Many people come to me for stress management coaching when they find themselves in a new environment, they're in a new role of leadership or new management, they may even be a new parent or have a new job. Yet what they’re all dealing with, is the attitudes of people around them. Sometimes those attitudes are negative ones. Or sometimes the negativity may be somebody that passes you in the street. Or perhaps it is someone who criticizes or comments on your parking, Typically, the negativity you experience is an opinion that comes to you that's unwarranted and unasked for, somebody who lectures you, corrects you, how you did something wrong, or tells you the way you should be doing things.
You know the sort of thing that I'm talking about.
We are faced with two choices. We can defend ourselves and say, "Well actually, you're wrong. This is what I think….”. That's the automated response that we want to take. We want to defend our actions or defend our choices., this is what people typically resort to. Or we will take a very passive approach and admit defeat by saying something like "You're right. I did that wrong; you're right, I'm wrong.” Or “Yes, I'm not very good at that.” Or “I’m so, so very sorry” and retract. We take a passive position or a position of defeat.
So, we generally think there are only two choices available to us to respond to someone’s negativity; defensive or passive.
There is actually another choice. There is a choice that neutralizes the situation. We don't take the passive defeatist approach, and we don't take the assertive or aggressive defensive approach.
There is a simple tool we can use. It was shared with me by my mentor Dr John Hinwood, who is the founder of the Stress Management Institute where I studied for a Cert IV Stress Management Practitioner (he continues to mentor me).
This is the way you use this stress management tool.
When someone comes at you with their unwanted, negative opinion or criticism, you simply respond with, "Thanks for sharing." And that's it, that's all that you say, "Thanks for sharing."
Try it. It's interesting because it just neutralizes the situation. The person who has thrown their opinion at you has nowhere to go with that because you're not admitting that they're right, you're not admitting that they're wrong, you're just acknowledging them. This in itself is important because they want their opinion heard by you. This way, you're showing that you have heard what they have said, you've acknowledged it, you're not taking it on board nor are you admitting defeat, you're just saying, "Thanks for sharing."
I encourage you to try this tool as you’d be surprised how powerful it can be. I’ve also found that people can, in social media, on Facebook or even through text, have the protection of a third wall where they can give you their opinion whether you've asked for it or not.
So using the simple phrase “Thanks for Sharing” in text, messages, posts or comment without saying anymore is a great neutralizer, that prevents anything entering into great debate.
I hope you find this tool really useful. It's one of my favourites. Like many of the tools I use or recommend, they are just really little simple things, not complex, easy for you to adopt, but make such a difference to situations.
So if you've got a person at work who's constantly giving you their opinion, criticizing you, telling you what to do, try that one and see how it goes.
I'd really love to hear from you and how you went using this tool. I would love for you to apply it and tell me how you went. Did it work for you? What kind of response did you get? Where you surprised? Was it powerful?
If you've got any other challenges that you'd like me to share or resolve for you, please share them.
Would you like to become more emotionally resilient?
If you are feeling stressed at work, particularly by the behaviour of others, I may be able to provide you with some resilience strategies. Book in a time for a chat. I can’t promise I can fix everything, but the next best thing I can do is to chat with you. Make a time that suits you for a 15-minute chat. Once I know you better (and you know me) we can decide if you want to dig a little deeper into the issues and can organise a free Stress Management Strategy session.
About the Author:
Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia. She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing. She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things. She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia. Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford.