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How To Work With A Jerk

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From Joe Calloway:

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OK – here’s my answer. It’s the answer for me and not necessarily for you.  The answer is that you don’t work with a jerk.  My vendors and colleagues aren’t jerks.  My customers aren’t jerks because we have a finely tuned “jerk filter” on the front end to weed them out.  I’ve worked too hard and life is too short to put up with jerks so I won’t.  If you don’t have that luxury or option, my friends here will probably have good advice.  There are also lots of books you can read about how to work with difficult people.  But my advice is to move on.  Either have the jerk removed or remove yourself.  Don’t work with a jerk.

I know. I know. Some will say, “But it’s not that easy.” or “I can’t remove them or me.” Fine.

Then listen to my four friends here.  Three of them are almost certainly more patient with difficult people than I am.  Winget’s not.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

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I am surrounded by more jerks than most folks so I have learned to work with them more than most would ever have to.  Why is that the case?  Because I am more opinionated than most folks – at least I am more vocal with my opinions than most people. When you are an opinionated person who rarely hesitates to voice your opinion, people will react to you in jerky ways.  Which means they aren’t necessarily jerks, but are only reacting to you in jerky ways.

Of course, being an opinionated person also makes you a jerk in the eyes of many people.  So begin with asking yourself the question, “Am I the jerk?”  About half the time, when I ask myself this question, the answer is either a resounding “probably” or a very definite “yes.”  Knowing that will help you deal with most jerks.  Jerks are usually defined as someone you strongly disagree with or who strongly disagree with you. After all, how can anyone who agrees with you be a jerk?  The solution? Confront, engage or ignore.  Those are your choices. I almost always choose to confront while most choose to ignore and gripe.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

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Assuming (as Larry points out) that you’re not the one being the jerk, try this:

Start by making sure you’re dealing with bona fide jerk behavior. Be honest about your own interpretation. I’ve heard employees say their boss was a jerk because he or she required them to be on time or live up to other performance standards. Requiring compliance to a job description doesn’t make your boss a jerk unless he or she does so in a petty or demeaning way.

Next, “feed the trolls” as the internet saying goes. Your response to a jerk can be fuel for his or her fire. While it is natural to respond negatively it doesn’t help your cause. Be assertive to protect yourself, but don’t resort to bad behavior.

Finally, have a tough conversation. Call the jerk on her or his behavior. Define the jerk’s behavior, how it makes you feel and—importantly—how it impacts your work. Get the problem out in the open and ask that it be addressed.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

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I agree with virtually all of my colleagues’ comments. My only minor disagreement is with Larry’s assertion that people who agree with us are seldom jerks.

Larry, Joe, Mark, and Scott are four of my best friends in the entire world. We agree 98 percent of the time, and … you see where this is headed. I’m sure they would say the same thing about me.

Even your best friends will occasionally be jerks. If they are, call them on it. And if they won’t do the same to you, they aren’t your friend.

If you decide to talk to someone about their jerkiness:

  • Focus on the behavior. Don’t assume their motivation. It takes a strong relationship to actually call someone a jerk and not have them react negatively.
  • Own your feelings and emotion. You can’t control others’ actions and behavior. You can control your reaction.
  • Know the difference between a jerk and a bully. We all deal with jerks. None of us should tolerate a bully. Report it or remove yourself. Just don’t accept it.
  • If you supervise the work of others, being or allowing others to be a jerk will be detrimental to your and their success.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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The fundamental problem with jerks is often that THEY don’t realize they are one.

They believe that they’re “driven,” or “results-oriented,” or “a decisive leader,” instead of understanding themselves to be the total ass that we perceive they are.

I suppose that down deep we would all like to be a bit of a jerk. We’d enjoy saying what we really think without repercussions – however, as you and I know, the real world doesn’t work that way.

And, perhaps the truth may be a bit deeper than you first recognize.

When Van Halen demanded in their contract there could be no brown M&Ms in the dishes of the candy required backstage, it wasn’t the band being a bunch of jerks…or rock star excess…that was behind it. Van Halen knew that if a promoter skipped that detail, there would probably be other, more important ones that they would miss, too – meaning fans might not get the show the band wanted to deliver.

In other words, what was perceived as “jerkiness” was instead a commitment to excellent performance.

Before you deal with the jerk using the great insight from my friends – first, make certain the problem isn’t the jerk, but instead…your perception.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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5 Ways to Lead Larger

larger1. Expand your vision.

