What do you do when someone refuses to talk?

One of the questions audience members often ask is – what do you do when the other person refuses to discuss the issue?  Try as we might, we cannot force another person to communicate with us.  We can do our best to lay the groundwork for the conversation and if the other party refuses, so be it.  Here are 3 ways you can invite the person into the conversation:

  1. Since we have to work together, I want it to be the best working relationship possible, so I’d like to talk to you about…
  2. I think we may have a misunderstanding and I’d like to hear what you have to say about what happened…
  3. I think we have different perceptions about _____________________. I’d like to hear what you think.

In any case, be open to listening to the other person.  As Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird) reminds us: ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

If they still refuse to have a conversation, do you best to let it go and remember you’ve done your best to resolve the problem.

Why love the job you have?

Do you 

Hit the snooze a few times because you hate the thought of going to work?

Spend Sunday night thinking about how much you dislike what you do for a living?

Wish you would hit the lottery, so you didn’t have to go back to work tomorrow?

You are not alone. According to Gallup, 70% of American don’t love their job or feel engaged at work. Here are 3 reasons why loving your work is important and 3 things you can do if you aren’t loving your job, yet.

Why?

We are healthier. When we love what we do, it improves our health. Research has found that your chances of having a heart attack are more likely to occur on a Monday. This is partly because of the biological changes that trigger the stress of returning to work.  When we love our work, we experience less stress, greater immunity and better health.

We have increased energy. Energy creates more energy. When we have something to look forward to our excitement increases. Our energy and attitude spiral upward. Our motivation improves. We accomplish more and become more productive.

Our home life improves. When we love what we do during the workday, we don’t drag unnecessary stress home with us that ends up harming our relationships. Just like energy creates energy, joy creates more joy. So we become better spouses, partners, and parents.

How?

Focus on what you can control. Just like the weather, you don’t have control over what other people say or how they act. We do have control over how we respond.  Instead of responding in a like manner to a nasty remark, take a step back, smile and let it drop.  Avoid letting a someone’s bad day become yours.

Be grateful.  When payday rolls around, give thanks. Having an income is better than being broke.  Make a list of all things you do like about your job and the company you work for. Research shows that an attitude of gratitude improves our immune system along with our attitude toward life in general.  Grateful people are happier people.

Get help. Talk with a coach or counselor. You can explore options in the initial phone and discover if the coach/counselor is a good fit for you.  My initial session is designed to identify the 5 things that might be holding you back and the one thing you can do to move forward.

What do you do with a bad shot?

A few days ago I played golf with a group of friends.  On the first tee one of my friends hit a very poor drive. As she walked off the tee box, I heard her say, “It’s okay.  It is a beautiful day and I’m here with friends enjoying the outdoors.  I will do better next time.” Her next shot was near perfect. She continued to have a good round of golf.

Here is the lesson I took away.  Poor beginnings don’t have to be the predictor of the outcome.  Every day we face obstacles. Our plans don’t always work out. It is not what happens to us, it is our thoughts and our response that make the difference.  She could have let that first bad shot ruin her game.  Instead she brushed it off and focused on what she was enjoying.  In every adversity there is an opportunity. Make the choice to respond and not react.

Where is your focus?

As a young girl, attending summer camp, we sang a song with the following lyrics:  It’s a poor man who can’t see the beauty in the sun and the wind and the rain.  And it’s a sad man who can love his neighbor and always finds cause to complain.  The lyrics remind us of two things: our lives are enriched when we notice beauty all around us and diminished when we search for reasons to dislike and complain about others. We only need to look for it.

 

As Jack Canfield reminds us: “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them.” We have a choice. We can focus on the beauty in life, or we can concentrate on the ugliness. Make the choice to seek the things that bring you happiness.

Beware the story.

As humans we like stories.   Stories help us make sense of the world and share our understanding with others. The problem is sometimes the story we tell ourselves is not true and when we repeat it to others it can cause problems. Here is what happened to a client of mine when she made up a story about the behavior of a co-worker.  The names are fictitious. My client, Sally, was waiting for some information from her colleague, Harry.  She needed the information to create a quote for a customer on Monday morning. Harry had promised to send it to her by 2:00 p.m.  on Friday.  It was 4:00 o’clock on Friday afternoon and no information.  Sally called his office, no response. She called his cell phone and got his voice mail.  She then called his administrative assistance and found out Harry left at 12:00 noon that day, he said he wouldn’t be back in until Monday and offered no other explanation.  Sally made up all kinds of stories in her head about Harry and why he failed to deliver on his promise.  She spent her entire weekend stewing about Harry’s lack of respect for her, the company and customer’s proposal.  She was so upset it ruined her time at a family outing. On Monday morning she discovered Harry had sent the information to her on Friday before he left, however there was a glitch in the email system and the message was still stuck in his inbox.

