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Free Expert Interviews for the 10 Toughest Behaviors at Work – Challenging Workplace Behavior Summit

Whether it’s gossip, harassment, or time-sucking interruptions we have all encountered challenging behaviors in the workplace.  Have you ever wished you knew what to do when they happened?

If you’re like us, the answer is yes.  That’s why we spent a year finding ten top global experts to help us understand and manage the ten toughest behaviors at work.  Register now for free access to the Challenging Workplace Behavior Summit to watch our interviews. The summit launches on Tuesday, November 13th and it covers:

  • Workplace Bullying

  • Gender-Based Violence

  • Workplace Incivility

  • Verbal Attacks

  • Workplace Gossip

  • Non-Stop Criticism

  • Time-Sucking Interruptions

  • Hostile Work Environments

  • Passive Aggression

  • Impulsive Reactions

Each day, we’ll share action-oriented expert interviews about these challenging workplace behaviors.  Part 1 of every interview focuses on understanding the behavior. Part 2 is all about strategies.

Register for free at www.workbehavior.us/register – all it takes is your e-mail address and we’ll let you know when the programs go live.

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Feuds: A Love-Hate Relationship

exchange-of-ideas-222786_1920There is something about a feud we love to watch and see unfold; and, there is a polar opposite feeling when we are directly involved and impacted by emotional disputes. We hate to be in one. There are numerous historical examples of famous family feuds such as the infamous Hatfield and McCoys. Hearing the family names conjures up fierce fighting, violence, and hatred. The media sensationalized the stories as time went on creating a lasting impression in American culture. FX television series recently portrayed another famous rivalry between iconic Hollywood actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Feud: Bette and Joan.

Susan Sarandon plays Bette Davis’s role, and Jessica Lange plays Joan Crawford’s character. The spellbinding series captured my full attention, and I loved watching the two actresses, Sarandon and Lange give award-winning performances. What was interesting in watching the series is how the drama unfolded with each star positioning themselves to outperform the other and win at all costs. The women fought over acting roles, lovers, directing scenes, the limelight, and just about anything where one had power over the other. Unfortunately, Hollywood elite, gossip columnists, producers, and directors pitted Davis and Crawford against each other to keep the fight going creating a media buzz for high dollar ratings. Sarandon and Lange’s performance made me feel the tension, anxiety, frustration and anger as the two played out the intense scenes.

In yet another recent television series Fear Thy Neighbor on the Investigation Discovery channel, the series portrays real crime cases of neighbor feuds that resulted in intense fighting, verbal abuse, physical violence and even murder between families. In many of these cases, the neighbors started out being friendly and even good friends. In every single case, a seemingly small irritation occurred between two households such as driving over someone’s grass, playing loud music, or feeding the deer.

In each of these feuds, the misunderstandings and small disagreements could have been addressed early and simply if people had not closed the door to conversation. Instead, the silence and avoidance only lead to people making false assumptions, negative judgments, and increasing anger and destructive behaviors. It causes people to take sides and deepen the positions of right and wrong. The cycle continues until tensions and intolerance take over causing an eruption which is often damaging and can be deadly. The key to stopping a fight from becoming a lengthy feud is to address the situation early, calmly and constructively.

Obviously, television’s aim is to entertain, educate or touch their viewers. I must admit I am attracted to these types of programs but would hate to be personally involved in a feud. I tend to view these programs as an opportunity to learn what NOT to do. Here are things you can do.

  • Think about the possible consequences of your retaliatory behaviors
  • Consider other reasons for why the other person is upset with you
  • Approach the other person as someone who is in pain, fearful, or anxious versus someone who is evil.
  • Monitor your emotional thermometer taking measures not to boil over causing a surprising eruption

Next time you watch a movie or television series, observe the behaviors, non-verbal cues, and emotions that contribute to de-escalating a dispute and then try them out in your life.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

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Blah! Blah! Blah! – Is This What you Hear When Your Boss Speaks?

