Posts Tagged ‘difficult people’

When they just won’t change: the art of effective influence

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Bring to mind someone in your life whose behaviour you’d like to change.

Maybe someone you work with is hopeless when it comes to deadlines; their slack attitude is impacting your ability to set your own schedule.

Or it might be a family member – someone who manages to gently undermine anything that happens to you, and cast you into a role you’ve long since grown out of.

You want them to do things differently, but how? After all, you’re an intelligent person – there’s probably plenty of approaches you’ve already taken to change how things are.

When you’ve tried everything

Frustration: when they just won't changeIt can be the most frustrating thing in the world. You’ve tried everything you know to get them to change: from taking the moral high ground and leading by example, to confronting them with the impact of their behaviour or even resorting to just ignoring them.

And yet they’re still there, sapping your energy and churning your stomach whenever you think of the next interaction.

Often, when we’ve tried to do everything we can to change someone’s behaviour, that’s the crux of what’s stuck. We’re in the mode of trying to do things differently, when what will cause a shift is at a much deeper level.

It’s not about what you’re doing

The truth is, people’s behaviour does change, sometimes drastically, depending on the situation.

You might have noticed that the colleague who’s perpetually behind with their deliverables suddenly switches things up when a new manager arrives on the scene. Or rolled your eyes when your never-satisfied sister-in-law becomes the picture of supportive encouragement when someone new arrives on the scene.

Maddening as it can be to see the person whose stubborn refusal to change you’ve been wrestling with turns into sweetness and light, it demonstrates a really key foundation of our War to Peace® work : the way we are being around people influences their response to us.

In other words, what's important isn't what you’re doing to change their behaviour, it’s how you’re doing it.

Back in the driving seat

Influencing people to change is most effective when we start by looking at the way we show up in our interactions with them.

The good news is, recognising this puts the power back in your hands. You’re not relying on them to alter what they're doing, but thinking about how you can rewrite your own role in the situation.

To create that change, you’ll need to look at two things:

1. Your emotional state – the way you feel about them, and the emotions that come up when you interact with them.

2. Your beliefs and perceptions: the way you are viewing that person and their behaviour (e.g. the labels you give them in your head or even verbalise to them).

Take a sheet of paper and make a few notes under each of those headings. So if we’re thinking about a perpetually incompetent colleague, your emotions might include frustration, anger, resentment and exhaustion (with continually trying to get them to pull their socks up).

Your beliefs and perceptions might include: They’re doing this on purpose, they’re lazy, they think I’ll always pick up the slack for them, they’re irresponsible… let it all out!

Writing a new story

Once you’ve offloaded those thoughts and feelings, wait until you feel more grounded and balanced. The process of venting on paper may have achieved this for you, or you may find it helpful to go for a walk, listen to some of your favourite music or engage in one of your hobbies. Then it’s time to question the thoughts you have about the person. Are they all true? Can you be sure? Is there a stress-free reason for you to keep believing those things about them? How could you rewrite each of those thoughts with a different slant?

For example, your colleague might be so terrified of letting you down that their nervousness and desire to please means they can't complete tasks properly or articulate their thoughts clearly. They might be ultra conscientious, to the point where they’re spending way too long on each task. Or they’re struggling with something difficult in their life that they don't feel they can share with you.

How would those new stories change the way you interact with them?

You might feel that everything you’ve written down is totally justified. After all, they’re the one with the problematic behaviour!

But allow yourself to play with the idea that those thoughts can be shifted or changed so that your interactions with them become easier for you. And notice how attached we become at expecting that others should operate in accordance with our beliefs, and how little understanding we sometimes have about their values and motivations. Challenging the helpfulness of holding on so tightly to those thoughts and beliefs about them is a key step towards allowing our best selves to emerge – and that’s where the deepest changes in their behaviour will arise.

Peace doesn’t mean pushover

Being “at Peace” doesn’t mean being a pushover, or letting down your boundaries - far from it! If you experience our War to Peace® process in one of our twice-yearly live one-day workshops, you will experience how your interactions can become effortless, even with the people you currently find most triggering and challenging. Know that when you’ve tried everything in your toolkit to get someone to alter their behaviour, it’s usually a signal that there’s something deeper going on below the surface – and that’s where War to Peace® can help you. For more details and to book your place on our next workshop in October, click here.

