John has always been driven to do a good job at work, but he rubs people the wrong way when he’s responsible for supervising others. He believes that his way is the only right way to do the job, and becomes frustrated and controlling with employees who don’t perform exactly to his expectations.
While John wants his team to perform well, he seems oblivious to other people’s reactions when he’s interacting with them. He often interrupts people rather than allowing them to finish speaking. He becomes tense when he’s talking, speaking loudly and becoming animated. This behavior is especially embarrassing if he’s correcting someone in front of their coworkers.
When talking to employees, he frequently uses phrases like “you always” or “you never.” This causes him to have trouble staying focused on the current issue because he’s dredging up problems from the past. When others suggest solutions, he usually responds by saying things like “We’ve already tried that” or “That won’t work here” or “The VP will never approve.”
John becomes anxious when he relates to people because he grew up in a family that was frequently critical of him. He learned early on to work hard and perform well in order to avoid being put down by his parents. And if his performance didn’t meet their perfectionistic standards, he found that his only recourse was to fight back by vigorously defending his efforts.
Unfortunately, John is still locked into the familiar pattern of relating that he learned as a youth. If someone tries to give him negative feedback about his performance, he becomes extremely defensive. He’ll adamantly deny that he has a problem, and if they try to tell him otherwise he’ll disengage from that individual.
John needs to relearn relationships skills so that he can effectively resolve problems and proactively pursue positive connections. That begins by facing his fear of being wrong, and embracing the fact that he can’t always be right. Which will lead him to realizing that he needs other people. A team in which everyone’s perspectives are respected has been proven to make superior decisions.
To accomplish this change John will need to learn active listening skills. Before he shares his own views, he must discipline himself to paraphrase what the other person has just told him. To ensure his summary was accurate and showed complete comprehension, he’ll need to ask “Is there anything more you want me to understand about this situation?”
John’s non-verbal responses will likewise need to reflect an attitude that demonstrates interest in what the other person is saying. That requires sitting or standing in a relaxed position during conversations with others, breathing deeply and slowly to stay calm throughout the entire the conversation.
It also involves speaking in a conversational tone that is engaging and mirrors the manner in which the other person is speaking. In addition to matching the volume and tone of the other person, he needs to non-verbally synchronize with the individual who’s speaking. He must learn to sit in a similar position to as the person who’s speaking in order to be able to empathize with them.
In order to effectively problem-solve with his team, John needs to actively listen to all of the possibilities that they propose instead of putting down their suggestions. If he has questions about the efficacy of the idea being presented, he must ask questions to help the team think through their ideas so that everyone can consider both the positive ramifications and the potential complications that may arise. For example, he could ask “How do you think the finance folks would fit this into the budget?”
If the team doesn’t have an immediate solution that works, John can help them develop one by encouraging team members to get input from different stakeholders. He can also ask people to research how other groups have successfully solved a similar problem.
John will need to train himself to remain focused on understanding what other people need to resolve the team’s current challenge with a solution that works for everyone involved. This way of thinking will remove much of his fear of failing because the solution is not his alone, but a collection of ideas that have been forged into a collective vision of how to achieve success.
A team approach is much more likely to get results. When everyone owns a part of the solution they’ve got plenty of passion and perseverance for pursuing a positive outcome. And that’s the secret to success.