AdvantEdge Joy@Work Podcast:
AdvantEdge Joy@Work Podcast:

Episode · 3 years ago

LA 080: Leading Difficult People

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Encourage We've all had to deal with them. Perhaps you still are dealing with them? Difficult People. They come in all shapes and sizes. All races, all genders, and all backgrounds. They only share two things in common, but I'll come back to that in a little while. As a professional executive coach I occasionally get asked by organisation leaders if I can help them "fix" one of their more "difficult" or "problematic" team members. They see potential in this person but there's a problem in their style or approach that needs developing. Some of them are like Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live: Always ready with a depressing take on everything being discussed. Some people only seem to be happy when they're unhappy and bringing everyone else down with them to the pit of despair. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfE93xON8jk Other jerks seem to get a kick out of creating problems for everyone else and pushing people's buttons. Needling away on their pet topic and with a keen eye for any signs of weakness in others. Then we have the bullies. Instead of pushing people's metaphorical buttons, they seem to get off on literally pushing people around, shouting the loudest, forcing others to do things they don't want to and worse. At least with the downers, the jerks and the bullies everyone knows who they are. But some of the most difficult people to lead are the timid and frightened. They can be so fearful of confrontation and conflict that they hide and disappear just when you need them. Or perhaps you have someone on your team who is so disorganised and yet desperate to succeed and never seems to make any headway? And then we have the cynics and scoffers who undermine everything with their often sarcastic wit and pointed barbs. Or perhaps your most difficult person is the gossip who spread rumours, half-truths and juicy tid-bits in hushed tones over "team lunches" turning everyone against you whilst to your face, oh they're as sweet as honey and in front of the boss... well you have to admire their front and acting skills. Yes, they come in all shapes and sizes, races, genders and from all backgrounds and they share two things in common: The first important thing they all have in common is that they are all "people". We are dealing here with human beings. And we know from neuroscience that human beings share very much more in common in what drives them and causes these behaviours. The second thing they have in common is you. If you're reading or listening to this, then you have one or more people in your life whom you find difficult, and you want to know how to lead them or simply deal with them. It's OK, you are in the right place. Before we head into the "how", we need a few moments to understand what is happening with these people. And for that we'll be turning to a little neuroscience. Develop I recently read a terrific book by Christine Comaford: ""Power Your Tribe". She also writes for Forbes and has built on Abram Maslow's hierarchy of needs showing the neurological drivers all humans share. And it's primal. Your brain knows two states that matter: Dead and not-dead. Your brain's primary job is to keep you in the "not dead" state. And you really don't care about leading difficult people when you are "dead". To keep you in the "not dead" state, your brain guides your body to satisfy your physiological needs first and foremost. You have to eat, drink, find shelter, and stay warm (or cool). If any of that is threatened by anyone or anything, your brain will guide you to protect it before "not dead" becomes "dead". Now that you are in the "not dead" state we have three more primal drivers of our behaviours: Safety, Belonging and Mattering. Only when these three are also satisfied to our brain's content do we consider "self-actualization" and doing things beyond the norm for ourselves. And we crave these three things: Safety, Belonging and Mattering. Some people may crave more of one than the others, but we all crave all thre

What's better today and welcome to the leadership advantage. To podcast. I think, Dr John Kenworthy. The leadership advantage isn't some magic pill or Silverboll into instant success as a leader. I'm sharing the art and neuroscience of having expert leadership unstuck your potential in life and work. Hey, there hand, welcome to the leadership advantage. Leading difficult people. We've all had to deal with them. Perhaps you still are dealing with them. Difficult people becoming all shapes and sizes, all races, all genders and all backgrounds. They only share two things in common, but I'll come back to that a little while. As a professional executive coach, I occasionally get asked by organization leaders if I can help them fix one of them more difficult or problematic team members. They see potential in this person, but there's a problem in this style, all their approach that needs developing. Some of them are like to be down honor from Saturday night live, always ready with a depressing take on everything being discussed. Some people only seem to be happy when they're unhappy and bringing everyone else down with them to the pit of despair. Have the jerks. Well, I seem to get a kick out of creating problems for everyone else and pushing people's buttons, needling away on their pet topic and with a keen life any...

