There are three postures that many of us use in relating to our coworkers, team members, friends, family and so on: being non-assertive, aggressive or assertive.
1. Being Non-Assertive
This means not communicating your honest beliefs, feelings, needs and opinions to others. It means subordinating your needs to theirs.
Fear is a major contributing factor to much non-assertive behavior–fear of being in conflict, of losing face, of getting disapproval or disagreement, of being rejected or ignored, of losing your job or a promotion, of hurting others. A sure sign of non-assertive behavior is later wishing that you had said or done something and continuing to stew over the situation however minor it might be.
When non-assertive people do express an idea or need, they often do so in such a self-effacing way that other people disregard or ignore them. Because their feelings remain unexpressed and their needs unmet, they are often frustrated, angry and resentful.
So remember that Active Listening stuff? I am guessing you do. Okay, so did you know that you can use it when no one owns a problem?
Let’s say you’re “hanging out” in the middle part of the Behavior Window (AKA “Increasing Productive Work Time” or the “No Problem Area”) and you’re simply talking with a coworker about the usual stuff or a new project—anything that’s not, at the present moment, below anybody’s Line of Acceptance.
This skill is THE most difficult AND the most powerful so I encourage you to practice it as much as you can—yes, even when there’s no problem. Here are some tips for you:
The following are appropriate uses of Active Listening when all of the other’s behaviors are in the No Problem, Productive Work Area:
Recently, I was contacted by Real Simple Magazine for permission to use our concept of the Learning Stages. It’s a very entertaining article about the author learning to play the banjo and I highly recommend it (March, 2014 issue – see “Consciously Competent” on page 45).
Anyway…..these stages are something we teach in all of our Gordon Model programs and I think get overlooked—and they can provide a HUGE feeling of relief not just when you’re learning new skills in our leadership training program (L.E.T.) but in life!
So imagine you’re learning a new skill as you read this—I bet you might feel a whole lot better and perhaps not be so hard on yourself!
February 14th is Valentine’s Day and a time to celebrate love and its importance in our lives, especially in our close relationships with our spouses, partners and children.
If you have learned the communication and conflict resolution skills that are the core of the Gordon Model, you’ve experienced their positive results—of truly understanding another person and being understood; of how being open and honest can clear the air between two people; of the satisfied or even euphoric feeling of resolving a difficult, long-standing conflict. You realize that your relationships are working better, more effectively.
You might have also focused on the fact that many of them are more loving. That’s no coincidence. Love either flourishes or deteriorates depending on how we talk to and treat each other.
Have you ever heard executives proudly describe their groups or organizations: “We’re just a big happy family around here—we get along, no problems.” I am always suspicious of such leaders, as I am suspicious of husbands and wives who say, “We’ve been married for twenty years and we’ve never had a fight.” Usually that means that their conflicts are not allowed to surface and be faced.
Some people actually fear conflict. They feel anxious and uncomfortable with conflicts, so they take the attitude of “peace at any price.” Therefore, they avoid getting involved in anything that smacks of conflict. But they pay a price for this posture, because the results of avoiding conflict are quite predictable:
Resentments Build Up. This is true in all relationships, not just leader-member relationships. When conflicts remain unresolved, resentments gradually build up. Then, maybe months later, when a minor problem crops up, all the accumulated resentment erupts explosively, usually far out of proportion to the particular problem of the moment.
The choices available to organizational decision makers are many. It is no longer the case that only a few training companies control the market. We certainly acknowledge that there are many excellent products available. It is our responsibility to be clear about how L.E.T. is different from the others. The following factors explain what I believe to be the most important differences that set L.E.T. apart from its competition.
Leader Effectiveness Training
L.E.T. is solid. It is thoroughly grounded in the fundamental principles of the behavioral sciences. It does not rely on gimmicks. The skills taught in L.E.T. are clearly a product of the most reliable and respected research on human
behavior. These skills work. We know they work.
Other Leadership Training
Many programs sacrifice quality for “newness” or “razzle-dazzle.” There is a lot of guesswork and speculation in many programs. Some programs include a great deal of “new age” thinking that has little evidence to support its effectiveness.
