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Here is the cheat sheet for modifying your behavior style in small ways that can make a big difference.  If you just bite off a little bit instead of trying to turn yourself inside out, you can go a long way in fixing that thing your boss is unhappy about.

For those of you who fall into the Tour de Force category (see previous post), you can really piss people off.  All these productive behaviors can easily cross the line into obnoxious territory.  To those around you, this is what you sound like.

  • I asked for that report two friggin’ hours ago!  Where is it?!
  • Just give me the executive summary version.
  • If we wait to have a plan we’ll never get anything done.  Just go do it!
  • What are you, some kind of idiot?
  • One day when you become Senior Vice President, then I’ll listen to you.

Nothing I say here is going to help you get control of your temper and impatience.  I’m pretty sure that is hardwired.  But I do have some tips to make you more bearable.  Trust me, these little changes will go a long way.

  • Say thank you.  Say thanks to the person who made a good remark and the one who handed you that document he busted his butt to get for you and the one who stayed late doing some grunt work you needed for an important meeting and the one who challenged your idea.  Especially thank individuals and your team publicly.  Don’t take credit for their work.
  • Slow down and listen.  I know your mind is racing and you are already on to the next thought and all you are hearing is “blah blah blah” but you need to downshift for a moment.  When someone is speaking have direct eye contact.  This will help your mind focus.  If you find yourself tuning out tell yourself to listen.  Mantra repetition: Listen, Listen, Listen.  Even if you don’t quite hear what the person is saying you are making an effort to get outside of your own thoughts.  When you register what the other person is saying the next words out of your mouth need to be a question rather than a statement.  “Can you say more about that” or “how did you draw that conclusion” or “who else have you discussed this with”?  My point is you need to make an attempt at having a dialogue where there is an even exchange of ideas instead of a contest that you want to win.
  • Make room for others.  You can really suck the air out of the room.  You like the sound of your own voice.  You like to interrupt.  You like to play devil’s advocate; it’s one of your favorite sports.  You have an opinion on everything including stuff you know nothing about.  Try this; be quiet around others. Walk into a staff meeting and challenge yourself not to say anything for the first fifteen minutes.  Time yourself.  Someone makes a comment that you totally disagree with, wait until two other people respond before you open your mouth.  If someone has already said what you had on your mind, don’t say a word. Make it your own personal game. Use that competitive nature for good.
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