Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Degenerate Interventions?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

One of the aspects of writing a blog that I find particularly interesting is looking at what people search for when arriving at my blog.  It is interesting as it gives me an idea of the blog posts that are most read – this in turn enables me to then concentrate on adding more on those particular subject areas.

One such subject is 6 Category Intervention Analysis (6CIA). I think the reason that I have so many hits regarding this subject is because there is so little about it on the internet – which is both surprising and a shame as it is a great coaching model. I originally wrote about it in the blog post in “Two of the best trainer models?”, where I explained the model and explored how it can be used.

In this blog post I will explain “Degenerate Interventions” and in my next blog post will look at “Perverted Interventions”.

There are four specific types of Degenerate Interventions (DI) within 6CIA. A DI is a misguided intervention as opposed to an intervention that is being deliberately maliciously or is Perverted. They usually occur where the practitioner or helper has a lack of experience in or understanding of using the interventions effectively.

Unsolicited Interventions

The first of the four categories occur where there is no formal practitioner – client relationship, and a person simply self-appoints themselves as the practitioner. Without being asked, they inform, advise, interpret, confront or seek information from the other person. This can often occur in social situations and take place in a manner that interferes with and is disrespectful of the other person’s autonomy. It is not malicious, just unsolicited and generally unhelpful.

Where there is an agreed practitioner – client relationship, this will define the sorts of interventions expected within the relationship. As an example, a bank customer in conversation with a bank manager would probably find interventions related to their finances as being entirely appropriately solicited, however, interventions in relation to their health are likely to appear improper and unsolicited.

Manipulative Interventions

Here the practitioner is motivated by self-interest and has little or no interest in the needs of the client. The practitioner will manipulate the client so that they get what they want from the interaction, whether the client gets anything worthwhile from it or not.

Particularly distasteful and concerning examples are where a practitioner manipulates the other person for the purposes of obtaining money or the satisfaction of power-play.

More common examples – particularly in the coaching arena – occur when the practitioner manoeuvres the client into saying and doing things only in a form that fits the educational or professional belief system that the practitioner holds dear to themselves. They lead the client rather than follow.

Compulsive Interventions

The source of Compulsive Interventions is to be found in unresolved or unacknowledged psychological experiences. These are often frozen needs or occluded distresses of previous years which the practitioner has not worked through and so they are unaware of themselves being driven by them, and so they influencing their interventions. They are less likely to occur where the practitioner has a good level of Emotional Competence or Intelligence, and where they undertake active supervision regarding their activities.

We sometimes see ‘compulsive helpers’ – these are often people who may well be using strategies that they used in their early years in order to survive. In Transactional Analysis (TA) terms they are driven by their Adapted Child and Controlling / Critical Parent ego-states and so do not operate in their objective Adult (although they believe they are in their Adult) ego-state. This will often result in only a limited range of interventions – and as the number is limited they are often misapplied and don’t fit the situation.

Unskilled interventions

This type of intervention is quite simply about a lack of competence. People who use these are limited by their scope and quality of interventions.

In the next blog post I will also look at how a person can eradicate these Degenerate Interventions.

Paul

The Ten Heads of Ineffective Listeners

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Last week I was delivering a session on Achieving Results through Effective Performance Management. At the conclusion of the day, I asked the delegates to tell me what had been most impactive for them and what they would be implementing in the workplace as soon as practicable. Two of them both talked about the relatively short section we had covered on blocks to effective listening.

Then today I saw a Tweet from an acquaintance which said, “Someone told me once that to deal with a complaint well, you have to open your ears ten times as much as your mouth – they were so right!”.

Consequently, I decide to blog about the Ten Heads of Ineffective Listeners. They are (in alphabetical order):

The Adviser – The Adviser is a problem solver, and is eager to provide suggestions and what they perceive to be help. In Transactional Analysis (TA) terms, this person operates strongly from the Parent ego state. Sometimes they only have to hear a few sentences and they know what the solution is for the person. Sadly, they don’t realise that a solution from their own experiences and viewpoints is unlikely to work for the other person.

The Comparer – As the name suggests, they love making comparisons. They compare what they hear to their own experiences, and compare themselves to the person.

The Derailer – This person suddenly highjacks the conversation – possibly due to boredom or because they are uncomfortable with a topic – often by either changing the subject or making a joke.

The Dreamer – This person hears something that triggers a memory or association in their mind and they drift off so that they are, at best, only partially listening to what the other person says.

The Filterer – Our Filterer listens to some things and not to others. They pay attention to what has caught their attention, what they find interesting or surprising, or the parts that support their views or opinions.

The Judger – This person judges or pre-judges either the person or their reactions from a values perspective, rather than listening to all the information and coming to a logical conclusion based on all the facts. In TA terms, they again operate primarily from the Parent ego state as opposed to the Adult ego state.

