March 17th, 2013
A study found that by reacting to a person, rather than ignoring them, causes more stress and distraction that lasts far longer than the actual event.
I was honored to be a communication expert in this article at Woman’s Health where the theme is “when to hold’em, when to fold ‘em” or when do you do something about a behavior and when do you let it go. In this article I answer the age old questions of what to do if:
The situation: A woman cuts you in line at Starbucks
The situation: Your boyfriend / husband leaves his dirty clothes strewn over the floor for the hundredth time
The situation: Someone keeps texting in the middle of a movie
The situation: While you’re walking down the street, a dude hollers, “Hey baby, lookin’ good!”
The situation: Your slacker coworker asks you to help him finish his quarterly report
The situation: A close friend shows up an hour late to your birthday dinner
The situation: During holiday dinner, Uncle Marvin says, “You look really tired.”
February 22nd, 2013
Though we are associated with “Difficult People our book is not about personality types. We find it more effective to think in terms of behavior and what motivates it. Why when under stress does one person whine, another attack, another withdraw, while others go passive aggressive. There are four factors that influence where people go in our Lens of Understanding human behavior.
1. Organizational culture
2. Job function
3. The people around us
4. Personal programming
Organizational culture is the behaviors both good and bad, that are considered acceptable and forbidden.
When I presented seminars for IBM’s leadership series and talked about the Grenade tantrum, consistently half the IBM’ers in the room would say “I can’t imagine somebody doing that at work.” While the other half of the room would say, “Oh yes they do!”
The difference was the half but couldn’t imagine it were IBM’ers who were always at IBM. The half that said “Yes they do”, were IBM’ers who get sent to someone else’s facility. They realized their corporate culture didn’t tolerate grenade tantrums. However, Tank (attack) and Know-it-all run free as protected species.
I performed some programs for Chevron and people told me they have a term called the “Chevron Yes”. What that means is you are pleasant and agreeable on the surface but that doesn’t mean you really agree or will follow through.
A second factor is job function. I noticed professional nurses can easily get into whining because often they are on the front line knowing what needs to be done, but trumped by a Tank or Know-it-all doctor and limited by a hospital bureaucracy. The result of that equation is a feeling of being helpless. Helpless is the root of whining. (Hopeless the root of negativity.)
A third factor that influences behavior is the people around us. Whining, Negativity and Sniping are virulent and spread like the flu and before you know it everyone is doing it. Have you ever noticed how one department can have an ongoing sniping relationship with another department? The other difficult behaviors do not replicate, but they still cause problems. Put a Know-it-all on a team of people and watch everyone turn into Nothing people who won’t speak up or contribute at meetings.
Your relationship can also be a factor. If a colleague attacks you may stand up for yourself. If your boss attacks, you may be more passive.
And of course each of us individually comes wired with some tendencies to where we go in the lens when at work.
To prevent and move people into the “Cooperation Zone” of the lens requires:
1. Recognizing where people are behaviorally in the Lens of Understanding.
2. Recognizing the factors influencing behavior of job function, organizational culture and team members.
3. Knowing the strategy to transform their behavior. Communication is like a phone number. You need all digits and you need them in the correct order. There is a specific strategy to move people back into the Cooperation zone.
January 17th, 2013
Dr. Rick Brinkman, co-author of the international best selling McGraw-Hill book, Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, appears on Portland, Oregon’s AM Northwest to talk about dealing with relatives.
January 8th, 2013
JUST RELEASED: The Chinese long form translation of the third version of Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst.
Here is the Lens of Understanding.
December 19th, 2012
Angela Murray, the second defendant in my father’s murder pleaded guilty to Murder 2. She can’t be convicted on Murder 1 since the other guy was already found guilty of that. My understanding is Murder 1 is “intent to kill” while Murder 2 is an event that happens within another crime but the defendant may not have been the one to actually do the killing.
However, she is the one who had the relationship with my father and betrayed him.
Tomorrow she will be sentenced to 16 years to life. That means she is eligible for parole after 16 years, but there are no guarantees she may ever get out.
