Life and relationships are often messy and filled with all sorts of sticky situations. So how do we maintain being civil and polite when faced with thoughtless or rude behavior? It would be wonderful if everyone practiced good manners every day, but we know that is not reality.
Respond, Don’t React
Let’s say a coworker does not reply to your email or phone message in a timely manner and you feel you have to follow up with another email or phone call. This is a time waster, and you are angry. You feel like he or she is ignoring your communication and even damaging your personal and professional relationship. So how could you handle the situation?
Start by keeping the end in mind. You want to respond, not react. Without a well-thought-out response to the situation, you may end up reacting in a rude manner. Here are a few tips to help you respond, not react:
- Identify the situation. Might the person be going through a stressful situation and is unable to respond?
- Identify your relationship with the offender.
- Identify your motivation. Is it to enhance the other person and your relationship, or simply to vent your anger or embarrass them?
- Make sure you are not emotionally charged. It is impossible to respond in a positive and civil manner when you are angry.
- Identify all the possible ways you could handle the situation. Consider both positive and negative options.
- Consider all the possible outcomes to your various choices.
- Select the best choice.
The Oreo-Cookie Method
Once you have gone through this process, try applying the Oreo-cookie method. The Oreo-cookie method is where you first start with something kind and supportive – the cookie, followed by constructive feedback – the cream, and then end with something positive – another cookie.
The Oreo-cookie method might sound like this: “Janelle, you are one of the most conscientious professionals I know. Your commitment to this company is admirable. Recently, however, you have not been responding in a timely manner to my emails and phone calls. I’m not sure why that is. Would there be a more effective way for me to communicate with you? I enjoy working with you and want to make sure our projects are on time and well done. ”
The next time you are faced with one of life’s sticky situations, serve the other person two cookies along with the cream.
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