Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘managing conflict’ Category

Bully for You; How to Stop Being an Office Bully’s Target

In aggression, assertiveness, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, bullying, business relationships, career, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, handling tough boss, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, NeuroLeadership Group, office politics, passive-aggressive, people skills, professional behavior, professional development, Psychology Today, self-esteem, Uncategorized on October 3, 2017 at 12:55 am

Dear Reader,

Below are insights and tips for dealing with aggressive, ‘bullying’ co-workers. They are intended to give you some management tips for people who act aggressively towards you and might help you in the moment you are being bullied. That being said, before you read this article, know that bullying can range in severity and the tips I provide below are not solutions to being threatened, harassed, and intimidated. If this is your situation,  report this to your management and to your human resources department.  You may need to consult with an attorney who specializes in workplace harassment.  Please use your best judgment and stay safe.

If I may be so bold, unless you wish to be, you are not in your job to be anyone’s “punching bag” or the butt of sadistic maneuvers to undermine you or your work.

If you’ve been spending countless nights worrying about how to deal with your bully, or asking yourself what you did to deserve this creep in your life and are experiencing a downturn in your productivity and/or desire to stay in your job, you may be interested to know that there is actually something you can do that is neither vengeful nor in any way harmful to any party (I know, revenge would feel so sweet!) and in fact can be a nice boost to your self-confidence.

First, let’s take a look at bullying.  According to Psychology Today, “Bullies couldn’t exist without victims, and they don’t pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear….” Does this sound like you?  But, you may ask, “Yeah, but I’ve still done nothing to deserve this.” Psychology today states that, “Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of two-year-olds isn’t handled well.”

Sadly, you are dealing with a person who is emotionally stalled and you are simply playing in the wrong sandbox.

Bullies are not exempt from feeling threatened. In fact, self-esteem and status are directly linked to behaviors that make people react as both threatening and threatened and this type of reaction mainly comes from a perceived loss of status.  David Rock, author of “How the Brain Works,” and “Quiet Leadership” describes that, “Status means we are always positioned in relation to those around us:  literally, where we are in the ‘pecking order.'” Dr. Rock, CEO and co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is a pioneer of brain-based research and its application for creating positive, organizational change. His work has proven that as social beings, we react to social threat as if we are experiencing physical threat; as if our survival is at risk.  He has identified the five core areas that trigger unconscious threat reactions and shows us that through awareness and a mindful approach, that we can shift from threat to what he calls ‘a reward state.’

These five areas are formed into the acronym SCARF:  Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  (Dr. Rock has many published articles that are worth reading on the subject.) But, for the purposes of helping you with your bully, here’s what I think you should know:  you can raise your own perceived status without lowering your bully’s, and in doing so, create a more peaceful dynamic.

1. Align and Engage. Focus on alignment of your bully’s neutral comments. Where can you see his or her point?  Is it in an observation of how a project concluded?  Something easy for you to relate to. By focusing on where you can agree, it will show that you are not threatened, and are comfortable validating this person’s point of view. Part of Dr. Rock’s SCARF model is that relatedness or connecting with another has much to do with both parties feeling safe. Allow yourself to tell your bully that you can agree to something he or she said and why you agree.  (It doesn’t mean you agree in general to this person’s behavior.)  Look for opportunities where you can see his or her point of view. Always be sincere – I am not suggesting you become obsequious as a way to mollify the situation.  When you begin to do this, it may trigger the sensation that you are lowering your own status, but you aren’t.  You are showing how BIG you really are.

2. Keep Your Feelings to Yourself.  There are times when transparency is very important to the health of a good working relationship.  This is not one of those times. Empower yourself with this mindful and silent phrase, “My feelings are none of his/her business.”  This means that if you are feeling panicked and want to cry out in the name of unfairness, stop! Even the slightest comment from someone who’s not a bully (but is playing with status as a high card) can make us feel bullied.  There is a senior member of a team that I’m on who was assigned a huge project (working with a previous employer of mine) and I was not included on the project.  When I suggested that I could offer history and help he said, “No, they only want to work with me.”  I was enraged and felt my status drop with blunt force.  It felt blindingly unfair. I almost told him to…well you know what that is…how unfair this was, blah blah blah.  Instead, I said to myself, Jackie, these feelings are none of his business. I detached immediately, feeling empowered by my self-control. I said, “I’m happy for the team and I know you’ll do a great job.”  He smiled and thanked me.  Most importantly, I took the high road.

3. Get Mindful.  Ask yourself what is it that kicks you in your pants around status, or any of these other social factors.  What kind of conditioning do you have that is still plaguing you?  It’s your job to discover what makes you tick and where you need to grow. Read about it.  Talk with a professional.  Ask for support. Stop blaming the bully and start taking responsibility for how you have patterned yourself as a victim.