Here is my statement to the court that will be played tomorrow at her sentencing. You get to see it today.
(For details Google “Guido Felix Brinkmann”)
Synchronistically I am in NYC and will be only a few blocks away performing a seminar so I made this 3 minute video: This video is in FLASH. For an iOS compatible version here.
September 16th, 2012
Forbes featured the new third version of our book, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst.
You can read the article here: http://www.forbes.com
June 28th, 2012
Time Magazine Business online quotes our book Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirschner, 2012 McGraw-Hill) with advice on how to deal with tough behaviors in the business world.
Visit the Time Article here.
June 27th, 2012
I’m proud to announce the release of our book Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirschner, 1994, 2003, 2012 McGraw-Hill). The original came out in 1994 and has sold over 2,000,000 copies with translations in 20 languages.
In the new version we added three behaviors: Meddlers, Martyrs and Judges. We also added to Whiners and No people and created a new lens of understanding. For a free color PDF download of the new Lens visit: DealingWithPeople.com.
Drs. Rick & Dr. Ruth at NYC Book Expo
June 21st, 2012
Many people have asked me what happened in the trial of my father’s (Guido Felix Brinkmann) killers. There were three people involved, each of whom will be tried separately. The first person and the one who most likely did the actual killing was found guilty three weeks ago on all counts of 1st degree murder.
New York State does not have a death penalty. 25 minimum years to life without parole is the consequence.
The judge chose to give 25 years with the recommendation to the parole board that the prisoner serve 45 years before considering parole. That would make him a 75 year old man at the time.
(For those of you who may not know, just put ”Guido Felix Brinkmann” into Google.)
I didn’t realize it is the custom to let the victim’s family speak at the sentencing. I asked the DA if there was a specific protocol or purpose, i.e. to influence sentencing, revenge, express grief, etc. She said it can be anything. Even just talking about who this person was.
Although I couldn’t be in NYC that particular day, I made a short 7 minute video that was played at the trial that I thought I would share with you.
Note I was planning to change out of my Rangers shirt and into a suit. In the video I was only doing a sound and lighting check. However what spontaneously came out was the statement and to do it again would have felt “scripted”. The New York newspapers did take note of the Ranger shirt. (Go Rangers!)
The one thing I didn’t say that I wanted to was this:
A couple of months after the war had ended my father was heading back to Poland to see if my mother was alive. He was crossing a bridge guarded by a Russian soldier. My father spoke fluent Russian and explained he had spent the last 9 months in three concentration camps. He didn’t know if any of his family or his wife was alive. Then another person, a German, attempted to cross the bridge. The Russian ripped open the German’s coat to reveal the SS tattoo marking him as an SS officer. The Russian handed my father the machine gun and said, ”Kill him for your family.” My father handed the machine gun back and said, “No I can’t do that.” That was the kind of person he was and the compassion he had. (The Russian killed the SS officer.)
7 minutes 49 seconds
For stories on my father and my mother’s miraculous stories of survival, see the Concentration Camp category or just click here:
November 6th, 2011
There are three parts to the Rules of Non-Engagement: Before, During and After. In the last post we looked at how to prepare yourself before the family event. In the next few posts we will look at what you can do in the “during” phase.
- Supporting your energy
Marta told us:
“My mom loves to make cookies and cakes, and I love to eat them. Problem is,all that sugar gives me headaches and makes me cranky.And when I’m cranky, Mom and I have problems. So I’ve told her that the only time I’m going to eat the fun food is at night, so I can be fun for her to be with all day long.”
Juanita told us:
“I take naps in the afternoon, usually when my dad turns on the TV to watch sports. I used to sit around all day hating the sound of the TV and wishing I could be somewhere else, but not anymore! I tell my parents that taking naps is part of my health regime, and they not only accepted the idea, but my mom liked it so much that she does the same during my visits. Dad gets to watch sports in peace, and both Mom and I feel refreshed when dinner time rolls around. It’s been great for everyone.”
- Remove some Stress
If you can relieve a relative of just a little of their stress, your good deed will come back to you as an grateful family member who is easier for you to deal with.
