Tag Archives: emotional intelligence

Benign Neutrality: Breaking the Cycle of Rude Behavior

More often than not, leaders will encounter rude behavior in the workplace. This behavior can quickly escalate into a cycle of negative behavior that is difficult to break using traditional approaches.

If you practice benign neutrality, Then you will break the cycle of rude behavior so that you can interact in a civil way.

Rude Behavior

Everyone experiences or witnesses rude behavior on a weekly basis. It may be as simple as person ignoring another’s opinion or as nasty as undermining someone’s efforts. If you respond or react to the behavior, you run the risk of escalating it. If you don’t deal with it, it becomes a self-maintaining cycle. Not only will it thwart your effort to get the job done, you may become burnt out as a result. It will also impact others around you, at work and at home.

Cycle of Behavior

When in a cycle of rude behavior, you may lose focus on what is important and the behavior may become toxic. Do not take it on. Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel safe talking with this person?
  • Was the behavior unintentional?
  • Was it an isolated incident?

If you answer no to any of the questions then do not discuss it with the offender. Once the behavior has continued for an extended period, being nice, giving feedback, practicing ongoing regard, and apologizing can actually make things worse. Conversely, if you over react and try too obviously to “distance” yourself, or report the problem, you may also cause harm. Instead, manage yourself using benign neutrality.

What is Benign Neutrality?

The mindset of Benign Neutrality is to remain interactive and civil with a rude person so that you can work together. Be professional, polite, non-threatening, impartial, and free of emotion. Do not shut down, avoid, display indifference, or ignore the other person completely. Act with humility and respect. This will not weaken your position but instead, it redirects the conversation to a position of: “We need to work together. What do we need to do to move this forward?”

Use the lowest level on the ladder of inference to describe: “This is what I observe; this is the data we have.” Don’t attempt to validate assumptions. Listen. Think before you speak. Ask yourself:

“Is what I am about to say: …brief? …on topic? …useful and accurate?             Does it need to be said?”

Stand firm with your statements. Don’t ask a question unless you are genuinely interested in the other person’s response. If the other person is unreasonable, use these questions:

  • I’m feeling stuck. Do you have any ideas?
  • What data or logic will change your mind?
  • How can we get more information?
  • If you were in my place how would you proceed?
  • Can you tell me how your idea impacts this situation?
  • How can I express this in a way that respects your views?
  • What is it about this situation (or me) that is making this difficult?
  • How can we work together to get this done?

Questions to Deepen Thinking

How is your approach to dealing with rude people working?
What are the consequences of shutting down and evading people with rude behavior?
If you treat people who exhibit rude behavior with humility and respect, what will that get you?

 Credits
Argyris, C. (1982). Reasoning, learning, and action: Individual and organizational. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Inc. Pub.
Porath, C. (2016, April). Managing Yourself: An Antidote to Incivility. Harvard Business Review, pp. 108-111.
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Coaching Moments: Creating Opportunities to Motivate

Becoming a coaching manager doesn’t happen by proclamation or all at once. It takes an incredible amount of work, effort, and time. It also requires positive long-term commitment.

If you create frequent, brief, mostly positive, coaching opportunities, then your employees are more likely to be highly motivated.

Psychological Safety

It is important for managers to be in touch with their direct reports as individuals and as employees. A coaching relationship allows for this. To be successful, the employee needs to feel psychologically safe when talking with their manager. According to David Rock’s SCARF model for collaborating with & influencing others, managers need to be mindful of these 5 domains: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness .

The following table summarizes the SCARF Model:

Coaching Moments

While keeping SCARF in the forefront of your mind, coaching moments are focused on what a manager needs from their employee AND what the employee needs from their manager. Sessions should be structured weekly; scheduled in advance; and limited to 15 minutes. It can be done in person or by phone. These can be done separately or as part of other one-to-one meetings – as long as a portion of the time is devoted to what employees need. Additionally, both parties should be accountable for holding these meetings: employees should be encouraged to confirm and remind the manager of coaching moments. They should also be encouraged to schedule additional coaching moments when needed.

Motivation Mindset

For the coaching moments to truly motivate your employees, use the following approach:

  • It’s not about who is right; it is about making a difference
  • It is a 2-way dialogue, not a dictate
  • Focus on future, not the past
  • Ask for and listen to the other person’s ideas
  • Try not to prove the other wrong
Process

Follow this structure at every coaching moments session:

Questions to Deepen Thinking

Do you consider yourself a coaching manager?
What will happen if you make an effort to cultivate psychologically safety for your employees?
Can you use 1:1 your time with employees differently?

Credit
Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. Neuroleadership.org
Goldsmith, M. (2015). Six Questions for Better Coaching. Talent Quarterly (#5, The Feedback issue), pp. 8-12, 29-30.
Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2005) Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and
Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion.
Harvard Business School Press.

 

Related Posts

Leadership Revolution: The Coaches Are Coming!
Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of Your Thank You
The DOs & DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 2: Climbing the Ladder of Inference
Accountability Leads to Innovation: 5 Requirements for Setting Clear Expectations
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 3: Deconstruct Your Conversations
The Two Faces of Feedback: Reinforcing & Corrective
Want Better Feedback Conversations? Prepare the Receiver

Build Empathy into Your Interactions: Part 1 (of 3)

The concept of Empathy is one of the basic components of emotional and social intelligence. It is a critical part of self-awareness, relationships with others, and is key to successful leadership. Empathy is an attribute that consists of three interrelated parts:

  1. understanding another person’s perspective,
  2. considering how that person feels, and
  3. telling the other person you are aware of 1 & 2.

Even for those who excel at this attribute, it is easy to lose sight of empathy in daily interactions. Leaders swim amid a sea of data and emotions, sorting through it all with their own filters and biases. When they are not mindful of empathy, opportunities to build relationships are lost and relationships may even be damaged.

If you build empathy into your interactions, then you will establish trusting relationships.

We have found 2 techniques helpful with empathy:  The Ladder of Inference and Deconstructing Conversations.

(Read how to practice empathy using the Ladder of Inference and Deconstructing Conversations in our April 2015 posts.)

If you build empathy into your interactions, then you will establish trusting relationships.Questions to Deepen Thinking

What will practicing empathy get you?
How are your professional relationships working for you?
What would happen if you built deeper trust into your relationships?

Credit

Goleman, D. (2013, December). The Focused Leader: How Effective Executives Direct their Own – and their Organization’s – Attention. Harvard Business Review.

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