Sally learned a valuable lesson.  In the future instead of making up stories and spending her weekend all worked up, she would tell herself there was a reason for Harry’s behavior.  When we judge someone else’s behavior, we have two choices: react or respond.  When we react, we blame the other person, when we respond there is a pause between what we see or what we hear and what we say or do next. We become curious and look for reason. It takes practice to shift from automatically reacting to responding. They next time you find yourself in a tailspin reacting to another’s behavior stop and say to yourself, there is an explanation, at this moment in time I don’t know what it is, so I’m going to stop being upset and move on.

Relationships make us or break us

In his book The 100/0 Principle: The Great Secret of Relationships Al Ritter wrote – relationships surround us, confound us and sometimes lead to our defeat.  Interesting, isn’t it.  Unless you are a hermit, you interact with people every day and often those interactions, those relationships can make or break our day.  Think about the last time you received a compliment from someone, it probably made you feel good.  Conversely, the argument you had with another person maybe put you in a bad mood.   If you are anything like me you replay the situation over and over, and let it consume your thoughts. Here is the good news, it doesn’t have to be that way.

When we have an interaction with someone, and it doesn’t go as planned ask yourself three questions.  What went right, what needs improvement and what will I do differently next time? These three questions can shift you from worry to calm confidence because you will have a plan for next time. You may want to write down your answers in a journal.  This gets the conversation out of your head and down on paper.  If you find yourself ruminating again, you can say to yourself, I’ve already dealt with this, time to move on.

 

It is the little things that make a difference.

Little things make a differenceIn working with one of my clients his goal is to be more purposeful in his interactions with his team. He told me he has come to realize that scheduling time to check in with the people he leads has made a difference in how effectively they work together.

He said until recently he didn’t make a point to check in on a regular basis and ask a few key questions. Questions like – what’s working, what do they need help with are fairly standard. He told me when added questions like – what is your biggest accomplishment this week, what is something you do differently than most of your co-workers, and what has been the highlight of your week so far – it furthered the conversation and the workplace relationship. His employees commented how much they’ve appreciated his willingness to spend time and listen to them. He told me in the past he was so focused on getting the work done he was not making time to spend with his team in one-to-one meetings.

This simple change has made a difference for him and his employees. What is your favorite question to ask in a meeting with one of your team members?

What makes the biggest difference in a difficult conversation?

Listening to a podcast this morning the host told a story about a lesson he learned from a pro-golfer. The pro said the one way to improve your game was to practice until you can make a 3-foot putt 50 times from the same spot without missing. Putting is about 41% of the game and most puts are within 3 feet of the hole. If all you do is master this single shot, you will reduce your score by 20 to 25%.

It struck me the same is true for a difficult conversation. The conversation is won or lost in how it begins. Start with a statement that describes why you value the relationship you have with the other person and why the conversation is important, and you are off to a great start. Start with a question or derogatory remark and it is doomed to failure. In his research with couples, John Gottman, found he can predict the outcome of a conversation with 96% accuracy, simply but how it begins.

Want my tip sheet for opening lines for difficult conversations? Just ask and I will send it your way.

Are you comfortable being uncomfortable?

My clients say one of the main reasons they avoid difficult conversations is because they are uncomfortable. As humans we like comfort. When life is good, and you feel comfortable your brain releases a series of chemicals that keep you feeling good. When things get uncomfortable and you experience anxiety, fear, and stress your brain releases chemicals that are designed to help you survive a potentially harmful situation. Your heart pounds and your body sweats. Your brain is helping your body fight the enemy or run away.

When you need to have a conversation, you perceive as challenging your brain can shift into the flight or fight mode – if you let it.

To have success we need to embrace the discomfort and know with practice difficult conversations will get easier. Remember back to the first time you tried anything new. It was hard, yet with practice over time you mastered it.

When we make a habit of trying new things our comfort zone expands and newness become less fear inducing and more pleasurable. This is part of the reason I created my online course – Difficult Conversations 3 P’s to Mastery. So you can prepare, practice and perfect the conversation before it takes place in real life. Click here check it out.