If you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather expect too much than expect too little? A small vision of what’s possible limits you. When Daniel Burnham famously said, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood…,” he was pointing out that the size of the motivation is often directly proportional to the size of the undertaking. Little visions create little motivation.

It can be scary to think bigger. No leader wants to think unrealistically, but I believe more leaders are limited by their thinking too small than by overreaching. My friend Erwin McManus says it well: If you’re big enough for your dream, your dream isn’t big enough for you.

2. Increase your learning.

The wider your intellectual bandwidth, the greater your leadership potential. Ideas and the ability to act upon them are the fuel of those who lead large.

What one skill, if you mastered it, would create the greatest payoff in your life? What does your team most need to learn to power up their performance? What original sources of information and ideas can you find to get you out of the mainstream of common thought that produces only common results?

3. Narrow your focus.

No matter how big the vision, you can only truly concentrate on one important thing at a time. Distraction is a killer of accomplishment. The danger isn’t just in trying to do too much, but in trying to do too much at one time.

Rid yourself of the obsession to do the trite, easy and expedient. Instead, focus on those activities, relationships and events that will move you most quickly to achieving your vision.

4. Improve your team.

Leaders frequently quote Proverbs: Without a vision the people perish. Less often considered is that without people the vision perishes. You will be as successful as the people who work with you. Have you surrounded yourself with the right people? Are they clear on the vision? Have you created shared focus for each team member so he or she isn’t wasting time on the insignificant?

5. Enjoy the process.

If you’re not having fun in your leadership journey, those around you probably aren’t either. There are always challenges and difficulties–and dealing with them is a big part of what leadership is about–but focusing on your strengths, opportunities and the people who matter will keep you grounded and prevent you from burning out.

Living large isn’t just about wealth and affluence, but attitude and orientation. When you live large, enjoying the people, opportunities and activities around you, you lead larger, too.

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Nurse Nick Knows: A Personal “Fred”

It is always gratifying to get stories of “Fred” and “Fred Sightings” from people around the world. Time and circumstance don’t always allow menurse to share, but the following is a submission from my new friend Shala that I think you’ll find informative and inspiring.

When I first came to know Mark and his book, “The Fred Factor,” I remember recalling my own Fred story and wanting to write it all down and send it his way. But I figured “he must get a lot of these” so I held off. A message from one of his Twitter followers requesting to hear other Fred stories prompted me to finally send mine. And so, in honor of the ebook release of Fred 2.0 this week, I’m sharing my “Fred” story.

At the beginning of October 2010 I was mid-way through training for a marathon – the NY one to be exact. I was about to switch jobs and had begun my application for business school. By all accounts I was full steam ahead on my own course. By the end of that month, however, my life and its accompanying choices would look very different. An unknown pre-existing condition combined with a seemingly innocuous drug would win me no-less than a three week stay at Georgetown hospital – just the beginning of my medical journey – and my first encounter with their incredible nursing staff.

Nurse Nick was assigned to me when I was first admitted for a “pinched nerve in my right arm.” Now I had come in to the ER with a few of my guy friends – we’re a jovial bunch and this sounded like quite the field trip. Nick blended right in, cracking jokes from the very beginning. When I eventually found out that that I had a large blood clot in my right arm, and when it came time to learn how to administer shots, Nick didn’t skip a beat. He looked at me, grabbed a piece of fat from his belly, and made a piercing motion and a funny face. I was halfway between cracking up and being horrified. My guy friends loved it. To be sure, Nick’s sense of humor went above and beyond and cushioned the blow of bad news. Delivery really is everything.

I would see Nick again on subsequent ER visits. He made a special effort to pop by my ER cubby whenever he saw my name on the roster, checking-in on me whether or not I was “assigned” to him. He never forgot a detail about my case, and was always there to lend a laugh. He was, by all accounts a “Fred,” but he wasn’t the only one wandering around Georgetown Hospital as I would come to find out.

What they don’t tell you when you get sick is that the bulk of your time and mental energy, for the most part, is actually spent fielding the emotions and fears of others, with the exception of a select few. I don’t say this in an ungrateful way – I felt a groundswell of support. But bad news is tough to deal with when it comes in the form of multiple pulmonary embolisms and organ failure. So you put on a front of outright joy to compensate and reassure those around you. In essence, when you are really sick, the hardest time in your life simultaneously becomes the point when you race to claw through emotional quicksand towards happiness like your life depends on it – because it does.

I say all of this because I think that nurses have a way of knowing this reality and accommodating for it. For example, the end of the day at the hospital, when visiting hours had come and gone, was always my worst and best time. It was blissful to finally be left alone in my thoughts, and miserable for that very same reason.

