Are You a Spreader or a Digger?

© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com

Are you a spreader or a digger? This came to mind yesterday when I was writing the Valentine’s message. The question works to help me think about my daily activities and evaluate them quickly. It might help you, too.

Spreaders have choices: they can spread gossip, fear or negativity, or, they can spread respect, understanding and collaboration.

Diggers have choices: they can make digs or be willing to scratch the surface and look for deeper understanding, meaning or relationship.

Hmmmmm….something to think about!

To Your Success!
Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD,  Peace Catalyst.
Founder of Sow Peace™ International
Resolving Relationship Issues Healthily.
Recovering from Relationship Issues Wisely.
Communication | Conflict Management | Negotiation | Mediation | TeamBuilding
www.SowPeace.com
www.Rhoberta.com

Do you have a specific question about your relationship with yourself, at home or at work?  Go to AskRhoberta.com and you will be answered in a personal video email.

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Love in the workplace

OK, calm down! I am not going to talk about workplace romance, meaningful glances, or stolen kisses in the copy room, although that’s likely a good topic for another day. Because today is Valentine’s Day, I think it’s the day to think beyond our significant other, or our families.

How are you spreading a little love around your workplace?

Yes, I know, with threats of harassment and all that, folks are reluctant to express themselves in the ways most used to. Those few folks with no boundaries–you know, the onces who create the definition of sexual harassment– put fear into workplace relationships and made everyone look over their shoulders more frequently. What a shame!

I think work is just an extension of life, just another location in which to express our values, vision, purpose and beliefs. Sure, we need to have and respect our own boundaries and those of others, but, are we letting fear hold us back from expressing love at work?

Not physical love, although a hug or two could sure help some of the workplaces in conflict that I visit! But, a loving attitude, an attitude that has some understanding and wiggle room for the paths of others. That’s not making excuses for the rudeness, brashness, meanness or superiority of others, but, at least understanding that nobody behaves that way if they honestly love themselves. They behave that way from fear.

I’m not suggesting that you approve of the behavior of others, nor condone it. But, being a little more loving at work can go a long way to creating a collaborative environment that you want to go to every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD,  Peace Catalyst.
Founder of Sow Peace™ International
Resolving Relationship Issues Healthily.
Recovering from Relationship Issues Wisely.
Communication | Conflict Management | Negotiation | Mediation | TeamBuilding
www.SowPeace.com
www.Rhoberta.com

Do you have a specific question about your relationship with yourself, at home or at work?  Go to AskRhoberta.com and you will be answered in a personal video email.

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Confrontation is also not a Four-Letter Word.

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com
www.SowPeace.com

Previously, I mentioned that conflict is not a four-letter word. Neither is confrontation. But, both of these words can strike terror in the faint-hearted. Who are the faint-hearted? Those who do not have the skills required, and/or, those who do not have the confidence that comes from believing they have a right to be treated respectfully in all relationships and the skills to express it.

Conflict occurs when we have a difference of opinion, style, approach or desired outcome or goal. There’s no question that people are different, and they will find those areas of conflict. It’s natural. I’ll bet you could name three in your life right now, with names attached. If anyone thinks they are living conflict-free, they might want to consider the meaning and their understanding of denial! Beginning with our first breath, we have had conflicts.

It’s all in our values, beliefs and decisions whether or not we first identify conflicts for what they are. Whether you like to call it a difference of opinion, culture, or upbringing, it is a conflict. The first step is to identify them.

The next step is to air, manage, or, if possible, resolve them. I was recently working with a client who told me she had resolved her issues with her mother. I watched her verbally hop-stepping as fast as she could to tell me that her mother is a good person, lived a tough life, did the best she could, etc.. The more she spoke about this the shallower her breathing became, the quicker her speech and higher the pitch and volume. That just might indicate that the conflicts were not resolved!

The conflict exists, but what about the confrontation: the face-to-face meeting. Most folks put it off…indefinitely!

