Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Keys to Confronting Well – Part II

ConfrontingIn last week’s blog I shared the first five of ten keys to confronting well. Have you had an opportunity to practice those principles in a confrontation? If so, let us know in the comments below!

Confrontation can be a scary proposition, but when you learn to do it well it can be the key to resolving differences and strengthening trust in your relationships.  Here are the last five keys to confronting well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Keys to Confronting Well – Part I

ConfrontingMany people struggle with confronting well. The thought of speaking up, especially during a conflict or uncomfortable situation, can be almost paralyzing. However, the ability to effectively confront tough issues by clearly stating what you think, feel, and want can be one of the most valuable interpersonal skills a person can possess.

This week we will look at the first five of the ten keys to confronting well so you can be prepared for those difficult conversations.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What to Do When a Family Member is Out of Control

AddictionFor some people, family is the greatest source of joy in life. For others, it may be the greatest source of pain. For most, it’s often a combination of the two. In my practice as a psychologist and in my own arenas of life I have known people who were struggling with a family member – child, sibling, parent, etc. – who was out of control. Many of the situations these people face involve a loved one who is struggling with addiction, spending money unwisely, refusing to control their anger or selfishness, or who is living with a mental illness.

The almost universal question is, “What can I do?” Situations and resources vary from family to family, but here are some general principles that may help you when you have to make a decision about what to do.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

“But I Don’t Like Confrontation”

ConfrontationWouldn’t it be nice if everyone always got along and communication was always agreeable? That, of course, is a fantasy that will never happen as long as human beings co-exist on Earth. The reality is that there are times when discussions must take place that involve disagreement or confrontation of a behavior or situation that needs to change, whether you like it or not. You may know someone who enjoys a good argument or seems to relish stirring up discussion about difficult subjects, but that doesn’t describe most people. It is more likely that you would rather run the other direction – and you are not alone!

I would have to say that fear of confrontation is one of the most common issues many of my clients face. It’s not uncommon for people to literally become sick to their stomachs at the thought of having to confront for fear of having it turn into a conflict or facing the possibility of rejection. Consequently, these same people often experience low self-esteem, sub-par relationships and emotional turmoil. They live with constant nagging of unresolved issues, anger and frustration. Resentment often creeps into their relationships, and sometimes the other person doesn’t even realize there is a problem.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How to Respond to Your “Lion”

LionYou’ve probably heard the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” While that traditional wisdom is meant for weather trends, I think we can stretch it to apply to some relationships as well. Do you know anyone who “comes in like a lion” – roaring and ready to devour anyone who gets in their way? Would you like to be able to hold your own when talking with them and possibly calm the situation?

Here are some tips for dealing with “lions” in your life:

Begin with yourself – your attitude, your response. Look past the behavior and see the person as a whole and valuable human being who may be acting out feelings of fear, frustration, anger, hurt or insecurity. Understand that there may be valid reasons for those feelings and try to exercise empathy. This will help you control your response when someone is coming on strong. It’s more natural to retaliate if you feel you’re being attacked, but remaining calm is essential.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ask the Right Questions, Receive Better Answers – Part I

Here’s the scenario: It has just come to your attention that a customer filed a complaint about Mr. Smith, one of your employees. While your gut tells you that the customer may have overreacted a bit, there’s enough information to warrant a meeting with Mr. Smith. You know from past experience that he’s somewhat sensitive to criticism, but you have several legitimate concerns. How can you get the information you need without triggering a negative response from Mr. Smith?

Ask the Right Questions

Here’s another common office dilemma: You are meeting with a vendor who’s behind schedule and over budget on a project. You don’t want to jeopardize the job and you don’t want to burn a bridge with this company. However, you’re not at all satisfied with the way things are going and you need to take some answers back to your VP of Operations. What is your best approach?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Secret to Eliminating Destructive Conflict in the Workplace

When two or more colleagues come to my office, either voluntarily or by referral from their employer, one of the most often identified coaching goal involves learning how to effectively confront problems while eliminating destructive conflict.  There are many reasons for why destructive conflict occurs in the workplace, but there is really only one effective way to consistently decrease it.

