Sunday, June 04, 2006

Book Excerpt: What to do if you've offended a colleague

The last 2 chapters of Stop Pushing Me Around are a "Communcations Cheat Sheet" of all sorts of situations and strategies for handling them. Here's an example:

Situation: You’ve offended a colleague without knowing it

Strategy: You can’t control how other people hear and react to what you say. If you suspect that you might have offended someone, acknowledge it with, " If I offended you in any way when I [said, did, did not say, did not do] something, I'd like to apologize."

From there:

* Offer an explanation of your thinking (or lack of thinking) process to help the other person understand your point of view.

* Be curious about how it was perceived. Use the opportunity to learn a little bit about that person.

* Ask what you can do to resolve the issue. Though you can’t take back what you did or said, ask what you can do to make the person feel better. (Sometimes asking the question is plenty.) Be creative and take the initiative to offer suggestions as to what you can do to minimize the results of your mistake.

* Keep it all in perspective. Usually we panic in the moment over something that, looking back, we realize is not that significant. Try to bring that hindsight into the present moment. If you handle this well, it’s likely that your relationship will improve as a result of the bump.

What do you think? Any other ideas or perspectives on this issue? Please comment, if you do.

(Excerpted from Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive (Career Press, 2006). Order your copy here.)

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