Monday, November 3, 2008

Ranting and raving with poor results

I was visiting a company last week and overheard a woman loudly complain “I’m changing the copier paper again! Nobody else must use the copier because I’m the one always changing the paper. Everyone else here is just lazy!” A minute later she proclaimed “This is the third time I’ve said this out loud. I can’t believe how lazy everyone else is!”

She was clearly irritated. However, the way she chose to express herself was both ineffective and insulting to her co-workers. Ranting loudly and calling people lazy is not a successful formula for motivating people to change their behavior!

This reminds me of similar situations I’ve witnessed between parents and their children. Parents will sometimes complain loudly about their children’s behavior hoping that hearing this will somehow motivate their children to positively change. They are disappointed when the ranting motivates their children to leave the situation but not change the desired behavior.

In this office example, a better approach would have been for her to mention the problem during a staff meeting. She could explain that she feels frustrated because it always seems to be her responsibility to change the copier paper. She could then either ask for suggestions for resolving the problem or offer her own solution. They could choose an option, try it out and discuss it further if needed. This approach would allow her to treat her co-workers with respect while working together towards a solution.
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