What interactions do you find most challenging?
When I am running workshops on Managing Challenging Interactions it is always interesting that what some people find challenging, others find easy to deal with, and vice versa. So on a scale of 1 (easy) to 10 (impossible) how challenging do you find the following?
- Asking your manager for a pay rise or discussing a price rise with a client.
- Negotiating deadlines with others.
- Saying no to others.
- Dealing with someone who is angry.
- Dealing with someone who is sad or crying.
- Receiving criticism or feedback from others.
- Asking for support or assistance.
- Dealing with someone who is sulking or manipulative.
- Giving feedback to others.
Are there other situations which you find challenging?
‘People are usually quite happy to consider a clearly expressed request – it is the accumulated backlog of resentment that gets their back up.'
Anne Dickson – A Book of Your Own
For many of us, what makes these interactions challenging is FEAR. Fear about being rejected, misunderstood, doing the wrong thing, things getting out of control, fear about job security, losing clients, losing friendships with colleagues. When we are fearful, this triggers the ‘threat response' within our brains, triggering a whole host of physiological reactions that make it harder to communicate effectively and manage these tricky interactions. On my Managing Challenging Interactions workshops, about a third of the time is spent on how participants react to the challenging situations and what they can do to manage their mood and state so that they can then respond to the situation in a constructive manner.
One technique to help you alter your experience of challenging situations is reappraisal or reframing our experience, and there are four ways of doing this:
- Reinterpreting events – Changing the ‘raw emotional response to an event', for example, I heard on the radio the other day an interview with a 17 year old who had applied for 100s of jobs and eventually got an interview, but she didn't get the job. However, she said it was an invaluable experience for her to go through the interview process. So instead of bemoaning that she didn't get the job, she reinterpreted the experience and was able to glean something positive from it.
- Normalising events – The threat response can happen in so many different situations, resulting in you feeling overwhelmed, but if you focus on what people normally feel in those situations it can help to calm you down. For example, by realising that most people are fearful when they ask for a pay rise or say no at work, can make you realise that your fears are normal and OK, thereby lessening the threat response.
- Re-ordering information – We all have maps of the world within our heads, and these are a nested hierarchy like an organisational map. Sometimes our lives do not fit the order that we have in our brains, which can cause undue pressure and stress. When this happens we need to re-order so that we can reduce the level of stress and threat we are feeling. For example, if your map of the world involves putting your family first and you are suddenly faced with a project which is going to eat into family time, without re-ordering you can end up feeling very frustrated and stressed by the situation. However, if you re-order and decide that for X number of weeks your focus will be on the project, and then you can re-focus on your family, it helps to reduce the threat response.
- Re-positioning – This involves stepping into other people's shoes to get a new perspective on what has happened, which can be vital in terms of managing challenging interactions. I also think that doing the exercise where you ‘walk into the future' (see pages 227 to 229 from my book, Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom), is another form of re-positioning.
See September 2012 Inspire for more on reframing events, click here.
‘Strong feelings do not necessarily make a strong character. The strength of a man is to be measured by the power of the feelings he subdues not by the power of those which subdue him.'
Think about doing some or all of the following:
- Building rapport with the other person by listening and matching them. The more rapport you have with another person, the more likely it is that they will listen to you.
- Reduce their threat response to the situation by empathising with them, showing that you are listening.
- Be open and honest with them, avoid game playing. The more straightforward you are with them, the easier it is going to be to resolve the situation.
- Step into their shoes, view the situation from their perspective to give you insights as to how to best approach the situation.
- Be calm and rational and aim for a Win-Win outcome.
- Avoid overreliance on emails with people who you find challenging or where there is less rapport, see October 2008 Inspire on mis-reading emails: click here.
See my March 2010 Inspire newsletter on Handling Conflict for some more ideas, click here.
Here are four ways of learning more about yourself and managing challenging interactions:
- … Book your place on my free taster workshop on Thursday 18th October at Monument Park near Chalgrove, from 9.30am to 11.30am. This will provide you with practical and easy to use ideas for managing challenging interactions at work. Places are limited so contact me on email@example.com book your place. See http://www.monument-park.co.uk/for venue.
- – Come and meet me at this experiential exhibition www.experiencebusiness.co.uk. There will be free talks, and unlike other exhibitions each stand will give you an opportunity to try out some of our services. On my stand you will have an opportunity to try my new free Team Development audit, Master Your Inner Critic Questionnaire, ask questions and get advice on a range of topics from managing challenging interactions to managing your mood and motivation.
- – This is a brand new service for managers to review their team's performance and think through what development they might need. This free audit involves the following:
- The manager of the team completing a pre-coaching questionnaire and returning it to me.
- We have an hour long telephone conversation to discuss the team's needs and what training, coaching or team development might be necessary to enhance how the team works towards the business goals.
- I send a proposal of what training, coaching or team development programmes might be suitable.
- The manager then makes a decision as to whether they wish to proceed.
- – This is designed for individuals who are wondering whether coaching will benefit from them, and wanting to think through what they want to focus on during a coaching programme. The Coaching Audit works in the same way as the Team Development Audit above, but with a questionnaire which focuses on you as an individual.
‘You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them to discover it within themselves'.