Some time ago I had the misfortune of working with someone who was aggressive and an outright bully, who tended to dominate, intimidate and even humiliate other people. However management did nothing to curb this guy’s daily tirade of other people’s shortcomings. By doing nothing this guy was allowed to run rough shod over whoever he chose, without being held to account. The bully had become the ‘elephant in the room’ because everyone knew what he was up to but no one was prepared to stop him. The knowledge this guy held in his head was deemed more valuable than the feelings of those who had to work with him.
I imagined him making faces and punching his fist in the air, shouting: ‘I win – you lose.’ However as Benjamin Disraeli once said: ‘Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.’ The secret is in how to get ‘win – win’ outcomes, with both parties expressing their feelings and thoughts openly and honestly while respecting the other person’s right to do so, and this means being assertive.
The problem is that this is difficult for most people to achieve, especially if your default position is avoid potential conflict at all costs and perhaps you fear being criticised or rejected? In other words, you downplay your own views or express them in an apologetic way that feels uncomfortable and excruciating. The reality is that a lot of people settle for: ‘You win – I lose,’ when they don’t have to.
Let me share 5 tips with you
1.Understand yourself first, in order to understand other people’s points of view, which means raising your self-awareness. There are tools that can help you. I’m a big fan of the DISC personality profile, which measures your predominant style, warts and all, quickly and accurately? If you know the key areas to develop you can start making improvement in the way you communicate.
2. Get clear on your fears by asking yourself: ‘If I tackled this situation what is the worst that could actually happen?’ And if it did: ‘What would I do about it?’ What you think shapes your feelings and behaviour and can show up in your body language, without even thinking about it. People who normally display submissive behaviour are unlikely to stand up for themselves and allow others to push ahead of them in terms of their career or be taken advantage of in business. By contrast, confident people are assertive and successful people are confident. So being assertive is integral to your success in life.
3.Determine the outcome you want to achieve. For example: ‘I want to build a good working relationship with this manager because I could learn a lot from their knowledge and experience of this part of my role.’ By focussing on the end result you are less likely to be driven by your emotions. Try it now; think of the people you work with and in your interactions with them ask yourself: ‘What is my goal?’ This will shift your way of thinking.
4.Approach the situation with the right attitude, by asking questions like: ‘What can we do to resolve this? Tell me what you are concerned about. What’s your thinking behind this? ‘ Sum up the other person’s position, as you’ve understood it to be, and use some of their actual words because this will demonstrate that you have actively listened to them. You’ll be in a much stronger position if you choose the response you want to make.
5. Build rapport by using clear and unambiguous language, in a strong tone of voice and alter your intonation to highlight key words. Similarly, make sure your body language supports the message that you want to convey, for example use your hands palms up to emphasise a positive message and palms down for a negative one. Other people will notice your attitude via non’verbal communication.
Let me know how you get on and please share this post.