Set limits on unsolicited advice

Fed up with unwanted words of wisdom? Here’s how to handle advice you don’t need to hear.

Some people use advice giving to control you or put you down. Whether it’s the office know-all pointing out your mistakes or a pessimistic co-worker raining on your parade, don’t allow them to continue. There are three steps you need to take when dealing with unwanted advice.

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Don’t let nasty comments get you down

Why do some people get a thrill from putting you down?

The answer is that they have low self-esteem. So don’t let their negativity get you down. These people only hold power over you because you’re uncomfortable about confronting them. Perhaps you’re not 100 per cent sure the remark was a dig. Or maybe you’re torn between wanting to burst into tears or telling them exactly what you think of them.

People who make biting remarks crave an audience. They rely on you listening passively. Don’t do it. Instead, respond assertively. When you challenge them, difficult people lose their hold over you immediately. Here’s how to do this calmly and resourcefully.

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Keeping meetings on track

Chair that meeting without feeling stressed

As a chairperson, your job is to keep the meeting on track. This means striking a balance between allowing people their say and keeping the discussion on topic. This is often easier said than done. You’ll need a healthy mix of assertiveness and diplomacy to get through a typical meeting. Here are some useful verbal strategies for handling tricky situations which emerge during meetings.

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Getting a side-tracker back on track

Fed up with digressions, diversions and delays? These tactics will help you keep your conversations on-topic.

Have a clear purpose

Sometimes conversations get side-tracked because people don’t know why they’re talking in the first place. Prepare for the conversation beforehand. What must be covered? What outcomes do you want? Note down the crucial points. Tell the other person your purpose early on.

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Setting limits with over-talkers

Your time is precious. Here’s how to reclaim it from the timewasters.

Does someone you work with bore you to tears with twenty minute monologues? Frequently interrupt you by stopping by your desk for a quick chat that goes on forever? Being sociable at work is great. But if you resent your time being taken up by over-talkers, these tips might come in handy.

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Establishing team norms

Pete’s the project lead for a new cross-organisation team. He hasn’t worked with the team members before. Time is of the essence for this project and Pete needs to get the team performing.

Here’s how we’d help Pete deal with this problem. You can use the same strategies to develop or reinvigorate your teams.

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Issues focussed language

Good intentions are often scuppered by a poor choice of words.

Focussing on the issue rather than the person is a good start to resolving conflict. Here are some tips for doing this.

More ‘I’, less ‘You’

Sentences which start with ‘you’ often sound like an attack. Reframe sentences into ‘I’ statements to make them less personal and accusing. Say ‘I feel angry when meetings start late’. Avoid saying ‘you are always late’ or ‘I’m angry because you are late’ (a ‘you’ sentence thinly disguised).

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