Q. My workplace seems wackier than usual recently. I've had several people just blow up at me and tell me all the ways I'm doing a bad job. I try to explain my position but they just keep criticizing me. Is there any way to deal with someone who just wants to run you down?
A. Yes, and the technique I'm about to teach you will require you to put your ego to one side. The only thing that calms someone who is criticizing us is to verbally demonstrate that we fully understand their point of view.
When a customer, coworker or boss starts to put us down, there are only two ways to respond to criticism, and each leads to a different result. You can:
1. Demonstrate verbally that you understand the person's point of view -- and get the result you want.
2. Defend yourself and give up the result you want.
And, no, there is no more attractive third option. My clients who love to be right hate me when I tell them this truth. They argue that good people have to stand for something or they'll fall for anything. They argue that people who don't express their opinions are cowards. They argue that good people are required to make idiots see the truth. As they make these arguments, they are also miserable at work.
You do not have to agree with people to use this technique. You do have to actually listen to what they are saying no matter how painful it is and you have to be able to repeat back what they say.
If you vehemently think the person's opinion is ridiculous, realize that people don't listen to themselves when they talk. So when you repeat it back, it actually is the first time the other person hears what they said. If what they said was ridiculous, the other person will usually pause and change their opinion only after they hear it.
Ironically, the fast way to get another human being to change his opinion is to make sure that person is crystal clear you have heard and understood what he said. The problem is when we don't like what someone says, we have a terrible time repeating it back.
Your ego is most useful at work only to turn your head when your name is called. When you put your pride and ego in front of your results, you'll be both miserable and ineffective.
When you first try this technique, it will hurt. Just like the first time you go to the gym and take a new class. But each time you repeat back something you don't like to someone who said it, you'll find this tool gets easier. You'll also notice your influence increasing and people becoming far more reasonable when they're around you.
Remember, people really don't consider what flies out of their mouth until they are presented with a person wise enough to mirror back their message. Your pride will take a back seat to your productivity. But, consider what you'll remember in 10 years: the amazing career you now have or a temporary sting to your self-importance?
The last word(s)
Q. I've been offered a new job that will teach me everything I need to get promoted, but the title is not as prestigious as my current title. Should I take the job?
A. Yes, sometimes at work you take one step backward to jump two steps forward.
(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)