Over to you

Which relationships are niggling at you right now? Do you feel as though you've tried everything? Is there anyone you’ve noticed just “won’t change”, whatever you do? These are great early warning signs of going to War with someone and holding on to some unchallenged thoughts and beliefs about them. Remember, if you're wondering why you should do the work when they are clearly the problem, know that doing this work enables us to have freedom from the war zone that occupies so much of our head space and energy. And the feedback we receive all the time is that when we do this work for us, it invites completely new and more helpful behaviour from them - effortlessly.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from learning how to feel better about their relationships with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace® workshop in London on 13 October. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 8 spaces left.

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The art of effective influence: how to shift the behaviour of someone who just won't change

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Photo Credit: Naaman Saar Stavy/Flickr

Letting off steam – or blowing your top?

Monday, October 10th, 2016

When we’ve been wronged in some way by someone, it’s natural to feel hurt and upset. When people around us see that we are upset and ask about what’s happened, our instinct is often to tell them.

Imagine you are walking to work and a stranger barges into you, spilling coffee on your jacket and knocking you to the floor before disappearing without a sorry. When you arrive at the office, dishevelled, you are highly likely to tell your colleagues what happened – it can be cathartic to share the experience, after all. You're unlikely to see that person again and, when you have been given a coffee and commiserated with for a few minutes, you can clean up your jacket, take a deep breath and get on with your day.

letting off steamBut what about if the person who wronged you is someone you have to see regularly? A colleague, friend or family member, for example? Is it always healthy and cathartic to tell others about what has happened to you, or could you end up getting into an unhelpful place of gathering of allies?

Gathering allies is one of the signs of being at War (or going into conflict) that we talk about in the War to Peace workshops. If we are a country about to go to war – or a person about to become in conflict with someone – we've learned that it's in our interests to get as many people as possible to be on our ‘side’.

So the barging stranger example earlier isn’t generally going to be a War situation – it’s hopefully just an annoying thing that happened on the way to work.

But what about if Wendy still hasn’t written that report that you need for your presentation tomorrow – and she promised it three days ago? And what if she did this to you last week as well, and you had to pull an all-nighter to get ready for the big meeting? Is it OK to have a moan to your colleagues? You’re really annoyed, naturally, and it’s cathartic, right?

What about if your colleagues join in with your moan and tell you that Wendy left them waiting a few times too, and that her work was sloppy when it arrived? Would that make you feel better or worse? Does the conversation still feel cathartic, or is it starting to feel toxic? How would you feel if Wendy walked into the room as you were talking? And is your relationship with Wendy getting any better as a result of sharing your frustrations? Would you think to include the times that she had helped you or done some fantastic work in this conversation? (By the way, when we go to War with someone, it's largely unconscious and means it's usually very difficult to recall much good about the person or anything they've done).

There’s a big difference between a short ‘vent’ into a journal or to an unconnected friend and a gathering of allies such as the example above. The first allows us to let off steam, which often helps us to move on and deal with the problem at hand; the second only sends us further into the war zone by reinforcing to ourselves and others how 'right' we are about the person, and gathering further reinforcement and evidence of this from our allies. In short, it’s a quick route to being at War.

In the meantime, Wendy is wondering how she is going to get through another day on no sleep when she's been caring through the night for her sick mother for a month now. She's so distraught, she daren't talk about it for fear of crying at work and looking "unprofessional." If only you'd known what was going on for her...

Over to you

  • The next time you find yourself telling someone about a ‘wrong’, ask yourself: "Am I having a cathartic vent or gathering allies?"
  • Notice what story you are telling yourself and your allies. How do you feel about yourself and the person you talked about afterwards?
  • How can you find more inner resources at times of difficulty? (clue – try starting with the ideas in this post or this one)

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you, or someone you know, would like to experience how to let off steam in a healthy way and learn how to be at Peace, even with the people you find most difficult, our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 3 March 2017. We only have 8 spaces left and spaces sell out quickly (especially our reduced priced tickets) so if you would like to attend, do book yours today.

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Are you letting off steam or blowing your top?

 

 

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Digging over the past

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Theresa’s husband had been having an affair for over two years before she found out.

During that time, they had lost two parents between them to cancer, gone on the holiday of a lifetime to Australia and supported their son through a nasty case of bullying. Theresa felt that they had been there for each other, loved and enjoyed each other’s company through all of this, and that they were rock solid.

worker-30240_640Finding out about the affair through an acquaintance had brought her world crumbling around her. Immediately, she set about raking through her memories of the two years it had been going on. The day before her mother’s funeral, her husband had been out all day; he couldn’t attend their son’s school leavers’ service as he had been on a ‘business trip’; he’d spent a lot of time on his smartphone when they were in Australia and she’d assumed he was updating his Facebook status with what they’d been up to that day. Now she drew very different conclusions about what he had been doing on those occasions and many others. Looking through the events of those years in a cold light and rewriting her experience through her new knowledge made Theresa feel duped and angry, and she kicked herself for being so ‘naïve’.

