Do you suffer from the people who don’t know how to lead?
The ranting politician
The disillusioned, bitter union leader
The theatrically angry corporate lawyer
They come in many forms and have one thing in common:
They can’t listen, only selectively. You’re wrong! They’re right! They can’t let go.
They are trapped in their assertive, non-empathetic world.
How do we help these people who need to dominate the workplace and public arena conversation? Not much.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen – Winston Churchill
Don’t expect them to sit down to listen as Churchill asserts. And, don’t even think of sending them to anger management class.
Instead, slow down your expectations that they are going to change.
Despite your strong opinion, I’m unclear on what it is you want. What is the one thing you want to be better?
How would you see that working for all of the stakeholders (vs. just you)? How would they achieve their outcomes / goals within that framework?
Show them some empathy
Sounds like you are really passionate about (their topic / viewpoint) and you are (name the behaviour / attitude) about this issue. Suppose you made progress on your issue, what would you be doing to make it happen? How might others be helping you?
Don’t be passive
Sounds like you want to be listened to. When you’ve been heard, what exactly is it that you want to be better?
Don’t be non-empathetic
When you made this work in the past what worked? How was that useful to you, and to other stakeholders?
Suppose both you and the other stakeholders noticed you had something in common, what would that look like?
These sound like very soft questions to ask an angry person, don’t they?
They have a lot to let go of … it’s not in their interest to do that immediately.
Better questions help:
- Slow us down … to be useful to the angry person
- Slow them down by showing them we are listening to them (they’re not used to that)
- In a Churchill-like way, enable them to begin to have the courage to listen to others
- Begin to let go and make progress, albeit at their pace
Look for lots of small miracles, not one big one. Slow down to speed things up.