Ruth cringed every time she saw her boss walking towards her…
Beth, a VP in stiletto heels with a mean streak the length of the Mississippi River, drowned her staff in unreasonable expectations and then verbally whipped them when they fell short. She tore into them in public, relentlessly ripping the latest luckless soul for whatever her latest upset was.
Beth was especially vicious whenever Ruth returned from taking time off, hammering and blaming Ruth for everything that had gone wrong while was she was gone. Ruth dreaded returning to work.
Beth’s sole ambition was to make it to SVP and she made it clear it was everyone’s job to get her there.
Not one person on her staff was able to successfully manage Beth’s cruel outbursts. They all commiserated about it when Beth wasn’t around, but no one could face up to her. So the situation persisted.
Ruth signed up for Causative Communication because her daily interactions with Beth were destroying her. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. Ruth, normally an incredibly capable woman, was a wreck. She wasn’t sleeping and was developing an ulcer.
After hearing about all this, I suggested to Ruth that finding a new role with a better boss might be her best option. Ruth made it clear that she didn’t want to leave feeling defeated, that she needed to leave as a success, that she wanted to gain the ability to transform herself and the entire situation before she left.
The problem was, Ruth was unable to calmly and effectively face Beth. Just seeing Beth walk toward her created so much emotional churn, any communication skills Ruth did possess flew out the window.
One of the first things that Ruth and I focused on was developing the ability to be there comfortably and face a difficult person and situation. The goal was to get the emotional churn to disappear. This took practice.
It was a real victory when Ruth gained control and was able to face anyone and anything calmly, comfortably, with clarity, even surrounded by an emotional tornado. This ability completely set the necessary foundation for her now to be able to competently handle the situation.
The next thing we worked on was increasing her ability to maintain purposeful intention when she was communicating with Beth.
We also worked on her ability to maintain her affinity for Beth. Communication is impossible in the absence of affinity. Often people give you many reasons not to like them, but if you fall for it, you won’t be able to talk with them and make real communication happen.
This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Even with her mean streak, Beth was extremely smart and strategic. Ruth is naturally a warm person and did find things to genuinely like about her.
Soon after the training, Ruth was at her desk and could see Beth coming out of her office. She was starting her determined and familiar “poison death march.”
As she approached, Beth’s malicious gaze zeroed in on Ruth.
But it was different this time.
Ruth’s eyes solidly met and held Beth’s. This time Ruth didn’t cringe in fear. Ruth met Beth’s eyes calmly, comfortably, intently, and with strong affinity.
Then a miracle happened.
Beth started to slow down, making it only halfway across the floor, and then she abruptly stopped. She looked uncertain, confused even. Beth looked away from Ruth for a moment, turned around and walked back to her office.
Ruth transformed her relationship with Beth with just one look. It was never the same again. Ruth became the one person Beth treated with respect from there on out.
How could that possibly have happened?
When you have certainty about your own communication skills, you change at your core.
Everyone who talks to you, and sometimes only even looks at you, picks up on that. It’s not that you’re aggressive, but that you’re a real force to be reckoned with. Most importantly, you’re a friendly, not a hostile, force. Your power is manifested in your presence, in how you deliver your words, how you listen, how you communicate.
This completely changes how they respond to you. Admiration and respect naturally follow.
It’s important that you live your life without fear, without intimidation, with respect from everyone around you. Most people will give you respect because they hold it as a core value.
But the (hopefully limited) number of times when you have to deal with someone who was raised by wolves, that’s when you need communication skills to transform the situation, and even the person. You want to have these skills sharp and ready by your side.
Be the cause!