Most conflicts start when one person speaks up with a concern or complaint.  Too often, the message is delivered in a harsh, critical fashion which increases the likelihood of a negative or retaliatory reaction.  Very quickly, the emotions of both parties begin to overflow the banks of self-control and good judgment.

In an effort to help coworkers change their destructive pattern of communication I encourage them look at the complaint, no matter how it is delivered, as an expression of emotional hunger.  If your body doesn’t get the food it needs, you will experience physical hunger and your stomach will growl.  When an emotional need is not met, the “growl” usually occurs in the form of a complaint or criticism. So when your coworker whines, gripes, nags or complains it may reflect a need to be emotionally fed and nourished.

But here’s an unfortunate reality: When I ask the colleagues to describe a recent conflict, I often find that once a complaint has been expressed (translation: “I’m hungry.  Please feed me!”) I find that most people ignore the request and begin feeding their own needs instead by defending, blaming, criticizing and explaining.  Often, they will react with a counter-complaint of their own which conveys the message, “My hunger is more important than yours and your needs don’t matter to me.”

You can see now why it’s so easy to become offended and to quickly ascend the emotional escalator.  After all,

Monday, April 29, 2013

Keys to Confronting Well – Part I

Most people fear confrontation. The thought of speaking up – especially during a conflict or uncomfortable situation – can be almost paralyzing. However, the ability to effectively confront tough issues by clearly stating what you think, feel, and want can be one of the most valuable interpersonal skills a person can possess. The ten keys listed below can help prepare you for those difficult conversations.

1. Objectively describe your concern

Stick to the facts only when describing your concern or complaint. If you begin by talking about the other person’s motives or intentions, you’re likely to trigger a defensive or angry reaction.

2. Avoid making it personal

Address the action or behavior without attacking the person with criticism, name calling or blame. Negative personal comments can damage your relationship, even into the future.

3. Keep your comments brief and to the point

Reserve the lectures for the classroom because they never benefit relationships. If your goal is to influence positive behavioral change and resolution, less is more.

4. Resist getting sucked into an argument

If your comments are met with hostility, blame or defensiveness, fight the temptation to argue your position. Instead, state what you believe needs to be said and then end the conversation. Arguing is often destructive and will likely make the situation worse.

5. Avoid getting sidetracked

It’s easy for irrelevant or unrelated issues to sneak into a discussion when confronting a difficult issue. Commit to only addressing one concern or complaint at a time, and it will increase the likelihood of an acceptable outcome.

I will share the last five keys to confronting well in our next blog post.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Respond to Complainers

Ask some folks how they’re doing, and they’ll tell you they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Some will go on and on about their problems. We’ve all met people who complain constantly about physical problems or other things going wrong in their lives. They seem to believe they’re magnets for misfortune. How should you handle it when someone has a habit of complaining to you?

As annoyed as you may feel, try to remember that the grumbling is an expression of pain. Even if it seems unimportant, or if it’s the complainer’s own fault, the pain is real to them. Kindly tell the person how much time you can spend with them, and then do your best to compassionately respond knowing that your words may be the only source of encouragement they receive that day. You might simply say, “I’m so sorry that you are really having a difficult time. Can I do anything for you?”

It can also be helpful to ask the complainer questions such as, “Given the challenges you just described how do you plan to respond or what do you plan to do about it.” Helping the complainer redirect their thoughts toward a solution focused mindset may help them to become more proactive in dealing with their problems and can help you feel less annoyed.

It can also be very appropriate to tell the complainer what you think about their pattern of complaining, especially if you have a close relationship with them. For example, “I really care about how you feel. You do have some very real challenges in your life. Sometimes it is hard for me to listen to you because it seems as though your attention is often drawn to real or potential problems in your life rather than to the