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November 2017

Stop Dreading Confrontation by First Defusing Emotions

By Brenda Smyth

When we think of confrontation, we visualize an aggressive scene. There’s arguing, hard feelings and worse … the strong possibility that after all that drama, nothing will really change.  But doing nothing isn’t a good solution. A co-worker whose constant procrastination makes your projects late isn’t  going to magically start doing things on time. A team member who isn’t pulling his weight won’t  suddenly turn into an overachiever. Difficult situations and people rarely transform on their own. We often need to address these issues directly and calmly.

In fact, effective, productive confrontation should be a calm interaction.  Before jumping in, a word of caution: Pick your battles. Learning to adjust to colleagues’ idiosyncrasies is part of working in the business world. Remember, there’s more than one right way to do things.

When you have made the decision that addressing the issue and confrontation is your best course, help ensure a smooth interaction by making sure the other person feels listened to and that their viewpoint has been well communicated and understood.

Here are the steps to set the tone for a smooth  confrontation:

  1. Prepare. Give some thought before the conversation about the facts and feelings of all parties. Consider what the ideal resolution for everyone would look like.
  2. Schedule a time and place by nicely asking the other party to talk. Choose a private setting.
  3. When you meet, state your issue in a fact-based way. (Make this about you, not a group. Don’t say “we all feel this way.”) Then stop talking.
  4. Listen.
  5. Ensure that the other person knows you have heard them and understand their feelings.
  6. Validate how they feel about the situation, even if you disagree with the rationale.
  7. Identify the issue(s) without placing blame.   Explain the impact of the issue(s).
  8. Objectively outline the facts.
  9. Explain your position only when you’ve validated the other’s emotions and   viewpoints. State your  feelings and opinions    assertively, without indicating that you expect     agreement. Use “I”      statements rather than pointing fingers.
  10. Ask them to shift to     problem-solving mode with you. Establish realistic goals for the outcome, and get agreement.
  11. Choose your battles wisely. Know when it’s best to agree to disagree.
  12. Take a break if emotions escalate or no resolution is in sight.
  13. Establish a time to         reconvene (so they know they don’t win by default).
  14. When a mutually           acceptable solution is met, get agreement. Ask for their commitment to help make it work.
  15. Don’t take anything      personally.
  16. Follow up on the situation, and make sure both parties keep their end of the      bargain.

When you must face a       difficult issue or person directly, don’t avoid it. Instead, prepare for confrontation by working to make sure the other person feels heard and understood.

Eight is Enough

By Catherine Winters

Turning 100 is no longer an impossible dream.  Between 2000 and 2014, the number of Americans who celebrated their centennial birthday jumped 43.6%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  So what keeps these super-agers humming along?

Good genes, regular exercise and a healthy diet are an excellent start.  But most of us don't get enough of the key nutrients for longevity from food, and supplements can make up the shortfalls.  Doctors recommend taking these 8 daily (with your doctor's approval).

1.  Multivitamin 1/2 tablet in the morning and at night.  Splitting a tablet makes sense since we eliminate many water-soluble vitamins within 12 hours.  If you're 50 or older, iron may up the risk of heart issues, so check with your doctor.  
2.  Vitamin D  1000 IUs.  D protects against osteoporosis and may also fight infections and cancer.
3.  Calcium citrate  600 mg.  It will get you halfway to your 1,200 mg daily quota, augmenting the calcium you get from food.  To aid absorption, take 300-400 mg of        magnesium too.
4.  Aspirin  81 mg twice a day (2 baby aspirin or low-dose aspirin).  It helps protect against cancer and possibly stroke, heart attack and impotence.  For best absorption, take uncoated tablets, and prevent gastric discomfort by drinking a half glass of warm water before and after.
5.  Coenzyme Q10  100 mg twice a day.  CoQ10 helps cell mitochondria turn glucose into electric energy and may protect against heart failure and other inflammatory   processes.
6.  DHA Omega-3   900 mg.  It's good for brain function and may protect against early macular degeneration.
7.  Omega-7  420 mg.  Though more research is needed, it appears omega-7 fatty acids lower LDL cholesterol,  triglycerides and C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
8.  Probiotics  4 billion colony-forming units (CFU).  Some foods change the bacterial makeup of the gut, producing chemicals that contribute to arterial aging.  Probiotics - the good bacteria found in cultured yogurt - may offset the effects of bad bacteria.

Workplace Changes Ahead? Keep the Conversation Flowing

From The Managers Minute

People resist change. The familiar is more comfortable for most of us.  I have a printer at my house that’s        ancient. To make it work, you have to tap it on the side, then go through a series of mysterious steps to get it to actually crank out a document. But I’m used to it. I don’t love it. But I know how it works. I’m comfortable with its       idiosyncrasies.

In the business world, people     sometimes cling to broken, poorly   functioning systems. They’re resistant to change because the unknown and untested can be frightening.

