to hit the ball.  Be prepared to give recognition and consideration of the other person’s feelings at the same time.

Closed-Ended:

You: “The client called to say he’s unhappy with the outcome of the project.  Did you hear that too?”

Other:  “Yes, but it wasn’t my fault.”

Open-Ended:

You: “The client called to say he’s unhappy with the outcome of the project.  What do you imagine happened? I know how much time and effort you put into it.”

Other:  “I’m really disappointed.  I’m not sure what went wrong. I felt embarrassed to ask him directly.”

You:  “I can understand.  Let’s see if we can learn more so we can fix this. We have some options. You can call and ask him why he had this reaction and what we can do to fix the problem, or I can jump on the call with you to support you.  Which would you prefer?”

People love options.  When asking open-ended questions also give them some autonomy, as above.

Yes, this questioning technique slows us down and we have so much to do!  From my experience, the clarity and connection make it worth the effort. Practice asking open-ended questions and see what happens! Then you at least have the tool when you think it will produce the right results.

Happy questioning,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bad Performance Review? So? Grow!

In aggression, arguments, bad review, body language, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, career challenges, career coaching, career-related problems, chinese symbol for crisis, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, disagreements, emotional balance, engagement, gossiping, handling tough boss, human relations, interviewing skills, job seeking, lead by example, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, masteries, non-verbal signals, office politics, passive-aggressive, performance review, person to person dynamics, personal development, productivity, professional behavior, professional development, Professional Reputation, promotion, raise, self-image, success, success masteries, transformation on August 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm

There are schools of thought that define the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ as meaning opportunity with danger. Whether this is the literal translation or an invalid assessment, it’s brilliant.  Does a bad performance review feel like a crisis to you?  Do you feel undermined or that your value isn’t being recognized?  Is there an obstacle to a raise/promotion? If you said yes or even maybe, let’s look at your crisis with some objectivity – it’s an opportunity to assess yourself and use the feedback to your advantage. The only real danger is the pain of discovering your own truths.  By deciding that there’s something important for you in the mix, you can increase your skills, reputation, and worth.

I had a recent client (let’s call him Gary) who had just come out of a painfully bad review and was sent to my seminar to develop skills to improve his communication and people skills. Being there was not his choice. His boss kept sending him to one professional development seminar after the other, with the command that he improve his attitude, which was killing his ability to get promoted.  He walked in announcing that my seminar was “bullshit like the others” and I knew I had a hostage.  During a listening skills segment, Gary turned his back to me and I talked to his shoulder blades. His passive-aggressive behavior was very much his downfall; eyes rolled in the audience at his negative body language.

At a break, I asked him to help me understand his reaction.  The picture Gary painted was that despite his incredibly high billings and huge successes, his boss would call him everyday demanding to know what business he was closing.  His eyes bulged as he repeated these daily conversations, in which his response would typically be, “When I close something you’ll be the first to know!”

The route of Gary’s problem was that he perceived his boss’ behavior as a lack of trust in his abilities.  I probed him, “If your boss had dementia, would you be so angry?”  He said, “Of course not.”  I asked, “So, what if I told you that your boss is showing you his disorder – that he is so anxious about revenue that he looks to you to alleviate his fear?  This isn’t about you.”

None of this had ever occurred to Gary.  He had never attempted to understand his manager, and that was the mistake.  When we take things personally we tend to act out in truly destructive ways.  So rarely is anyone else’s behavior about us.  I concluded, “You have been giving your boss a real reason to be concerned about your abilities because you haven’t thought about his issues.” I suggested that he discuss with his boss the best way he can communicate up-to-the minute progress with him. He said, “Well, sounds a bit time consuming, but I can do that.”

We have more control in how things play out at work than we think. However, it entails a sophisticated development of certain skills and the openness to take a hard look at ourselves. First analyze the performance review by its parts. List each area marked for improvement and note the category.  The six categories below are what I call Success Masteries:

