WHEN…THEN….HOW TO HELP PEOPLE WORK THROUGH PROBLEMS
Deal with people’s concerns in a supportive way. You can support the person Even if you don’t agree with the idea. You can help the most if you
1. Are predictably present and accessible.
2. Give the other person two-thirds of the available time to talk while you listen.
3. Put everything but the other person “on hold” for that period of time.
4. Listen with the intent to summarize the factual and the feeling content of the employee’s message.
5. Actually feed back the factual and the feeling content of the person’s message, ...view middle of the document...
Avoid emotional triggers. When people are under a lot of stress, they may automatically react defensively to certain emotional triggers. For many people the word “you” is one of those triggers. So avoid the temptation to say, ”You should have....” or “Why didn’t you...?” And for many people, any direct question can have the same effect. You may just be going through a problem-solving protocol when you ask, “What did you say to him right before he lost it?” But a stressed out person is likely to hear, “It’s your fault. If you hadn’t said that to him, he never would have lost his temper.”
Use the “When…Then….” Format
The format in “When…Then….” Format provides a framework that allows you to avoid these emotional triggers—save “you” and direct questions until you are discussing a solution. You could say, for example:
“When I get pulled off one project abruptly and put on another one with no explanation, I get confused. I’m not sure if I wasn’t doing the right thing or if I wasn’t doing something well. As a result, I am hesitant to move forward on the new project. So I’d really appreciate your setting aside about 20 minutes to give me some closure on the job I’m leaving and share your ideas about how I’ll contribute in this new assignment.”
When…Then….Help People Talk about Problems
Copyright 2002. Middleton-House & Company