We’re hardwired to resist change.
As a manager, it may seem that some employees are more open to change than others …. But, according to, brain analysis shows that “when it comes to change, our brains all react pretty much the same way. We try to avoid it.” Routine activities are     handled by a portion of our brain (the basal ganglia) that allows us to use less energy on activities we do frequently, i.e., we’re on    autopilot. “Change jerks us out of this comfort zone by stimulating the prefrontal cortex, an energy intensive   section of the brain responsible for insight and impulse control. But the prefrontal cortex is also directly linked to the amygdala (the brain’s fear circuitry, which in turn   controls our flight or fight response).”
Past experiences also affect our receptiveness.
   To further complicate things, each person’s experiences with past “changes” will affect his or her receptiveness. New procedures or a restructuring can bring cynicism and a lack of excitement for someone with a history of failed programs. They have evidence that these new things are likely to fail.  Rational, capable businesspeople “look into the crystal ball of change and see inevitable tragedy,” writes Joseph Grenny for Psychology Today.  But it’s that shared rational quality that make it possible for really good managers to help their people embrace change.  But simply reasoning with someone is not the answer when trying to get him or her to accept change. Here are several keys:

1. Clear and open communication: Successfully         navigating change occurs when we speak openly about anticipated problems. Grenny refers to these as crucial conversations. He suggests that when      employees are able to discuss        concerns, barriers and ideas, they are better able to change their               conclusions—and accept the change. Without this dialogue, people draw their own conclusions, which can become self-fulfilling prophecies, i.e., a person might conclude that the approach is flawed and silently withdraw their    support. As they do this, efforts do stall and the approach does become flawed … confirming their assumptions that it is all a big waste of time.  When all the ideas and concerns surface, the unique experiences of everyone allow for the best decisions … and the process helps build commitment and unity.
This discussion should:

  • Communicate the vision—the why and what we’re trying to accomplish
  • Be simple and easily digestible
  • Not sugarcoat the challenges
  • Happen often so it becomes familiar (and moves into that part of the brain)
  • Show that the boss and upper management are     committed to the change

2. Consequences for employees (or departments) who violate the new policies, procedures or processes: People must be held accountable, suggests Grenny. Without  accountability, peers who do go along with the change face conflict with deadbeat colleagues. The change is also not being fairly evaluated if only a few people are on board.

“A change effort is less likely to fail based on the     technical merits of the project than on whether or not opinion leaders are capable of dealing with the inevitable resistance,” writes Grenny. Anticipate resistance. Address it directly by talking through the changes and the          differences of opinion on a regular basis leading up to and through the change. Once new procedures are set, deal directly with workers who don’t follow them.

Presentation Tips When You’re Invited to Be Part of a Panel Discussion

Many industry events include panel discussions. The event planner pulls together a diverse group with varying views on a topic in an attempt to educate the audience.    Although from an adult learning perspective, these discussions often miss the mark, they’re fairly easy to put together (and less intimidating to the invitees), so they remain prevalent.  But, research from a recent PCMA survey suggests audience satisfaction with panel discussions is low. Of the 500 attendees at a recent event, less than 40% of respondents rated the panel above average.

So before you accept that next panel invitation (because it feels easy and keeps you from having to take the stage alone), remember there are ways to make your            participation stronger … and you still have to spend time preparing. Don’t wing it. Being part of a boring, uninspired event is a waste of time for everyone involved.

Make a good impression. Know what message you want to leave with your audience. And keep your focus on educating the audience.

  • Understand Your Audience. Who are they? What do they know about the topic? What are their concerns? What do they expect to gain from watching the discussion?
  • Know your role in the              discussion. Who else is on the panel? Find out more about each person. How is your perspective different from theirs? It’s these areas of disagreement that will make the discussion more   interesting.
  • Prepare some stories to support your points. Just as in a solo presentation,  storytelling makes information more interesting.
  • The Discussion:
  • Be conscious of your time allotment. Make your point. Don’t ramble on and on using up airtime. Assuming the discussion has a moderator, they will likely ask you to elaborate if something is unclear or incomplete.
  • If panelists aren’t receiving equal time because of a poor moderator, shift the discussion as you wrap up your comments by directing a question to another     panelist.
  • Stay engaged and energetic throughout the discussion. You don’t want to    repeat something that’s already been said, so stay focused and listen.
  • Don’t self-promote. Your credentials were part of the introductions. The audience knows who you work for. Provide great information and they’ll find you after the event.
  • Make your comments meaningful and relevant. No fluff. The audience is there to learn something.
  • Be conversational. A panel discussion should not be a separate presentation by each individual on the panel, but rather a flowing conversation.

   A good panel discussion is similar to lively dinner conversation. Everyone is listening and interacting. It’s spontaneous and interesting. However, with any presentation, the focus should be on the audience. They are there to learn. Use your subject matter    expertise to help educate.

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