Waffle by Ruth Hartnup
Waffle-RuthHartnupHave you experienced this scenario? You have given your employee specific and detailed instructions. They nod their head not uttering one word. You are in a rush as you have another meeting to get to in 5 minutes. You only ask the employee, “Do you understand?” The employee replies “Yes.” You follow with “Does it make sense?” Again, the employee responds, “Yes.” You feel confident that you have communicated well. And, off you run to the next meeting. At the end of the day, you check in with the employee. To your surprise, they misunderstood the detailed instructions and failed to follow through on the job as you intended. So, is it the fault of the employee or the boss in this failed communication?

100% of what the listener hears and understands equals communication success. According to Osmo Wiio, a Finnish Professor of Communication, and a member of Finland’s Parliament, “Communication usually fails, except by accident.” What is important to note here is how did the recipient interpret your intended message. You may believe that you communicated your intention, but did you listen to how they received the message. We all process incoming information differently.

Another Osmo Wiio maxim, “The more we communicate, the worse communication succeeds.” We may think endless details are what is needed to clarify a project when in fact, the listener may shut down their listening. One client shared with me when his boss gives the minutia; he only hears “blah, blah, blah.” The employee might miss crucial information.

As the speaker, make a few adjustments to your communication strategy.

  • Be succinct. Give the level of detail the listener needs at the moment, and leave the door open for the employee to return to further questions.
  • Ask an open-ended question versus a closed-ended question. “What do you understand about this task?” or “What is the key to what you will do with this project?
  • Listen to the employee’s response. What did they misunderstand? Then, provide further

And, remember to reverse the strategy. When an employee comes to you with a concern or project idea, then you are the listener.

  • Refrain from saying “I understand.”
  • Briefly, summarize what you heard.
  • Ask clarifying questions to get the detail you need.

Using these simple strategies will significantly improve communication success.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

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Recognizing the Signs of a Conflict Storm

HurricaneBeulah1967I grew up on the South Texas – Mexico border off the Gulf of Mexico. We were all too familiar with hurricanes. Hurricane Beulah, a slow-moving, Category 5 storm was one of the largest, most powerful and damaging to hit the Rio Grande Valley in 1967. It was my first hurricane experience.

At that time, television stations distributed hurricane tracking maps which my grandmother used to mark the latitude and longitude coordinates. This information helped us to prepare our home to reduce property damage and to find the safest place in the home while weathering the storm. Meanwhile, others chose to do nothing to prepare for the storm for various reasons. They didn’t feel the storm would hit the area. Others dismissed the seriousness of what they heard on the radio or just simply ignored the information.

Meteorologists play a significant role in helping the public understand what to watch and prepare for when storms develop. They are experts in tracking storms studying weather patterns and conditions and predicting potential danger.

As a conflict management expert, I work with individuals, leaders, and teams to recognize the signs and signals from people’s non-verbal communication as well as the words they use. I look for patterns in their workplace environment which contribute to a brewing storm. Most of us can recognize these same signals, but many of us ignore or dismiss entirely the significance and potential damage from misunderstandings that grow to disagreements. These disagreements can quickly escalate to conflict storms with the emotional intensity of Mother Nature’s wrath.

Learning how to recognize and acknowledge conflict takes courage and confidence for most people. It also requires one to hone their observation and listening skills. Here are some initial steps to consider when practicing these skills. The goal is to detect these signs earlier.

  • Look for non-verbal communication such as someone’s facial expressions or body language that says to you “I’m not happy” or “I’m uncomfortable.”
  • Listen for the emotion in the person’s voice. If someone says “I’m fine” with an emotional tone indicating nervousness, annoyance, or frustration, then they are NOT fine.
  • Mentally note or acknowledge internally that something is amiss.
  • Communicate what you see and hear to the dissatisfied individual. For example, “I noticed that you said you were fine, but I sense that you might be annoyed. Would you like to talk about it?”

By paying attention to the early signs of conflict, you become more aware of a potentially slow-growing storm. Watch! Listen! If you continue to hear or see dissatisfaction or emotions intensify, then the situation warrants a verbal acknowledgment and an opportunity to hear what is beneath the surface.