Darren told us:
“My mother gets stressed when things don’t seem to be getting done or she’s worried about something.This has gotten worse over the years as she has aged, because she can’t do as much cleaning as she used to. So we do things for her, and turn clean-up time into a family activity. We might say, “Come on kids, let’s go outside and rake some leaves!” If she expresses wor- ries about finances, I get on the Internet and do some research for informa- tion on refinancing.Anything she expresses worry or concern about is an opportunity for me to lower her stress load.The result is that instead of a stressed-out and worried mother when we visit, I get to enjoy her company.”
“My dad-in-law is kind of a dud, and being a dud around company drives my mother-in-law crazy. So I try to engage him in things, take him out for a game of golf, invite him to come with me for a run to the store, anything that gets him away from her and gives her a break. She’s a lot happier when we visit now.”
Tune in over the next few days for more and check out the resources at: DealingWithRelatives.com
November 3rd, 2011
I recently did an interview with Woman’s World about preparing for the holidays, (read “Relatives!”). I reviewed some of the many interviews we conducted when writing the Dealing With Relatives book. Over the next few weeks I will share some of my favorites so you can be prepared.
The first is called “The Rules of Non-Engagement”. There are three phases, before, during and after. In today’s blog we will look at the “before” phase.
THE BEFORE STAGE
- Prepare yourself
A mantra to maintain perspective:
A good friend of mine, just before ringing the doorbell turns to his wife and says, “Just visiting.”
A couple of sisters prevent being pulled into their Mom’s inane conversations with the mantra, “She’s just making conversation.”
Someone else told me they put a Red dot on watch on the hour they are leaving. To maintain perspective he just has to glance at his watch.
- Seek allies, other family members who are supportive and plan together.
Make contact with other family members with whom you have a good relationship and set up signals to help each other bail from a conversation or distract.
- Mentally practice what you will do with tough conversations or criticism.
Here is my advice.
1. Acknowledge some positive intent.
2. Be clear about your intent
i.e.: “I appreciate your openness in sharing the intimate details of your new love, however this might not be the place with the kids. Let’s talk about it later.”
1. Acknowledge positive intent
2. Change the subject
Statement: “Looks like you put on a little weight since last year.”
1. “Thank you for caring about my well being.” (then change subject).
Tune in tomorrow for more and check out the resources at: DealingWithRelatives.com
August 23rd, 2011
Everyone can use more time. The truth of it is, there is no time. There is only right here and “Now.” When you woke up it was “Now.” As you read this it is “Now.” And in an hour it will still be “Now.” In each precious moment of Now many things will ask for your attention. They will not all fit in the here and now. What you choose to allow in your Now quickly becomes your past. Success and fulfillment is making choices in your Now Moments that are based on your highest priorities.
To create more time in your life the first step is finding out what you are “saying Yes to” in the Now moment. Because every time you are saying “Yes” to something in the here and now, you are also saying “No” to a whole lot more.
Without knowing your specific situation, I would say one of the two most important action steps that can be taken to be more organized and effective are clarifying values and doing a time log.
Download the complete Time Log PDF article here.
Download a Time Log spreadsheet here.
MyEvent Log, an iPhone app that you can use to do a time log.
July 26th, 2011
I was asked recently, “Should people be ‘allowed’ to wear headphones at work?”
I saw a study that found the average person in an open office environment gets interrupted every 9 minutes. If they are doing general office work it takes 3 minutes to recover from the interruption. Recover meaning getting back to what you are doing with the same level of focus.
Let’s do the math. Every 9 minutes means 6 times an hour, multiplied by 3 minutes to recover means 18 minutes lost. But wait there’s more. We haven’t factored in the actual interruption. If by some miracle the interruption only lasted 2 minutes then that’s 6 interruptions/hour multiplied by 2 minutes, equals 12 minutes. Add that to your 18 minutes recovery and you just lost 30 minutes.
But wait there’s more. The 3 minute recovery was only for general office work. Editing complex documents or doing accounting took 30 minutes to get back to the same level of accuracy and focus. Computer programming took 60 minutes.