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Frank’s boss had been very supportive. He’d seen that Frank had been having to leave earlier than usual and had asked if there was anything the matter. Frank had confided in him that his wife was finding coping with their toddler daughter very draining so he had agreed to come home and take over the reins, finishing off any outstanding work after they had put her to bed. His boss had been stopping by his desk regularly since then, asking how things were going, and Frank felt valued and appreciated. He was happy he worked for such a progressive, flexible employer.

Yet when a junior colleague in his department was promoted ahead of him, the reason for Frank’s boss’s ‘supportive’ concern became apparent: he was checking whether or not Frank was up to the responsibility of the new role. Frank looked back on all the chats they’d had and on all the work he’d completed well and on time, and he felt cheated and resentful. He’d even taken his boss out for a slap up lunch to say thanks for his support. Frank now wondered whether his boss had been plotting against him all along, and spent long hours awake in bed unable to sleep because he was raking through every conversation they’d had for months and imagining his boss’s negative thoughts towards him.

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Theresa’s story and Frank’s story may be far apart in context but they share a theme of altered perceptions. We all read our experiences in based on the information that is available to us at the time, mixed in with our assumptions, previous knowledge and the mood we're in. Theresa and Frank felt fully supported, then angry and resentful when they looked back at the experience with fresh knowledge.

Yet they were not wrong, stupid or naïve to feel happy at the time. And it is completely understandable why they may change how they interpret those past events given the information they have now.  But does it serve them to dig over events of the past and view them as more true / different than they had previously thought?

Most of us would find it hard not to take personally what Theresa and Frank experienced and to blame the 'errant' husband and 'unfair' boss, yet the cost is great to ourselves as we carry around the burden of resentment, which is like allowing the people we most dislike to reside in our heads rent free. It also means that we are far more likely to go to War with other people in our lives, becoming less tolerant, more mistrusting and more cynical - so we allow ourselves to become victims repeatedly, whilst continuing the cycle of blame.

A great way of breaking this cycle is to ask ourselves "what else could this mean?" We don't need to know the truth of why people do the things that they do - because the 'truth' is only ever a perception that is based on the information we have at the time, which we interpret through the lens of our past experiences. So, when Theresa chooses to decide that her husband's affair was nothing to do with anything she did or didn't do (e.g. it was about Theresa's husband being self-destructive because of his own demons, he has a sex addiction than he believes can only be fulfilled by other people etc.), and Frank's boss's decision was nothing to do with anything Frank's personal circumstances (e.g. Frank's boss was under pressure from his boss to meet the unpublished diversity statistics, he was having an affair with the person he promoted etc.), it allows them to begin to feel differently.

It is that simple. And we're not by any means suggesting it's easy!

Most of us have been brought up to think that other people and circumstances cause our pain. And it's so much easier to blame other people and feel victimised (after all, others in our friendship and family circles understand this way of operating) than to consider that we can feel entirely differently once we question our thinking and perceptions. For more on this, you might like this post. Otherwise, do come along to a War to Peace workshop and experience it for yourself.

Over to you

  • When you find  yourself digging up the past in your mind, consider the thoughts you have at the time and the thoughts you have now. What would be a more helpful way of thinking about this situation and the people involved?
  • If you are stuck and feeling very hostile and hurt, a healthy vent is extremely helpful to get out all the emotional pain and rage you are feeling. You can bash a cushion with a baseball bat whilst screaming or, if you're worried about the neighbours, write a completely uncensored letter to the person you feel has hurt you, really let yourself say everything you ever wanted to say to them. Then burn it. You will then be in a more resourceful emotional state to consider thinking about them in a different and more helpful way.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you know someone who spends a lot of time digging over the past, our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 7 October. To join the waitlist, click here. To book onto our next workshop with spaces in March 2017, click here

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Are you seeing red with someone?

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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Jasper had been worried about money for about three years. Since his partner Ruth had become ill and unable to work, things had been tight. At first, they saw it as a sort of a challenge – they swapped energy providers and switched to own brand products at the supermarket and celebrated the savings they had made. They rented a cottage in the UK rather than going on holiday abroad. They cancelled their gym memberships and walked their dog Benjamin a lot more. They dipped into their savings pot because that’s what savings were for, right?

