Thanks to all FSE faculty and staff who attended yesterday’s webinar, featuring Tony Schwartz! We hope that you left feeling more energized and motivated!
Following are answers to follow-up webinar questions that you can use to supplement the tips that Schwartz provided on dealing with triggers! We hope that you find them useful. And, as always, we welcome your comments. Thanks again for your support!
– The IDEAWorks Team
Webinar Follow-up Questions
1) How do I deal with a supervisor that consistently delivers feedback in a way that triggers me?
Ultimately, while it’s great when other people can do it, we are responsible for holding our own value. The first step is to understand what part of your value gets threatened by the way this person delivers feedback. What does it bring up for you? The more you can understand that, the more you can separate yourself from the feedback. The second step is to think about whether there’s any way the other person’s behavior makes sense if you put yourself in their shoes. That’s designed to help you understand what parts of the situation might not have to do with you.
2) If you observe physical warning signs in another, how do you change the nature of the discussion without appearing to “give up” or change your point of view in response?
Sometimes when people are triggered, it’s visible physically: their face gets red, their shoulders tense, or their facial expression changes. The important thing is to present ideas as your own opinions and be amenable to the input of others. This doesn’t mean that you need to change your point at all. It’s simply a way of encouraging others to voice their concerns in an open and safe environment. If you notice that someone is responding negatively, it would be helpful to pause and ask him to articulate his view on the subject. Simply listening and recognizing people goes a long way toward making them feel valued.
3) How do you help ‘paranoid’ direct reports (always afraid to lose his job, work isn’t good enough, thinks people don’t like him)?
The first step is to try and stop thinking about these people as paranoid. What they’re feeling is a lack of affirmation. There are two possibilities here: the first is that they are more sensitive than others and therefore require more positive feedback. The other is that for some reason or another, they aren’t getting the affirmation that others are getting. In this case, it is important to go out of your way to acknowledge their contributions. The more positive feedback they get, the less paranoid they’ll seem.
4) If a person is constantly triggering me for no reason, should I just stay away from them?
If that’s possible, it’s an easy solution. Most of the time, though, especially at work, we don’t have that luxury. If this is the case, the first step is to take a look at yourself and ask why you’re feeling triggered. What is it about what the person said that made you question your value? The next step is to share your experience with the other person, trying to stay away from blame as much as possible. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements, and keep in mind that the person’s own value might have been at stake. Often, you will find that something you thought was about you wasn’t about you at all.
5) How can we practice this facts and stories method, so we are prepared for when we need it?
Before you go to sleep at night, think about whether you were triggered at any point during the day and if you were, ask yourself how your value was at risk. Try writing down all of the facts of the situation (the parts that are irrefutable and can be verified objectively by any person) and then the story you told yourself to make sense of the facts. Then, try coming up with the most hopeful and empowering story you can tell, without denying or minimizing the facts. If you practice this in an intentional way on a regular basis, it will gradually become more automatic until you can actually do it in the moment.