Summarize and Delay
Please consider the following parable:
PARABLE OF KATE AND HER BOSS
Kate’s boss, Nelson, left for a week vacation in the Bahamas during a particularly busy time. When Nelson returned, he started to insult Kate because she and the rest of her team did not complete all that he had expected. Nelson’s tone of voice began to infuriate Kate.
Rather than exploding, she had a well-rehearsed plan that she enacted. She managed to keep the expression on her face looking concerned about what her boss had to say. She recalled the word DIG which reminded her to dig to look for her boss’s desire, what happened that interfered with his desire, and what he thinks she is guilty of doing wrong.
When Nelson finished yelling, Kate replied, “You’re the boss, Nelson. It’s clear to me that you wanted us to accomplish more work while you were gone and this didn’t get done. You feel that we are guilty of letting you down. You deserve a thorough reply. After I discuss your concerns with the rest of my team and I have a few days to think this through, I’ll get back to you.”
“I want an answer now!” Nelson demanded.
“Sure boss, here’s the best answer I can offer you now—I don’t have a good answer now. I’m sorry I’m not ready with any helpful answer just yet. I will be ready to move this discussion forward within a week.” She then looked into Nelson’s eyes and said gently, “Please give me a little time.”
Nelson frowned, and then hollered, “I better have an answer in a week or else!”
“Thanks, Nelson,” Kate replied. “I’m sorry you are disappointed in us.” Then she left.
Kate managed to calm down in a few hours. Then she began to confer with all involved.
Throughout the week, Kate and Nelson worked together on many other issues that required some attention, but both stayed clear of the topic that led to Nelson’s angry outburst.
During the week, Kate spent some time discussing what had happened with some people that she particularly respected. By the time she again discussed her boss’s concern with him, she was much better prepared than if she discussed it with him when he first brought it up.
For Kate to express her anger at her boss while both she and her boss are frustrated could potentially silence him. It might also get her fired or decrease the chances of a promotion. By remaining polite, while also being firm, she demonstrates a respectful professional tone and buys herself time to consider the best way to respond to her boss in a more reasonable manner. It also gives her boss some time to calm down. In a few days he might even apologize on his own for shouting at her.
If a friend insults you, using the same plan can oftentimes be very helpful. Respectfully summarize the conflict using the DIG format (see March 8, 2012 blog post) and then set a time in a few days into the future to discuss it. Giving yourself a few days allows both of you to calm your frustrations and to confer with anyone else involved as well as people that you particularly respect. When you do return to your friend, you will be able to handle the conflict with far greater wisdom than if you try to resolve it without giving yourself some time for reflection.
This plan, to be done in a way that will increase how much respect others will have for you, requires practice. In my next blog post, I will discuss how to rehearse this plan so that you can carry it out even in the most frustrating circumstances.
Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.