Alone with the beeping machines and its wires; with track marks covering my arms, hands, and feet from having my blood drawn over and over.

Alone in silent gratitude for still being alive.

Alone to process the bad, the ugly, and the scary.

Maybe the Georgetown nurses just have a sixth sense about this time of the night in hospitals. But when this time would come, one would enter my room, sit with me, and hold my hand. They wouldn’t talk or make me explore the emotions. I felt free to feel whatever around them – sad or scared – they just let me be. I’ll never forget how precious this silent time was and believe it helped me recover for the next day of doctors, needles, fielding family emotions, and bad news. Now I haven’t looked at a job description for nursing lately, but I imagine it includes following requisite medical procedures with patients, filling out mountains of paperwork, and general bedside manner. I doubt it is so specific as to include holding a patient’s hand, sitting beside them, and silently acknowledging their fear with kindness and empathy. At this point I could care less about the formal description, the latter peripheral actions were pivotal when it came to keeping me mentally together to make it through the long haul.

I was in the NICU a few weeks ago with my sister and her newborn child. At the time, my nephew was hooked to an abundance of wires and after four days she still hadn’t had a chance to hold him. It was clear to the nurse that she was dying to. In recognition of her maternal pain (and what was good for the baby), the NICU nurse proceeded to swaddle him up in an extra special way to give her a rare chance to hold her child. It was a privilege to be in the room to witness this beautiful moment and I’ll never forget it. That nurse could have executed the last part of her administrative duties for the day and walked away, but instead she went over and above to ensure that my sister, scared after having to be in the NICU anyway, could have a meaningful moment with her child. That moment made me think of Nurse Nick, Fred, and all those who go above and beyond in executing their job with love and care, especially in the nursing field. I remain in awe of nurses, and forever will. They are my “Freds.”

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How Important is Teamwork to Business Success?

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From Randy Pennington:

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It depends on your definition of “teamwork.”  It is absolutely critical if you define teamwork as everyone having a shared vision; clear roles and responsibilities; delivering their best to help the entire unit succeed; and keeping personal differences from derailing the group’s performance and results.

The problem is that many leaders and organizations believe “teamwork” also includes liking each other; hanging out after work; going along to get along; or sharing personal stories after a long-day of team-building games. If that’s your definition, teamwork is not as important as you think.

Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd created some of their best work when they weren’t getting along. William Frawley and Vivian Vance created the iconic characters of Fred and Ethel Mertz on the “I Love Lucy” series. Yet Frawley refused to speak to Vance on the set for the show’s entire run as you were watching their performance. That happens when you have superior talent who understand expectations and are committed to success.

A team that performs AND gets along is the best of all worlds. But if I have to choose, I’ll take talented professionals with a shared vision, clear roles, and a commitment to mutual success.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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While I accept that teamwork is essential to business achievement, I do not believe that having functioning teams ensures your success.

A few years ago, I did a fascinating project for a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It seemed that in their hiring of new colleagues and their selection of members for various teams, they had achieved their goals in terms of gender and ethnic diversity – something we should obviously applaud and support. However, where they had fallen short is in regards to diversity of personality and strengths. Managers surrounded themselves with people who reflected their own ideas and bias.

Teams were filled with ethnically diverse people of all races, who all happened to think exactly alike – that’s why their managers had assembled them!

Today’s headlines display a powerful example: do you believe there was diversity of thought, personality, and strengths at the NFL when their team was making decisions regarding the issues that have dominated the recent news? I don’t.

Teams are most productive when they stimulate innovative thought and propose original approaches to achieving the goals my friends have written about here.

If the team members all think alike – every person in the group is unnecessary, except one.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

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I’ve never worked with a business or organization that didn’t aspire to teamwork, which suggests that it is very important.

The rub is not as many businesses achieve it as aspire to it.

Creating a team is much more than renaming the “accounting department” the “accounting team.” The substance of teamwork is about people working together to achieve more than they could have working individually and independently.

But like anything important, it requires an attentive leader who can focus team members on collaborating and reward them for both individual and team contribution. It is often easier to work independently and unconcerned with the impact your effort has on those around you.

If you believe in teamwork, start by knocking down the barriers that keep people from working together. How do you find out what those barriers are? Just ask your employees, what keeps you from working as a team. They’ll tell you.

