Managing difficult conversations
Q: I get into a very uncomfortable or rather stressful situation each time I am with employees or customers whose views or opinions I do not agree with. I am always mindful that I need to maintain my objectivity and fairness in my thinking with regards to whatever topics are brought up for discussion.
So when the other party behaves in unreasonable ways or does anything that tests my tolerance for no good reason, I get into a different emotional state. I usually end up doing either of these: withdraw and let the other person "win" (which usually results in me feeling worthless) or force my views on them (which usually strains the relationship). The bottom line is that I do not know how to manage myself as I end up being the loser. Is there a way to explain this? Can something be done to help me self-manage better?
A: In coaching language, we call this "losing your presence". When people do not have this or are weak in this, it means they have difficulties bringing "themselves", in terms of their values, passion, creativity, emotion and discerning judgement, into the dynamics of a conversation. Because of this, they cannot hold themselves together and therefore "crumble" under the weight of their emotions at difficult times. This causes them to become reactive, leading them to lose what they have previously gained in the relationship.
The Bottom Line: To gain presence is to gain tolerance in facing up to negative situations, be it in confrontations, disapproval, etc. Skilful tolerance will enable your tolerance to balance between two opposite tasks: having the ability to recede into the background and become "invisible" yet being able to stay composed and keep full control of the situation. One example is that you can disagree with people, yet you are able to understand what they want.
Powerful Questions: What is your goal when you are in conversation with people? What triggers you to act in a reactive manner? How can you always remember your goal? How can you stay committed to your goal and not allow external forces to sway you from it?
BRINGING OUT THE SPIRITUAL SELF
Q: Deep inside me, I really want to go back to the corporate world so that I can be useful again. But my biggest problem is I strongly feel that I am incorrigible in many of my disdainful ways, which makes it difficult to go back there. I have little courage, have a strong sense of guilt and am stubborn, etc. I did not have all these weaknesses when I was in the corporate world for 25 years. I was happy and was earning a decent income as a real-estate manager. But the last six years really took a toll on my self-image and confidence. I was forced to be homebound to take care of my ageing but very domineering mother, whom I totally submit to. I am tired and fed up. I really want to get back to the corporate world. But with all these years of being beaten down, I am afraid to go out to mix around, and my mum dislikes me going out with anyone. The worse thing is I do not know whether I can or want to get out of my comfort zone to live a different lifestyle and manage the realities of company politics, achieving goals, interacting with office colleagues, talking to customers, etc. What can I really do before it is too late to do anything? I do not want to live the rest of my life this way. Please help.
A: You are indeed fighting a fierce "battle" within yourself. The name of this battle is the "battle for self-love". It is probably the "mother" of all battles, because it will slowly eat into you until there is nothing left of you if you don't do something about it. In such a state, you have no more dreams and visions of what is possible. You set yourself all sorts of conditions, reasons and even amplify your fears so that you get to feel what you want to feel about yourself in order to fulfil your own prophecy - like the way you stated earlier that "I'm incorrigible".
The Bottom Line: The way out is not to look at your faults and be an expert in diagnosing your own neurotic behaviour, which makes you look only at your own weaknesses, and not at the things that are good about you. Get out of this danger fast, otherwise your energy and enthusiasm will be totally drained off. You will then become useless, helpless, tired and depressed, as you are feeling now. See yourself as special. Take that strong belief that you are a spiritual being having a human experience (and not a human being having a spiritual experience). The spiritual self sets no condition on itself. When you believe in this, you will know that you are a special creation of God and it will excite you; nothing about your current life and behaviour will wear you out. Start to dream and build a vision of yourself as an already successful executive in the corporate world. Tell yourself that you have a successful way of managing a domineering mum. Many things that you want will soon become realities.
Powerful Questions: What is special about you? What will you do now to rid yourself of all these negative feelings? How can you make your domineering mum go by some of your rules instead of only by her rules? What success can you see for yourself in the corporate world even now?
Note: Corporate Coach Academy is a coaching school in Asia to certify leaders of all backgrounds to become manager-coaches or professional certified coaches in this region. Contact www.corporate-coachacademy.com or Chalermkit2@yahoo.com.