4. Become Influential. Imagine feeding a starving child something nutritious.  Act as if you have the power to cultivate the talents of this bully (not by offering feedback or advice; as per Dr. Rock; this could trigger a status alert and backfire!).  I mean to support this person in becoming more productive and create a window for his person to behave in a way that can elevate his or her self-esteem.   For example, congratulate the bully on something well done. Do it publicly. Be specific. Acknowledge what is good.  There’s a chance that this bully is starved for recognition. This is not about ingratiating yourself to get on his or her good side.  It’s to be above the dynamic and lead from strength.

5. Value The Lesson. I’ve written about this very topic before. That Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher!  How do you use this situation to propel yourself forward? What is your strategy from here?  Your life is in your control, having nothing to do with the other person.

6. Do Right.  You are a player in a hierarchical structure that is designed for its own survival, not yours. Fairness is one of the five social factors that Dr. Rock describes and it can kick us in our proverbial pants when we feel things aren’t fair. We’ve all seen it; being passed over for a promotion, receiving less salary for the same work as another, nepotism, lay-offs, closed-door policies, etc.  It’s the inherent dysfunction that ravages every organization where leaders lack self-awareness and actual leadership skills.  So you learn what it is to engage others, to raise the morale, to play fair and to be a good team-leader.  It’s a phenomenal opportunity to leverage your autonomy and create rewarding outcomes for yourself.

I know…none of this is easy.  But as my Popop used to say to the very aggressive, sometimes bullying little ten-year old me, “The first one who yells loses.”  Your bully is losing whether you join in or not.  Just focus on your ability to grow and the rewards will follow.

Always moving towards the rewards,

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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How to Stay Out of an Argument

In arguments, avoiding arguments, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, fight or flight, interpersonal skills, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity at work, negotiating, office politics, opinions, passive-aggressive, personal development, personal growth, stress hormones, tone of voice, Uncategorized, women, women in the workplace, women working on September 22, 2017 at 5:05 pm

“I hear what you’re saying, but…you’re wrong!”  How many times have you used that phrase?  How many arguments have you started as a result? Arguments are unforgiving. You can’t take back what you say. It’s like trying to apologize to the glass you dropped on the floor.  “I’m sorry,” won’t glue the pieces back together.

And why argue over opinions anyway?  They are just concepts; there’s no actual turf (other than the ego) that arguing defends. The threat we feel when we argue kicks off the “fight or flight” mechanism. The body becomes flooded with stress hormones and the thinking part of the brain literally shuts down.

So, if you’ve been getting caught up in opinion wars, you have not been thinking clearly or objectively.

Some helpful tips to help you stay out of an argument:


Stop Trying to Win

Think of others’ opinions as experiences that are connected to emotions. So, when you try to discredit or win, you are essentially saying, “Hey, your experience doesn’t count.” Experiences are valid proof of why people feel the way they do, which is why people can justify their opinions. Let it go.

Never Say “You’re Wrong”

It is not respectful to send someone’s opinion down the garbage shoot. Look for one aspect of the person’s opinion you can agree with:

Clarify what you’ve heard. “You said that dogs are too much work so you don’t like them as pets.”

Agree on a point.  “I can understand that as a busy person, it can be too much to really enjoy the company of a dog.”

Do not insert BUT or HOWEVER.

Add Your Opinion
“I have found a way to balance my schedule so that I can enjoy my freedom and my dog.”

Just the Facts, Please
A great way to prevent getting emotionally charged is to use facts to replace feelings. Instead of, “Dogs are the best creatures in the whole world!” say, “Research suggests that when people have dogs, they live longer, healthier lives.”

And the Final Word Goes To…
Both of you. If you let go of the need to be right and make it your goal to give the other person the latitude, you will create the space to be heard.  This method creates equal footing on the matter, mutual respect and a well-avoided argument.

Peacefully yours,

Jackie

You can also find this article on Womenworking.com.

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.

Entitlement isn’t the Problem You are Having with Millennials

In ages in the workforce, baby boomers, breakdown in communication, business relationships, communication, communications between generations, entitlement, generation x, generations, generations at work, generations in the workforce, GenXers, improve communication, managing conflict, millennials, professional behavior, professionals over 50, respect by coworkers, Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm

You came into the workforce in the 1970s or 80s or 90s. Guess what? The Veteran population (born before 1946) thought you were little know-it-alls just waiting to take their jobs. And you did. There is nothing new about the inconveniences brought about by new generations entering the workforce.

