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Interpersonal Effectiveness Our interactions with other people are a common source of stress and can lead to unhealthy

behaviors. Many people have spent a lifetime suppressing their own values and goals, live with anger and guilt, or living lives of quiet frustration. Much of that has to do with how we communicate with others: at home, at work, at school, and as we go about our daily lives. Learning to assert ourselves is crucial in learning to say no, building our self-respect, and dealing with drinking or drugging situations. Examples of situations where more effective interpersonal skills can be useful:
y y y y y y yAsking for things yMaking requests yInitiating discussions ySaying No yResisting pressure yMaintaining/upholding a position or point of view

Working on these skills can help you: y yget something you want without alienating others. If you cant get something you want, another skill to work on is tolerating your distress about that and accepting your situation. y yimprove a relationship. In a relationship, you will want to learn to improve communication, balance short-term or competing goals with what is good for the relationship, assess unmet desires or inequities, and learn to address issues. y yimprove or maintain your self respect. Working on your self-respect is simply feeling good about yourself and what you are doing, holding to your values and beliefs, and acting in ways that make you feel competent. Use role models and get feedback. Watch people who you consider effective. What do they do to make other people want to accomplish goals? How do they interact well with others? You can improve your own interpersonal skills by modeling the behavior of others. This takes practice, and feedback from others is helpful. Our thinking can get in the way! Some refer to these as worry thoughts. Others may call them irrational, dysfunctional, or maladaptive thoughts. These beliefs may paralyze us, keep us from trying to interact better, or keep us from voicing our opinions or working on our goals. But we can change our beliefs, dispute thoughts that are inhibiting us, and overcome these obstacles. Change is possible. Common examples: y yWhat-ifs Worrying about possible consequences, predicting how others will respond (we have a tendency to predict negative responses). Ask yourself: am I fortune-telling? y yAbsolutes

More predictions: they alwaysshe neverhe refuseswont, cant. Learn to change absolute words to more accurate ones. ySelf-deprecation If your self-image is poor, you may tend to believe that you arent worthy of your own goals. I dont deserve this I remember reading a sad post on a forum once: I often think I dont deserve sobriety.

Our emotions can be crippling. When we are controlled by our emotions, rather than the other way around, it seems that we just whipsaw from drama to drama, and life seems unmanageable. The mindfulness concept discussed in another essay allows us to recognize the emotions that are distressing. Learning emotional control is another skill to work on. As a first step, simply recognizing when you are being governed by anger, fear, anxiety, or frustration can be important. Take a step back (become mindful of the emotion) and then notice what beliefs and unhealthy thoughts are resulting from that emotion. Most people find it useful to write these thoughts down. Guilt is a common reaction to emotional conditions. And the combination of emotional distress and worrying can lead to indecision. You simply cant decide what it is you really want. It is normal to have conflicts about goals and to be moderately anxious about discussing them with someone. We all fear rejection and want to be liked. Sometimes it may seem we will be asking for too much. Chronic indecision can result from these fears. So think again: do you know people who are able to get things done, still retain the respect of their colleagues and friends, or who seem able to roll with situations they cant control? What skills do they use? Humor?A sympathetic manner?An ability to compromise? Some key principles: Knowledge reduces worry. When we are uncertain about the facts or consequences of a situation, we are more anxious. I sell plants and help gardeners deal with pests and diseases. I find that once they understand the basic cycle of the pest, they have less concern about it. Worry increases indecision. When you cant control a situation, learning to accept it is very important. Clarifying your own goals and being realistic can be helpful steps to take, and writing these things down is very useful. Decision-making is a skill.People who arent allowed to make decisions get out of the habit. It may be that you have gradually allowed a relationship to become imbalanced regarding finances, decision-making, career issues, children. Asserting yourself can be uncomfortable because it is a new experience or may lead to conflict. Your work situation may be authoritarian; if youre in the military, asserting yourself will have very adverse consequences! Your mother may have always bossed you around. So recognize where in your life you can make decisions, and where it is possible to enact change. Reaffirming your own values can be helpful, whether by spiritual or intellectual means. Some suggestions for improving interpersonal effectiveness, paraphrased from articles by the creator and author of DBT, Marsha Linehan (all in the public domain).
y yIn relationships:

Dont let hurts and problems build up. Examples? How can you prevent problems from getting worse? Resolve conflicts before they get overwhelming. End hopeless relationships. yDealing with priorities and demands: If you feel overwhelmed, reduce or put off low-priority demands. How can you set priorities more effectively? Ask others for help; say no when necessary. Recognize when you are having difficulty saying no. Try to create some structure. yBalancing needs and preferences: What are the things you do because you want to? What are the things you do because you should? Do you feel these are out of balance in your life? If others dont seem to value your priorities, you will want to work on getting your opinions taken seriously (communicate more effectively). To reorder your priorities, you may want to get others to do things. Examples? You may value your free time enough to pay someone to do housework or yardwork, or take a pay cut to shed some job responsibilities. Perhaps you can share resources with others (for day care, for example). And you can learn to say no to unwanted requests.

