Saturday, August 30, 2008

Being from Jersey...

and of Italian heritage to boot, my natural reaction to verbal attacks is to outshout the opposition. Typically, this is an unproductive, if perversely satisfying, strategy. So, I read this press release from Cathy Lewis about dealing with desk rage by David Wolf, author of Relationships that Work, with interest.

Wolf is a life skills coach and a workplace communications specialist, who founded the Satvatove Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to transformative communication. Here are his tips for handling desk rage -- other people's and your own:

When someone rages at you:

Blank out your emotions. Stay emotionally neutral. Take a breath, keep your voice low and slow, and don't take it personally. His rage is not about you. It's about him. Don't let fear or your own anger take hold.

Restate, restate, restate. Restate in your own words, as best you can, what you just heard. Don't add judgments or interpretations. For example, the raging coworker says, "You screwed up my presentation by not having the report I asked you for! We're gonna lose this client, thanks to you!" You might respond, "I know you're furious with me. You're upset that I didn't have the report you requested, and you think this could jeopardize our client contract."

Be a mirror. Each time he comes back at you, accurately reflect back what he just said. He'll quickly see you're not his enemy, and that you're listening to him and understanding him. Watch how this simple technique converts hostility into reasonable dialogue.

When you’re feeling rage at someone else:

Just the facts, ma’am. Simply state the facts of what happened. Don't interpret or analyze them. For example, you might say, "You agreed to be at work on time, and to call me if you were going to be late. Three days in the past week you arrived more than a half hour late--and one of those days was a staff meeting where I really needed your assistance."

Give it a feeling. Next, use "I" statements to express how you feel. For example, "I am frustrated by this and feel disrespected." Avoid "you" statements, such as “You made me angry.”

Need and want. Finally, tell the person what you need or want, using "I" statements again. So you might say, "I want an assistant who is respectful and responsible. I need you to honor your agreements."


Julie Tracey said...

Great post and great advice. I often use "you" in my communications when someone has let me down or angered me in the workplace. I will instead use the tactics as described by David Wolf.

Marie said...

Hi Julie,

Thank you for your comment. I have done a lot of training with Dr. David Wolf and I now can say that I can be in any situation and feel like I do not need to give my power away to any conflict or tension and that I know how to respond in a way that is in my integrity.