The Mind Reader – The Mind Reader doesn’t pay much attention to what a person says because they don’t need to (or so they think). They make assumptions, or guess at what is coming next or going on in the other person’s head. The Mind Reader excels at displaying little empathy.

The Placater – The Placater wants (or needs?) to be nice, pleasant and supportive. They want people to like them so the Placater agrees with almost everything the person says and does not make challenges at the appropriate moments. In TA terms, they are usually operating from their Adapted Child or Nurturing Parent ego states.

The Rehearser – What shall I say next? How shall I say it? Is this word better than that word? The Rehearser is constantly thinking about what to say next rather than listening. By the time they say their well-rehearsed sentence, the moment has probably passed. And they will have missed what has been said in the meantime. And it probably doesn’t come out well as they haven’t got it exactly as they wanted, because they were trying to get it out word for word. Their action plan is then to rehearse more next time, and the downward spiral continues.

The Sparrer – The Sparrer argues and debates with people about what they are saying, doing, believing, or explaining. The Sparrer has to talk. The other person doesn’t feel heard, can feel very frustrated and can be drawn into explaining and justifying.

There you go – I hope that helps. What it doesn’t answer is just why so many of us are so poor at listening to others.

I’m sure specific individuals have come to mind as you have been reading through the descriptions. But perhaps we should reflect as to whether any of them apply to us?

Paul

Foundations of team success – whatever the scale

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

I saw last week that Croatia is now going to be able to join the EU, probably in July 2013. Assuming it goes ahead, they will be the twenty-eighth state to join. It is of particular interest to me as I spent eight years working with their Interior Ministry and Ministry of Justice assisting with their preparations for this eventuality. Croatia is an incredibly beautiful country which I have visited many times. When I visited during the late 1990’s, however, I saw a more serious side.

I visited Vukovar – a Croat city on the border with Serbia – where there were mass murders based on ethnicity, together with a huge amount of physical damage. At the same time I also visited Bosnia. Sarajevo and Srebrenica, both of which I found terribly depressing, were awful places which appeared to have no hope at that time.

Balkan history is complicated, however, what happened in Yugoslavia in the last quarter of the last century is reasonably straightforward. The Yugoslav President, Josip Broz Tito died in 1980. He had ruled post-WW2 Yugoslavia in a hard line manner. In doing so, he managed to retain a bond between the very different parts that made up Yugoslavia. Once he was gone, no one could carry on his style of leadership. As the economic decline took a stronger hold during the 1980’s, the disparate states within Yugoslavia increasingly focused on their differences. The areas that are now Slovenia and Croatia knew that they generated the majority of the country’s income, much of which subsidised the other areas – and so they decided that they wanted out. Slovenia decided it had had enough in 1991 and declared itself an independent country – and got away with it. Croatia, which is closer to Serbia, decided to follow suit, but by this time Belgrade – the current capitol of Serbia and the former capitol of Yugoslavia – was wise to it and decided to halt it. Their devastating war began.

Fast forward to Europe in June 2011, and we find a similar situation – substitute the EU for Yugoslavia. There is a harsh economic climate, a number of states are close to financial melt-down and there are mutterings that the richer states don’t want to support them any longer. There is no prospect of war, but there is the prospect of the downfall of the Euro. The question is being asked as to whether it is possible for a currency to function effectively across a number of countries without one ‘corporate’ shared financial strategy.

These moments in history are played out every day all over the world. What happens on these world stages occurs in far smaller teams in organisations. What they illustrate so well are the foundations that must be in place for any team, country or continent to function effectively:

  • Effective senior leadership – a leader who is prepared to listen, and who has true followers.
  • Strong and valued relationships – ones that have been built over time where there is strong rapport, not ones that will splinter when under pressure.
  • A shared vision and strategy – which is bought into by all parties through open dialogue.
  • An ability to handle conflict – a willingness to talk, negotiate and accept responsibility.
  • People or states have problems – they are not problem people or problem states, and they need to be viewed in that way.
  • Valuing diversity – an acceptance that we all bring different abilities to the table which will be recognised in different situations.

Effective leadership means thinking forward to these difficult times during the relatively easy times – and everyone needs to demonstrate this as we all have that responsibility.

As a team member, team manager or team leader, what are you contributing to ensure your team is truly effective in challenging times?

Paul

The Language of Life

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

I’m seeing a man. I met him quite by accident, but am so pleased that our paths crossed. He excites me, he makes me laugh, he is wonderful company. He has made me realise I am missing that little something in life. This is all due to his exquisite use of the English language.

