It's hard to be amenable to reason or hear a contrary point of view when we're stubbornly clinging to our position. It's hard to hear a new idea when the change that's being suggested will negatively impact us. And it's hard to offer constructive input when we're approaching the edge of unreasonableness, backed into a corner or seething with frustration.
When you feel like you're teetering on the edge or spinning toward unproductive emotions, initiate a time-out. You don't have to call it that, but take a walk around the building, shut your office door, get a cup or coffee, or suggest the group get back together later to continue the discussion.
People who are winning at working use this approach. They self-monitor to determine when they need to step back. They recognize that do-loop debating, trench-dug positions and hot tempers are not conducive to enhanced decision making, creativity or positive work relationships. Not to mention that people stop listening. They know the adult equivalent of a temper-tantrum is not quickly forgotten in the workplace, and unprofessional antics can derail a career.
But people who are winning at working know something else about time-outs. They know their power. You see, most of us engage in mental combat when hearing a new idea, a bold suggestion or a coaching comment. We react on the autopilot of resistance, clinging strongly to what we know and pushing away what we don't.
But there's a secret to handling all those emotions in front of your boss, staff, or peers. Don't. Instead, take a time-out. You see, when people have time to consider an idea, absorb a thought or come around to input, they usually do. On average, it takes 72 hours to go from resisting to considering.
That's what people who are winning at working know. So, they take a time-out to consider what's being presented when they find themselves resisting. They know it's better to say, "Let me think about that," than to become defensive or argumentative.
Their self-imposed time-outs are used to absorb their boss's seed of an idea, their peers' suggestions, or their staff members' feedback. And while they may reject the idea or input, the rejection happens from consideration, not reaction. Yet more often then not, they find that they come around to a different perspective. You see, sometimes you just need time.
So when you catch yourself resisting, digging in, or losing perspective at work, do what people who are winning at working do...take a time-out, and we'll all be happier.
Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing, and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at firstname.lastname@example.org.© 2007 Nan Russell
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