Interpersonal effectiveness often involves getting others to do things for you, which may seem rude or bossy. But learning to assert your self can be a key practice in attaining sobriety or changing other unhealthy behaviors. Why? Because peer pressure is a major obstacle to abstinence and change. You can change your thinking, communicate more effectively, stay true to your values, and learn to recognize your competence. Then you can say yes when you want to, and mean no when you say it. Exercise: try to think of recent situations where you have y yallowed others to set your schedule or make commitments for you when you had other preferences. y yaccepted statements of beliefs with which you disagreed without expressing your opinion. y ychanged your behavior to suit someone elses preference, even though it bothered you to do so. Write a description of one such situation. Express your feelings and opinions about the situation. Describe a more desirable outcome. Roleplay (write the dialogue if you are alone) what you could have said differently: how you could have asserted yourself by asking for what you want or saying no clearly. Describe beliefs or fears you have about that scenario, and dispute those beliefs one by one. Exercise: Describe a situation where you saw someone assert herself or himself effectively. List the character traits you observed, the things that person said, and how the other people reacted. Describe how they avoided conflict or managed it. Can you describe a recent situation of your own where you could have applied those traits or techniques?

Working Together for Quality Results

If ever there was one professional theme common to the challenges of most companies, it is the importance of communication. Communication, of course, takes place among people and with the aid of effective processes and it is no wonder that emphasis is placed so much on the value of self-directed teams. This article will describe the application of two learning instruments, the D.i.S.C and the P.I.A.V used in a two-day workshop to achieve improved communication and interpersonal effectiveness. Let us link effective communication to building a corporate culture in which core corporate values find expression through the natural behavioural styles and value positions held by its employees. Before describing this training process, let me make a point or two about corporate success. A companys success operating in a global environment depends primarily on maintaining and expanding its market share of its products and services. This requires providing an innovative culture and working climate where peoples most natural talents and lines of communication are made available to all company employees and demonstrated by top management. With an eye on these components, my present clients seel this training repeatedly for their employees in support of the companys vision and mission statements. Superior companies invest in their staff to feel motivated and employed in the roles which fit their natural energies, values, talents and competencies. The experts in motivation (Maslow, Conklin, Covey, OConnor and Massey) all agree on two basic motivational principles: (1) all people are motivated and (2) people are motivated for their own reasons, not necessarily ours. It is therefore extremely important for management to help staff understand themselves and placing them into the work roles appropriate to fit their natural tendencies. Work teams too frequently clash when its members experience huge gaps of communication due to behavioural and value style clashes, pushing for results when not enough facts have been considered, members talk too much or too little or forge ahead with plan or proper procedures. Alignment among staff is required which much come from clearly pursued corporate core values. The subject of corporate core values and ethics has received a real boost in corporate management of late due to the unfortunate legacies of some major players in the corporate arena. With fresh consideration, management has realized again that a house divided against itself cannot stand and the role of core values has again received its proper due. What is needed now is to build both understanding and skill development in this most important field of core value leadership and effective communication. Consequently, a most essential question for management to consider is the very question posed by the researchers of Build to Last project (James C. Collins/Jerry I. Porras): What distinguishes excellent companies from good companies? All their research findings funnelled down to two discoveries: (1) superior companies managed by the preservation and application of core values (frequently no more than five core values) and (2) their core values collectively are to stimulate growth. Persons hired in these companies received training in the core values, reflect their commitment to those core values by living out the corresponding behaviours and being rewarded or corrected by the companys management systems. The core values selected by superior companies are accepted as the board of directors, as the drivers for corporate success. It is on this basis that the Interpersonal Effectiveness workshop puts its emphasis on the importance of helping teams communicate their natural talents in the wider context of corporate values. Let us now become acquainted with the D.i.S.C behavioural style component. Theoretical Underpinnings of the D.i.S.C Behavioural Style System. Over twenty years ago, Dr. John Geier, then Professor of Communication and Behavioural Development at the University of California, studied the behavioural patterns of people in the workplace. He discovered that a persons primary behavioural tendencies could be grouped into one of four basic behavioural styles that of either being (1) Directive, (2) Influencing, (3) Supportive/Systematic, and (4) Conscientious/Cautious. Further exploration of corporate behaviours revealed the fact that where management was trained to complete their projects with the help of the four different behavioural styles and train their staff to apply D.i.S.C style of communications, excellent communications begins to take place. When staff pay attention to a) results (the D style application of what and when we will complete projects); to b) influence (the I style application of who and which ideas/people would make up for good communication and relationships); to c) supportive/systematic (the S style application of how things need to be planned and d) conscientious/cautious (the C style of application of what and why we should complete rules and regulations/set standards, overall outcomes are assured. When people are helped to understand their unique style contributions and work well with others different from them, the entire team benefits. Individual self-awareness translates into balanced overall team output is practiced in the first day of training. Theoretical Underpinnings of the P.I.A.V Value Style System