Truly, can we blame Millennials for feeling entitled? Millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit and don’t tend to view corporate life as one big climb up the ladder in a vertical formula. This makes sense: their heroes are themselves Millennials! We didn’t have billionaire, entrepreneurial heroes. (Lee Iacocca wasn’t my hero when I entered the workforce as a secretary in 1982!)

Millennials had more opportunity to learn a wider range of things in college than we even had names for. Millennials do tend to get bored and want to jump ship if they don’t feel challenged. They feel freer to communicate with higher-ups and want to have a voice. They are a loud crowd!

GenXers rose up and flattened out hierarchy, feeling entitled to change reporting structures. This felt like anarchy to Baby Boomers who feel entitled to be respected for their experience and knowledge of how to successfully run a business.

See? Who doesn’t feel entitled to something? What’s wrong here is the fear and bias we are having with the differences in our ages and our cultures. You want to be a role-model for Millennials? Then start remembering what it means to shift your self-image from being a student to becoming a professional. Realize the hardships you had to face and the ways in which humility smacked the feeling of entitlement right out of you. And if this never happened to you, then ask yourself if people would describe you as arrogant and obstinate. Millennials just need time to grow-up; to run up against power threats and failures, and disappoint higher-ups, just like you had to. Meanwhile, stop blaming them for everything that’s making you uncomfortable with the changes that you don’t like.

I coach people of all ages on how to communicate and build interpersonal skills, and the most frequent complaint I hear is dealing with the other generations in the workplace. The answer is really simple. Use the discomfort to learn about your own unconscious biases, the need for confirmation bias (listening for those things you already believe vs. being open to new ideas) and your fears of not being in control. Then, apply TOLERANCE, the desire to UNDERSTAND, to INCLUDE, and to VALUE people who are not replicas of you.

After all, you’re entitled to be at peace.

Humbly 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.

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.

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.

Why are You so Negative? I’ll Tell You Why, and it’s Not Your Fault.

In brain, brain-based, brain-based coach, brain-based coaching, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, cortisol, dealing with a difficult coworker, disagreements, emotional baggage, emotional brain, executive brain, fight, fight or flight, limbic system, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity, negativity at work, neural pathways, neuroscience, Norman Vincent Peale, office politics, passive-aggressive, pre-frontal cortex, problem-solve, profesional boundaries, professional behavior, Professional Reputation, self-defensiveness, self-improvement, stress and worry, stress hormones, work-related problems, work-related stress on June 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Do you find yourself focusing on how disorganized your manager is, or how your colleague can’t run a meeting, or how your team can’t come up with the right idea, or how disgusted you are by your CEO’s poor communication skills?

Well, if you are criticizing just about everyone and everything, guess what?  You have lost perspective, objectivity and healthy, personal boundaries.  In fact, you are unwittingly creating your own hell and it’s keeping your brain from its executive powers to think, problem-solve and be most effective.

In this state, some of us will bully, become passive-aggressive, withdraw, gossip, cry, or beat the hell out of ourselves and eat five chocolate bars to get a kick of serotonin. You get the idea.  When we are unable to cope, we start moving into old-fashioned self-defense. There’s no resolution in this state, only more frustration and pain.

Being in a constant hypercritical mode doesn’t take that much these days, with so much pressure on us to deliver.  But, there’s usually another factor — unclaimed emotional baggage that we’ve carried into the present day.  Here’s why:  our brains will respond with whatever we give them.  As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Dwelling on negative thoughts is like fertilizing weeds.”  The chronic re-injury to the brain from negative thinking literally changes our brains.

These weeds are neural pathways that have been constructed around negative thinking.  Think of highways and how they connect to one another to move traffic along. In the brain, these are called synapses. When fired-up they will stimulate the release of stress hormones, which set the stage for unwanted reactions of the mind and body. In fact, over time we can see how the stress takes a toll on our health: migraines, depression, chronic fatigue, etc. This is why being negative is not your fault; your brain has been bred for it. The good news is, we can get help from our executive (or thinking) brains.

The key is to recognize the symptoms. Are you waking up and going to sleep (if you’re sleeping, that is) with anger, rage, vitriol, depression, etc? If this is the case, even if you’re not openly complaining, your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and attitude are most certainly giving you away.  You’re not hiding from anyone.  So, you’re also negatively impacting your reputation.

Look, this isn’t the moment now to start berating yourself.  It’s the time to take charge of your brain.  The pre-frontal cortex is the thinking brain and can be used to manage the limbic or emotional brain that is controlling your moods. So to get on top of this, it’s important to feed your brain thoughts like, I can’t control other people or outside things so I’m going to accept what is. In other words, I’m going to let it go, surrender, and move on. We have the power to clear out our thoughts about what went wrong during the day and leave room to start with a fresh outlook the next day.  This is the beginning of re-wiring the brain and creating new neural pathways.  The brain has enormous plasticity!

