“Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.” – Charles Swindoll
This quote reminds me of customer service. Dealing with customers or coworkers that we service can be very challenging. You meet all kinds; whiners, complainers, negative Nancys, know-it-alls, aggressive people, etc. As service providers it can be very hard to keep that smile on your face and not fall into giving it right back to them.
Think about how much better you feel when you are in control. It’s very unsettling to feel like things are just happening to you and you have no control over them. So when you are dealing with difficult people, if you could change your mind set and believe that their difficult-ness probably has nothing to do with you, and by the way, it probably doesn’t, then you will be better able to control your reaction to them. Most times, when we react in a level headed and calm fashion, people become easier to deal with. For sure, when we react aggressively or negatively, or make excuses, we are bound to escalate the emotions of the other person, which just feeds into the vicious cycle.
Instead, tell yourself, it’s not me…. but still, how can I help this person. When we take the emotion out of it, we get better results. Case in point: I worked with a new technical manager who ws having trouble with one of the administrators in the hospital. She was working on a Lean Management project and needed to get certain information from the biomed shop to make her recommendations. This manager felt she did not really have a good grasp on what went on in his department. She would come down to the department, unannounced and every time she came in to the shop, he just happened to be busy putting out a fire and had no time for her. She became more and more difficult, and he, in turn became more and more confrontational because she wouldn’t let up and complained that he was uncooperative. He felt that she was out to get him and his job was in jeopardy, and yet the cycle continued.
When you are confronted with a situation like this and you truly want it to get better, stop doing the same thing over and over again. Remember, it may not be what’s happening that is the problem; it may be how you are reacting to it. In this case, both parties had a job to do. She was not looking to hurt the new biomed manager; she needed to get certain information, and she probably had a deadline. Instead of continuing to get aggravated and focusing on how she didn’t understand the constant interruptions that go on day to day in the biomed department, I suggested that he contact her proactively and suggest they meet privately and undisturbed so that he could give her 100% of his attention, and his perspective on the department. I told him not to wait for her to come down again at an inappropriate time, but rather let her know that he wants to help, and here’s what would work for him.
When he changed his reaction, she was happy to meet with him where and when he would be undisturbed. Their relationship grew because they finally began to understand each other’s objectives and found that they were one and the same, to provide the best patient experience possible within the confines of their resources and budget. When they worked together, things really began to move in a positive direction. They still butted heads a few times, because we are who we are, right? But now they have a common ground they can fall back on when things got tough.
Thoughts….. Contact me at abbe@TECResourceCenter.com
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