1. Don't get caught up in the drama.
When someone is expressing their opinion they can become very passionate either about their own point of view or what someone else has or hasn't done. There is an art in knowing how much empathy, sympathy or significance to give the situation, without fanning the flames – which ultimately achieves nothing. My tip here is always to ‘chunk it up’ and either help someone see round the situation by asking questions or helping them see the other person’s opinion before realigning both parties to a higher objective.
2. Don’t take on someone else’s emotions.
Similar to the previous point, but don’t let someone else’s circumstances affect your own emotional state – particularly negative emotions, and particularly in the workplace. Just because they are angry, frustrated or stressed, doesn't mean you need to be. This doesn't mean that you can’t and shouldn't feel an emotional attachment to your people, colleagues and customers, it just means that you own your emotions whilst encouraging them to own theirs. Only then are you all able to take a more objective view and to make your decisions based on facts and your own gut instinct.
3. Never judge – instead become curious.
No matter how extreme or inappropriate someone’s behaviour, if you want to lead them, and ultimately change their behaviour, refrain from judgement. There is always an underlying emotional reason that drives human beaviour and the moment you begin to judge you are simply evaluating their beliefs against yours. This is the guaranteed fastest way to lose any ability to be able to connect, build rapport or influence them. If you remain curious you may learn something about them that enables you to support, lead and influence them.
4. Don’t assume just because you’ve communicated your message it has been understood.
Whenever we work with a new client and ask their teams to share their top gripes – communication always up there! It’s astounding how often and how frequently you need to keep repeating your core business messages, let alone the little things. Vary the communication method, written, verbal, diagrammatic, and remain consistent. Remember just because someone is quiet doesn't mean they’ve fully understood or had all of their questions answered. Ultimately it’s their actions that are a reflection of their understanding – so if they’re heading off left field, it’s because they haven’t understood what is truly required.
5. Work out their key emotional needs and feed them in abundance!
Everyone is fuelled by emotional needs and although we often have similar ones, we will value them differently and will want them fulfilled in different ways. For example, everyone needs validation, being made to feel that they are important on some level or that their contribution is valued. However, one person will respond really well to verbal praise, another to a financial bonus, another to a surprise bunch of flowers or a thank you card. Likewise someone else may require routine, structure and will therefore resist change, become defensive or agitated if your business is changing and their role within it. A person like this will need more reassurance than someone else who doesn't worry so much about changes – rather they may welcome them. Find out what people need and give it to them in abundance – you will build a bunch of loyal followers as a result.
6. You should never need to tell anyone you are in charge.
If you do you undermine your own authority. Respect is earned and comes from others watching and reacting to your own behaviour. How you deal in difficult situations, how consistent you are and ultimately how you make them feel are all qualities great leaders appear to have naturally.
By Nicola Cook, CEO, Company Shortcuts - an agency dedicated to excellence in sales.