Confronting our own fears as well as having a clear picture of our view of the conflict are necessary steps to take before setting up a meeting. Here are a few good questions to ask yourself:

  • In what situation, did or does the conflict arise?
  • When did it first arise?
  • Was it a one-time, long-remembered event?
  • Is it an ongoing irritation, or all-out war?
  • Is it a conflict of values, approach, beliefs, principles, style or competing outcomes?
  • Are you very clear about your contribution to the conflict?
  • Have you had a go at confronting this and felt badly about the result previously?
  • Are you ignoring it hoping it will go away, or, one of you will grow out of it?
  • Do you have the skills to feel comfortable, competent and confident enough to have a confrontation?
  • If yes, what is holding you back from initiating a face-to-face meeting?
  • If no, what plan do you have to acquire these skills?

Answer those honestly and you’re well-begun to finding a path to a productive, effective face-to-face meeting.

Are there any conflicts you’ve been submerging, denying, or talking about endlessly to others, without doing the work you need to do to move towards resolution? If so, they are continuously sapping your energy, even when you’re not thinking about them.

And, at work? There is a good reason that research shows that employees spend up to 42% of their time engaged in or trying to resolve conflicts!

Next post, I’ll add a few thoughts about the confrontation, the face-to-face meeting, itself.

To Your Successes!
Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD,  Peace Catalyst.
Founder of Sow Peace™ International
Resolving Relationship Issues Healthily.
Recovering from Relationship Issues Wisely.
Communication | Conflict Management | Negotiation | Mediation | TeamBuilding
www.SowPeace.com
www.Rhoberta.com

Do you have a specific question about your relationship with yourself, at home or at work?  Go to AskRhoberta.com and you will be answered in a personal video email.

I don’t care what you intend. I care about how it affects me!

So frequently, people don’t speak up when they are repeatedly harassed. They sometimes think they are supposed to understand that the person “doesn’t really mean it!” or that they“just have to put up with it to keep my job!”. They might be right. However, there is one big thing you need to know:

When it comes to harassment, there is one piece of good news: harassment is determined more by the effect it has on the receiver than by the intentions of the initiator. So, in a perfect world, when you actually accuse someone of harassment, that will work in your favor.

I add the “perfect world” caveat because companies sometimes fail to use outside neutral mediators to manage harassment complaints. And, that’s a big mistake! They think they will save money by having an HR person, or a manager handle the problem, but they are usually nowhere near unbiased. They are involved in company politics, bottom lines and other concerns of keeping their jobs, too.

When you have a complaint about someone’s consistent or frequent belittling, demeaning, or discriminatory behavior, you deserve to have it mediated by an outside neutral person. Ask for that.

I wish you well.
Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD,  Peace Catalyst.
Founder of Sow Peace™ International
Resolving Relationship Issues Healthily.
Recovering from Relationship Issues Wisely.
Communication | Conflict Management | Negotiation | Mediation | TeamBuilding
www.SowPeace.com
www.Rhoberta.com

Do you have a specific question about your relationship with yourself, at home or at work?  Go to AskRhoberta.com and you will be answered in a personal video email.

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What is harassment? Are you being harassed?

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com

MPj02274990000[1]Personal harassment takes place when a person who supervises, or is in a position of authority, exercises that authority in a manner which serves no legitimate work purpose and which ought reasonably be known to be inappropriate. It does not include action taken, in good faith, that falls in the purview of the employer’s managerial/supervisorial rights and responsibilities.

How do you know if you’re being harassed? Here are three key ways:

  1. A supervisor constantly belittles you with remarks like “You’re so stupid.” or “This is the worst work I’ve ever seen!”
  2. A supervisor treats you significantly differently from other people doing the same work such as being over-controlling, micro-managing, denying training opportunities.
  3. A supervisor makes demeaning remarks about you to anyone else in the organization.

Are you being harassed?

If you want ideas about what to do in your particular situation, I’m happy to help. You can schedule a session with me by calling The Optimize Center at 760.747.8686 in Escondido, CA. You can also request information about upcoming programs there.

