Your employee Jill,
is often late to work and leaves early. Her work is behind and other
employees in the department seem to always be picking up the slack for
her. Jill is polite and friendly and, while she's at work, seems to
be concentrating. She rarely socializes with anyone at work, preferring
to keep to herself. How would you handle this situation?
You have another employee, Mary, who is hardworking. She often brings
work home with her and works through her breaks. Her husband recently
left her so she is juggling her work and her children. This means she
often misses late meetings by leaving early. And, if things don't go
smoothly in the morning, she arrives late. Sometimes you see her looking
sad and vacant at her desk. Her coworkers are often picking up the slack
for her at work. How do you handle this situation?
What thoughts and feelings did you have about Jill? About Mary? What
if I told you they are one and the same person? How does that change
when you come at a person with a strong emotion, they will usually react
in accordance with that emotion and not with the outcome you desire."
In most situations
we react from our perspective and usually do not have all the information.
We make assumptions about people based on our experience, our reality.
What is difficult to realize is that no two people ever have the same
experiences throughout their lives and that our perspective is not necessarily
the correct one.
How do you slow down and see things from other people's perspectives,
namely your employees? You use a skill called "Outcome Thinking"
that allows you to respond in alignment with the outcome you want instead
of just reacting to the situation.
First, start by realizing that there are many correct answers to any
given situation. This will allow you to step back, validate your answer,
and then try to find out what other answers exist.
Second, try to think in positive terms of what the other person's perspective
might be. Realize that your first contact with them should be an open
one that gathers more information rather than blasts them with your
Let's take Jill for example using outcome thinking by seeing things
from her perspective. You would think thoughts such as, "Perhaps
she is not aware of the extra work everyone is doing." "Maybe
things are going on in her personal life that is making it tough on
her". "She wants to do a good job and be part of the team."
"Maybe she is looking for ways to be more effective."
You will find that after thinking positively, your anger or frustration
with the other person will lessen. So when you approach Jill, you will
approach her more from the angle of, "Jill, I have noticed that
a lot of work seems to be shifting to others. I know you are very consciousness
and I wanted to get your ideas on how to get the area back on track."
This will allow Jill to open up to you and talk about the situation
without being defensive.
Remember that when you come at a person with a strong emotion, they
will usually react in accordance with that emotion and not with the
outcome you desire. For instance, if you came to Jill angry about her
tardiness, thinking she is inconsiderate and that she does not realize
the extra work she is putting on everyone, then Jill would most likely
respond to your anger and become angry back. She might then think, "You
have no idea what it is like to have your husband leave you and try
to raise your children on your own." Yet she may never say that.
Instead she might just resent and avoid you.
Thirdly, you need to think about the way you talk to yourself. Keep
in mind that the way you talk to yourself is the way you talk to others.
Think about the critical voice you use. Are you harsh and critical of
yourself? Do you often cut yourself down, even if it is jokingly? Do
you get upset when you make a mistake or do you look at how you can
learn from it? When someone criticizes you, do you take it personally
or do you step back and assess if what their saying fits?
If you notice your critical voice tends to be negative, then work at
changing it. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, immediately
stop, say "cancel", then rephrase the statement to be more
positive. Practice saying positive statements to yourself on a daily
basis. You may feel silly doing this, but you will start to see positive
When utilizing "outcome
thinking", remember to think through the following:
- What is the other
person's perspective? Think only in positive terms.
- What is my critical
voice and how can I phrase things more positively?
- What can I say
that will let this person open up to me and help bring about the outcome
If you still are
having problems phrasing things positively, try role-playing with another
person. Get them to play the devil's advocate with you.
Remember that your perspective is not necessarily the correct one. Our
differences in our experiences is what allows us to stretch and change.
Be open to what the other person has to say and concentrate more on
the result you want than trying to make sure they know your feelings.
In business, it is your IQ that often gets you your job, but it is the
way you communicate with others that gets you promoted. MB&O
Anne Warfield is President of Impression Management Professionals. Anne
helps people project the positive physical and mental image necessary
to reach their goals.