For more tips on diminishing destruction, read Stop the Dreaded Drama: 55 Tips for Ending Destructive Conflict.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

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Listening to Your Triggers – How to Suspend Judgment When You Are Angry

Pertinent Points

  • A hot button or trigger word can be words, a tone of voice, or a particular way someone conveys body language that sets you off.
  • Everyone has different hot buttons and trigger words that can cause them to become angry.
  • When we are feeling triggered we automatically rush to judgment about what the other person is saying or doing.

Key Question: How can you listen past their anger or yours?

Identify your physiological triggers.

It is essential to know when you begin feeling triggered, whether your face gets hot, shoulders tense, or your stomach starts turning, being able to recognize when you are triggered helps you to be more efficient in addressing it.

Take the judgment out of what happened.

When we are in a hot-button moment, we unconsciously jump to judgment. We feel accused, devalued, disrespected, or powerless. We judge what the person said and frame it negatively without considering that what we interpreted may not have been what the person intended.

Breathe to Calm Judgmental Thoughts.

Take deep breaths to calm yourself when you are feeling triggered. By taking deep breaths, you allow oxygen to the brain which can directly impact the adrenaline pumping through your system. By calming yourself down, you allow yourself to hear what the other person is saying without becoming defensive.

Be Curious in Conversation.

Ask the person questions about what they are thinking and feeling, to learn more about what is going on with them. Observe what is going on with the other person so you can begin to understand and question the situation.

Develop Self- Empathy.

Identify your feeling words to understand and determine what exactly you need at that moment.

Assignment for the week:

In our interview with Susan H. Shearouse on the Texas Conflict Coach® podcast, Susan suggested an assignment to listen to your reactions. Listen for the moments when you are hooked by trigger words and hot buttons, and spend some time identifying your feelings at that moment and what your needs are to address those feelings.

To learn more about this topic, listen to the entire episode entitled, Hot Buttons and Trigger Words: How to Listen Past Your Anger or Theirs.

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Guest Blogger

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Take Five! – How Adults Can Benefit from a Time Out

 

Clock

A time-out according to Wikipedia, “Is a form of behavioral modification that involves temporarily separating a person from an environment where unacceptable behavior has occurred.” It is a disciplining technique we associate with children. The logic behind the time-out method is that if you remove the child from a fun surrounding when they do something wrong, then it will eliminate that behavior.

Although this is a popular discipline method with children, it is also one that adults can and should use as well. I am not ashamed to admit that my husband Bernard has successfully used this technique on me, whether he is aware of it or not.

Before I explain how he did this, I must first clarify why it was necessary. My preset response when in conflict is to fight. By this I mean, I won’t listen, I get defensive, I make demands, I speak in absolutes, and lastly, the worst, in my opinion, I yell. Many times when my emotions are running high, I don’t even realize my voice has gone up two octaves. Although I have made numerous changes in how I engage in conflict, I feel I will always be a work in progress. It is not simple to make modifications to our behavior without mindfulness, perseverance, and I believe the help of others. Which brings me back to my husband, Bernard and how he assisted in correcting my conflict behavior.

We got into a heated conflict some months back. I was yelling, and Bernard asked me to stop. I responded how I always did when he said this to me, “I am not yelling.” Finally, Bernard had reached his tolerance limit and told me that we were having a verbal time-out for five minutes. I began to protest, but he held up his hand implying he would not be continuing unless I stop speaking for five minutes. So I sat in silence, at first I was annoyed by this pause.

It felt like a break and taking a break from conflict always felt counter-intuitive to me. While I know it can be helpful for you to calm down and be more productive when you come back to it, I still felt like it thwarted the momentum of the discussion. Usually, one person initiates the break, and it is that person who seems to hold power as to when the conversation recommences. Being as I am impatient I never liked conflicts to linger, and I found when breaks were initiated it prolonged a resolution.

