Dear Reader

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter ‘Inspire’. Some people have asked whether it is OK to pass this newsletter onto colleague and friends. The answer is YES. In fact my aim is to have 1500 subscribers by the end of 2006, at the moment we have just over 400. So if you feel that others would benefit from it then do pass it on and they can then subscribe to it.

This edition is about ‘Managing Challenging Interactions’ which is a growing area of my business. It does seem that whereas people were often passive in the past, they have now found their voices, but instead of being assertive, they end up being aggressive.

If you find it difficult to deal with people, whether these are customers, team members, or family members who are being aggressive (overtly or covertly) or difficult in some way, then this issue of ‘Inspire’ is designed to help you.

Best wishes

Melanie Greene

Melanie Greene

Managing Challenging Interactions

  • What is a ‘challenging interaction’? – What constitutes a challenging interaction will vary from individual to individual depending on their personality, past experiences and self confidence. For some people any difference of opinion is seen as challenging; for others it is when people get overtly angry, while for some it is the low level of aggression that they find challenging.  What situations do you find challenging?

‘Do I want to be “right” – or do I want to be happy?’ Richard Carlson

  • How do you react? – The first step in learning to manage challenging interactions is to think about your reactions. Do you go into fight, flight or maybe freeze mode? Most of us when faced with someone who we find challenging experience some kind of flight or fright response, complete with an adrenaline rush, heart beating faster and mouth drying, which makes it harder to respond in a calm and rational way. What is your reaction in the face of challenging interactions?

  • What goes through your mind? – Are you thinking: ‘How dare they say or act in that way’; ‘You watch I’ll show them’; or ‘Help I can’t deal with this, how do I get myself out of this’. Your thoughts affect how you feel and in turn impacts on the effectiveness of your communication. So be aware of your thoughts and look to transform them if they hinder you. 

‘Changing your mind is changing your relationships.’ Wayne W Dyer

  • Manage your reaction – in order to better manage the interaction, you need to start by managing your own response to the situation. You need to find a way to calm down and centre yourself, so that your response will come across in a calm and rational manner. Choose one or more of the following to assist you in this:

    • Breathe – it might sound daft, but breathing deeply helps to control the fight/flight response and will help you to calm down
    • Disassociate yourself from the situation – people talk about taking a mental step back, which helps you to distance or disassociate yourself from what is happening. Taking a physical step back or changing your physical stance can also help
    • Take a break – if it is possible in the situation suggest time out to get a coffee and for you to calm down
    • Look up – even momentarily as this accesses your visual cortex and positive emotions, which will help you to calm down and find a more rational way of dealing with the situation. 

      ‘No one is capable of making you upset without your consent.’ Wayne W Dyer

  • Step into their shoes – this might be the last thing you want to do when you are feeling less than positive about someone. However, it can be useful to step into their shoes and think: ‘what is it like to be them?’ Think about what it is like when you are angry, fed up or stressed, how does this relate to the other person’s reactions and behaviour? How can you take this into account when talking to them?

‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ Stephen Covey

  • Show that you are listening – sometimes it is our lack of ability to show that we are listening that leads to an interaction going pear shaped. Think back to situations that have either gone wrong or where someone was angry with you. Were you able to really show that you were listening, put aside your own feelings and step into their shoes to understand things from their perspective? Failing to show that we are listening, can so often lead to a downward spiral in our communication with others. While taking a little time to manage our own emotions, show that we are listening might defuse the situation, and even build respect and trust.

‘Listening in dialogue is listening more to meaning than to words…In true listening, we reach behind the words, see through them, to find the person who is being revealed verbally and nonverbally.’ John Powell, Theologian

  • Know when to walk away – sometimes the best course of action is to walk away – maybe to come back when you have both calmed down. Or maybe it is a case of choosing which ‘battles to fight’. Once I was training a group who work with young people and they asked what happens if a young person becomes violent. I happened to bump into my local police officer at the time and his advice was ‘walk away, call the police’. So don’t think that you are equipped to deal with all challenging interactions!

  • Adult to adult communication – when things start to go wrong in an interaction it is easy to slip into either a parental or childlike response, thereby triggering the other person’s internal parent or child and ending up in a downward spiral. Use the techniques above to manage your emotional response in order to stay in an adult mode.

Want more Inspiration? If you want any support in Managing Challenging Interactions either for yourself or your team, we can offer 1:1 support or group workshops to assist you in doing this. Just call 01865 377334 or email to arrange a time to speak in confidence. For more information about Grovelands visit our website:

Feel free to pass this issue of ‘Inspire’ onto others – if you have been forwarded this issue and would like to receive your own copy each month, click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Improving your interactions with others

Who could you have better interactions with:

  • Within your team?

  • Within your family?

  • With customers and suppliers?

  • In your neighbourhood?

What action can you take to improve these relationships?


How can Grovelands help you?

Some people receiving this email have asked 'what does Grovelands do?'  So over the next few issues I will describe different aspects of our work.

Working effectively under pressure - People often say that pressure is good for you and certainly manageable pressures can be stimulating and energising.  However, stress occurs when the demands become too great, our abilities don't match the task in hand or our perception of the demands and our abilities has changed.

We advise organisations on the organisational and individual causes of stress, as well as running group programmes on Working Effectively Under Pressure, and providing 1:1 coaching support.


Look out for April's issue of 'Inspire' that will be about having more fun at work - in celebration of April's fools day.  Sometimes people can get so caught up in the stresses of work that they loose perspective and their sense of humour.

In April we will look at the importance of humour in business, in our work and in our lives.  After all life would be very dry without it.


Grovelands Provides:

  • Consultancy advice

  • 1:1 coaching and mentoring

  • in-house and public workshops

to individuals, partnerships, SMEs and national organisations.

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