Some interruptions are actually work related and others are just blurting. Blurting is when people just spontaneously say stuff because it happens to cross their mind.
“Did you see that movie….”
“I gotta tell you this joke…”
So in answer to should people be able to use headphones at work, the answer is it depends on:
1. What they are working on and their primary responsibility. Not for your receptionist.
2. Who are your co-workers. If you sit next to a blurter it’s a must.
June 6th, 2011
I was asked recently, “HR people struggle with the concept of Culture at a company. How do you define it?
As co-author of the book Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, How To Bring Out The Best In People At Their Worst, (Brinkman & Kirschner, McGraw-Hill, 1994, 2003, 2011). I tend to view culture in an organization as the behaviors both good and bad that are considered acceptable and verboten.
For example, when I did programs for Chevron, they told me they have a term called the “Chevron Yes”. What that means is you are pleasant and agreeable on the surface but that doesn’t mean you agree or follow through.
When I would do seminars as part of IBM’s leadership series and talk about the Grenade tantrum, consistently half the IBM’ers in the room would say “I can imagine somebody doing the tantrum at work.” While the other half of the room would say, “Oh yes they do!” The difference was the half but couldn’t imagine it were IBM’ers who were always at IBM. The half that said “Yes they do”, were IBM’ers who get sent to someone else’s facility. As they discussed their corporate culture they realized grenade tantrum was not tolerated. However, they admitted that Tank (attack) and Know-it-all run free as protected species.
I once did a seminar for aerospace firm that was designing planes. They had a lot of engineers on the job who when at work must be in a mode of Get it Right / Perfection. The only problem with that is when in a perfectionist mode you can study things from now till the cows come home and never get it done. What the organization learned to do is you hire a very controlling manager to ride herd on those engineers and make sure the project also gets done. However, in their case it went too far because management by Tank attack was considered an acceptable leadership strategy and even promoted.
I did a program for a software company in the Seattle area (not the evil Empire). They realized they had hiring practices that effectively weeded out people who needed control or attention at work and pulled in people like to get along and get it right at work. This was a big “Aha” for them about their culture. On the upside “No wonder we’re one big happy family and we’re very meticulous about our work.” (Get Along and Get it Right). But on the downside they realized, “No wonder it’s a major miracle to get a decision made in the company.” That’s because everyone was either waiting for consensus (Get along) or studying it in further detail (Get it right).
So I would does not I would define the culture of an organization as the behaviors both good and bad that are accepted and unaccepted.
May 30th, 2011
Negativity or The No Person is one of the ten behavioral types we described in our book, Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, How To Bring Out The Best In People At Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirshner, McGraw-Hill, 1994, 2003, 2011).
Negativity and its first cousin Whining are particularly insidious in an organization. That’s because those behaviors tend to spread like the flu through a team and before you know it, everyone is doing it. Even worse, it can become a team habit.
The difference between whining and negativity is whining is a feeling of being helpless, the victim of people, circumstances, or ironically the present circumstances not measuring up to their own high standard of perfection.
Whereas negativity is hopeless. They have given up in the face of the same thing. In fact negativity is really fossilized whining, it goes on and on and on and finally they say, “what’s the use why bother.”
When people get negative they have all the sureness and arrogance of a Know-it-all seduced by the dark side of the force.
The first thing to do is knowing what not to do. Do not bother trying to tell them it’s not so bad or offer a solution. That causes them to go deeper into their quicksand of how bad it is. This is called a polarity response. Two-year-olds and teenagers can have a polarity response as a developmental phase. And when people are negative they have polarity. (Interestingly enough when people are whiny they do not have polarity.)
So if you want to have a little fun and mess with their head then jump into their quicksand with them and playfully start splashing around saying, “You’re right, it’s hopeless, why bother, nothing will work, we might as well just end it all right now.” And they’ll respond with, “Well you’re right but all we have to do is this…” Like magic they will talk solutions to you.
