Q. The advice in your column often seems geared to avoid making other people uncomfortable. My job is hard enough without having to walk on eggshells about other people's feelings. Since the tools you teach seem to be tricky to learn and take time, how does it benefit me to help other people feel good about their jobs?
A. The better you can get other people to feel and act around you, the better your own job will be. You are correct that to reduce the amount of suffering and bad decisions in people around us, we have to be responsible to change our habits. The hardest habit to break is the luxury of blaming everyone around us for our problems at work.
As satisfying as it is to bite back on someone upsetting us, the long-term consequence is that other people get even. If you don't enjoy the long-term experience of people seeking revenge on you, then you have to give away the short-lived bliss of telling people off.
For instance, next time a customer, coworker, or boss is angry at you, instead of defending yourself or counterattacking, try taking a deep breath and neutrally repeating back in your own words what they just said. You'll discover that other people have a very hard time staying mad at anyone who so clearly understands their point of view.
Once you've established that you truly get the other's point of view, they will be highly likely to be willing to listen to your ideas. Brilliant defenses and counterattacks will never give you a chance to influence others as much as a simple demonstration of listening skills.
Most of my clients would tell you that in the beginning they felt like aliens when they focused on the long-term result they wanted rather than venting. They would also tell you it took longer than they wanted and it was harder than they thought to change their bad interpersonal habits.
However, when they come in my office delighted that they are no longer at the center of office wars and almost always have the result they want, they tell me it was more than worth the price.
The last word(s)
Q. I was just hired into a job where the last four managers only lasted six months. Should I be worried?
A. Yes. Your first priority should be to find out how each was set up to fail before they started, and then develop a strategy that avoids repeating history. Those who can learn from the mistakes of their predecessors usually avoid the unemployment line.
(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)
(c) 2013 INTERPERSONAL EDGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
Helping others in the office is a way to help yourself
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