Disarm the Bully with Your Game

Last evening one of my clients was suffering because of a colleague who was bullying her. This bully was sucking her energy and high performance right out of her. I was so happy for her to watch her become a mindful third party observer of the bully’s behavior such that it even made her laugh.

Losing your cool is as bad as withdrawing. Both render you ineffective. Both dummy down your authentic risk taking ability. People notice both. 

When you play it safe or are reactionary you are playing THEIR game. Play YOUR game. Pause. Critical think. Observe what is behind the mask. Be curious. Then get back to your strengths. 

When the bully senses that you are holding it together his or her behavior will escalate. That is where you become amused. Just stare at them. Observe. It can be quite entertaining.

May you become a silent witness to all your experiences, including your personal history. That’s power. That’s executive presence.

Do you want to advance in...

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When Controlling Yourself is the Most Difficult Part of the Conflict

     Nearly all conflict in the world stems from one simple necessity – and it isn’t the need to win. Wars, corporate battles, department squabbles, and relationship foes are rooted in the same deep-seated need – the need to be right.

     Compound the need to be right with an ineffective ability to persuade others to believe you are right can lure in feelings of inadequacy and, in extreme cases, an overwhelming feeling of threat. Not only are our emotions running wild with fear, anger, and frustration a physical reaction begins to occur.

     When we sense we are in danger our body gears up to protect itself. You may have noticed your heart racing before a big presentation or your throat tightening as an argument escalates. This is the body preparing itself for what is called “fight-or-flight,” an immediate physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event. This was...

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When You Are About to Lose Your Executive Presence with a Difficult Person

Dear {{first_name}},

Have you ever tried to reason with a difficult person who absolutely will not listen? Anxiety builds when you think you are making a logical argument, have the facts behind you, the other person is not bending at all yet you keep arguing with them. You start to question yourself, doubting your effectiveness. Your frustration becomes apparent, unraveling of your composure and destroying your executive presence. 

If after you have tried to work with someone to examine all sides of an issue and the other party still behaves egregiously, dismiss the conversation like it never happened. You heard me. Walk away. 

Don't argue with fools or you will become the fool. Cut the conversation off cold. "I respectfully disagree." and move on – walk away, address another party, get off the phone, leave the room. 

This abrupt ending will send a clear message that you see no value in engaging, devaluing their perspective all together without becoming...

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Dealing with Work Drama

Direct communication is the best way to go through life. But instead, people practice avoidance (ignoring the person or the problem) or triangulation (bringing in a third person to validate that your condemnation is correct).  

Leadership expert Dr. Henry Cloud’s Law of Exposure says, “Life is better lived in the light — that is, things are better out in the open, even if these things are negative. Conflict or hard feelings cause a break in the connection between two people, and relationship can only be restored by communicating honestly. 

One of the biggest traps that we all fall into at one time or another is getting stuck in the whirlpool of unnecessary drama.” 

What I see is that avoidance of direct communication happens when we fear conflict. Rightly so. Everyone hates conflict. Except for those who thrive on drama - the most dangerously insecure people of all.  

But what if we shifted the perspective from conflict to...

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Five Tips When you Dread Having a Difficult Conversaton with an Employee

Recently I had a client tell me that when she opened a discussion with a direct report about a violation of the dress code the person erupted, quit on the spot and immediately left the workplace. We role played the discussion and how to frame such a discussion so as to depersonalize it.  

What I found most interesting is that the company rehired this person who abandoned the workplace the same day at another location in another leadership role. What???  

Now my client has to manage a team who knows the organization will tolerate unprofessional and insubordinate behavior. She has to gain respect from a team who knows they don’t have to listen or adhere to company policy to keep their job.  

We are now positioning her transferable skills for a company with a more solid culture. In the meantime here is a tip for when you need to have a difficult conversation with an employee.  

  1. Get out the company policy or company value they are violating. Seek...
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How to Keep Your Cool When Someone Threatens You at a Meeting

Dear {{first_name}},

Have you ever been in a high stakes meeting or in a conversation where someone challenges your position and you immediately start to feel the world closing in on you? Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl describes that moment this way ~ “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

It’s important to have actionable strategies when our thoughts take over and rule our actions. You are not your thoughts.   

The Pause Café 

When you feel anxious or aggravated practice what my clients and I call “The Pause Café.” It starts with a deep breath where you ask yourself, “What is going on with me?” Invite in the tension by being curious to it, not turning away. What we run from chases us down until we deal with it. Identify where the tension sits in your body. You may...

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How to Deal with that Difficult Employee Who is Poisoning Your Culture

Here is advice I recently gave to a client who just had two staff members explode at a meeting. Managing bad behavior starts with drawing healthy boundaries.

Boundaries: The invisible line between what you will and will not allow.

Difficult Employees: People who don’t take ownership of their own behavior and spew their dissatisfaction with their perceived powerlessness, victimization and lack of self-worth on others.

Dealing with Difficult Employees: Affirm their unhappiness. Affirm how they must be feeling. Ask them what they want. Then every time they act insubordinately ask them how that is getting them closer to what they want. 

When Difficult Employees are Out of Control: Get the values of the company in hand, show them how their behavior is insubordinate of the values, put them on a Performance Improvement Plan, establish the specific measurable threshold they need to meet, tell them your goal is to help them meet it and revisit in 30 days. That’s a boundary.

...
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The Seven Deadly Sins Leaders Commit That Hold Them Back

The Seven Deadly Sins is a group of vices within religious teachings that are known as excessive versions of one's natural faculties. Though identified by desert fathers in the third century as passions one needed to overcome, these shortcomings play out today in the workforce. And they can make you pretty scary to deal with.

  1. Pride that you are more capable than your employees. How gratifying is it to be dubbed ‘King Know-It-All’ when everybody hates your guts? When you make all the decisions and give continual directives it cuts off their independence and desire to take risks. Innovation suffers and disengagement grows. Hire good people and get out of their way. 
  1. Sloth in your dedication to develop your personal growth and that of your team. You develop projects but how often do you develop your emotional intelligence? When was the last time you asked an employee, ‘Where do you see yourself three years from now? What project would you like to...
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Three Ways to Manage Up When You Have a Bad Boss

One of the tests of being a leader is knowing how to navigate a boss who doesn’t score highly as a leader him/herself.

Mapping a Course to Manage a Difficult Boss 

  1. Manage Yourself 

Start from the perspective that the disconnect might be a miscommunication. “I want to make sure I understand what you need from me.” Then clarify.  

If you internalize a bad boss’s anger, insecurity or lack of skill you could allow your weaknesses to show instead of your strengths to shine. Their lack of confidence, disorganization or lack of inclusiveness is about them. Not you. Don’t mirror their insecurity. Be self-aware. Who are you when under fire? How do you demonstrate grace and grit – executive presence? If your work life were a movie who would play you and what would he/she do in your situation? 

Be a mindful third-party observer of your own thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself what is really going on with you? What are you afraid...

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