Marilyn the manager was exasperated.
“If we can’t blame people for screwing things up how are we ever going to hold people accountable? The place will descend into chaos” she moaned. View Article
There are many moments when you can upset people in the workplace. When someone is hurt or upset they have an emotional reaction. They might pull away from you or they might attack you in some way, even when you didn’t intend to hurt them.
A couple are commuting to work in their car. There is an easiness between them as they drive along the highway. She, quite innocently, raises the unresolved issue about the high cost of their upcoming holiday.
He experiences this question as an attack. He tenses up and goes silent. That's his usual way of coping when emotions like this arise in him. In that moment he thinks of her and this question as 100% the cause of his uncomfortable feelings. View Article
It's very easy to respond to aggression with aggression... but what if we reacted differently?
Alan was out shopping one weekend and couldn’t find a car park anywhere. Since he would only be a few minutes he decided to take a risk and park across the driveway of the business next door to the shop he was visiting.
When he returned to his car, Alan found one very angry business owner, shouting and swearing at him for blocking the driveway and preventing access to his business.
At first Alan was taken aback. His usual reaction would be to fire a rebuttal straight back at the guy. That would have led to a shouting match and he would have driven off in a rage, even though it was his fault the guy was upset in the first place.
But Alan didn’t do that. Instead he remembered the key message from the first session of the TUF workshop he did the week before:
"Acknowledge the Emotion"
Instead of yelling back at the business owner, Alan acknowledged and validated the reason for his aggression. "I guess it must be pretty frustrating having people park here all the time, I'm really sorry".
Surprisingly for Alan, it worked! He was amazed how quickly the guy calmed down. "It was almost instant" Alan exclaimed during the second workshop session a couple of days later.
“I didn’t really believe it when you told us this last week but I can see that it really does work”.
"Never in the history of calming down, has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down"
As with any new way of thinking, a little scepticism is normal, but the proof is in the results. The simple task of acknowledging the feelings of an aggressor, complainant or simply a difficult customer could be the difference between an escalating situation and a peaceful resolution.
Try it! and share your successes with us here at TUF.
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John Kirwan was one of the most devastating wingers that New Zealand and world rugby had ever seen. A prominent and revered figure at the dawn of the professional age of rugby, he seemed to live a charmed life. But he did have personal problems at work. View Article
Workplace bullying is destructive. Some people act in a 'bullying way' when they are understress. When teams have training in emotional intelligence and gain the skills to manage heightened emotions there are fewer problems with bullying. View Article
On Monday 1st September 2014 an extremely distressed client walked into the Work and Income office in Ashburton, New Zealand, and shot two of the front line workers.
All the staff at that office were working under stress and the client was even more stressed. None of them had the skills to manage his anger over time until he finally cracked and the results were tragic. While the harm done in this situation was clearly visible and extreme, there are many workplaces where the damage from stress is not so obvious, but can be nearly as destructive. View Article