And since teamwork really is important, get busy removing those barriers.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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Here’s what I think is the easy answer and to me the screamingly obvious answer:  it’s incredibly important.  If the customer service department promises what fulfillment can’t or won’t deliver, you go out of business. Ditto if manufacturing isn’t working as a team with sales. If you can’t work effectively with everyone else to deliver to our customers, then you can’t work here. The sports metaphors are endless: If the offensive line goes one way and the running back goes the other – out of business. If the guard passes to the forward and the forward isn’t in synch – out of business. Hopefully one or more of my four friends here will have a good, juicy contrarian answers to this about independent thinking or something.  My answer is dull and obvious: if you don’t have great teamwork you will get whipped in business by the company that does.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

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Teamwork is a word like passion: sounds good but means nothing – a buzzword and not much more. Now, I know some of you team players are spewing coffee out of your nose at that because you love your team. But, let me bring a dose of reality: Teamwork doesn’t work. And that is because someone on the team won’t work. Which means the team didn’t do a damn thing.

The truth is a handful of superstar employees got the work done while the slackers were taking up space hiding from the work or covering their butts by looking really busy when they weren’t actually doing anything to get the job done. Businesses need a group of superstar employees who share a common goal and have mutual respect for each other’s abilities. Ask any superstar to name the slackers on their team. They can. A superstar always knows. Slackers love everybody. Leadership must step up their game and cut the dead weight loose. It’s not easy, but it can be done if a company is really dedicated to excellence and to their superstars. And they should be since those are the people doing the work!

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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5 Daily Habits to Improve Your Quality of Life

A recent article suggested that it takes, on average, 66 days to change a habit (a vast departure from the 21 day number I have heard thrown around in the past). daily disciplines from Mark SanbornRegardless, what I have found is that we spend so much time focusing on breaking habits: smoking, dieting, etc., that we forget about the integration of new, healthy ones into the old routine. What if instituting a few small tweaks to our regular ritual could create that impact we have been looking for?

Here are five small things you can do right now that will have a big impact on your quality of life:

  1. Detox (Digital):I recently wrote a post about printing out the articles that are so good you have to see them on paper – and perhaps you should; especially if you read before bedtime. So many of us are on screens all day – laptops, iPhones, Androids – but what you may not know is that the blue light emitted from these screens is interpreted by your brain as sunlight. That “sunlight” then results in your brain suppressing melatonin, a sleep hormone. Kick the screens off at least 2 hours before bedtime or use a program like flux to keep the blue light to a minimum. Your body will thank you as you drift off into a restful sleep thereby giving you the ability to have a more productive tomorrow.
  2. Exercise: You’ve heard this before – but it’s not just about burning calories and looking great. Even exercising for 20 minutes elevates the core temperature in your body. Subsequently, your body responds by lowering its core temperature at night; resulting in the ideal conditions for promoting a restful sleep. Nothing helps productivity more than a great night’s snooze.
  3. Create: Some time ago I was interviewed about the daily disciplines that I integrate into my life. One of those was creating something every day whether that is a blog, a facebook post, or a tweet. Some of you might remember a study from 2001 that Time published referred to as the “nun study.” One of the many interesting findings within it showed that the “80% [of nuns] whose writing was measured as lacking in linguistic density went on to develop Alzheimer’s in old age. Meanwhile, of those whose writing was not lacking, only 10% later developed the disease.[1]” The lesson here? Keep on building those neurons with a aplomb – it’s a great way to prevent you from losing your mind. Literally.
  4. Track accountability: How often do we say “I do that all the time” only to be corrected by our spouse, family, and friends that our perceived habits are not always accurate. I recommend using an app like Way of Life to easily and accurately track what you actually do every day. You can even customize it to fit your goals. Do you want to make sure that you compliment a coworker for a job well done once a day? This is a great way to make that happen!
  5. Meditate: It seems like you can’t throw a stone without hitting another story about the benefits of meditation these days. I’ll admit I have avoided talking about it, but not because I don’t believe in its efficacy. I will leave it to other publications to extoll the full virtues of meditation, but will leave you with a stat and a suggestion. “(A study published in May 2013) in the medical journal PloS One showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. There was an effect even among novices who had never practiced before.” You don’t need buddhist robes and yoga retreat to make this happen. Just start with a free program and give it 10 minutes of your day every day this week. Headspace.com is one place that can get you started. Let me know how it goes!

Hold yourself to a coming week of healthy habits and you’ll feel great because you did.

[1] Riley KP, Snowdon DA, Desrosiers MF, Markesbery WR: Early life linguistic ability, late life cognitive function, and neuropathology: Findings from the Nun Study Neurobiology of Aging 26(3):341347, 2005.

 

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