The last six months had felt bleak though. It was no longer a game. Any holidays at all were a distant memory, the savings fund had dried up and they never put the heating on despite freezing temperatures. They were defaulting on their mortgage payments and, to make matters worse, Ruth’s health was declining fast. Jasper couldn’t see any possible happy ending – he stood to lose his partner and his home and he felt desperate.

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Karen had been overjoyed when she got the job four months ago. It was a significant promotion for her and she loved the company she worked for, the position itself, which saw her having to be creative and innovative, and most of all she liked the team she was working with.

Well, all except one person. Since she had arrived, Karen had made a big effort to befriend her colleagues by chatting with them at work and socialising with them as much as possible after hours but Jasper seemed to resist all her attempts to strike up conversation. Every time Karen tried to engage with him, either by asking him opinion on a work related matter or just offering him a cup of coffee, she was met with unsmiling eyes and a polite but very brief answer to her question and nothing more. Jasper seemed to almost be going out of his way to avoid Karen and never joined in with the social activities when she was there.

Jasper’s reactions bothered Karen and she spent a lot of time worrying that maybe she had done something wrong or said something to annoy him. She just couldn’t shake the idea that it was something to do with her – maybe Jasper thought she wasn’t up to the job? These concerns were starting to make Karen doubt her abilities and question her new role in the company.

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When people that we come across are distant, abrasive or even aggressive, it’s very normal to put up our defences and go to War with them. Depending on what sort of person we are, these reactions can be self-questioning, aggressive, or judgemental (we use a framework called the ‘5 Shades of Red’ to better understand this on our War to Peace workshop). Whichever Shade of Red we go to, our reactions invariably only make the situation worse for ourselves and the person we are at War with, even if we try to hide how we’re feeling.

In the situation above, Karen has a very self-critical reaction to Jasper’s behaviour, which makes her unhappy and question her ability to do the very job she was overjoyed about just a few months before.

Another person in Karen’s position may have also gone into the Red but reacted by complaining about Jasper to the other members of the team, in an attempt to gather allies and make themselves feel somehow ‘more right’ about their difficult colleague.

Still others may have confronted Jasper, made disparaging remarks or denigrated him to the boss.

Yet, as we have seen, Jasper’s behaviour has very little to do with Karen and very much to do with the big worries he is carrying around with him.

It’s very easy to take the behaviour of others personally. But what if we stood back and imagined that other person’s apparently abrasive behaviour has nothing whatsoever to do with us?

If Karen had known what was going on with her colleague at home, the chances are that she would treat Jasper (and herself) very differently, which would make her job enjoyable again, and would perhaps also make Jasper’s life a little easier at the same time.

Of course, we can’t always know other people’s stories and pains, but we can stop ourselves from making them up - and we can definitely learn how to stop reacting to their behaviour.

Over to you

  • What might happen if you decided that the behaviour or attitude of a person you're finding difficult to deal with has absolutely nothing to do with you or anything you have done?
  • How might that new perspective benefit you? How might it benefit them?
  • What has been your own 'Shade of Red' in conflict situations? How do you tend to react when someone is abrasive or ignores you?

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you, or someone you know, would like to experience and understand more about the impact on your life of being at War and learning how to be at Peace - yes, even with the people you find most difficult - our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 7 October 2016. We only have one space left for this workshop! So if you would like to attend, do book yours today. Not sure if it's for you? Read what other people who have tried it have to say.

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Seeing Red with someone? Here's what to do about it. 

 

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photo credit: Bound to Ignite via photopin (license)

 

 

 

 

The missing piece of the puzzle…

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Who is annoying you at the moment? Is it other drivers, people who take too long to get to the point, people who are aggressive and short-tempered? What about people who don't do what they agreed to?

It can have quite an impact on us when we have expectations of people that are not being met, especially when our expectations are in line with a broadly accepted idea of what's okay and what is not. It can be particularly frustrating if they are behaving in a way that you wouldn't ever.

The urgent email

This blog was inspired by a War to Peace workshop participant, who shared a powerful story with us of how a senior executive in his organisation had sent an email to someone (let's call him John), asking him to take urgent action to resolve a customer issue. He copied in around 50 people to the email. Two days later, John hadn't replied and it was the talk of the organisation, with people judging John harshly for not having responded or actioned the email.

