Posts Tagged ‘situations’

Last week we discussed Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger and “The Miracle on the Hudson.” In resilience engineering there is a constant search for the character traits one must possess to be successful when dealing with complex socio-technical interfaces, which are increasingly becoming the norm. In line with the speed with which decisions have to be made in foggy situations it seems appropriate to have a checklist. I love checklists. When done correctly they serve two functions simultaneously: setting the right frame of mind and helping establish a focus on successful behaviors.

A checklist can also help during more mundane times such as trying to get back to sleep (or maybe just GET to sleep) at 2 AM when your head is spinning because of a challenging project.  Below are two checklists that may help in terms of those specific behaviors and attitudes.

What Makes For a Good Pilot?

The civil aviation authority in France has published a list of capabilities pilots feel are essential for effective execution in complex situations:

  1. Be able to construct and maintain an adequate distributed mental representation of the situation.
  2. Be able to assess risk and threats as relevant for the flight.
  3. Assess one’s self-proficiency envelope, know the boundaries, and adapt one’s tactics and strategies accordingly.
  4. Be able to switch from a situation under control, to a crisis situation.
  5. Be able to construct and maintain a relevant level of confidence towards self, others, and the technology involved.
  6. Be able to learn, implement and maintain routines and skills associated with basic flight functions (fly, navigate, communicate).
  7. Be able to contribute to decision-making in complex, uncertain environments.
  8. Manage interactions with aircraft automated systems.
  9. Know, understand, and be able to speak aviation jargon.
  10. Manage interactions with, and cooperate with, crewmembers and other staff.
  11. Make intelligent usage of procedures.
  12. Use available technical and human resources, and reconfigure as needed.
  13. Be aware of time and time pressure.
  14. Properly transfer acquired knowledge and know-how from specific context to a different one.
  15. Properly use and maintain information and communication technology equipment.

Another way to look at this from a purely psychological perspective is to have the following traits:

  1. When under pressure acknowledge your feelings and then focus on the work at hand. Emotionality leads to out of control behavior of simply freezing up.
  2. See through the situation to success. Stay focused on the long haul.
  3. Look. Let go of projections. Simply see what is there and understand the trends.
  4. Decide how much you believe in yourself and whether or not that is sufficient to maintain your leadership position.
  5. Practice humility. This means knowing what you can and can’t do…which leads to the next point.
  6. Learn how to ask for help. The goal is to get the job done rather than being Superman or Wonder Woman.
  7. Let people know you see them and need their help. Practice empathy and address people as they are. If it’s details they like then give them details. If there is a need for the overall picture then paint the picture (time permitting).
  8. Stay positive while admitting difficulties are present. To paraphrase Andy Groves when asked if all could be lost if the next generation chip failed, “Yes. Keep moving. We can make it.”

Again, these are checklists — mirrors. When having a hard time go through and see where you are working well and where things could improve. Use the results to drive the next day’s agenda. This is probably preaching to the choir but bears repeating: by having the right attitude, knowing where to focus, asking the right questions, and risking action leadership emerges.

In this six part mini-series we have talked about how other people can cause us to feel stressed, how we can recognize their disruptive behaviors and how (and when) we can then get them stopped.  Just remember a few key points:

