By Elaine Taylor-Klaus, ImpactADHD
Whether at home or in the workplace, human dynamics are complicated.
As we start to plan for the post-summer-back-to-school-and-work season, we have an idea of how we want things to go once we get back into some routine. Wouldn’t it be great if everything could run smoothly? And still do what’s best for our selves, or our families, or our job? Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it feels like that is easier said than done.
A while back, as I was preparing for Autumn, I went back to basics and actually found helpful support using ImpactADHD’s ‘Action Model.’. It’s a terrific structure for taking a coach-approach to life. I find it amazing, really, how magic these five simple steps can be. Whatever the challenging situation you have to tackle, at home or at work, the Action Model helps me address ANY complicated dynamic – even “family or office politics” (and THAT’s sayin’ something!).
Just see how diplomatic I can be in this example!
Scenario: One member of your office or family is upset about a decision that feels insensitive. Rather than telling you directly, that person goes to another family or office member, who raises an objection. This causes a triangulation, and plenty of opportunity for miscommunication. (Does this sound familiar to anyone else?)
Your initial response may be to get angry, or frustrated. You might feel misunderstood, or manipulated. It generates a lot of drama that you don’t really want, draining energy. But reacting in anger isn’t going to get you very far, so you make an effort to consciously escape the Stress Cycle, reclaiming your brain with a few deep breaths (and then a few more!).
Once you are calm enough to proceed, here’s how you might use ImpactADHD’s Action Model as a guide:
Step 1. Take AIM: First, Take AIM on the situation. Take some time to clearly understand about what is happening. Rather than adding fuel to the fire by defending your position or taking a stand on principle, take the time to clarify what is being requested. When you look for it, you’ll notice that there is usually a request hidden in every complaint. Try to keep your attention focused on what is actually important to be resolved, rather than on the blame that is on the surface.
Step 2. Educate: Start collecting information. What would it take to fulfill the request? Who might be able to help? Have whatever conversations are necessary to clarify what is really possible. If this gets frustrating – and it might – stop and calm yourself down before responding to another email or making a phone call.
Step 3. Plan: Before taking action, consider thoughtfully how best to approach the dynamic. You’ll want to consider the 4 critical response areas from the model: Positivity, Activating the Brain, Shifting Expectations and Using Systems & Structures.
- Positivity can help you prevent yourself from getting triggered.
- Activating the Brain can assure that you’re in the best condition to maintain your calm, or think clearly.
- Shifting Expectations allows you to set realistic expectations, based on what you know about the dynamic and the players involved.
- Systems & Structures offer strategies for resolution (but should usually be considered in the context of the other response areas above).
Step 4: Take Action. Choose whatever combination of the 4 responses above makes the most sense. Positivity might have you find compassion for the upset of the hurt party, helping you stay (relatively) un-triggered. Making sure you make decisions after a good night’s sleep can help you avoid getting triggered, as well. Clearly communicating and setting realistic expectations about what is possible in the situation can help you stay focused on the biggest goal of all – a positive, constructive work or home dynamic. Finally, when you make clear requests, and try to keep everyone focused on a positive, shared process, you can reach détente (for now).
Step 5. Rinse & Repeat: As with any challenging situation, détente does not necessarily mean that the conflict is resolved, but only that it is over for the moment. You may be called upon in the future to manage similar conflicts. As you avoid getting defensive, and repeat the process outlined above, everyone will come to expect this more structured, reasonable approach to conflict resolution. You’ll have to modify and change things a bit, of course – and I’m certain you’ll have that opportunity. Drama has a way of re-surfacing. But with a simple process for managing it, you can use your skills to keep things positive and productive.
At the end of the day, you want to remain calm and confident. Because it makes YOU feel better when you do. When you find yourself back in the Stress Cycle — whether it’s family or work, it’s going to happen, remember that you can make the biggest difference when you take care of yourself –- breathe deeply, calm yourself down, start over with every difficult situation. When you Take AIM on a challenging dynamic, and stay focused on your vision of what your trying to achieve, the ImpactADHD Action Model will guide you through.
The best part? Your family, or your workplace benefits most of all!
Diane Dempster and Elaine Taylor-Klaus are founders of ImpactADHD.
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