Having enjoyable conversations with someone who has such a wide vocabulary has made me realise just how much we have dumbed down our language. Texts, emails and Twitters have led to us short-handing so much. There may be benefits in this, in that people get straight to the point, but are we losing the depth to our conversations?

I remember a trainer colleague from many years ago. We both trained trainers. When a delegate said something that he thought needed challenging or exploring and they seemed a little reticent to do so, he would say, “Of all the thousands of words in the English language that you could have used, you chose at that moment in time to use the word …… (whatever the word was). Why was that?”.

I always felt a little uncomfortable with this approach so didn’t use it myself. Whilst it certainly put the person on the spot and sought to encourage the person to think about the origin of the particular word, I don’t think it generally did that. The individuals appeared to become self-conscious and a little defensive, and so were not of an appropriate mental approach to objectively assess their previous contribution.

Having said that, the premise of the intervention was sound enough. We do all choose every word we say – no-one makes us say them – but sometimes we regret saying what we said so try and take it back by saying it’s not exactly what we meant to say. Well, actually, we did. We said it.

This was brought home to me when I was on a course many years ago, long before I knew the above trainer. It may have been a Training Evaluator’s Course, I’m not sure. We had the opportunity for some half hour discussions with various people – and I can’t remember why. I think the person was from Lancaster University, and he was some sort of expert in language. Whilst I cannot remember much about the ‘why we were there’, I can remember the way the discussion went.

The discussion was an opportunity for me to better understand how and why we choose the words we do. He set off answering my opening question and he just lost me – I had no idea what he was talking about. I probably looked fairly bemused, and I felt sceptical about the rest of the time we had together. I then gamefully asked him a further question. And another. After about 15 minutes, I started to pick up some threads and was able to ask some linked or follow up questions. I found the last part of the discussion very interesting.

We also had to time the half an hour – so that others could then have the same opportunity. As we got to the end of our session, I said, “Well that’s it, we’d better call it a draw”. “Why did you say, ‘call it a draw’”, he asked. Just a turn of phrase I retorted. He disagreed and explained that if I thought about why I had chosen that phrase, I would have a practical understanding of what our half hour had been about.

Later I thought about it – and I realised that for the first 15 minutes he had been ‘ahead’ as I was trying to catch up to understand what he was saying. And in the final 15 minutes I had caught up and was then able to lead the conversation effectively. Hence my choice of phrase.

This example always comes to mind when I explore with someone why they used a word or phrase, or when I am searching for a reason why I said something.

As we increase our use of texting and reduce the number of words we actively use, I wonder if we will miss the joy of listening to fine language? Or, if it continues to exist, perhaps appreciate it more? My new relationship with the man of words has made me realise how wonderful our language is when used well.

Paul

Can you afford not to do this?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Conflict in the workplace costs the UK economy dearly. Conflict outside the workplace generates huge amounts of wasted time and unhelpful emotions.

According to the Report Fight, Flight or Face It (OPP, 2008), “the average employee spends 2.1 hours a week dealing with conflict. For the UK alone, that translates to 370 million working days lost every year as a result of conflict in the workplace” (p.4).

The same report suggests that in the UK perhaps we conform to our international stereotype of bottling up our emotions. It found that 65% of UK employees “… admit to feeling anger or frustration in the face of conflict at work”, compared with 57% across the nine countries surveyed in the study (p.19). Furthermore, 30% of UK respondents reported that conflict has resulted in an absence from work – compared with 25% across all respondents.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey Report Leadership and the Management of Conflict at Work, (CIPD, 2008), found that 44% of the 660 HR respondents reported that they have to manage disputes at work “frequently or continually” (p.4). It also reports that 28% of the respondents “… admit to having left a job as a result of conflict at work” (p.7).

So why don’t we address it more often?

I think that there are three main reasons:

1)    We often worry about whether we can handle it effectively

2)    We have concerns about how the other person(s) will react.

3)    We’ve got more important things to do (at least, that’s what we tell ourselves).

Well, here’s a way to do it that helps out with points 1 and 2 (and if you needed convincing that it’s not an important issue, the statistics I mentioned earlier should have helped). It’s a model called CUDSA – and it gives a structure to discussions. And following a structure will reduce the chance of unhelpful emotions getting in the way.

Confront the behaviour – it may well be that the person is aware of what they are doing, however, it is often not the case. Where a person displays unhelpful behaviour on a regular basis, it is easy to make the assumption that they must know that they are causing conflict – but it would be wrong to do so. I have come across situations on several occasions where everyone has assumed (or perhaps hoped) that someone else has already given feedback and therefore not addressed it. Often the person appreciates being made aware of the issue.

Understand each other’s position – the most important stage. If this isn’t carried out thoroughly and openly, the remainder of the discussion and any solution will not last very long. There will almost certainly be new information as you discuss this – in situations of conflict we often make judgements about the other person that may well not be based on fact – this stage addresses such potentially devisive issues.