  • Aggressive people (especially bullies) count on other people’s high threshold for avoiding confrontation.  Bullies grow accustomed to “getting away with” bad behavior, with actions that unnecessarily inconvenience others.  Bullying in schools has become an epidemic and has resulted in tragedies when the victims commit murder or suicide. But even just a little corrective effort, by lots of people, adds up to lots of positive impact.
  • Sometimes, insecurity causes people to overcompensate and cross into aggressive behavior.  But we will leave the issue of “cause” for mental health professionals to address.  Law enforcement officers will tell you that bullies should be confronted early in their “careers”, when their aggressive behavior is first noticed by parents, teachers or the victims.  A society’s tolerance of bad behavior usually lets it get worse because, as with criminals in general, bullies usually just get more aggressive, not less.  Just as petty crimes lead to major crimes, minor bullying and “pushing” behavior in a person can lead to the person developing into an increasingly aggressive person who leaves a bow-wave of stress as they plow through the lives of others.
  • Each society determines what behavior is acceptable and the people of that society then individually and collectively enforce those norms.  Whenever a subset of individuals violates the norms, other people will be at least inconvenienced causing minor stress or perhaps even aggravated causing serious stress and in extreme cases innocent bystanders can be injured or killed.
  • To minimize the stress you feel from others, help them learn more friendly, cooperative behaviors.  We live in North Carolina and our “Southern” politeness and manners on the highway, in lines at restaurants and when shopping are different than those shown by many visitors who come from just a few hours’ drive north.  I often advise my neighbors and friends not to let our Northern visitors’ behaviors cause them undue stress but to instead use the opportunity to gently teach and to demonstrate “proper” manners.  For example, you can say “you are most welcome” when you hold the door open for someone who doesn’t even speak to you as they whip through it.  And you can graciously let drivers out of parking lots and let others merge into your lane in front of you.  You should even move over quickly for an aggressive driver coming up behind you in the left lane, because it is just common sense plus the law requires you to let faster vehicles pass on the left.  The result of all this accommodating behavior will be less stress for all concerned.

So now go practice keeping other people from stressing you out!  In a future post I will show you how to avoid the most dangerous stress of all – – – self-induced stress!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Have you ever been taken advantage of by a stranger who cuts in front of you in line and you wished you had spoken up?  Have there been times when someone else’s behavior was driving you crazy but you didn’t have the courage to speak to them about it?  Well here are some tips for doing just that – – – confronting someone about their behavior and doing it in a way that stands the best possible chance of getting them to change what they are doing without them getting angry at you.  At this point we assume that you have already decided that confronting the person is not inherently dangerous and that their behavior is sufficiently bothersome that you have decided to mention it to them.  Intervening now has three parts:

  • Getting their attention
  • Establishing some rapport and
  • Telling them what you want them to do.

At the office, talking with a direct report (employee) about changing their behavior can be a formal HR-related issue and it deserves some preparation and forethought – – – After all these are your coworkers and you are about to ask them to change their behavior.  But whether the person is a direct report or a peer, you’ll want to meet in a private place where both of you can speak openly. And HOW you ask for that meeting actually impacts the tone of the subsequent conversation.  Assuming you are not the person’s supervisor, try one of these ice breakers:

  • Could I ask a favor? I’d like to pick you brain on a problem I am having. Could we chat somewhere quiet for 5 minutes?
  • I need your advice on something.  Could we have a coffee this afternoon?
  • You seem to genuinely care about our organization and the people here.  So here is some constructive criticism that will make you even more effective with your peers.

Once you are in the private office meeting, these openings are often effective:

  • I think you are a sensitive, caring person.  But one behavior you sometimes exhibit when under stress is actually causing your coworkers some major stress.
  • You are doing something that is upsetting your colleagues, and I don’t believe you even realize you are doing it.
  • Have you noticed how upset other people get when you . . .
  • And the most powerful change-inducing phrase ever: When you [insert the other person’s troublesome behavior here], it makes me feel [insert how you feel here]. An example would be When you make snide comments about me behind my back, it makes me feel that you don’t appreciate the long hours and hard work I do here. It is powerful because it is unassailable.  Other people cannot argue with it because you are only saying how you personally feel.  And it is an expression of fact.  Plus you are not actually asking them to change their behavior (yet).  This is a very powerful technique and should be used with care.