As I continued to sit in silence, I noticed that I had calm down. When Bernard spoke after the five minutes, he said, ” Okay, I am willing to listen to you if you speak calmly, if you start yelling I’m initiating another time-out.” I felt irritated that he spoke to me like a kid, but in hindsight, my yelling did mirror a temper-tantrum thrown by a child. Now months later, I can acknowledge that his insistence on a five-minute time-out when I would start yelling (this occurred several more times) is what led to the minimizing of that behavior. I now will catch and correct myself before he even has an opportunity to say something.

If you are like me, you are not a fan of time-outs when in a fight. A break meaning you leave the room or house, go for a drive or a walk, or do something else for a while and then come back to the conversation after some time has passed. Try taking a five-minute time-out instead. It removes the fear that the conflict will go unaddressed or that you won’t revisit it later. While also giving you a moment to calm yourself down.

Just like with children, a time-out can be beneficial for addressing and even eliminating poor behavior and assist you in becoming a better you in conflict.

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Guest Blogger

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Blaming and Shaming Language – Stop The Shoulding

Illustration depicting an aerosol can with a blame remover concept.

Quick Tips We can stop “shoulding” on people by:

  • Changing our language – use “I” instead of “you” when addressing issues
  • Accepting ownership for our own actions
  • Turning negative self-talk into positive thoughts about ourselves

Key Question: How do I stop “shoulding” on people?

What is “shoulding?”

“You should have taken out the garbage before you went to work.”  “You should have checked the oil before you drove it.”  “You should have told her to bug off.”  Sound familiar?

 

Why we “should” on others

Unfulfilled expectations can be disheartening and damaging.  When things that we anticipate don’t come true, things come crashing down around us.  We have put too much of our success, happiness and needs on the shoulders of others.  When we are not happy, we tell ourselves it is their fault. They should do something different.

The effect of “shoulding”

Just hearing the word “should” places people in the position to justify, defend or retaliate.  “Shoulding” is blaming language and conveys a tone and attitude of judgment, disappointment or disapproval. This language can initiate or intensify conflict.

Replace “shoulding”

Use language that clearly conveys your needs and feelings in a way that you will be heard.  Avoid accusing others. Start sentences with “I” vs. “You.”

Instead of saying,  “You should have been straight with us.”

Say, “I am really angry and I need to understand what happened.”

Take responsibility:

Notice what “should” implies.  It implies some need that is not being met.  Dig deeper and ask what you are really upset about.

Shoulding can be blaming on everyone else rather than accepting responsibility for ourselves.  We can always take responsibility for our response.

Be Specific

Be very clear about what concerns you.  Avoid using “you,” speak from your own perspective.

Instead of saying:  “I felt really frustrated when you….”

Say:  “I felt really frustrated when “x” happened and the reason I was frustrated is that it undermined my authority.”

End with a Resolution Request

End with a request prevent conflict in the future.

Say:  “How can we handle this differently in the future? 

Or: “How can I prevent this in the future?”

Your Assignment

An assignment that can help you avoid “shoulding” on people:

  • Count and note the number of “shoulds” you hear this week.
  • Make a mental note of how people react if you or someone else “shoulds” on them

To learn more about this topic, listen to the entire podcast, Stop Shoulding on People  http://www.texasconflictcoach.com/2010/stop-shoulding-on-people/

Patricia “Pattie” Porter, LCSW, ABW, AAP

The Texas Conflict Coach

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Working Towards Forgiveness – A Model to Bring Peace to Your Life

 

Pertinent Points:

  • Forgiveness is a healthy and positive action you take for yourself.

    Peace and Forgiveness

  • Forgiveness can happen without reconciliation. However, reconciliation cannot proceed without forgiveness.
  • Apologies are never guaranteed. Forgiveness can occur without receiving an apology.
  • When you forgive someone, you are NOT condoning what they did or implying that it is okay.

How can the P.E.A.C.E Model assist in forgiveness work?

