Workplace Bullies Begone!

I know firsthand the damaging effects of workplace bullying on the targets.

I left my job at a major corporation for a variety of reasons, but one that pushed me toward the decision to leave was the string of abusive supervisors that plagued me.  It was a corporation with a very sophisticated Workplace Harassment policy. I asked for help from HR and from Occupational Effectiveness, but there was no hope to be had (well, they fired one of the supervisors for ineptitude – but I don’t believe they did that to help ME out!)

Listen…I know how it feels to have my accomplishments systematically diminished so my supervisor can make their accomplishments look better.

I know the effects of public humiliation by a supervisor who needs to be right in every situation.

I have felt my self esteem erode away day by day until I am like a caged, scared animal…afraid to make any decisions for fear of the inevitable repercussions.

I also know what it is like to not feel that way. To be able to speak my truth and be recognized and respected for my opinion.

I know how it feels to build self-esteem at work.

What is the trick?

I learned how to address the harassing behaviour and set boundaries and expectations without damaging relationships.

As a result, when I coach clients who are being targeted by Workplace Bullies (and almost everyone is targeted at some time in their careers) I teach the same skills that resolve conflict to have the client identify their needs, and create the right approach to address the situation, set boundaries, ask for help and assert their expectations.

The results with my clients are extraordinary! As I celebrate each of their successes, I thank my past experiences for allowing me to deeply understand the effects of Workplace Bullying and forcing me to learn the skills that I now pass onto my clients to move abusive relationships into a healthier place.

Are you interested in finding out more? Of course you are! Give me a call, text or email and we can explore what you are looking for and you can decide if you are ready to work with me now.

My 10 best tips for peer to peer presentations

I had a request for coaching on peer to peer presentations recently. While it is far more likely that I will present in front of strangers than my peers, I still remember the stress of having to present to colleagues! 

I haven’t a clue where I heard this advice, but it is a constant refrain that I use before all my presentations…

THEY WANT ME TO SUCCEED!

Think about it…my audience doesn’t want me to suck. They don’t want to be in an uncomfortable situation. They just want to take the information that I’m giving and go about their day. It feels good to me to focus on giving them a stress-free presentation and that thought helps to ease my anxiety.

So now that you have turned down the crazy…here are ten suggestions for making sure you have GREAT CONTENT for YOUR audience.

1.     What are your expectations for your audience?

The first words out of your mouth should be answering the question, “What do you want the audience to do with this information?”

For example:

  1. This is for your information only – sit back and enjoy
  2. This is for your action – we will need to make a plan to make something happen
  3. This is for your decision – at the end of my presentation, you will be expected to make a decision

 2.     What expectation does your audience have for you and for your content?

What are they going to do with the information you are giving them? Spend some time imagining what they will do with your information and present the information in a way that will fulfill that need.

 3.     Focus on Content

Peer to peer presentations can be very forgiving of boring presentations. While you don’t want to overuse animation, a little bit can break up the monotony.  One warning…the last thing you want is for people to wonder how much company time you wasted finding pictures of sign posts and stock photography. Here is an unbendable rule…a couple of graphics are useful, but DO NOT use ‘clip art stickmen’ for ANYTHING for ANY reason! ‘Nuff said. Ok.

 4.     Be cautious with humour in presentations.

Your peers are there for business reasons and this is not amateur night at the Comedy Cave. If you have to preface any ‘humour’ with ‘I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but….’ STOP right there. If it COULD be offensive to some, then it IS offensive. Simply put. No arguments. Save it.

5.     How does your audience PREFER to hear information?

Do they like stories? Do they like lists? Do they like statistics? Can you convert any part of your presentation into a chart or graph?  If you have statistics, source them on the page. And for heaven’s sake, make sure all the numbers make sense on your graphs/charts/etc.  There is nothing worse than a pie chart that adds up to 103%.

6.     What are the three ideas audience should leave with?

To help people remember information, use combinations of three’s in your presentation.  For example:

1. Introduction (here’s what I’m going to tell you)

2. Content (oh ya, I’m telling you)

3. Summary (here’s what I told you)

 Further, within your Content segment, organize information into three categories. For example:

1. Skills

2. Mindset

3. Process

 (See bottom of the post for more suggestions for categorizing information.)

 7.     When the draft presentation is complete, ask for feedback PRIOR to presenting.

Before presenting, send a copy to your boss and to a peer and ask for thoughts on:

  • presentation/style
  • content
  • length

If they give overly general or unhelpful comments ask:

  • What specifically did you like or dislike?
  • What will the audience think of this presentation?  Will they find it useful?

 8.     PRACTICE!!

Confidence comes with familiarity over the subject matter.

Shut the door and read it out loud. If you’re wondering “who has a door on their cubicle?” then find a conference room, or take it home to practice in the bathroom.

 9.     Know that the audience wants you to succeed

I am going to say this twice because it is so important…

Even if the audience doesn’t have a choice being at your presentation, remember that they don’t want to waste their time and they don’t want to receive an uncomfortable presentation. They want you to be confident and self assured. They want you to have good content. They want to know what to do with the information. Give them what they want!

10. Proofread

Duh.

 As promised, here are some quick suggestions for organizing information into three categories:

  1. Assumptions, Findings, Conclusions
  2. Operations, Engineering, Support Services
  3. Option one, Option two, Option three
  4. Strengths/Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
  5. Pros, Cons, Recommendations
  6. Any suggestions?

