Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dealing with the Steamroller

When dealing with a steamroller, also known as the verbal "big bully," stay calm. Typically, they are trying to "rile you up," wanting you to elevate your emotions to their level. Don't let them do it. Keep eye contact with them. Remain assertive. Let them go on and on, let them unwind. Then when they spool down a bit, interrupt them!

When you interrupt them, you will have the chance you need to become assertive. That's when you pick up the ball. One effective approach is close to Muhammad Ali's Rope-A-Dope! Muhammad Ali was known to have the ability take a great many punches to his mid-section. He would lean against the ropes, and let his opponent "box himself out"/get tired. He would wait for his opportunity, and then, BAM! He would knock them out. In a similar fashion, you should do the same thing verbally when dealing with the steamroller. Allow them to verbally wear themselves out, and then, when you see your opportunity, BAM! You take your turn.

Call them by name, and then say, "OK, now wait a minute, I have something to say. I've been listening to you, now you listen to me." You will start, and what will happen? They will interrupt! What should you do? Be assertive! Say, "Hey, I said wait a minute. I listened to you, now it's my turn." Don't back down! That's what they expect! Also remember to keep eye contact. Just don't back down. You may not "win" the argument or discussion, but once you stand up to them, they typically will become your best buddy. It only takes one time! They may still bully other people on your team, but they won't bully you any longer. By going "toe to toe" with them, you may have just earned their respect.

From Tim McClintock, PMP, Global Knowledge Instructor, Dealing with Specific Types of Difficult People - Global Knowledge's Expert Reference Series of White Papers

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Ver IIegar"

"Ver IIegar"

A Spanish matadors' phrase for dealing with the beast. A bull.

A large terrifying animal, yet really terrified himself. Though he appears angry he fights for his life. And matadors must use great concentration and calmness to overcome the wrath of this large beast.

Hemingway describes the phrase in Death in the Afternoon: "the ability to watch the bull come as he charges with no thought except to calmly see what he is doing and make the moves necessary to the maneuver you have in mind. To calmly watch the bull come is the most necessary and primarily difficult thing in bullfighting."

As your bull(y) comes charging toward you, nostrils puffing and snorting, watch the charge calmly, with no expression. Observe as the bull(y) rushes toward you. Observe the beast as it's aggression pushes out like a tea kettle's steam pushing though the spout at full speed, desperately aching to exit.

And as you permit, then, the noise shall bounce off the walls around you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What would you have done differently?

What would you do differently?

What a powerful question.

They say hindsight is 20/20...

So looking back on that interaction with the bully you had today, what would you do differently? Did he or she say something that caused you to cringe, or question your own abilities? What did you do to react? What could you have done differently, now in hindsight? Is there something you can do now to be proactive, rather than reactive?

Looking back now while it's fresh in your mind, what would you have done differently?

I don't have an answer for you. You were there, and you felt your own emotions. So you have to answer this one yourself, but let me give you a little encouragement.

We consistently receive evaluation from other people, all the time. A particularly obvious person is the manager or human resources department at work. They are assigned the task of evaluating everyone in the company, and while they do many things to make the process easier and less damaging to the work force (such as calling them "reviews," "goal-setting," and "career development"), really, they are evaluating you and your work.

But what about you - do you ever evaluate yourself or your "work?" Self-evaluation is one of the most important kinds of evaluation, because only you know what really transpired and why you acted a certain way. But did you underperform or overperform? Did you do everything in your power to show the bully you weren't the victim type? What could you have done differently to make that interaction better and more comfortable for you?

The only way we can learn to defend ourselves is to learn from the past. Evaluate the situation, come up with solutions to the challenge, and try again. Don't allow your fears of the bully or what will become of you as a result of your standing your ground to get in the way - don't let him or her stop you from achieving your goals.

Recommended Exercise:

Take a few moments to jot down a few notes about the most recent interaction you had with the bully, just to help you remember what happened.

Now, make a few bullet points and answer the following questions:

During the interaction I felt:
(Ex. scared, annoyed, frustrated, angry)

And my nonverbal communication showed it, because I was:
(Ex. looking down, not looking the bully in the eye, folding my arms in across my chest)

I felt this way particularly because:
(Ex. I was being yelled at in front of a peer)

Next time I have an interaction with the bully, I will:
(Ex. stand with my hands on my hips, look the bully in the eye, and address the bully with confidence in my voice because I know what I am talking about)

Give it a try...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Write your own script

Being bullied at work is hard on us. It tears us down, it rips us apart, it takes away our dignity. We don't need to reach very far inside us to notice the inner damage we feel when we tell yet another chapter of the bully-at-work saga to our loved ones. We don't need to dig very deep to feel pain while we re-live Friday's ridiculous bully-encounter as we lay in bed early Monday morning wishing we didn't have to go to work.

In re-living these horrific stories either within our minds or with our confidants, it becomes easier to tell ourselves that things are beyond our control. Your manager won't help, others are being bullied right along with you, and the bully seems to keep getting promoted. Before you know it, discouragement has settled in along with a hefty decline in self-esteem, and we can't see beyond the situation. To us, it seems hopeless.

Now, have you ever noticed that you talk to yourself? We all do it. We all carry on conversations within ourselves while we're driving, brushing our teeth, or having a fresh cup of coffee. And not only do we talk to ourselves, but we tell ourselves stories. We re-live things that have happened to us, and we verbalize those stories to others.

Stories create our sense of self. They help us understand who we are. They give us an identity. They create a "you". They help us organize the things that have transpired in our past so that we can function in society as we move forward toward the future.

For example, you've told yourself the story of the doctor's appointment you attended last week, haven't you? Next time you go the the doctor, you know about what will happen, because it will likely follow the same script as the last appointment. The story you created in your mind provides guidance for the next time you attend the scenario of a doctor's appointment.

Now take a closer look at the other stories you've created in your mind most recently. Regardless of what's happening to you in your life at this moment, you've woven some narratives that explain where you've been and where you're going, who you are and who you're becoming. It's easy to presume that life's events dictate those stories, and that things are beyond our control. Right? But you write the script. You're the author. Things aren't out of control because you can change the script just as easily as I can hit "delete" this very moment and start over on a new blog entry.

Whatever you tell yourself is the indicator of how you will respond to life's various scenarios. Imagine what you could do if you tossed the ol' bully story in the garbage and started on a fresh piece of paper.

We have the power to make choices. We have the power to write our own stories. We are not characters in "The Devil Wears Prada," where the script has been written for us. We are our own authors. That means we have to make decisions about the direction of our stories and what happens to the characters within them. Continue to replay that same old story about being bullied, and guess what will happen?

Start fresh with a new story about a fantastic work-life, and guess what will happen? So open up a fresh new Word doc, pick your favorite font, and begin your new story.

We are not idle passers-by in our own lives, and we have the choice to change things for the better. Be proactive, not reactive, and your scripts will have a Hollywood happy ending.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Quick Quote

"In a time of crisis we all have the potential to morph up to a new level and do things we never thought possible."— Stuart Wilde, author, researcher on consciousness