Not Intentional

Bear in mind that, when confronting stress-generating people, you always want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  You want to choose your initial words based on the seriousness of the offense committed by the other person.  I always just assume people don’t wrong me intentionally; they are usually just in La La Land and are not paying attention. Example: The lady who cuts in front of you in the bank line may have thought you were completing a deposit slip and weren’t even ready to see the teller.  After all you were writing on something.  So be as polite as possible when you confront her as she walks past you, headed to the teller.  Smile and say softly “Sorry, I think I am next in line”.

The opposite end of the behavior spectrum is the person who allows a small child to cross a busy parking lot alone, weaving between stopped cars – – – now that requires some strong and immediate intervention because a life is in danger.

The three steps

Step 1 – Getting their attention:  Here are time-tested opening lines arranged from most polite to most confrontational.

  • Could I ask a favor?
  • This is going to sound weird but could you please . . .
  • My daughter used to cry just like yours, and for no apparent reason.  You might try . . .
  • On the airplane or train: Excuse me.  I think that is my seat.
  • Something odd just happened . . .
  • Actually, there is a line here – – – we are all waiting for the kiosk
  • Whoa buddy.  There is already a line here.
  • We all need to keep an eye on children so they stay safe.  Did you know your toddler daughter was crossing this line of traffic between stopped cars, all alone?
  • I don’t think you realize what you just did!  What were you thinking?
  • You could have killed someone with that move just now, sir!
  • PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!

Steps 2 and 3.

Establishing rapport and asking for a change in behavior.  These two steps are often very closely related and can happen almost in the same sentence.  Savvy conversationalists also call this “moving the conversation sideways” and then asking for the change.  You are trying to get the other person to become a little sympathetic to your needs, which makes them MUCH more likely to change what they are doing that is causing you stress.

  • This has been the day from Hell.  I am exhausted.  Could I ask you to put those heavy groceries in my minivan right there please?
  • To the policeman who just pulled you over: This day has been unbelievable.  I am late for work for the second day in a row.  What did I do wrong, officer?
  • To the spouse: Honey, my job is draining me.  Even you said you have never seen me look this exhausted.  Could we talk about some ways that we can share the household chores so I can have a little energy left for the kids and for you each night?
  • To the loud mouth in the restaurant booth behind you:  This is our first night out of the house in a month.  Could you lower your voice please so we can enjoy a quiet dinner?
  • You seem like a nice person.  Could you please . . .
  • Had a rough day?  Me too.  But can you turn down that music just a little, please?  Thanks man.
  • Our ears are ringing! Can you please take your child outside until she stops screaming?  Thanks.

In this five-part series we have examined how we can get the people around us, the people in our workplace, family, circle of friends and even strangers, to stop causing us unnecessary stress.  Next week we will conclude this mini-series on stress reduction and offer some final advice on persistently driving the unhealthy stress out of your daily life.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

How to create your own good moods?

by Vijay Peduru on March 30, 2011

Whenever we meet certain people, they trigger a mood within us. Same with objects, places, smells and a lot of other things in our life.   Anxiety, flow, joy, fear, exhaustion… different moods are triggered. We human beings are hijacked by our surrounding emotions. When we watch a movie, we laugh, we get tensed, bite our nails etc i.e we get deeply involved in the movie and allow the same emotions to be in us as the actors. If you look at these situations the common thing is we allow emotions to be triggered in us.

Is there a way where we can choose our emotions?

Just like we choose to enter any room in our house, we  can choose our moods ourselves instead of getting triggered. We humans have the amazing capacity and ability to think before we respond but most of us are not aware of this. How do we use this in our everyday life?

  1. Be aware that there is always a mood that is triggered in you, in any situation. All of us have this – it is one of the things that comes along with being human.
  2. Decide our mood before-hand: We can choose our mood prior to our encountering something, like beginning of the day or beginning of an interaction. In the morning, we can say to our self that today I choose to be optimistic, happy etc. When we encounter any situation or person the default emotion/mood is triggered, but we can stop it and remind ourselves about the choice we made and immediately choose the mood we desire.
  3. Consistent Practice: The difference between a Pro and an amateur is the pro practices his skill everyday rain or shine.  If we treat this habit like a game and practice it daily, it will eventually become a habit.  It will initially be difficult, so, we can try this for an hour or so every day and slowly increase it for a day, then week.. months and then years, until this practice becomes second nature to us.