If you generally want more ideas about managing communication, conflict & collaboration, subscribe to my ezine, The Rhino Wrestler, at the Optimize Institute website, www.OptimizeInstitute.com AND watch for upcoming teleseminars to help you with skills, strategies and insights.

I wish you well.
Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Consultant. Mediator. Counselor. Coach. Catalyst.
Success Solutions for Communication, Conflict & Collaboration
…helping you create the culture & consciousness to optimize relationships & results
www.Rhoberta.com
www.OptimizeCenter.com
www.OptimizeInstitute.com

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Are you enabling a passive-aggressive person?

Posted on December 16th, 2009, by DrShaler
Category: Anger Management, Conflict Management Strategies, Managing Difficult People & Situations

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com

MPj04431970000[1]In the last post, I mentioned that it takes two for there to be passive-aggression. That means that, if you are not the passive-aggressive one, you may well be the enabler.

What does it mean to be an enabler? That’s simple. You allow the person to continue to behave in ways that are relationship- and/or team-destroying. You do not confront the behavior or indicate that there are consequences to it continuing if they want to have a relationship with you or continue to be employed. You simply make it possible for the behavior to continue, no matter how much you complain, moan or whine to others, augmenting the drama. You enable them to be passive-aggressive. It is a dance for two. When you stop enabling, they cease to have a partner in crime!

“Oh, that sounds so straight forward. But, what if I work with them? I’m not choosing to be with them all day. I didn’t hire them.”

That’s true. You may not have chosen them to spend your day with, but, you’re there, earning your living together. So, you can create some clarity about how you work best, and/or want to be treated. You do have some input into the relationship every day.

Here are a couple of scenarios that you might find familiar:

  • You have an important conversation and, from it, create a set of agreements with a colleague. She swears blind that the neither the conversation, or particularly the agreements, ever took place.
  • You take the time to carefully go over a task you are assigning. You take particular care to be clear and specific about how the task is to be done. When you get it back, it looks nothing like what you so carefully requested. When you debrief with the person and challenge them on the specifics, they say, “You never told me to do it that way.”
  • Everyone at the team meeting is clear about the upcoming deadline and the tasks they have been assigned and agreed to complete in a timely manner. On the day of the deadline, a colleague calls in sick and has not finished her tasks.

These are three prime examples of passive-aggression in daily work life. Familiar?

What can you do? You do have options. They are not instantaneous fixes but rather incremental ones that require you have the strength and clarity to create and hold boundaries and systems. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take the time to send a colleague a confirming email with a summary of the conversation and the agreements steming from it. Ask them to respond immediately and affirm the details. Print it out. This creates a dated paper trail.
  • When a task has clear, specific directions, put them in an email. Again, ask the receiver to affirm receipt by return email. Print it out. Tedious? Yes. Clarifying? Yes. Imperative? Unfortunately, when dealing with passive-aggressive co-workers.
  • If a pattern of not coming to work on days work is due has been established, it must be brought out into the open using direct facts. In my opinion, twice is a pattern worth discussing. Also, if you have used emails to confirm deadlines, details, agreements, and timelines well, the facts of the current matter will be simple. This is unacceptable and definitely anti-team, uncollaborative behavior.

If you find it difficult to have confrontative conversations, you can acquire the skills to make it easier. Few people enjoy confrontation, however, it is not a four-letter word! Practice stating your preferences on small issues. Then, when it is imperative to confront a pattern, you’ll be more comfortable.

But wait! There’s more. Stay tuned for info on handling the passive-aggressive boss!

If you have questions, send them to me by commenting on this blog post. I’ll answer you in an upcoming post…promise!

Let me know if I can help you in any way. Some folks find it mighty helpful to book an hour with me to create a strategy to manage a conflict or communication more constructively. You can do that by emailing me at RS@Rhoberta.com or call me at The Optimize Center at 760.747.8686

I wish you well.
Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Consultant. Mediator. Counselor. Coach. Catalyst.
Success Solutions for Life, Work & Business
www.Rhoberta.com

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Working with the poster child for passive-aggression?