The research of Eduard Spranger in the early 1900s revealed the fact that employees equally hold their unique value styles different from each other. To enhance the communication among people, respecting their unique values, this learning system helps employees to gain awareness of their own value clusters, that of their colleagues and to learn how to connect with each other for the greater purpose of linking corporate core values with personal value stances. Similar to behavioural-style knowledge and application, this focus on value clusters also aims to obtain greater team results and for the projects to be completed in time, on budget, and with the most innovative outcomes. To define briefly the six value clusters in the P.I.A.V (the Personal Interest, Attitudes and Values) System, the following primary value clusters arrange themselves in terms of priority to the individual. This clustering indicates the intensity and significance levels of held by the person and while all six value clusters operate withinthe person, paying special attention to the top two value clusters is of great significance to the person owning the value cluster and for the others to respect his or her value cluster to improve interpersonal effectiveness and maximize team potential. Let me define the six value clusters at this time. The Utilitarian value cluster emphasizes the importance of always seeking a return on ones investment. One pays attention to the importance of wise investment of time and money to gain their buy-in. The Theoretical value cluster indicates the importance of knowledge to the individual. It would be wise to consider the persons knowledge and wisdom on issues considered. The Individualistic value cluster demonstrates the importance of role or positional power. Allowing them the power to lead the group while completing projects would be a wise move. The Social value cluster shows its sensitivity towards conflict and the need for harmony. Cooperating with them on matters of resolving conflict or creating harmony would be well received. The Traditional value cluster emphasizes the importance of working with a proven system based on values, principles or beliefs really resonates for them. Respecting their culture or ethics wins their team input. Finally, the Aesthetic value cluster considers such matters of form, beauty and harmony important to get their work done. Adding comfort, colour and music would bring out their responsiveness. To repeat the same process applied to value cluster awareness and application as we have noted for behavioural styles, again participants are helped to understand their value cluster arrangement among the possible six clusters. The workshop participants are then guided to understand and respect the different value clusters among the participants and to enlist their creative energies towards achieving balanced and creative outcomes. The Platinum Rule is frequently emphasized which states that, Do unto others as they like to be done unto! All of this takes new understanding and respect for our behavioural and value style differences and the need to apply all the styles to achieve both quality and quantity-based outcomes. Further Considerations and Implications What brings all of this learning together is to understand how ones values get communicated through ones behavioural style while both styles must work the companys core values for the best results. For example, one employee could bring a Utilitarian value cluster (wanting a return on investment), communicate this through a High C behavioural style (being conscientious/cautious in pushing for results) while needing to support corporate core values, such as innovation, competitiveness, communication. This persons value cluster tendencies do link well with the financial objectives of the company while going about work tasks in a conscientious/cautious communication work style. This value and behavioural combination could rub others the wrong way. Alternatively, another employee may reflect a Social value cluster (concerned to achieve a conflict-free environment, sometimes unrealistically) while communicating through a High I behavioural style (sharing high levels of communication and enthusiasm for ideas and people) while supporting the companys core values as mentioned above. This employee desires his/her colleagues support to spend a considerable amount of money to make everyone happy without possibly consideration of all the facts involved, the background to existing conflicts and the return on investment to remedy the situation. Each needs the other members of the team to bring out the better, more balanced and worthwhile outcomes. We all know that clashes take place when people are too different in value or behavioural styles. The consistent outcome of this workshop demonstrates repeatedly that people want to learn moe about their unique talents, help others do the same and show a desire to work with each other for the betterment of long-term, total team, corporate results. Summary It is my professional conviction after years of training and consulting that there are a few top management steps worth taking to obtain superior and long-term corporate results. Research and life experience has stated the obvious first, ensure your companys success founded on 1)core values, 2) corresponding behaviours and 3) system supports. This corporate strategy requires leading from the top and thorough training for all staff. Secondly, pay attention to the important differences among employees behavioural and value styles. These natural energies and tendencies must be respected and linked into corporate core values. Through such training,

employees will find themselves enjoying their work, giving their best and adding significantly to the long -term success of their company.