So here it is, almost the end of January, which is a bit crazy if you ask me, but I digress….so anyway,….here we are! Maybe you made some New Year’s resolutions or maybe you skipped them this year. Regardless, I always see the new year as an opportunity to make a fresh start, to do things a little differently—a little better.
We always get a flood of emails and calls from people, especially during this time of the year, inquiring about how they can learn some better communication and/or conflict resolution skills.
Maybe they think THIS is the year that they tackle those relationships at work that are just not working or it’s high time that their team learns to simply get along, play fair and get to work already! Well, if it’s time, we’re here to help and here’s what you will learn in our leadership training program:
Most people live much of their lives in groups—when they work, when they worship, when they play, when they learn. And it seems all groups do need leaders, for better or for worse. But leaders can make or break a group. Their attitudes and behavior strongly influence the group’s performance and also the amount of satisfaction enjoyed by group members, as everyone knows from direct experience with teachers, administrators, supervisors, committee chairpersons, coaches, managers, clergy and elected officials.
It is equally true of our society, and a fact often overlooked, that most people at one time or another are thrust into a position of leading a group. Most people become parents, for example, a leadership position in relation to the children. The teacher, too, is a leader of his classroom of students. Each person is a leader who gets chosen to direct a committee or task group, who is elected president of a volunteer organization, who assumes responsibility as a scout leader or camp director. Of the countless people who take on these varied leadership roles, how many find it a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience?
A question often asked in our leadership training program is, “What if you can’t come up with a mutually acceptable solution?”
I think the main reason this question comes up so often is that people who have little or no experience with Method III are genuinely skeptical about the chances that people in conflict will find no-lose solutions. They haven’t seen it happen, so they are sure it won’t.
The facts are, it does happen often. But it is also true that sometimes mutually acceptable solutions are hard to find. Stalemates in conflict resolution may develop because the parties did not follow the six steps of the problem-solving process. Or one (or both) of the contestants is still in a win-lose posture and a power-struggle frame of mind. And, needless to say, some conflicts are so complex that it takes a lot of creativity and resourcefulness to come up with good solutions.
Although most people know from personal experience that the two win-lose methods of conflict resolution carry a high risk of damaging relationships and reducing organizational effectiveness, these continue to be the methods of choice for most leaders. While there may be a number of explanations for this, two seem most probable: people have had little or no personal experience with any other approach to conflict resolution, and, in the minds of most people, having the greatest influence is equated with possessing the most power.
The world lost a great leader. A better way to think of it may be that we had a gift that lasted for 95 years. Mandela accomplished much but will be most remembered for his ability and willingness to forgive. Yes, he was a great civil rights leader. Yes, he was imprisoned for his beliefs. Yes, he was awarded a Nobel Peace prize. Yes, he was democratically elected president of South Africa. Yes, he wrote “Long Walk To Freedom,” a book about his life. Yes, he became an elder statesman who was the face of human rights and equality in virtually every part of the world. He was also human. He made mistakes. He had troubled marriages. He was afraid. But, in the end, he invited his accusers, his tormentors, his jailers and his enemies to the table in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. Few have the depth of understanding to realize what an act of courage that must have been. In his words, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” That is true leadership.
What do I mean by that? Well, I was thinking of the holidays, what a virtual gift to you could be, what to write for the Graduate Connection and so a thought came to me. I will give the gift of the Gordon Model, in the most succinct way I can. Ready? Here you go! 1. The overall goal of the Gordon Model is to reduce relationship problems to increase the amount of productive work time. The purpose of the Behavior Window is to help you identify who is having a problem so you’ll know which skill to use.
2. In contrast to the Roadblocks, Active Listening encourages the other person, who has the problem, to say more about it.
3. Active Listening is an empathic way of reflecting back both the words and feelings the troubled person has expressed, to see if you have understood correctly.
