ADDITIONAL FOR THIS WEEK:
We only heard from one reader on this interpersonal exchange, although that is a limited response, we are glad to have some of our readers thoughts when weighing in on these life experiences. True, not often is it that we are being taken advantage of by our boss, and granted the exchanges we face with interpersonal effectiveness are far more intense, but this does give us a glimpse that we can play with to get some ideas as to what is in fact effective.
So we have several scenarios here, we can rate our objective (that of our boss to ask and be prepared that we may say no to extra tasks and overtime) or, we can place our self respect first, because after-all we take a lot from the world, and we don't need to be taken advantage of at work too. Finally, we may place our relationship with our boss first, weighing in that it is of most importance to keep things peaceful at work, so that things do not get worse than they already are.
All of these are viable, this is why interpersonal effectiveness is so challenging. For example, I may know that I do not deserve to be taken advantage of by my boss, and I could probably really use a dose of self respect to boost my general emotional well being, however, I may also know that at this time I am a bit too fragile to handle an interchange with my boss that she may not react to favorably to. I may choose to place the relationship aspect first because no matter what happens in the end I need to be able to continue working in a non-conflictual environment.
OR ~ I may place my self respect first because I am at a personal cracking point, and whether my boss likes me at the end of the day or not has no bearing on how much of a need it is at this point for me to know that I will stand up and take charge.
Each of us may do this differently because it may be what we need at that point in time. Especially when you are taking into consideration that our recovery is a life long adventure, we need to be mindful and do what we need to have done, when it needs to be done. Enforcing our objective can be done skillfully even if perhaps we need to place our self respect second or third.
The great thing here though, is that if we mindfuly approach these exchanges and take some time to brain storm them we do have a better chance that the exchange will be effective. Consider some things that might get in the way of this interchange with your boss being effective:
First, ask yourself, Do I have the skill to get my needs met? Often times our exchanges with others do not go so well simply because we do not have the proper skill. Get educated, bounce ideas off of a trusted friend. A caution, do not get caught up in a "gripe" session with close pals, it only generates more negative emotions. Do research, brain storm some of your own experiences that didn't go so well and try and see what might have made things worse? What sort of things went well in those interchanges? Obtaining skills will improve our likelihood of an effective exchange.
Sometimes we have the skill but we have too many worry thoughts or emotions to clearly get accomplished what it is that we are wanting to accomplish. Learning to separate the worry thoughts, validate them and set them aside in our brains or literally on paper, either sort through the excess emotions and get to the useful ones. Sometimes these extra emotions and excessive worry will lead to indecision. Indecision is a killer. It gets you all wound up, you problem solve just to find that you have changed your mind again and now need to problem solve the new idea. It takes a lot of your emotional energy and gets you nowhere.
Finally, there is a reality that we all have to face, sometimes skillful behavior just does not work because the environment does not allow it to work and there is nothing we can do about it. . . EXCEPT walk away. Using an exit graceful line, simply walking away will keep our self respect in tact even if our objective failed. Exiting effectively will allow us to be able to fail well.
So which one comes first? Objective, relationship or self respect? Sadly there is no right answer, however give this a thought or two. What if we took our objective and put it first.
Objective- It is most important to me to make sure I tell my boss that I need to be asked to provide overtime and extra work. It will boost my self respect if I let my boss know that although I do have strong work ethics and I am a valued employee and my job is important to me, I will at times not be available to provide these extras.
Second - Relationship - Although my self respect is very important to me, I know that if I allowed my relationship with my boss to become strained because I let my emotions take control in this highly charged interaction, I would feel badly about myself. I know that it is important to me to present my objective in a way that will nurture the professional relationship I have and perhaps have my boss not only hear my needs, but also respect me for them. Of course taking this aspect very seriously and placing it second also backs up my self respect.
Finally - Self respect - It matters to me how I view myself, and even though I chose to place this third I did not forget about it, in fact by placing my objective first I have enforced to myself that I am worth it to be assertive. By taking an easy manner to my relationship with my boss has allowed me to behave in a way I can respect and thus feel good about myself after the interchange even if I do not get what I want.
Ultimately placing them in this order will be a win/win situation for me. Asserting my objective in a problem solving approach and easy manner with my boss all the while being sure that I have behaved in a way that I can be proud of later will secure my self respect and meeting that need without ever having to take the "I DONT DESERVE THAT" approach.
Now, lets say my boss gets angry half way through my delivery of asserting my objective, since I am placing my relationship second I would then back off of my objective, not abandon it, but I would then respond to the anger I am getting with a calm and mild spirit, if I am unable to return to my objective then I would use an exit graceful line. Once the interchange is over I then can go back to the drawing board and brain storm my next step. I may have to consider quitting my job, or other options might be possible. The point however is this reassessment of my choices needs to happen outside of this specific interaction. The next interaction may be that I will need to quit. If my boss responds to me with anger when I assert myself well within the lines of being professionally respectful I may choose to quit, if this is case, then perhaps my Self respect would be number one in my next interchange, that of turning in my resignation.
Lets say your boss listens to your assertion, but then jestfully blows you off again. It would appear that your objective may not be met, however, again since your relationship comes next you would give a 'broken record' response toward your objective to close the conversation without being confrontational. Perhaps you could say, "You are right, you can count on me to get the work done and done properly, yet I am still letting you know I will not be able to do it whenever you ask." You might have to wait and see if your objective will be met by the next time your boss asks you to stay for some overtime or asks you to provide extra work. This is where the beauty of the 'broken record' statement comes in, because if it becomes clear that your boss is unaffected my your assertion before and still deals with you in the same manner regarding the overtime, then you use this 'broken record' statement right then and there. Simply and mildly state "I know you count on me to get the work done and get it done properly, however as you know I am not always able to do this, and this is one of those times I am unable to." Your boss is then reminded of your assertion from before and has the same answer restated to her without negotiation. Overtime she will get the point of what your objective was without having to take the "MAKE SURE I AM HEARD" approach.
As I said though, this is just another scenario. Yours might look differently.
Please, I welcome any and all thoughts or comments. I will post next on Monday February 8th, 2010 - and we will go over some environmental factors that get in the way of interpersonal effectiveness and what we might be able to do about them. I would like to hear from you guys on what particular environmental factors that get in your way, and perhaps we can brain storm together a solution, so send me the comments and we will cover them next week! Hearing from you, the readers, is what makes this group work!