...signs of weakness in others. Then we have bullies. Instead of pushing people's metaphorical buttons, they seem to get off literally pushing people around. They're shouting the loudest, they're forcing others to do things they don't want to. Add a lot worse, at least with the down as, the jerks and the bullies, everyone knows who they are, but some of the most difficult people to lead. Of the timid and frightened. They can be so fearful of confrontation and conflict that they hide and disappear just when you need them. Or perhaps you have someone on your team who is so disorganized and yet desperate to succeed, and they just never seem to make any headway. Then we have the cynics and the scoffers, who undermine everything with their often sarcastic wit and pointed barbs. Or perhaps your most difficult person is the gossip who spreads rumors, half truths and juicy tip bits in hush tones over lunch turning everyone against you, whilst to your face, oh they're so sweet as honey, and in front of the boss, well, you have to admire their front and their acting skills. Yes, they come in all shapes and sizes, all races, genders and from all backgrounds, and they share two things income. The first important thing they all have in common is that they are all people. We are dealing here with human beings, and we know from neuroscience that human being share very much more in common in what drives them and causes these...

...behaviors. The second thing in common they have is you. If you're reading or listening to this, then you have one or more people in your life whom you find difficult and you want to know how to lead them or simply deal with it's okay, you're in the right place. Before we head into the how, we need a few moments to understand what is happening with these people, and for that will be turn into a little neuroscience. I've recently read a terrific book by a Christine Commerfort power your tribe. She also writes for Forbes and she's built on Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, showing the neurological drivers all human share, and it's primal. Your brain knows two states that matter, dead and not dead. Your brains primary job is to keep you in the not dead state, and you really don't care about leading difficult people when you are dead. To keep you in the not dead state, your brain guides your body to satisfy your physiological needs. First and foremost, you have to eat, got a drink, find shelter and stay warm or stay cool. If any of that is threatened by anyone or anything, your brain will guide you to protect it before not dead becomes dead. Now, since you are in the not dead state, we have three more primal drivers of our behavior. Yeah, safety, belonging and mattery. Only when these three...

...are also satisfied to our brains contempt to reconsider self actualization and doing things beyond the norm for ourselves. And we crave these three things, safety, belonging and mattering. Some people may crave more of one than the others, but we all crave all three to a certain extent. Do I feel safe? Can I take risks? Is it okay for me to try certain things? Will I be fired if I make a mistake, thus threatening my physiological needs? If I try something new, is that okay? If I speak up, will I be cut down? Am I free from fear, worry and anxiety? Do I belong? Are these people money people? Are we all going in the same direction? Are we equal, or at least equitable? Do these people care for me? Will they look out for me and watch my back? Do I care for them when I go the Action Mile? Any one of them? Do we love each other? Do we work across boundaries freely and equitably? To Silos Exist? To some people hold information or power as a means of control, and I par art of a tribe. Do I matter? Does what I do matter in the team, in the world, in life? Do I know that I matter? Two people tell me that I'm matter or what I do matters? Does my contribution counting? Doesn't count as much as others contributions? Am I recognize for what I do? Have I mastered what I need to master to achieve what I'm supposed to achieve? Am I actually able to do this? Am I respected for my...

...achievements? And all of these needs and questions begin unconsciously, that is, any threats to them are perceived by your brain, often through your anterior singulate cortex which is always on the lookout for anything unknown or you wance. A threat is perceived, a particular mix of electro chemical signals are fired off at your body responds. Christine Comfort calls this your critter state. There was a trigger and you have responded to that trigger. You might not even know that you have responded to a trigger. Other people will know it, for you may be completely oblivious to it. One senior leader I was asked to coach would criticize team members publicly hand regularly. The slightest delay or mistake with the task would result in her beer rating the individual loudly and with very unflattering language. Her team were terrified of making a mistake or failing to deliver on time, and even when they did everything right, they received a barrage of sarcastic comments. The team, unsurprisingly, was not performing well and a boss asked me to fix the problem. As it turned out, this leader considered herself to be a perfectionist and hated slaoppy work. And sure it was something involved from her family background, but more important, she felt unrespected and was deeply concerned that she would not achieve her KPI's because the team was sloppy, her self esteem was taking a hit and she believed that if she was nicer to the team, more respectful and more supportive, that they would take advantage of...

...her and she didn't matter enough till the senior leaders to keep and support she essentially believed that she didn't matter enough and her crito state response was to lash out at everyone and anyone who happened to raise their head above the parapet. There are even times when I lose my temper and a shocking revelation, but there it is. I too am flawed. My voice raises to a shout, I get agitated and I may see things that I later regret. Most often it's when I'm interrupted, when I'm in a flow state. For example, I could be recording this in a flow, the words just tumbling out, my thoughts racing ahead, and I get interrupted and ask to help with something. At first I ignore the request, rushing to close the sentence or thought or make enough notes so that I don't lose track of where I was heading, knowing full well that any second ail I will be interrupted again with the same request, only this time it's more urgent, though it's not urgent in real terms of what I'm doing is much, much, much more important, and can't it wait? I snap back. One more request and I snap again. I hackles rise, my blood pressure head upward, my heart beat too. I shove my stool backwards and stomp through to another room. Sometimes I catch myself and breathe a moment and choose to calm my critter and deliberately welcome the interruption and lovingly address my beloved and willingly, pleasantly tender my assistance. Other Times I fail to catch myself and my beloved gets my critical air and my criticalments. My safety and mattering were momentarily compromised. Of course,...

