Most people think they are good communicators. But if you ask them if they think most other people are good communicators, they respond, "No, most people are not good communicators." So says Scott Warrick, labor and employment attorney, human resource professional and author of "Solve Employee Problems Before They Start: Resolving Conflict in the Real World." This seems to be the way most people think: They hold an attitude of "I do everything better than everyone else."
Warrick wrote the book after 15 years in the human resources field and 25 years in employment law. As both an employment lawyer and human resources professional, he is called into companies to coach and resolve employee conflicts, ranging from poor interpersonal skills, bad attitudes, negative communication styles, belligerent personalities, control and mistrust issues, and poor management abilities.
As a coach, he is responsible for speaking the truth to troubled or problem employees while maintaining respect for the person who may be difficult or disrespectful. Sometimes, the truth hits hard, especially for employees with a low emotional intelligence level, but Warrick has developed a procedure to put the employee at ease and open his or her eyes to the problem as the company sees it. He is also faced with the assignment of advising the company when an employee is not capable of adapting to appropriate behavior.
Warrick first interviews the problematic employee using a coaching and problem-resolution system by creating shortcuts to known systems that seemed overwhelming to those administering them. A coaching session begins with the simple sentence, "I understand there's a problem." He asks the employee to describe the situation in his or her own words. While listening to the person's response (sometimes a couple of times so the person is able to fully explain the issue), he assesses the person's emotional intelligence level. A high level of emotional intelligence means the person is able to control his or her ego and emotions, which means they will not verbally attack or retreat by withdrawing and holding back. When an employee behaves at the emotional level of a child, Warrick uses role-playing to help the person see another perspective.
Only if the employee displays a high level of emotional intelligence and the ability to control the ego and emotions does Warrick proceed to "Verbal 'Jeet' Skills." He named the process after the Chinese word "Jeet," which translates to "the way." A skill set known as "EPR" helps guide human resources professionals in how to employ "empathic listening" (understanding the employee's perspective), "parroting" (to ensure an understanding of what was said) and "rewards" (validating the employee's opinion before sharing his thoughts for resolution). Validation is required to show that everyone's opinion should be respected even though, in the end, the company may not agree with the employee.
If the person continues to display anger or anxiety and cannot be retained by the company, Warrick's goal is still to help. According the National Center for post-traumatic stress disorder, "about 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury." Further statistics show approximately "7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives. About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma. About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%)."
When an employee shows continual anger, Warrick refers the person to a psychiatrist who will determine if a brain scan is in order.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.
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