Another thing you can do with negativity is harness it for the greater good. I remember a woman telling me about her husband Bob who was terribly negative, always what’s wrong, nothing ever right. She said the Cub Scouts are planning a trip to Washington DC and the organizers wondered if anything go wrong so they decided to invite her husband Bob to a planning meeting.
Sure enough Bob ripped the trip apart in generalizations but as they kept asking questions they got him to be more and more specific. Then they said, “Thanks a lot Bob, see later,” and sorted for themselves what was an exaggeration and what should be attended to. This is called giving yourself an attitude adjustment by not letting the negative person be a wet blanket as well as using them as a resource.
For more click on the “Whining/Negativity” category on the left.
And certainly the book “People You Can’t Stand…” will also be a useful resource: http://www.rickbrinkman.com/store/books/dpcs.shtml
It is also available in audio book: http://rickbrinkman.com/store/audio/dpcsAUDIO.shtml or as a download at the iTunes store or at Audible.com.
May 25th, 2011
Greetings Conscious Communicator,
Rick Brinkman 1971
In a few weeks I will be attending my 40th reunion of Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
This is the first reunion I am aware of and my theory is because we were the last all-male graduating class, we didn’t have any girls to organize social events.
In my time, though not my class, was Paul Reiser and three current members and advisors of Obama’s cabinet including Attorney General Eric Holder. He was a senior in my first year and in fact
I think he gave me my first wedgie!
May 10th, 2011
I presented to 1600 people at the American Medical Directors Association recently. One of the doctors came up to me and shared an expression I want to share with you:
In life pain is inevitable.
Misery is optional.
February 22nd, 2011
Those of you who receive my e-article series have seen the article on de-cluttering and how it can free your energy and give you back more time. Here is a tip sent in by a reader of how she preserves memories without the clutter.
“I read the article on De-Clutter. I was amazed that most of what you suggested I have already been doing through the year’s. Before giving anything away that has been of sentimental value or an item that had a special purpose in my life, I take a photograph of the item, let it go and place the photo in an album. Months or year’s later visiting the albums, I get much joy looking at “things” that were a part of my life during that period.” Barbara Cumberland, Pinehurst, N.C.
If you do not receive the article series you can subscribe to it here.
February 17th, 2011
I was recently interviewed by Her Campus for tips to deal with “senior freakout.” Meaning college life is over and you have to join the real world.
The process I suggest is valid for anyone dealing with anything. It’s about how to control your reactions and put yourself in the state of being you need to be successful with whatever you are dealing with.
You can access the article here.
February 2nd, 2011
I was recently asked what the top 5 mistakes managers make. I think they all relate to meetings.
I ask you, how much of your time in meetings is really well used given the other priorities. My brother-in-law told me recently he spends the whole Monday in meetings and does absolutely nothing that brings revenue to the company or serves the customer.
So I would say the top 5 mistakes managers make all relate to letting meetings run them, instead of them running meetings.
1- Questioning the necessity of meetings that have been around forever. When people are at a meeting they are not doing a million other things. Time/Benefit of bringing people together must always be questioned.
2- No speaking order at a meeting. You need a speaking order otherwise the assertive personalities will dominate and the passive people drop out. Your eyes see from two different points of view and when your brain puts them together you see there dimensions. To have holographic thinking at a meeting requires everyone’s participation.
3- No time limit for speaking at a meeting. A time limit needs to be established for any one moment addressing the group. Two minutes at the most. Otherwise some people will go on and on and on saying what they already said.
4- No visual recording of people’s thoughts. Visual means you can see it. Everyone’s point when speaking should be recorded on a flip chart or computer hooked up to a monitor. The difference between visual communication and auditory is visual remains over time and you can see totality.
5- No agenda. Everyone needs to know the agenda and each agenda item should tell the participant what is expected of them.
For more on this subscribe to my articles and the first two you will immediately receive are: “The Meeting Magic Process” and “The Art of the Agenda”. You can get those here: http://rickbrinkman.com/enews/index.shtml
Also for tips specifically related to conference calls I refer you here: http://rickbrinkman.com/blog/category/organization/meetings/