  1. Perception and Clarification. Think about clarifying your perceptions of your needs, values, and desires. Dr. LaVena Wilkin says to ask yourself, “How are you benefiting from holding onto the anger? How would you benefit if you released that anger, resentment, and blame?” Be honest with your responses.
  2. Empathetic Listening. Listen to your heart, and put aside what your ego and pride are telling you. Ignore the voice telling you that if you forgive this person, then you are saying it is okay what they did.
  3. Appreciating Diversity. Appreciate and acknowledge all the different feelings and emotions that are coming up for you. You are not wrong to feel what you feel.
  4. Collaborative Problem-Solving. Forgiveness takes work. While collaborating with the person with whom you are angry is ideal, sometimes that person doesn’t believe they did anything wrong and are unwilling to work with you to reconcile. Instead, reach out to your support network and do collaborative problem-solving with them.
  5. Emotional Intelligence. Be aware of what triggers you and why. Don’t deny your anger, instead acknowledge it. Dr. LaVena Wilkin explains, “When you are aware of your emotions you can discriminate against them and better understand why you do the things you do and why others do the thing they do.”

Your Assignment:

In our interview with Dr. LaVena Wilkin on The Texas Conflict Coach® podcast, Dr. Wilkins’ suggested an assignment that can assist you in forgiving others. This is task is for YOU.  Dr. Wilkins’ asks you to “Think about an area in your life that needs forgiveness work. Use the P.E.A.C.E Model to reflect and work through that area.”

To learn more about forgiveness, listen to the entire episode entitled: Forgiveness: The Gift You Give to Yourself

Abigail R.C. McManus, M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Guest Blogger

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Conflict Chat: Challenges in Working in a Gig Economy

Host – Pattie Porter

Got Conflict? Are you a worker taking on short projects or “gigs?” Many temporary employees and independent consultants work in a Gig Economy. As the gig economy grows so do the challenges that employers, HR managers and workers face when it comes to communication and managing conflict. We will also talk about “At Will’ employment and how it changes the employer’s view of conflict and how they can ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ by quickly terminating employees vs. taking the time to work through the issues.

 

Read, Listen, Share »

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What Is Wrong With My Good Intentions?

Behave Reminder for Young Person in Red Sneakers about to make a Step and Join the Party, Top View.

Quick Tips

  • Identify what triggers negative reactions for you.
  • Identify your intention.
  • Focus on changing some of your specific behaviors.

How do I make my intentions to be conflict competent a reality?

Intention rescue.

Have you made a commitment to hone your conflict resolution skills this year? Are you struggling, even feeling like a failure?   Let me give you a “rescue remedy” for bringing your good intentions to fruition.

Identify your triggers.

If a specific statement, action or person creates a conflict response, know this about yourself.  Be aware of what triggers a negative reaction in you.

Ask some questions.

Think about a situation or a person which triggers a conflict or negative response for you.  Ask yourself:

  • How do I want to be in this situation?
  • What are the values and beliefs I want to uphold in this situation? Example: “I want to be confident and strong.”

Make a commitment to your intention.

Write on card, “I am willing to practice being ___ (value or belief around this situation or person)

Example:  I am willing to practice being forgiving.

This act of willingness says a lot about your commitment.

Translate commitment to behavior.

Identify the behavior(s) necessary to meet the commitment.

Example:  I might ask myself, “How do I be forgiving?” 

Then I look at the behavioral responses I personally have to change in order to be forgiving in this situation:

  • Listening with understanding.
  • Not getting defensive.

If you find it difficult to identify behaviors to support your intentions, think of what you are not doing when you are not supporting your intentions.

Example:  When I am not being forgiving….

  • I don’t care what the other person has to say.
  • I interrupt when he or she speaks.
  • I use a terse tone of voice.

Get a mentor.

Pick a trusted friend, colleague or coach to give you feedback about how well you are doing in changing behavior.  Have them observe you in the situation and give feedback in the moment or shortly afterward.

Your Assignment

In my Texas Conflict Coach® podcast, I suggested an assignment to help make your intentions a reality:

  • Write your intention statement down in the next 24 hours. “I am willing to practice ___.”
  • Identify the behavior changes you need to make in order to make your intention a reality.
  • Practice the behavior changes and get feedback from a trusted mentor.

To learn more about this topic, listen to the entire episode GOOD INTENTIONS OFTEN PAVE A PATHWAY OF GOLD…TO HELL

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