April 28, 2007

Understandingly but firmly

Steve, a manager in a factory department, had to engage in a difficult conversation with Richard, an employee who had shown some intimidating behavior towards his colleagues several times. A few colleagues had already mentioned they were actually afraid of him. Steve had once before said to Richard that he would not accept physically aggressive behavior. Richard had responded evasively and had said: ”It is very hard for me to control my temper because I was molested as a child myself!” This conversation between Steve and Richard did not lead to a clear understanding and agreement. Recently, there had been a new situation of Richard intimidating a co-worker and Steve wanted to talk to him about it. This time, Steve had prepared well for the conversation. As a preparation, he had written down on a piece of paper what he expected of Richard and why. During the conversation he did not use the piece of paper but he remembered well what he had written down. He said: “Richard, you are appreciated a lot in this department because of your commitment and your readiness to help others. So I guess you can imagine we would very much like to keep you around. In order to be able to do that, you will need to learn to restrain yourself when you feel provoked and angry so that your colleagues can feel safe around you at all times. How can you manage to do that?” After a few seconds, Richard replied: “I understand you're asking this of me but it is very hard for me to control my anger when I feel provoked. Steve responded understandingly but firmly “Sure. I can imagine that after what you have told me recently. And given that it is hard for you …. How can you manage to restrain yourself anyway so that people will feel safe around you and we can keep on employing you here?” During the conversation Steve kept on coming back to this HOW-question. The conversation proceeded constructively and Richard and Steve made an agreement that Richard would control himself when angry at all times. Richard has since found a way to do this. (Source).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner