While I was in college, I worked during the summers as a whitewater guide running the rapids in Grand Canyon, Arizona. One of the first things that you learn as a guide is to follow the current of the river downstream.
Many years ago, I was assigned a business coach as part of my professional development plan. At first I didn’t really think that I needed a coach to help me grow and develop in my career aspirations. Then one day when things were not going particularly well, she asked me, “If you could paint a picture for me of how you are feeling at this moment, how would it look?”
During the holidays, my youngest children rigged a booby trap in our Christmas tree, so if Santa Claus touched the tree a little bell would sound the alarm. I was really quite amazed at their ingenuity in an attempt to catch the old elf delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. The entire situation made me reflect on the importance of the alarms that are present in our lives. These alarms act as a warning that we are moving or steering off course.
Everyone is challenged at some time or another during the holiday season with spending time with family members or friends who seemingly lack any sense of decorum or civility. That’s why you really only see them once a year or try to avoid them whenever possible the rest of the year. There are a number of typical scenarios that may occur. In each situation there is a principle that when applied will help you to improve your ability to manage a potentially frustrating situation.
Last year I worked right up to the week before Christmas. I had just finished a week of training, and I was ready to fly back to Utah from Westchester, New York for the holidays. I arrived at the airport early in case any unforeseen mishaps should occur. Sitting in the gate area with numerous people, I realized just how exhausted I was and that I was totally unprepared for the holiday season. I closed my eyes and let my head roll back and waited.
Q: Sometimes difficult situations arise unexpectedly and there doesn’t seem to be time to think through how to use the DialogueWORKS framework. In other words, when I am “outside” the conversation I have time to prepare what I want to say and how I want to say it, but when I am “inside” the conversation, things seem to happen too quickly. How can I become more effective at holding a difficult or emotional conversation when I am “inside” the conversation?
A: What a great question! Taking the time to prepare for a difficult conversation vastly increases the likelihood that the outcome...
During the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to spend time with a number of family members. One of them was very frustrated by a situation that occurred where they were unduly wronged by another person. In short, they had every right to be angry and extremely disappointed with the way in which the situation unfolded. However, as the weekend wore on, this individual continued to tell the same story over and over and to complain about the same issue.
Recently I went to a local restaurant to pick up an online food order. When I arrived to retrieve our order, it wasn’t ready, so I took a seat in a booth to wait. Not far from me were two friends who were having a heated and animated conversation about who the best candidate for president would be.
Recently, I was looking for an opportunity to write something about gratitude. Being stuck in an airport and waiting for a flight that had been cancelled gave me the opportunity to interview people and ask them what they were most grateful for. So, I wandered around the gate area, introduced myself, and told people that I wanted to write an article about the Thanksgiving holiday, and I asked if I could ask them one question: “What are you most grateful for?” Everyone stopped to think and then answered. It was a great way to pass the three hours.
When I was in my first job in corporate America, I had a one-of-a-kind manager. The first thing he did when meeting with me was to ask me what I wanted to become and what my vision of my future career looked like. I really hadn’t given it much thought, and so I candidly told him so. Always abounding in patience, he began by asking me a series of well-thought out questions that made me think.
Recently I held a number of open office hours online to answer questions that people had about emotional intelligence. By far the most frequently asked question was, “Why do people become so defensive?” Perhaps the easiest way to understand defensiveness is to understand what makes each of us defensive.
This past week I was shocked to read about two passengers on a flight who evidently started a fight over their different political views. The pilot went on a rant over the plane’s intercom taking the fighting passengers to task to defuse the situation. With all the divisiveness that seems to be going on right now, each of us ought to put a particular emphasis during the upcoming holiday to go out of our way to make life more rewarding for one another.
I recently had a team ask me if emotional displays were appropriate in the workplace. When I asked them what they meant, they shared with me that one member of their team would sometimes cry when discussing topics that were relevant to his or her work.
I took the time to explore the situation with the person. I concluded that his or her behavior resulted because some team members didn’t see the issue in the same way or feel as passionately as they did about the situation that was being discussed.
When we consider the appropriateness of emotional displays, the expression of emotion could be placed along a continuum from aggressive or “hot” to passive or “cold.” Obviously when someone begins to shout, demean, or use derogatory terms, the person who is confronted by such behavior will usually respond in two ways: they will respond in kind and meet “hot” emotion with “hot” emotion, or they will completely shut down.
One day this week when I was working at home the upstairs phone began to ring. Since I was busy, I ignored the call, figuring the answering machine would pick it up. During the next hour, the phone rang at least three more times.
A number of years ago, one of my sons tried out for the junior high basketball team. Unfortunately, he did not make the team. He returned home being even more deflated because he was offered a position as the team manager, a position he turned down. Rather than sulk and engage in self-pity, he went to work. He devised a plan to improve his skills, so that he could make the team as a sophomore.