...you are a far, far better human being than I am and never ever show your crito state. Your need to feel safe, to belong and to matter differ from mine. My triggers and yours are probably different, though many things we will share because we do already have some tribal connection. We all want safety, belonging and mattering. And those difficult people, they're just showing you something of their crito state. Their behavior is the result of the hijack of their emotions caused by a trigger that they perceived and they are responding in the only way they know how to protect what's important for them, their safety, their belonging and, all, their mattering. And that threat to them is perceived, which makes it real for them, although it's almost certainly unconscious, that is, they are not consciously aware. Remember that our brains are continuously on the lookout for any perceived threats. Once perceive the electrochemical response has been fired, will this response hijack the brains resources and all but shut down the executive conscious brain, or will you have enough resources available to pause the near automatic response and choose a better turned response? Now that we understand we all need our balance of safety, belonging and mattering as fundamental to us. How do you deal with those difficult people, especially when one of them is your boss? If you have several difficult people, you need to know...

...you probably have a systemic leadership or organizational wide cultural issue that needs to be addressed. This is where you would create a genuinely safe environment in the workplace. You'll draw everyone together with an engaging mission and command intent, have clear cultural rituals that demonstrate your values and have absolute transparency and accountability structures. For now, though, we're going to focus here with the key one or two difficult individuals. Before you address that difficult person, you'll find it helpful to wear the right power attitude, because the truth is there are no difficult people, only people whom you have some difficulty dealing with their behavior and recommend the where the power attitude. People are not their behaviors, as if it were true. Take some time to listen and observe what is happening and consider which one is triggering the unwanted behavior. For example, talk about US versus, then that suggest a lack of belonging. If complainings that they're not recognized appreciated, or the act like victims, blaming others, they likely crave mattering. Perhaps there's an undertone of fear when in Supervisor Staff Interactions, they need feel safe. Your task wants you know which is the most likely is to address the person, help them feel safe, reassure them they belong and that they...

...matter, and alter the behavior. So now we're dealing with the difficult behavior. Your first need to help the person feel safe enough to shift from their creat estate. As a coach, when I'm asked to deal with people in this situation, I find it immensely helpful to find a safe environment to meet, a separate office or a secure private video conference. And then I begin with breathing. Seat like you, I don't actually like dealing with someone who is exhibiting unwanted pehavior. I get anxious and I want to reduce the court is all that's flowing through my blood string. To do that, breathing deeply through the nose, into the belly and out through the mouth. Do this three times and courtizel levels drop. You're tricking your brain that everything is safe, and when you do this in front of someone, and most people will unconsciously mirror you. Now you can use one of these influencing phrases. What if? What if? The immediately takes ego and reduces emotions. You're curious. You're not forcing a position which would raise defenses, and it encourages the brainstorm of ideas and thoughts to flow more easily. Second phrases. I would appreciate your help. This switches rolls because as the dominant person uses it, inviting the subordinate person to rise up to the challenge. It's especially useful for team members who are capable of taking on more responsibility, but their current behavior is self sabotage. The third phrase I use is, would it help if,...

...when they appear to be stuck in Criti stake and unable to move forwards, this opens to offering a solution or a possible course of faction that may lead to a positive outcome through simple phrases. What if? I'd appreciate your help and would it help if you'll see how each of these phrases reinforce safety, belonging or mattering everyone, especially those difficult people. They crave to feel safe, to belong and to matter, even your boss. When you identify what matters most to them and help them achieve it, they will be happier, they'll be more engaged and they'll be more successful. And remember those difficult people. They were simply drawing your attention to something they believed with lacking for them. All your other team members need to feel safe, to belong and to matter as well. Take care of them too, and your kids, your wife, your friends, your husband, the bus driver, the street cleaner, the toilet attendant. Even your boss craves to feel safe, to belong and to matter. I hope that you really enjoyed this episode. And...

...will share some highlights with the people you care about most. My team and I are working on a series of exciting new projects in this hearth and neuroscience of hacking expert leadership. To unstuff your true potential in life and work to learn more. Visit Leadership Advantagecom or just search for doctor John Kenworthy and connect with.

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