Monday, January 09, 2006

Don't know what to say?

Here's a list of situations shy people may have trouble with.

Here's what I need from you: 1) add more types of mind-blanking situations I should be sure to include OR 2) take one of these and offer suggestions about what to say.

What to say to a VIP or CEO (in a meeting or in the elevator)
How to disagree with your boss and your coworkers (on something important)
How to handle offensive interviewers (e.g. getting too personal, asking what your SAT score was or about your personal life)
How to get along with a new guy at a longtime client
How to talk about money (negotiating your salary or following up on a promised bonus)
What to say when you think you might have offended someone
Dealing with difficult people (from passive aggression to bullying to a narcissistic personality disorder)

What else....


Blogger Lisa J. Lehr said...

Here's one that happens to me a lot:

Someone says (with confidence) something that is wrong or just plain stupid. I know they're wrong but I can't--at the moment--think of the actual facts to replace theirs with, or how to correct them without sounding like a know-it-all. Of course I always think of something later.

In most cases I guess it doesn't matter that much. But I hate to think how many people just accept this misguided person's faulty info, and it's so satisfying to be able to say, "Actually it only rains about 30 inches a year in Portland, Oregon. People just think it rains a lot." And the other person says, "Really! I didn't know that!"

And now they do.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. said...

I'm not thought of as shy, but I once had trouble speaking up when selfish folks expected more from me than they were willing to give. Now I diffuse them by repeating back to them what they've said and put it in context. For example, "Let me see if I understand you? You wonder why you didn't receive a Christmas card from me even though you never send out Christmas cards?" This usually stops them in their tracks.

If not, and they continue with something like, "But that's different. I'm not as organized as you." I come back with "Well, I've decided to become more like you."

9:05 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Pushing back began a transformation at my job:

I have always been shy with my over-bearing boss -- choosing to get (more than my share of) work done to keep her out of my hair.
During the summer, I was particularly burdened by additional work (much of which was outside of my job-description) and she was pressing me throughout the day to get something to her -- I had other high priority items for the firm partners and chose to push back (big-time) by saying something like "stop pushing me around" -- though I think it came out more like "get off my back, name-withheld!"

The interesting result of this confrontation (I believe it was heard by one of the partners) was that we hired a new person who assists me with the not-my-job-description work... and, my boss has been very nice to me (dropping items in my in-box and withdrawing -- usually silently)

8:07 AM  
Blogger Richard Fouts said...

I faciliate lots of working sessions. When I get put on the spot with a confrontational question, I will often throw it out to the group with, "What do the rest of you think? Does anyone else agree?"

In the majority of cases, I get a supporting response and find that most people don't agree ... and the issue is diffused. In the case when someone does agree, it usually leads to a productive conversation. Or someone will say, "Yes I agree, but there's a better way to say it."

Trust the people around you. They are your friends.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous julia Reich said...

I tend to get shy when it comes to negotiating for more money on a project that has exceeded its scope. I always have a contract for the scope of work, but for some reason when the terms of the contract have been reached, and work is still yet to be done, I get all tongue-tied trying to explain to a client that I've done the three rounds of revisions to the logo (or whatever the design project at hand is) and if they want me to continue revising, they need to pay me hourly at the rate outlined in the contract.

I guess I don't want my clients to think I'm "nickel and diming" them.

But why is it so hard for me to set these standard professional parameters?

Julia Reich

7:03 AM  
Blogger sofeia said...

I've always had difficulty at conferences. So many people and so much networking opportunity, but I never know what to say and how to say it at the right time to the right people, editors, art directors, and other established persons, who could help me the most. I either avoided them altogether, or I'd make small talk and not smart talk. During a critique once, I was so nervous I chatted about everything unrelated and not about what I needed help with. I'm slowly overcoming my social anxiety by being better prepared and having a list of questions and objectives with me. After I recieve information I need, I become more relaxed and I'm able to enjoy the conference enough to start interacting and networking with other attendees..

7:20 AM  
Blogger Mistina said...

Similar to Julia's issue, I find it difficult to approach clients who have fallen behind in paying bills. But I'm working on it!

With one client, I'm proposing different payment options (since I'm pretty sure they're dealing with a cash flow issue). That way, I show that I'm flexible and want to help them, but I'm still getting my point across: I need payment.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous John Withers said...

In my first career as a Navy pilot, I had developed a “biting” sense of humor that was very common for that environment. After I left the Navy, however, I quickly found that type of humor did not play well at all in the “outside world”! I really caused some ruffled feathers and hurt feelings with my one-liners.

In addition to learning to control my tongue, I also had to learn to apologize to those I offended. This took some trial and error, but one of my most effective tactics went something like this:

“You know, I said something to you that came out very differently than what I actually meant. My wife is working with me on this, but I’m concerned that I offended you, which is the last thing I wanted to do. I am very sorry – what can I do to make it right?”

I’m always sincere when I say it, and I think the words I use convey that. Also, asking them that last question puts them in a position to offer forgiveness (if they want) without feeling like a victim. I can’t claim credit for the idea (I had help), but I can say it works!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Moe Jabara said...

I am going to address the following interview question in this post:

"How to handle offensive interviewers (e.g. getting too personal, asking what your SAT score was or about your personal life)"

Interviews can be conducted in two ways - personal and non personal. For example, non-personal interviews are conducted to collect qualifications directly associated with the position. Personal interviews are conducted to acquire information about life outside of the workplace. Both are relevant to the interview process and to finding the right employee in promoting a health workplace.

How to handle tricky questions? Well if a question seems out of line or offensive - then read between the lines. Most of the time, the questions are physcological and deal with cognitive behaviour. For example, and offensive question or comment may asked to elicit a respone to see how you react in a stressful, or critical situation. These questions are usually asked to see how well you work under pressure, or how you react to criticism - something very common in the workplace. The best way to answer these questions is turn the negative into a positive. I'll demonstrate and example of this below:

Example Question towards the end of the interview:

"If I were to tell you that you had no future with our organization nor do you have the ability to succeed in this position, how would you feel?"

Most people's face would turn blue-green at this point, but don't be alarmed - it's a leading question. The employer said "If..." so it's technically a hypothetical situation and does not reflect how the interviewer feels at a given point and time. This is one way it could be answered:

"If you were to tell me that I had no future in your organzation, I would ask you what part of my qualifications suggest that I could not succeed in this position, and I would revisit, clarify, or improve those areas so I could meet the job requirements"

Notice the response - it's hypothetical too "If...". Nobody wants hyper-sensitive, or fragile people in the workplace. Having someone carry a chip on their shoulder all day could bring the morale of the whole team down, so questions like these are used to probe such characteristics in a person.

Good luck, Ilise!

6:31 AM  
Blogger Michael S said...

When disagreeing with a boss it is important how you approach the disagreement. Instead of saying, "I disagree with you," you might say, "In my opinion..." or, " It seems to me that..." or, "May I share a different perspective?" Show that you respect their position by showing humility and they will honor you by allowing you to speak freely.

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Erin McCall | Sunlit Media Design said...

As a graphic designer, I find it difficult to discuss deadlines with clients, especially when they have unrealistic ones for me. Often times, clients do not understand the creative process or the amount of time and effort that must go into activities such as logo design or website programming. It is sometimes difficult to describe the design process to people who do not work in the field.

To help me in these situations, I have created flow charts that illustrate the overall design process for identity, print and web work. The flow chart often "speaks louder than words" and makes more sense for clients - and spares them my babbling.

Unfortuntately, I don't carry the flowcharts with me at all times :)

9:11 AM  

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