Define the problem – once you have all the information and fully understand each other’s position, you will be able to define the problem. This needs to be achieved objectively and succinctly. Write it down so you record it clearly.

Search for a solution – list all the possible solutions, even if they seem a bit off the wall. Some might initially not seem workable, but they might generate further ideas from the other person. The more you come up with, the more chance you have of arriving at a really effective one.

Agree a way forward – Having reached this far, and if you have carried out the previous stages thoroughly, this final stage should be relatively straight forward. You will have built up increased rapport with the other person and may well see them in a different, more positive, light. Be specific about your way forward – and if what you agree is going to impact on others, let them know what you are going to do – it will increase your likelihood of success. Finally, fix a date to meet again to see how it’s going – this will help ensure the buy-in of all concerned.

Have a go. You can make a huge impact on your business and on the effectiveness of individuals. And you will develop and improve your own skills!

Paul

Nothing is real

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Reality. What is it? What is real? As the late John Lennon (and I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard of his death 30 years ago this week) once said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”. So it does, because nothing is real – he also said that, too, but that was when he was taking us through his dream of Strawberry Fields, and I mean when we have all our faculties about us.

What I think of and describe as being ‘real’ will be my reality. The person at the same concert, walking down the road with me, or watching the same film will have their own experience or perception of what they see as being real – and it will be different to mine.

This then perhaps explains Walkers’ Crisps view of what is real. I was looking at a packet of their Thai Sweet Chilli flavoured Sensations crisps this week, and it proudly states on the front, “Made with real ingredients”. Isn’t everything made from real ingredients? I checked out the ingredients and they include Fructose, Hydrolysed Soya Protein and Colour. I suppose they are real, but I still think it’s a strange line to put on the packet. What do they think people will interpret as meaning ‘real’?

Which brings me to my third reality check – the one called Reality TV. I’m a Celebrity has just finished and The Apprentice is nearing its conclusion – as is the X Factor, although some people will not see this as Reality TV. I have to admit I enjoy these programmes. The reason I enjoy them is because we see ‘real’ people – or, more accurately, people in their ‘real’ states.

When we are young children, we are at our most real, I would suggest. Then, as we grow up we are told how to behave in different situations, and then we go to work and have rules, cultures and procedures to conform with. How real are we by this point?

With I’m a Celebrity, we have people who have been in the public eye to some degree (I would stop short of calling them celebrities) and who have experience of how they should appear or what they should say – but this has to slip ‘in the jungle’. We see more of their real sides – particularly with the increased pressures of tasks, lack of food and living so closely to other strangers.

And with The Apprentice, we have unknown people who are put in pressure situations – leading to them saying things they probably regret when they see them again. But these are closer to their real personalities interacting with each other than the facades they may wish to show.

And so these two shows give great examples for training sessions – they are a rich seem of television for using to help people understand management, dealing with conflict, presenting, listening, communicating, building rapport and so many more skills. So much better than the DVDs we can buy – because the TV examples are so close to reality. Watch them with that in mind – you will be surprised at how many good examples (good examples for learning, often bad examples of the skills!) you will find.

Paul

Be clear about what you can actually manage

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I was reading some posts on a Forum at the weekend relating to a person wanting some ideas for running a ‘Time Management Course’. I’m sure that you will have seen such events advertised. You may even have attended one yourself. The one thing that you will not have learned on the course is how to manage time.

Do sailors and mariners attend Tide Management courses? I don’t think so. I’m aware that King Canute piloted such a course back in the eleventh Century, but it turned out to be a bit of a non starter. He quickly realised that he was struggling to achieve the stated objectives and delegate feedback wouldn’t be good. There are certainly none that I can find on the internet. That’s probably because everyone knows that it’s not possible to manage the tide – you have to work within around High and Low tides.

I have been in cars many times when it has been getting dark and the driver – whether it has been me or someone else – has turned the lights on. As I turn the lights on, I don’t think to myself, “Oh, I’ll just manage the sunset”, I think (something like), “Oh, it’s getting dark”.

As a slight aside to that, who thought it would be a good idea to teach children about the sun rising and the sun setting? And then just when they understand that – or they think they understand it – teach  them that actually the sun stays exactly where it is – it’s us that moves …

Anyway, back to time management … So why do we talk about time management?

Not only is it an impossible task, it actually detracts from what anyone attending such a learning event is probably intending to address. If the event was called something like “Effective Task Management”, then this would more accurately summarise what the event is all about. And – more importantly – it would keep the learner focused on what they should really be seeking to achieve.

The clearer we are with communication, the more we can achieve.

Paul