Mar 142012

In “Avoidance May Actually Be An Opportunity In Disguise (Part 1)”, I talked about how mundane tasks are often avoided out of fear and/or boredom. What about those unpleasant encounters that you would like to avoid at your work place? Have you avoided a discussion with your boss about one of the aspects of your job that you would like to change? How about confrontations with your employees? Possibly, you have avoided introducing a client to a new idea or product. Each of these avoidance situations is really an opportunity to become more successful!

Employees frequently are reluctant to discuss new ideas with their employers. This reluctance stems not only from the fear that their idea will be rejected, but also out of their fear of being ridiculed. “What a stupid idea,” your boss will say. Really? If your boss rejects ideas in that manner, perhaps it is time to look for a new job! More than likely, your boss will take part or all of your idea and seriously consider implementing it. In most companies, managers have become managers because they are assertive, were successful in previous work-related positions, or have focused their talents and energies on the success of the company. Managers are (or should be) constantly looking for new ideas! That’s also true for company assistant vice presidents, vice presidents, presidents, and CEOs. Anyone in a position of authority and responsibility within a business entity should always be interested in ways and ideas that can make the company more successful and profitable.

Have you been avoiding a confrontation with an employee? One client recently told me about his difficulty in dealing with subordinates who seem to enjoy being confrontational or challenging her authority. We talked about her approach to dealing with such employees. She consistently went head-to-head with these people trying to match their level of energy. Although she always won each battle, she felt that she was losing the war. “I’m tired,” she said, “and sometimes I just feel like taking the day off.” The problem wasn’t that she disliked her job. It was that the confrontations consumed all her time and depleted her energy. I suggested that she consider using a different strategy for interacting with difficult employees. Instead of coming to logger heads, she should try to listen to what the employee is saying. Then, she should reframe what was said in the most positive light possible from her point of view.

Another approach is based on the notion that most people have patterns of interaction. An employee may begin with a minor complaint and continue complaining until everyone in the entire corporate hierarchy is miserable and tired of hearing from him or her. Why not put him or her to work changing the situation? For example, try responding to an employee’s complaint by saying, “OK Nick, if you see a problem here, then I want you to come up with three strategies to solve it.” Not only will Nick stop complaining to you, but he may just come up with a new and more productive solution, to a problem that you didn’t even know existed in the first place! Regardless of why a confrontation with an employee has occurred, the next step should be to consider changing the process that underlies your future interactions with that person.

The biggest problem for most business people is introducing new ideas and products to clients. After all, the client holds the power in most situations. He or she can reject your idea on a whim or without any basis. The easiest thing for you is not to make the pitch in the first place. After all, it is difficult to face rejection from a client after you have put forth the effort which is necessary to design and implement a fantastic presentation. I must admit that I have experienced this problem in my own life. As a novice therapist, I sometimes was hesitant to suggest a new behavior pattern to a client because I “knew” that my suggestion would be rejected. As I have become more experienced, I like to think that I have also become more fearless. If the worst thing that can happen is that the client will say “no,” then I am no worse off than before. What I have discovered is that “no” often leads to a very interesting discussion spawned by my follow-up question: “Why not?” Although you cannot just ask a business client “why not,” you can move past the first “no” and explore how you and your product or service can be helpful to the client. Possibly, there is an alternative use of your product or service. Maybe they will be more useful to the potential buyer in a few months. You might even uncover a suggestion as to how you could improve your product to better meet the needs of others. Whatever the response, there can be a positive outcome. If you avoid the interaction altogether, it can only result in maintaining the status quo which is really a failure to move forward. Each interaction with a client can be viewed as an opportunity for success, even though it may not be the same type of successful outcome that you had originally intended.

Now is the time to examine your patterns of avoidance with others in the work place. By implementing a proactive stance with others, you may help turn your avoidance into a successful opportunity to improve your company or career.

© 1998-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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© 1998-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.