1. Erin on January 31, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I can see how this is a very useful tool, but I’m having a little difficulty figuring out how to apply it to a difficult conversation I need to have.

    I’m an undergraduate student now, and I had to take an art class last semester. It was required, and due to the university’s structure of prerequisites this intro to art class was the only class I could take. I went to a public school with a very strong art program, and I had taken a lot of art classes (mainly ceramics) out side of school. I made an attempt to see if I could do an independent study, but it didn’t work out. So, I HAD to take this particular class. It was largely a review. I really didn’t learn anything new. Because it wasn’t at all challenging, I frequently completed the assigned projects before the class period was over. Then I sat and waited usually 30 minutes to 1 hour to wait and see if anything new would be introduced. When it wasn’t, I left. We had been told we could leave if we had finished.

    From the beginning, I was extremely uncomfortable with the professor. Just my gut, intuitive reaction. Manipulative, juvenile, misdirected male power…..being around people like this makes me want to shower since I feel so “dirty”. I’d never see this professor at office hours, becauseI wouldn’t feel safe being in a room alone with him. I did my best to be conscious and present with the information. To me, he came across as very flirtatious and inappropriate. I have 0 tolerance for this kind of behavior from anyone. My response was to speak to him as little as possible, and be as direct as possible. I really didn’t have any questions, so this wasn’t a problem. I remained polite, but extremely firm in my boundaries.

    Then I had a car accident and sustained a concussion. Under doctor’s orders, I missed 3 art classes (and other classes too, but those professors totally understood). I sent this professor an email, asking what assignments I had missed so I could get to work and get them completed with as little delay as possible. I didn’t get any response to my email, so I was forced to return to class. When I returned, the professor marched me down to the office to talk with someone there. I really don’t remember details of the conversation, since I was still rather scrambled. The gist was the professor was “so concerned” that I had missed “so many classes” and didn’t think I could make up the work. All he had to do was give me descriptions of the assignments and I was ready to do them as soon as possible (and I’d already said as much in email). But he just blew the whole thing way out of proportion. Didn’t accomplish anything except give me a raging headache, nausea and dizziness. Then we went back to class and he showed me what other students had done and described the assignments. Then he told me if I didn’t feel well I could leave. Didn’t trust him at this point, so I stayed even though I felt horrible.

    There were no other issues at all with my work. I did a good job on every assignment and I was careful to fulfill the objectives. I was frequently told that I was doing good work. On the handful of occasions that suggestions were made, I made the suggested changes or said that that was the effect I was trying to achieve. Other students missed more classes than I did, but they weren’t marched down to the office like I was. I did miss a couple other classes because I was sick, couldn’t find where we were going to have class (going to a different location that day) or at the end of the semester because the class was going to be used for final project work. I finished mine, so I didn’t need the class time. And there’s no point in making a 1 hour round trip just to sit and do nothing.

    For the whole class, I felt like I was singled out and was judged harsher than the other students, for whatever reason. And the final grade I received was not an accurate reflection of the quality of my work. I’m in the grievance process that my university has right now, and the first step is in contacting the professor. I already talked to someone with the dean of students, but now that the time comes to actually talk to this professor, I’m at a loss as to what to say and how to approach this.

    Any suggestions?

  2. NancyProulx on September 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Linda,
    I had e-mailed you about a situation with a dominant horse I was dealing with. I think this chapter is appropriate to my dealing with it. When we refuse to use force and intimidation (the bully archetype)
    It puts us in a position to develop a different type of strength. Using the yang doesn’t mean bully behavior. I never would had thought I was a bully, but boy is it hard to not revert to old ways of training when working with such an extreme colt. Especially when the other people working him get what they want out of him by overpowering. The false self can be sneaky when it comes to results.

  3. LindaKohanov on September 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks Susan, for the insights on your experience with your previous boss. Wow, what a classic situation. I’ve seen this kind of unproductive passive aggressive behavior A LOT! I’m glad that you shared this today—Mark and I recorded the GP 9 conversation today and talked about this during the call!

  4. Susan Garvin on September 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Linda this has suddenly helped me enormously and unexpectedly! I guess my subconscious has been chewing it all over on the quiet (as the subconscious is apt to do!! :-)) and I got a sort of ‘closure’ on an old open sore from my workplace life. It doesn’t matter about the details, it just came to me that an unpleasant episode which wrecked my relationship with my then boss and colleagues was totally avoidable but my then-boss didn’t have the tools you set out here in order to talk to me about something I was doing wrong. Instead he set someone to spy on me then simply went cold on me, cut me dead, and was pretty scathingly unpleasant from then on. I see where I was wrong, but if he – we – had had these tools the whole thing could have been resolved and actually turned into something highly productive. Shame this ‘lesson’ comes some 10 years too late but it has been super-useful to map it back onto that situation and make my own case study! Maybe I’ll mail him a copy of your book and earmark this chapter!!! cheers, susan

  5. Susan Garvin on September 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

    oh goody goody I have been waiting for this GP for ages, and have not been disappointed!
    first comment – Linda early on in one of the conversations you mentioned that you would like to get Bob Wall to do an interview for PotH and this symposium, are you still thinking of doing that? I am certainly going to get his book.
    Regarding the ‘case study’ conversation (I do learn so much better through case studies, it helps to anchor many of the concepts and techniques for me….) – would the other person be encouraged to respond to each ‘phase’ of the exposition or would they be asked to wait to the end? I’m supposing that as it’s a conversation then it’s a two-way affair, but I also imagine that it is important not to get into a slanging match where the ‘boss’ is not even able to get the words out and/or be actually heard. So how does one go about getting through the conversation ‘in spite of’ angry interruptions or denials or expresions of disbelief (e.g. ‘I did NOT slam the door/I did NOT throw my backpack down’ ‘I didn’t even SEE you there with the horse’ etc etc)?

    • Ian Rowcliffe on September 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Chiming in with what you are saying here, Susan…

    • LindaKohanov on September 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      This question comes in time for me to alter the chapter itself to make this point, so thanks. Yes, when you actually engage the conversation, it will be more of an exchange between both parties. That’s why preparing is so essential. Had Arianna shown up with her first version, she would have experienced much more resistance from Drew, so getting a really good opening statement that has no sarcasm and addresses the main point in a way that’s about moving forward productively and getting the job done, without shaming elements that cause the person to either argue or shut down, is incredibly important.

      In preparing for the conversation, getting the messages behind the emotions and only offering the relevent messages/information (not saying the emotions out loud to you employee/colleague) you also release the emotional charge in your own body-mind. This has an incredible centering effect on the other party, as they can sense nonverbally that you are thoughtful and engaged, not supressing emotion, and invariably letting it come out sideways as shame or sacrasm. I will talk more about this during the call on this GP. Both shame and sarcasm can be communicated in your demeanor and tone of voice even if you don’t shame people verbally. When you can discuss behavior without shaming/sarcastic comments or body language, people are better able to listen, if the behavior is discussed thoughtfully and succinctly. Hence, once again, the incredible advantage of preparing for the conversation, sometimes with a coach or confidant, to fully work through your emotions around the incident, taking out your own issues and past experiences.

      This example is based on an actual incident. The real “Drew” did not interrupt or argue with her supervisor during the behavior segment, probably because the opening statement was so powerful and clearly related to everyone’s future well being.

      • Susan Garvin on September 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

        thanks! looking forward to the call on this then, very helpful and very exciting as a way of moving forward rather than getting bogged down in unpleasant cul-de-sacs!!