  1. Total Communication (Oral, Written, Listening)
    • Are you effective in the oral skills your job requires:  negotiating, persuading, disseminating information clearly, etc.?
    • Are your tendencies to approach communications with optimism or pessimism?
    • Do you take the time to research things for accuracy, such as grammar, facts, etc…
    • When others speak, do you check for clarity or assume to know what you’ve heard?
    • Are you an attentive and even pro-active listener?
  1. Person-to-Person Dynamics
    • Do you have positive, open interactions with managers, direct reports, co-workers and customers?
    • Do you spread good-will or does insecurity cause you to be territorial, aggressive, hostile, manipulative, intimidating?
    • Do you genuinely respect others feelings and perceptions?
  1. Ability To Lead By Example 
    • Do you see and cultivate the potential in others?
    • Do you encourage a supportive, productive environment or do you reject others’ ideas and play one-upsmanship?
    • Do you manage others’ expectations of you?
  1. Emotional Balance 
    • Do you have extreme reactions and inappropriate outbursts?
    • Do you gossip, complain and/or sulk?
    • Do you send out emails with all caps to denounce yelling?
  1. Active Engagement 
    • Are you contributing to an exchange of knowledge, hard-work and creativity or do you insulate yourself to protect your turf?
    • Are you a team-player?
  1. Productivity 
    • Are you delivering what is expected of you against your goals, workload, and responsibilities?
    • Do you dump your work on others?
    • Do you seek too much direction or are you self-directed?
    • Are you open or closed-minded to learning new ways of generating work?

Watch what happens when you decide to review your strengths and limitations against these Success Masteries in combination with the developmental areas documented by your manager.  There’s nothing quite as powerful as accepting how others perceive you and actively making the changes that you and your manager deem important.  If you apply what you learn using this method, you will shift yourself away from the current negativity and powerfully propel yourself onward.

Enthusiastically,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Fish Rots from the Head Down

In ages in the workforce, avoiding arguments, baby boomers, bad boss, career challenges, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, employee engagement, engagement, executives, generation x, generations, generations at work, GenXers, leadership, managing, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, Millenials, people skills, personal development, personal growth, professional behavior, stinkin' thinkin', team-player, work-related problems on May 8, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Phrase of the day: Employee Engagement.  My metaphor: The Fish Rots from the Head Down. If you, a Baby Boomer (1946-1964), at the senior leader to C-level, have stinkin’ thinkin’, the rest of your organization will rot from under you.

Many high-level Baby Boomers think of the younger set of GenXers (born late 70s – early 80s) and Millenials (1982-2000) like this: “These entitled, spoiled kids who graduated with honors think they’re going to be VP right out of the gate!” I had to work my way up the ladder and prove myself, and they have to bite the bullet and do the same.”

Research now tells us of many reasons employees leave their companies.  Some of these include:  a lack of belief in senior leadership, lack of enthusiasm or clarity about the company’s mission and poor communication with direct managers. So leaders cannot risk leading with the mindset of ‘pain leads to gain.’

In fact, GenXers and Millenials don’t appreciate the sentiment. Whether empowered from early on by us, their Baby Boomer parents, or that there is significance to being born at the start of the Age of Aquarius, they are impatient to get to the top, to make a stamp on the world. Why? Because they grew up watching a young generation of talented grads become techie multimillionaires and they have been preparing to make their mark too. We Baby Boomers didn’t have those types of super-hero young, role models. Our role models were ‘The Establishment’. We’d never seen anything like what’s happening in the last two decades. We were ambitious, but we believed we had to work our way up in a linear, long-road haul to the top, as our Veteran parents and bosses (pre-1945) did.

My not-so-humble opinion on the matter: Stop rotting. If you haven’t moved beyond the 1980s work ethic and are holding young employees to these old standards, you are creating dysfunction in your company.

As challenging as this may be, it’s about becoming flexible. Here’s how to stop your head from spoiling the rest of the company:

  1. Encourage employees to spend a small percentage of their time – on your watch – creating projects they feel passionate about. Give them ownership of something meaningful to them, as long as it is in line with your company’s mission. Hey, it could open up possibilities for your business you had never anticipated!
  2. Don’t embarrass young employees for trying to bring new ideas to you. You’ll make them feel important if they feel heard.  This can encourage commitment and loyalty.
  3. Set boundaries, just make sure they are fair to all. Never play favorites.
  4. Keep cultivating your own skills. And although we can never evolve certain parts of the brain, parts that want what’s comfortable, we can build new neural pathways that can open-up our thinking and beliefs to embrace the NOW.
  5. Do what you can to learn about GenXers and Millenials. Understand their socioeconomic, psychological and cultural experiences. Become interested and make their life experiences matter to you.
  6. Be compassionate towards yourself. Everyone talks about managing others through change, but who manages you through this change (at this third quadrant of your career)? Fortunately, or unfortunately, you have to do it. (You can always hire a coach.:))

With Empathy,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.