So, take the current work situation and use it wisely.  How is it reinforcing your negative thinking?  Who is triggering you into a self-defensive posture? By examining our current relationships and challenges, we have the opportunity to use our executive brains to keep our histories where they belong — in the past. (This is why I decided to become certified in brain-based coaching; the brain is fascinating, our current experiences are usable, and with focus, we can emerge enlightened.)

Lastly, sleep matters.  The brain cleanses what it has taken in during the day, while we sleep. So, to manage the hamster wheel of obsessive thinking and  make room for a new day, with a fresh start, we need ample sleep.  If not possible nightly, a daily 20 minute nap can do wonders too!

In the end, please don’t blame yourself (or others) for how you feel but do take responsibility for what you do. Go home tonight, leave the challenges of the day behind you, and enjoy your well-deserved rest.  Your brain will love you for it!

Happy thinking,

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 Illusion of Taking Control

In business relationships, character, communicating, connection, control, control freaks, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, empathic listening, fight or flight, human relations, illusion of control, insecure bosses, interpersonal skills, letting go, managing conflict, mindfulness, negativity at work, personality, spiritual growth on June 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Dear Control Freaks,

Here are a few examples that define the term “Control Freak”:

1. You have to be in charge of what’s happening or you lose control of your composure.  It could be as small as how chairs are lined up in a room, to scaring the driver in front of you by riding his tail in the fast lane, to push him over to the middle lane.

2. You must reign in other people or you lose control of your temper.  Don’t like someone’s expression or the fact that he’s not as enthusiastic about your project as you are? Well, how dare he!

3. Everyone should buy into your idea or you fear you will lose control of the outcome.  People are giving you feedback you don’t like or disagree with you so you disregard them and don’t see them as team-players.

4. You don’t like what’s happening and have either a FIGHT or FLIGHT response.  You argue or your bust out. You’ve completely lost control.

5. A lack of certainty of what’s happening makes you lose track of your thinking.  You can’t adequately plan the next steps. You feel overwhelmed to not get on top of things.  This is happening because stress hormone has taken over and wipes the pre-frontal cortex (thinking part of the brain) of rational thought.

6. You are miserable when you aren’t in the driver’s seat.  Literally.  Don’t like the way your husband drives?  He doesn’t signal early enough before turning?  So what do you do? You assign yourself as the family driver.

I say these things with deep empathy. I was a control freak with many aspects of the aforementioned as my symptoms.  The work it takes to LET GO and begin realizing that control is an illusion; that the only thing we ever have control over is our own behavior, is a painful but freeing shift to being mindful.

Sure, parents can control their children:  what they eat, when they go to bed, how much they study or play, but one cannot control a child’s spirit, or a child’s feelings. One cannot control a domestic cat’s nature:  you love it and care for it and provide it with scratching posts and toys, and it will still shred the hell out of your sofa.

Just yesterday, I attended a Spiritual Conference at Teacher’s College and one of the workshops I attended was called, Council Practice: Community, Art of Connection and Empathic Listening.  I had hoped to learn some new ways of facilitating improved listening and people skills through this workshop.  The school defined council as: “…a practice of open heartfelt expression and attentive empathic listening.”

So, I’m sitting in a circle with about 30 other people and within 5 minutes I realized that although with very good intentions on the parts of the facilitators, that this was nothing I would have designed and I was completely turned off by the exposure requested of the participants to play in this arena. The spirituality of this felt contrived to me, and the immediate assumption of this group as a ‘community’ of like-minded individuals didn’t work for me.  There were four rounds of everyone responding to a single question; some were barely audible, some overly emotional and some having no sense of when to stop talking. I sat there wanting to take control  – to break up the room into 3 small groups, to set the rules of play about being audible and concise and to create a better opportunity to get feedback and debrief each step, to ensure value was being transferred.

As an empathic listener by trade, I still only have so much patience.  Being asked to hear 29 other people speak four times = listening to 116 people’s stories, all in 90 minutes, with the idea of being open-hearted to all, was a bit much of an ask of me.  I wanted to yell or flee.  So when the question posed of us was, “What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever given to someone?”, I said, “The gift I’m giving is to me right now. I am sitting here fully awake to the fact that I have no say in the way this workshop is being run, and the reminder that I have no control. I’m glad to use this experience to become better at letting go.” And I meant it.

The “freak” in us just limits our ability to dance with the flow of reality.  By learning that we don’t have to love what’s happening and don’t have to change it is quite freeing.  We can move from having an illusion of needing to exert power to building skills in patience, and allowing ourselves to experience the teachings that life has in store for us.

Mindfully yours,

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.