Posted on December 2nd, 2009, by DrShaler
Category: Anger Management, Conflict Management Strategies, Managing Difficult People & Situations

42-15655315Have you ever felt kicked in the stomach and, while you were trying to catch your breath, the kicker was telling you that it was your fault you were feeling hurt because that’s not what they intended? The kicker might go on to add that you just have to have a tougher skin. That’s passive-aggression. You are legitimately hurt or negatively affected by someone’s behavior and they have the gall to tell you it’s your fault. Although that is not the accurate psychological profile, it is just how you feel when it plays out.

I frequently work with leaders and their teams. It is just as frequent that I encounter passive-aggressive team members and leaders! So, are you working with the poster child for passive-aggression? I’m going to write a few posts about this so that you may be better able to identify the behavior, and know some good ways to respond. So, stay tuned!

Here’s the actual definition:

American Heritage Dictionary:
“Of, relating to, or having a personality disorder characterized by habitual passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in occupational or social situations, as by procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, and inefficiency. ”

Medical Dictionary:
“being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by expression of negative feelings,resentment, and aggression in an unassertive way (as through procrastination, stubbornness, and unwillingness to communicate.)”

A while ago, I was working with a team because no one seemed to understand how to play nicely together while accomplishing the mission. The team has members at four levels from entry to executive. Deadlines are missed. People are unexpectedly missing without notice. In the few months I observed them, it became clear that everyone, top to bottom, were missing the intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that could allow them to do more than deflect responsibility and evade accountability. It was like shooting at a moving target:

“I could have got the report in if X had done his job on time.”
” Management is unrealistic. They don’t listen to us.”
“I have to take my leave and I have that right even if I’ve agreed to attend a meeting. There are rules, ya know.”
“Am I the only one around here who gets anything done?”

Any of this sound familiar? I’m sure you could add many more sentences that you have heard…or, worse, uttered!

The first step in managing passive-aggression is to be sure you’re not playing in that arena. It takes two to be passive-aggressive. No audience. No drama. No participation. No go!

So, first installment: Consider if you are dragging your feet, making excuses regularly, or looking for someone to blame as your basic modus operandi.

More in the next post!
P.S. If you have questions for me, just add them into your comments on this blog post and I’ll answer you asap.

Here’s to Active Assertion!
Rhoberta

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD,  Peace Catalyst.
Founder of Sow Peace™ International
Resolving Relationship Issues Healthily.
Recovering from Relationship Issues Wisely.
Communication | Conflict Management | Negotiation | Mediation | TeamBuilding
www.SowPeace.com
www.Rhoberta.com

Do you have a specific question about your relationship with yourself, at home or at work?  Go to AskRhoberta.com and you will be answered in a personal video email.

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Oh, no! He’s doing it AGAIN!

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com

42-15495677As a consultant to a major client, I’ve been working to massage, influence, educate, persuade and cajole a supervisor to grow into his role…and, quickly. He’s been in the role for a year and people are still making excuses for his being new. Because of his very specific, hard-to-find expertise, the company is willing to invest in the consulting and coaching necessary to discover whether or not he has the willingness, competence and ability to inhabit his position.

I’ve been working with the team: director, supervisor and team members, for two months and the lay of the land is well-established. I have had time to develop sufficient trust that the truth is sometimes even told!

So, imagine my surprise to receive a call from the Director saying:

“Oh, no! He’s doing it AGAIN!”

And, surprisingly…no, actually, shockingly…he IS doing it again. And, the “it” in this case is undertaking to do a task by a deadline, affirming that it would be done, then magically being sick on the day it is due with it, of course, undone. It’s not rocket science. We had been through this scenario with him twice before. My immediate questions for him:

What is it about “trustworthy” that you do not understand?

What is is about leading by example that you do not understand?

What is it about “you are not indispensable” that you do not understand?

