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Book Summary: How to Work with Just About Anyone

This article is based on the following book:


How to Work with Just About Anyone


“A Three-step Solution For Getting Difficult People To Change”


By Lucy GillPublished by Fireside/ Simon and Schuster 1999


ISBN 0-684-85527-5


206 pages

“I just can’t seem to get along with this person!”

Every office has that one difficult person to work with, who affects productivity due to a terrible attitude, chronic tardiness, or simply drives everyone else up the wall. Here is the answer to common problems in conflict management.

Dealing with negative behavior, whether at work or at home, can be solved with three steps:

  1. Get to the heart of the matter.

  2. Determine what problem-solving methods to avoid so you don’t perpetuate the conflict.

  3. Choose a different, surprising approach to solve the problem and keep it solved.

Finally, here is your key to some peace and sanity in the workplace, drawn from forty years of research and professional experience in consulting on the prevention and management of nonproductive behavior.

How difficult behavior is reinforced:

People use the same solution that never brings new results. The answer is to try something radically different. Employ atotally new approach and choose your response carefully.

Why we fail to change negative behavior:

  1. We are caught in the web of our own logic.

  2. We don’t realize we are doing the same things over and over.

  3. We can’t think of anything better to try.

This three-question formula can lead you to a new strategy:

  1. What is the primary problem? Be specific. How exactly does it affect productivity?

  2. What have you been doing about your problem so far? Identify the logic of your favorite solution.

  3. What do you need to do instead? You need to undo what your ineffective solution did.

Attack with a brand new set of weapons.

Focus on the facts. Figure out what the heart of the matter is:

  1. List all the issues affecting you.

  2. Decide which issue or who in particular is bothering you the most.

  3. Encircle the issue or person’s name on your list.

  4. Focus on what you circled. List all the things that bother you about this person.

  5. Now pick the problem to work on. If you could only fix one item on the list, and had to live with all the others, what would you choose?

  6. Then with the particular problem chosen, spell out specifically: Who is doing what that presents a problem, to whom, and how is this behavior a problem?

The 4 ways to get bogged down in “whys” and therefore confused by superfluous issues:

  1. Focusing on possible reasons for someone’s behavior

  2. Speculating about what the person is up to

  3. Labeling behavior instead of describing it

  4. Worrying about who is right or wrong

Use reverse psychology!

  1. Do something unexpected. Sometimes shock tactics or being brutally honest works.

  2. Encourage the person to keep doing what it is that is irritating behavior. It is strange but encouraging people to continue their irritating behavior gets them to stop it.

  3. Have fun experimenting with your new approaches!

  4. Tell someone not to change what he is doing.

  5. Create consequences or let the natural consequences of his negative behavior occur.

  6. Urge someone to do the annoying actions even more

New Conflict Management Techniques

  1. Do not offer a long list of reasons why someone should change. Simply tell them what needs to be done. The more you rationalize or argue the more they will resist. You will be wasting time and energy.

  2. In the face of constant criticism, silently take note of what is being said, then read the notes back – instead of actively defending each point.

  3. Make statements (“Unless it creates a problem for you, I’m going to do X”)

  4. Give a specific compliment to the other party in a conflict. (“I like the way you presented your report – your lineup of facts made it easy to follow”) It catches them off-guard and makes him/her less defensive.

  5. Excuse yourself for a minute in the midst of a heated discussion to go to the toilet instead of escalating the argument.

  6. Hold back for thirty minutes instead of rushing to fix a problem for someone else.

Other “happy workplace” tips:

  1. Keep an open mind about why the person behaves in such a manner.

  2. See both sides of the situation, not just yours.

  3. Be very specific when analyzing the problem. Make a mental videotape of the behavior.

  4. Notice when it isn’t happening. Understand why. You may have overlooked something you did that didn’t result in the other person’s annoying behavior.

  5. Find someone with immunity and see how he or she successfully handles the troublesome behavior that you’re struggling with.

About The Author

By: Regine P. Azurin and Yvette Pantilla


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Regine P. Azurin and Yvette Pantilla