How to Deal With Other People’s Unhelpful Behavior

We often witness in others unhelpful behaviors that get in the way of everyone getting to desired, win-win results. Such behaviors include passivity, aggression, lying, schoolyard politics, bullying, blaming, excuses, disdain, disrespect, manipulation, abuse, stealing credit, avoiding, talking over, clamming up, etc.

These behaviors stymie us because we tend to either ignore or criticize them, neither of which works. Not wanting to deal or wanting to be polite, we ignore but can only tolerate so much. Then we criticize. We attack, explain, tell, or complain. But these actions only generate defensiveness and resistance from the people we address.

To get beneath and beyond the behaviors and resistance that get in the way, use truth-telling. Like explaining etc., truth-telling is a proactive step. Rather than going into why they shouldn’t do something or what they should do, we merely state the unhelpful behavior we notice. Then we zip our lips. And we wait patiently for their response.

Examples: “I notice you’ve been late to every meeting this week.” “It seems you are really angry about this.” “You really want me understand something here.” “I am pretty sure that is not true.” “You seem to want to avoid this discussion.” and, “It seems you are shifting blame to others.”

With the ball clearly in their court, they eventually respond. And, eventually, they drop their defenses. When they do, we can negotiate with them meaningful improvement and change.

In your corner,


PS: The silence after a truth-tell will be uncomfortable. That’s why it works.

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