Today I completed most of the “Crucial Conversations” program, but this time led by ITS Training Manager Lisa Lacombe. I have to say I found both Lisa and the program very worthwhile…which is saying a lot because I am a professional cynic when it comes to this type of program.
I admit that I have had my issues where I say the wrong thing, in the wrong way at the wrong time. I’ve been aware of it for quite a while, but, despite numerous trainings, have never understood what the real problem is. Fortunately, the authors have developed a framework which actually makes sense to someone like me. My favorite paraphrase:
When your emotions fly, the blood rushes to your muscles [as you prepare to defend yourself], and it has to come from somewhere…and that would be your brain. If you’re acting like an idiot, it’s because at that time, clinically you are an idiot.
It does explain a lot. The rest of the program has some suggestions on how to hold better crucial conversations (e.g. paraphrasing, active listening, and some other interesting ones). I especially thought the video vignettes were very realistic, up to an including the confusing advice often given out by other programs trying to help difficult employees. The same actor could be doing good in one video and bad in another – just like real people.
But, I think the most valuable part of the program was the empathy for the “problem children” (both the authors and Lisa). While not taking away responsibility to have better reactions, the program does explain that some behaviors are instinctual extensions of primal emotional instinct not an evil plot to ruin a co-worker/employee/manager’s day. I would recommend this both for “difficult people” and their colleagues. I think both can learn a lot about how to avoid bad interactions.
I have a lot to think about, and am curious if it will take. If nothing else, I think it will give me a better way to troubleshoot past errors.