This is a key skill that entrepreneurs stand to benefit from. Why? Well, lets just say that entrepreneurs have their share of “Situations” to deal with that might trigger the default moods.

Character and Personality #10: A simple honesty

by Gary Monti on September 7, 2010

The final blog in this series on character and personality deals with the leaders affect, i.e., what others observe with a leader who shows integrity regarding the character and personality traits discussed in previous blogs. Others observe a simple honesty. In this day and age it may seem paradoxical to use the word “simple” considering the ever-increasing complexity of business life. The reality is: the need for this simple honesty increases right along with the complexity. Achieving it is a daily challenge since expediency in a fast-paced environment can push one to go for the short-term gain.

Looking at the lives of leaders such as Gandhi, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc, and Chief Joseph the deliberateness of their behavior in an ever-changing environment provided a much-needed stability for their followers. They were very sophisticated leaders who displayed simple honesty.

Moral- vs Emotional Integrity

Underpinning simple honesty is integrity. Integrity is a word that is bandied about and can become quite slippery. One way to nail down its meaning is to look at two usages: moral and emotional.

Moral integrity reflects one’s ethics in codes of conduct that delineate between good and evil. In politics this surfaces frequently. However, I believe it misses the mark. Why? Moral integrity runs the risk of being associated with “head stuff.” To borrow from previous blogs, it runs the risk of flowing from ego consciousness. The danger is this: codes of conduct can be formed supposedly based on taking the higher ground when actually it has more to do with being attracted to or wanting to avoid people who reflect our shadow self. (For more on this see the blog on Triggers.) So, in the end, moral integrity can reflect deep-seated fears and aggressions. This is reflected in the aphorism, “More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason.”

Moral integrity DOES have value and it IS important. However, it comes from being a subset of something greater. That something is emotional integrity. A simple definition of emotion integrity is:

Thoughts, feelings, and actions are mutually reinforcing and integrated.

Achieving this is no small feat! Remember that battle between ego consciousness and shadow self? Emotional integrity deals with it directly. It is reflected in a simple honesty. Deviation from it leads to dishonesty, a form of lying.

Children are very good at picking up on emotional honesty and dishonesty. They can intuitively feel when someone is lying to them by simply seeing the discord between thoughts, feelings, and actions. They may not understand the subject matter but they can see when someone who is speaking from supposed moral integrity displays fear or aggression. They sense the disconnect between thoughts, feelings, and actions. The child can then proceed to shut down or act out since they are in a powerless situation much like some employees.

There’s a phrase in the business world when one refuses to see this disconnect in others and in turn becomes emotionally dishonest. We say, “He drank the Kool-Aid.” This is an extremely good phrase. The etiology is Reverend Jim Jones’s direction to his followers to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their colony in Jonestown.

Situational Decision-Making

So how does a simple honesty play out in changing business environments? Answering this question is what burdens leaders. The leader may have to go through great changes herself. Doris Kearns Goodwin does a masterful job of showing Abraham Lincoln’s journey in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Team of Rivals. This is in stark contrast to Jones’s megalomania.

Trust and trust

I’ve found this reduces to two definitions of trust. The first is with a capital “T”. Here Trust means a willingness to be vulnerable in the other person’s presence, e.g., followers Trusted Lincoln and Jones. The second definition is with a small “t”. Here trust means expectations based on consistency of behavior, e.g., if I walk by someone’s desk and say “Hi!” each morning that person will probably trust I will say “Hi!” tomorrow morning.

Lincoln could be Trusted because his behavior said he could be trusted to do what ever it took to preserve the Union. He showed a simple honesty in a changing situation.