The reason that Leader Effectiveness Training works is that it addresses leadership skills at a deeper and more fundamental level than other leadership or management training workshops. With the skills learned in L.E.T., the organization is able to create a suitable platform on which the other components can be constructed. Just as some advanced drugs require a steady heartbeat and acceptable blood pressure or new software applications require a proper operating system, many management tools such as career development tools, mentoring systems, quality improvement systems and so forth require a certain level of communication skill that management teams often do not possess. This tendency is exaggerated in highly technical organizations where hiring and promotions are based mainly on technical qualifications. Few technical specialty curricula offer more than a smattering of non-technical coursework and few hiring companies look for, or are indeed qualified, to evaluate leadership skills. Often, organizations have highly competent, capable, decent men and women in leadership roles. But, that doesn’t guarantee that the organization can sustain high levels of quality and productivity. This is a difficult lesson to learn because many companies operate reasonably successfully without excellent leadership skills. In an environment in which there is little competition and you have an excellent product line, much error can be tolerated. But, as the organization grows and the competition increases, the margin for such error is greatly diminished. Effectiveness and clarity become extremely important.
When someone says, “I hate this job!” or “I can’t work with Sarah” or “Nobody values my work around here!” most people are inclined to think that those feelings are rather permanent and unchangeable. And, usually, the stronger the feeling, the more it sounds final or irreversible. For example, if my wife should greet me at the door with, “I’m so mad at you!” my immediate reaction would be that I’ve fouled my nest somehow and she’ll never feel the same about me again. Parents, too, have a similar reaction when one of their kids blurts out, “I’m never going anywhere with you again.”
So yes, it’s that time of year…. the holidays are coming! In addition to feelings of anticipation, excitement and joy, many of us also have feelings of fear, stress, sadness. I think it’s a mixed bag for a lot of us.
For most of my life during this time, specifically I am referring to Thanksgiving, my Pop “made” everyone at the table say a little something. So JUST as we were all about to sink our teeth into some tasty turkey, he’d say, “Why don’t we all take turns sharing what we’re most thankful for this year!”
“Oh geez…really? Now?”, I’d think to myself. Sigh.
Clare T., who attended the October L.E.T. Train-the-Trainer Workshop, talks about how uncomfortable it can be at first to learn new communication and conflict resolution skills. L.E.T. can help an individual break free from unproductive and ineffective communication habits. As with anything, practice and commitment with leadership skills learned in L.E.T. can help one create new and better habits.
Have you ever dreaded going to a company-sponsored training workshop? Do you imagine a warm, dim room where the presenter drones on and on and you want nothing more than to get out of there? Jonathan H., a participant at the 2013 L.E.T. Trainer Workshop in San Diego, had similar fears before attending. He was pleasantly surprised that not only was the leadership training engaging and effective, but personally rewarding as well.
W.L. Gore? They are the makers of Gore-Tex, among MANY other products:
W. L. Gore & Associates – Ranked 21 on the Fortune 500 list for 2013
Previous rank: 38
What makes Gore so great?
Eschewing hierarchy and bosses, the maker of Gore-Tex fabric and Glide dental floss encourages a team-based environment— and there are no executive perks. “At Gore, we don’t manage people,” wrote founder Bill Gore. “We expect people to manage themselves.”
Markus M., a 2013 L.E.T. Trainer Workshop participant, explains that his current workplace at W.L. Gore & Associates is very different from past work environments due to the collaborative nature. L.E.T. and the Gordon Model, has been taught at this company for years, and has made a large, positive impact on interpersonal communication between team members. L.E.T. is leadership training that promotes collaboration between team members to come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs, rather than just one person’s.
Clients of Leader Effectiveness Training (L.E.T.) have transformed their work culture to one of collaboration. It’s unusual, says Steve Crandall (Master L.E.T. Trainer) for a leadership program such as L.E.T., to have a deep, lasting impact on companies such as it has. He also shares in this video how the program has had a powerful and positive affect on his own business and personal life.
Many different types of training are offered online—and they can be a convenient and sometimes more affordable option than in-person education. Steve Crandall, Master L.E.T. Trainer, explains though that if you want to learn interpersonal skills (which effective leaders and managers know are a huge key to the success of any business), the essentially solitary nature of online training defeats the purpose. The confrontation, listening and problem-solving skills that are at the heart of excellent leadership training, are best suited in an learning environment that involves live, real-time, human interaction. In L.E.T., for one example, the trainer is able to circulate around the participants during the many practice sessions as they practice their new skills and provide instant feedback and coaching, which better serves the participant–not to mention the company who invests in bettering their leaders.