In any economy, a rational person does not demonstrate a death wish repeatedly and expect not to be terminated. In the current economy, it seems rational to think that he would want to keep this job at this level. But no, here it goes again.

The consequences of this latest, blatant disregard for the needs of the Director need to be dire this time. The supervisor has previously been told that firing is an option. Now, the behavior repeats. My suggestion: the Director now puts the supervisor on notice of termination in ninety days if there is not a consistent change in behavior.

This is what I call the dreaded “FAILURE-TO-LEARN” syndrome. If it’s going on in your workplace, someone needs to step up and do something!

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Consultant. Mediator. Counselor. Coach. Catalyst.
…making it easier to have difficult conversations.
www.Rhoberta.com
www.OptimizeInstitute.com

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Be kindly direct!

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com

I just want to scream but, the office isn’t the place for that. Here’s the question I was just asked:

“And that file I need would be where?”

What am amazingly passive way to be! If you want me to get the file for you, ask me to get the file for you. If you want me to tell you where the file which he clearly didn’t because I told him and he didn’t move, ask me to get the file for you. This insipid, passive way of getting a need met is infuriating to me. How about to you?

It is possible to be kindly direct. That means the use of the words, please and thank you, are involved along with a direct request, clearly stated so there is no ambiguity as to how to meet the need. It’s such a simple thing. If I had heard:

“Could you please get that file for me now?”

No problem. The answer I could give was yes or no. Simple. You know what you want. You ask me to give it to you. I agree or disagree. There is no need to be passively indirect. Are you guilty?

NOTE: You are welcome to ask your question in the comments section of this blog. I’ll do my best to answer them. Tell us about a scenario at your office, or in your relationship.

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Consultant. Mediator. Counselor. Coach. Catalyst.
Success Solutions for Life, Work & Business
www.Rhoberta.com
www.OptimizeCenter.com

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Shoulders are not supposed to touch earlobes!

Posted on November 3rd, 2009, by DrShaler
Category: Expressing who you are, Improving Communication, Stress Management

(C) Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
www.Rhoberta.com

It seems to obvious, but, it’s so easy to forget. When your shoulders are taking up permanent residence at your earlobes, remember to breathe. Not just a simple breath, but a deep one. Your body wants to take care of you and when you remember to inhale deeply, the body will let go and release your shoulders. That’s a great start to managing stress, tension and anxiety.
Speaking recently at the APC conference at Disney World, one of my topics was Keeping It Together in Tense Times. We all need those skills. It’s no secret that difficult people, situations and circumstances make us tense and we need immediate strategies to stay calm, cool and collected. If your toolkit does not come complete with advanced communication, conflict & anger, negotation and teambuilding skills, the good news is that you can get them. And, you need to. Great skills you can count on increase your comfort and confidence as well as your competence.

So, breathing. It’s natural, yet, we can get so engrossed and tense that we forget to do it. Or, we breathe shallowly and keep ourselves close to hyperventilation. A good practice is to check your body for tension every half hour or so. If you find those shoulders climbing upwards, you’ll catch them, release them, and reduce your tension.

Along with paying attention to your breath, change position. Get up if you’ve been sitting. Stretch your arms over your head and slightly backwards. Let your head follow. When you spend so long each day looking even slightly downwards at your computer screen, it is important to reverse the use of those muscles frequently. Stretch and lengthen.

Get out of the office for your breaks. Walk around the block or the building. Go up and down a few flights of stairs. Spend some quiet time alone, or “non-office talk” time with friends or colleagues. Avoid frenemies while relaxing.

Take good care of yourself. That is always first. Remember the airline mantra, Put on your own mask first, before you assist others. Take care of yourself. No one else will do it as well as you can. It’s not selfish. It’s essential.

© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Consultant. Mediator. Counselor. Coach. Catalyst.
Success Solutions for Life, Work & Business

The Optimize Center
San Diego, CA

RS@OptimizeCenter.com
www.OptimizeCenter.com

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