testing assumptions Archives

Preface: Martin Prouix, President of Pyxis and an organizational coach, posted this article on his blog, Analytical-Mind.com, this past fall. For years, I have asked students, people I coach, and sometimes even myself whether they would rather be right or effective.  Martin poses essentially the same question by asking, “is it better to be right or to be helpful.” His example on what can go wrong when trying to build effective relationships is worth sharing.

Jean

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Preface: Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. In the previous post, “How to Deal with Stress at Work When People Let You Down,”Vicki screams at Saul for not getting a draft document to her at the time he had promised.

She collapses nearly in tears, wondering whether she was the only one in the company who cares. Saul apologized and then secretly fumed, “Why didn’t someone do something about Vicky?” The case is discussed by Dr. Jo Bowens Lewis, a certified teaching and supervising transactional analyst, and a Leading Consciously practitioner.

We continue with Jo’s case analysis.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant.  The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate.  Jo Bowens Lewis, a licensed psychologist, organizational consultant, and Leading Consciously practitioner will respond.

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Preface: This continues the previous post, How to Reduce Stress at Work through Conscious Use of Self: Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson, and the Blizzard, Part 1, in which I described how Oprah Winfrey  coped with an nerve-wracking incident at work. Superstar Jennifer Hudson was unexpectedly late for a scheduled taping of the Oprah Winfrey show, throwing off the entire day’s schedule.  The unfolding events were shown in “Episode 116” of Season 25, the highly acclaimed reality show.

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In Oprah Winfrey’s 25th and final season of her award-winning show, superstar Jennifer Hudson was scheduled to appear to discuss her amazing weight loss. Unfortunately for all of them, the taping was scheduled a day after the largest blizzard that Chicago had seen in 25 years, resulting in a textbook-like study of stress at work.

A behind-the-scenes look at what transpired that morning was shown on “Episode 116”of Season 25, the highly acclaimed reality show showing the makings of The Oprah Show’s 25th season.

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Employee motivation is a recurrent problem creating stress at work for managers, employees, and just about everyone who works with people. In this post, Professor Jeffrey Ford, an expert on personal leadership effectiveness, succinctly describes how to delegate a task to ensure clarity and increase motivation.

As an added bonus, readers of Reframing Change will recognize that these are a great set of questions for testing assumptions about expectations – whether you are the delegator of the task or the person to whom the task is assigned.

I am grateful to Professor Ford for giving me permission to reproduce this gem of a post.

 

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What happens when someone hasn’t developed good listening skills? Here are some typical conversations that create stress at work and home:

Example 1: Manuel sits down with Chris, one of his direct reports, to describe a new assignment. As he explains, the nature of the job requires that Chris weighs the quality of the project against the ultimate goal of meeting costs and timelines. When he finishes the explanation, he asks Chris if he is prepared to take on the assignment.

  • Chris:  Sure, I’m ready. I just don’t understand exactly what you are asking me to do.
  • Manuel: What part of it don’t you understand?
  • Chris:  Well, actually, I don’t understand what you are saying about costs, time, and budget. Would you please explain it again?
  • Manuel:  [Sigh!]

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Yesterday morning, my niece called me. With rage in her voice, she explained that her thirteen-year-old son had received a text message from a friend saying, “You f**king n****r”. “I called his mother — they’re Mexican American,” she explained. “I wanted to know if they understood the significance of that word.”

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Many people are confused about what term is appropriate to use when referring to different others. I provided examples of this in Part 1 of this series on bridging cultural differences. This topic is a hornet’s nest because a term that is appropriate in one context may be inappropriate in another.  Choosing the right word can be a daunting task for who wish to avoid offending others and are horrified at thought of being judged.

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Seeking Words of Encouragement in the Workplace

Seeking love and supportive feedback in all the wrong places

The young woman’s eyes filled with tears.  “Neither of my parents really cares about what I do or think.  I’m not even sure they love me.  Maybe they didn’t even want me.  It hurts me in my stomach to think about it.”

The conversation above is nearly true. (I changed a few details to protect my friend’s privacy.)

Not feeling cared for or recognized in the way we expect can hurt for sure. I know. For a good part of my childhood and young adulthood, I was convinced my parents didn’t love me.

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How to Get the Most Out of Coaching

Jennifer Joyce, co-founder of LeadershipSmarts, is this week’s guest blogger.

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Coaching is often a pivotal step in a person’s career. It represents a large investment of time, money, and personal work.  So how does one get the most out of such an important venture?

During my 15 years as a coach, I have found three keys to creating a successful engagement:

  • A clearly articulated coaching goal
  • Specific examples or stories from work, and
  • A willingness to look at self.

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Assumptions in interpersonal communication

Preface:  In Jean Ramsey’s and my book, Reframing Change, we explain how to test your assumptions at the interpersonal level.  Bill Brenneman, today’s guest blogger, specializes in helping work teams identify and test assumptions that may cause severe, even life-threatening, situations.  In this post, Bill provides an introduction to his rigorous field of work.

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As Jean and Jean point out in Reframing Change, Chapter 2, assumptions can lead us astray without our knowing it is happening. This is a problem–and an opportunity–that come up every time my colleagues and I try to find the cause(s) of complex problems or failures in industrial or organizational settings. This is why:

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In the previous post, we met Tracy who is having a hard time getting along with Sasha. As Tracy complained to her partner, “how am I supposed to work on a charity event with someone who has nothing to say and has such a superior attitude?”

The response today is by Sandra Lopez, a licensed clinical social worker and consultant.

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Tracy’s scenario is just so typical of what any one of us might encounter. Clearly as she shares her feelings with her partner, we can see that Tracy has become frustrated, stressed, and is even experiencing some sense of helplessness in knowing how to make the situation better. Like many of us in these kinds of predicaments, she has formed negative assumptions about her co-worker. Given the current status of her relationship with Sasha, she raises a good question in wondering how she will survive the stress of working on this charity event.

How do we work through these challenging interpersonal conflicts when they happen? Tracy can relieve a great deal of her stress in this working relationship by consciously using herself to more effectively manage the situation.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover will be a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate. In the next post, Sandra Lopez, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, will respond.

Tracy walked through the front door of her workplace and passed the desk of her VP’s top assistant. Sasha looked up from her computer but did not even acknowledge Tracy. She just went back to what she was doing earlier.

When Tracy first started working at XYZ Corp., she would always smile and greet Sasha but stopped after a few weeks. Sasha would only acknowledge her with a slight nod of her head and continue working. Tracy didn’t feel as though she should make an effort to keep being friendly to Sasha if Sasha wasn’t even trying to be cordial.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover will be a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant.  The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate.  Mary Harlan of Harlan Consulting is guest consultant for this scenario.

The scenario: Thomas just began working at XYZ Corporation and still had not met everyone who worked there.  Today he decided to eat in the cafeteria instead of bringing his own lunch and sitting alone in his office.  He spotted Michelle, someone that he had spoken to briefly the other day and decided to go over to say hi.  Michelle was sitting with a group of her friends and they seemed to be in a deep conversation. As soon as he got near though, the group at the table suddenly became quiet and no one would even look up at him.

Thomas felt uncomfortable so he passed by the table without even acknowledging Michelle. At first he felt saddened by the fact that his new coworkers were being unfriendly to him but then he became angry.  “Why are all Asian girls so stuck up and rude?” he thought.

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