The Friday News Minute!
A weekly gem of information you will be using on Monday!
Published by Andrew Sanderbeck
Managing Partner of The People~Connect Institute
One of the many things in life that I find myself to be a continuous learner about is the different/difficult behaviors of the many people that I meet and get to know as I travel our country and world. In this week's Friday News Minute I have a few things to share with you to help you to work, play, live and love those people that are different than you. I'm a big believer that quality of life is measured in great part by the quality of friends and relationships that we have in our life. The challenge with relationships is that everyone is different than us. We have to be careful in how we handle those differences or we can become one of the difficult people in the relationship.
Setting boundaries with your difficult people
The classes that I have been teaching lately have been very successful. I have had many people that are anxious and excited to learn and just a few that felt "forced" to come. One of the people that felt forced to be in the classroom has been a great challenge and gift to me.
The person I am referring to has alot of power because of his title and duties. He openly challenged me and the curriculum on a few occassions in class (which is not acceptable behavior in most training environments) and has very strong opinions about what he believes. He was born and lives in a part of Europe where their culture teaches straight forward, to the point and sometimes explosive behavior and communication...especially if they don't agree with or like what is going around around them.
During his mild outbursts, I would listen. Sometimes I would offer his opinions to the other students to engage their feedback. I kept my mind open to his opinions and beliefs and did my best to consider things from his point of view. Something I have learned to do both professionally and personally is to set the boundaries for expected and allowable behavior early on...in this case the morning of the first day of class.
As I reflect back on the training sessions his greatest gift to me has been his perspective on the many different things we discussed. His beliefs are very different than mine and I believe that he has made me a better trainer/teacher...because I reinforced the boundaries and practiced the art of listening to him even when I didn't agree with what he was saying. Plus...he actually taught me a few things.
Regarding his "challenges" in the classroom, I am happy to say that I did not engage him in a competition of who is right or wrong. No one would win that game...so I choose not to play it.
Don't take it personally
When dealing with someone that you consider to be difficult, it is important to let go of taking the other persons comments or actions personally. Further, it is very effective to focus on the behavior that you want the person to change. With my student, I chose not to take his challenge personally. I told myself "he is allowed his opinion". While agreeing or disagreeing with him was not very important to me, protecting the other students in class was. I noticed that the students sitting around him were "shutting down" because of his strong opinions. They were allowing his negativity and strong opinions to affect them. Changing his behavior...became my priority. My challenge was to "seek out" the cause of the behavior.
After the class was finished, my difficult student came back to the class to talk with me...to apologize. I appreciated his apology and he seemed to appreciate that I was neither upset or hurt by his actions. I challenged him to put himself in the shoes of the other students that were sitting around him. I asked him to consider the damage he was causing to the relationships that he had with those people.
This wasn't an easy conversation to start or continue, yet I think that he "heard" the message I was communicating and I knew there was a new level of respect between the us. Life lesson: It is more important that people respect you...than like you. BTW: I don't especially like this life lesson...even though I know it is true. (I want everyone to like me!) :>)
For your next difficult conversation or situation remember: to set boundaries early on and not to take things personally. You just might find the situation to be less difficult than you thought or feared it would be.
PS Or...you can always go back to what doesn't work.