The originator sent a more vociferous email, stating in no uncertain terms what was expected from John and copied in a further 20 people.  Two days later, John wrote "Sorry I haven't replied to your email, my wife died two days ago. I'll reply to you as soon as I am able".

This story touched us deeply and the participant said it had led him to always asking himself the question, what part of the picture am I missing?

Jigsaw puzzle by Jean Vargas

Photo by Jean Vargas

When else might we be missing pieces of the relationship jigsaw?

Another War to Peace participant shared how his experiences has helped him to consider what pieces of the puzzle he may not have sight of:

The terrible driver ~ Gordon's story

Gordon let us know about one of his experiences after learning the War to Peace methodology. He was driving along the motorway on his way to work. He was about to pull out of the middle lane to overtake the car in front, when he noticed "a maniac in a black BMW" over taking and under taking the cars behind him. 'Bloody idiot!' he said out loud and was about to gesture to him through the window when he remembered a story he had shared at a War to Peace workshop.

Gordon told us how he had been on his way to a funeral and, not knowing where he was going, was following a friend in the car in front. A couple of times, he has nearly lost sight of the friend in front, so had made some last minute manoeuvres. "The gestures I received from other drivers suggested I had inconvenienced them!", Gordon recalled "I was trying to get to the funeral on time, trying to keep up with the person in front of me and wish I could have somehow let the other drivers know my predicament - that I wasn't driving like this on purpose."

It suddenly occurred to Gordon that perhaps 'the bloody idiot' BMW driver had a reason for driving erratically - maybe he was en route to get to see a dying relative in hospital or had just received some terrible news. "As soon as I had that thought, I stopped being irritated by the other driver and it allowed me to drive well myself."

The difficult work colleague ~ my own story

Everyone struggled to work with Jeff. He was bad-tempered, accusatory and a bit of a liar, often refuting that he'd agreed to action certain things when it came to giving an update. If you had a meeting with Jeff, everyone sympathised before you went in and was waiting with baited breath when you came out to hear his latest onslaught. Having tried anything I could think of to deal with him, including having a quiet word with him, challenging him directly in public and even talking to his boss, I would do all that I could to avoid him to be honest, because nothing worked!

One day, a group of us we were in a meeting with Jeff when he got increasingly fractious. He then began clutching his head and suddenly lost consciousness. Unbeknown to Jeff and to us, he was suffering from a brain tumour.

Fortunately, Jeff made a full recovery. His lasting impact on me was to realise that there's always a reason why people behave as they do, and often even they don't understand what that is. All I can do is be the best version of me and learning how to be at Peace with people has really helped me to achieve this.

Yes, but....

I know, what about those people who are just bad-tempered and lie and they aren't sick and they DO just drive badly? Are we supposed to let them off the hook and make excuses for them?

It's a common misunderstanding that being at Peace means being soft and letting people off the hook, and being at War means being tough and making the difficult decisions. This simply isn't the case, because how we are being is far deeper than behaviour and almost anything we do can be done from being at War or at Peace with someone.

In fact, War to Peace participants regularly report making tough decisions (such as firing someone, ending a relationship, making people redundant) have become much easier for them since they experienced the War to Peace methodology. And they have noticed that is far easier for the people who have been affected by the decisions to handle the outcome.

What helps many people is to understand that being at Peace is about having greater clarity of thought, more resourcefulness and therefore more choices. In this place of being at Peace, we are being ourselves - the best version of us becomes readily available, whether that is firm and fair, kind and compassionate or fun and easy-going.

Being at War on the other hand limits our ability to think clearly or see multiple options and solutions, and leaves us feeling disempowered. It's like banging our head against a brick wall because it feels as though we've tried everything - and nothing is working.

Over to you

Spend some time this week considering whether you would rather:

A) Know you are 'right' about someone  - the other driver IS an idiot, that person DOESN'T do a proper job, s/he HAS let me down. You feel stressed, hurt and /or angry (albeit righteously), and spend your energy thinking about how you have been wronged or on how to fix them; or

B) Know that you don't have all the pieces of the jigsaw about this person's life and circumstances. Therefore you get to feel calm, clear-headed and to be the person you want to be, with energy to focus on all the things that are important to you, your colleagues and your loved ones.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you know someone who would like to learn how to become more clear-headed, resourceful and achieve the relationships they want with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace workshop in London on 7 October (just 5 spaces remaining). To book a space, click here.

Loved this? Hate it? As ever, please do leave us a comment below.

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  “Do you need help with someone difficult? This will help you."

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©Halcyon Global 2016