What are your best peer to peer presentation tips? Any horror stories? Come on…we’re all friends here!

Make sure your falling tree is heard for miles around!

There is a philosophical question regarding, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

When it comes to communication…no matter how great your idea is, if you have alienated your listener, it does NOT make a sound; there is no impact, there is no communication.  End of philosophical debate.

I once had to help an engineer friend of mine understand what was at the root of his communication frustration. He is very passionate about a topic that is fairly obscure (understatement!) to most of the human race and he found that people were shutting him down when he was just getting warmed up to his topic. Including me!

It was a tough conversation to have, but I had to be very, very, very blunt (did I mention he wears an iron ring?) and I told him he was completely failing to consider the needs of the Listener. To keep it simple, here is how I explained it to him. To address the Listener’s needs be sure that:

  1. It is information the Listener wants to hear. What’s in it for them? Do they care about this? Are you reading their non-verbal cues to know this? If you can’t read non-verbals, like my semi-autistic friend, ASK the listener if they are interested! Stop talking if they say no. I even demonstrated some non-verbals that could give him a hint that there was no interest.
  2.  It is presented in a way that the Listener wants to hear it. Do they like small amounts of information?  Do they like stories? Do they like fast-paced info? Fact based info? Get to know your Listener’s communication style. Mimic their communication style and you stand a better chance of meeting their needs.
  3. It is presented at a time the Listener wants to hear it. The waitress has a job to do, let her do it! Seriously, I had to intervene several times to release a caged worker from his oblivious clutches.  That is not fair; she has to be nice to people who might tip her.

Alas, it proved too much for him to put into practice. Occasionally, I miss the download of information, but I really like my sanity too. I wish him all the best.

If you are going to take the time to communicate something important to you, consider these three needs to make sure your tree falling is heard for miles around!

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. – Buddha.

Curiosity Killed the Cat

POOR WIDDLE PUDDY TAT!
By Coreen Lawrence

Have you heard the phrase, Curiosity Killed the Cat? I’ve never really understood the purpose of this adage until recently when I realized that this is absolutely true as long as the cat represents conflict in your life.

I totally endorse killing the cats in your life by using the transformative process that CURIOSITY can bring to a difficult conversation. Now before you call the SPCA, hear me out. In my practice, I teach that a curiosity mind-set is a brilliant approach for difficult or stuck conversations.

Can you think of a conversation that you’ve had in your life that is repeated countless times and is never resolved? Perhaps where you and the other person are both committed to working together, but you can’t make progress because you can’t find common ground? Or you are in a personal relationship and you can’t move past this one difference of opinion?

A curiosity mindset is interested in asking open-ended (no yes or no answers). It creates a discussion about WHY you both want what you want and HOW you can both create a new solution together that you can both agree to.

Having a curiosity mindset transforms your approach to conflict by creating a non-judgemental and open approach to the problem and allows the following things to occur. You know you have a curious mindset when you have:

1. More objectivity from emotion comes when you use a curiosity mindset. You will wonder WHY this situation has caused your heart to start racing so that you can discover which of your intentions or needs are being frustrated. You will also be suspending judgement on the other person’s perspective because the curious mind isn’t interested in blame.

2. Better intention. When your mindset is curiosity, you’re asking HOW the conversation got to the place it did, or about the contributions that you have each made. The focus changes from the people and is put back onto the problem.

3. Better understanding of your own motivations. Prior to beginning a difficult conversation, first get curious about your own intentions, motivations and expectations. Be prepared to reveal what is going on for you while helping the other party become curious about their intentions.

4. Increased self awareness and self disclosure comes from turning the curiosity inwards and will ensure that you are revealing as much as you are asking of the other person. This self-disclosure decreases the amount of defensiveness from the other party and increases the amount of honest sharing between you both.

5. Better non-verbal information comes from having a neutral and objective curious mindset that will come across in your body language. You aren’t here to find blame; you are curious about how this situation can be resolved to a mutual benefit.

6. Staying Present in the Moment naturally occurs when you are curious. You are no longer anticipating the outcome and trying to ‘out-manoeuvre’ the other person. Being curious allows you to stay in the moment and react to the information that you are given and the emotions that you are feeling.

Consequently, curiosity is infectious and can lead to the other person wanting to hear what you have to say. You are using a new approach on an old topic and that can be just the thing to take the conversation in a new direction.

Detaching from the outcome is critical to the success of killing the metaphorical cat. Leaving behind expectations for your desired outcome will come naturally with your curious mindset. You will become open to simply listening, sharing and creating understanding, which will lead to brainstorming mutually beneficial solutions that lead you to the final win/win outcome.

While moving to this final outcome may not happen in just one conversation, it can contribute to increased understanding that will make future conversations less difficult and more likely to have a positive result for you both.

So…take that, Kittycat!

Disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the research or writing of this article. This article in no way endorses harming or abuse of cats or any other furry creatures (and that includes people).

About the Author. As a conflict resolution coach and professional mediator, Coreen Lawrence doesn’t try to fix problems, but encourages people to approach difficult conversations in a different way. She capitalizes on the unique skills of each individual and draws out their conflict strengths and assists them with building skills in areas that will increase their objectivity and will help them keep their balance during tough situations. Coreen especially appreciates working with young professionals in their leadership development.
Coreen holds her certificate in Conflict Management from the Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society (aams.ab.ca) and is a member of the Civil Court mediation roster in Calgary.

Conflict Quote

The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it. ~Alan Saporta

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