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It’s not nice when people ‘snap’ is it? Here are some anger diffusion techniques

We have all at some time or another lost our temper and been around people who have lost theirs. You may even have found yourself in a confrontation where you need to diffuse the situation but be unsure of how to do it. There are certain disengagement techniques people use for just these types of situation.

In the workplace, it’s arguably even more important that we know how to deal with our emotions and, of course, that can include anger. So here are a few tips on…

Diffusing Anger

To diffuse anger in a situation, one of the things to consider using are Distraction Techniques. But it’s important to recognise the following distraction techniques won’t work in every situation.

  • Give the other person a direct command. Be assertive but be sure of your ground
  • Be funny. But ensure the humour is directed at yourself and steer clear of sarcasm
  • Pay the other person a compliment

Something else to consider when trying diffusing anger are Calming Techniques.

Make sure you communicate clearly by: 

  • Speaking softly
  • Slowing down the conversation
  • Sitting down with the other person
  • Allow the other person to vent their frustration
  • Show them you are listening by doing things like maintaining eye contact

Finally, see what solutions are possible which satisfy both parties. You can do this by:

  • Trying to understand the situation from the other person’s perspective
  • Listen to their ideas
  • Put forward you own thoughts in an open way

It’s also important to remember that if you feel you are in danger in any way whatsoever, that you should remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

If there are any techniques that you have found particularly useful for these types of situation, we’d love you to share them in the comments section below.

Visit our website at to see how we can help train your staff in soft skills just like these.


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Do you find it easy to say “no”?

Very often in the workplace, people start wanting to know how to be assertive when they realise they find it difficult to say no to others, and thus end up overwhelmed, acting always for others and not for themselves.

Why don’t we say no?

There can be a variety of reasons why it can be difficult to say no to a task:

  • If the person making the request is your line manager, you cannot exactly refuse the request. However, rather than conceding straight away (passive response), why not try an assertive approach?
  • If you like to please others, you may feel that no would be an unwelcome response. You may fear that it would have an adverse effect on the relationship.
  • You may be afraid of the aggressive reaction a no might provoke.
  • Perhaps you find it difficult planning out how long things take to do, so you therefore unthinkingly accept work you are unable to deliver.
  • You may think the other person genuinely cannot cope with their workload.
  • You may think that you might not be asked again if you say no.
  • You may imagine you will be thought of as uncooperative.
  • Moreover, we can make matters worse by agreeing to do something that we don’t really want to do and then
  • We cancel at the last minute, arrive late or harbour resentment
  • We don’t do the work to the highest quality and we sulk.

What rights do you have in the situation? 

The question is this: are you on a platform of rights to say no? In the case of the colleague asking for your computer password in an earlier section, he is most definitely not on a platform of rights to ask.

If it’s your line manager asking you to do something, then you are not on a platform of rights. You may be able to challenge the request assertively, and establish a workable compromise, but you will need a reasoned argument as to why you cannot achieve their request.

So how can you say no?

People often find it difficult to say no for the reasons above. However, if you have a genuine reason for saying no and believe in your reason, the next step is to consider your approach.

Base your approach around achieving a win-win result – in other words, a solution that meets the needs of all parties. This might include:

  • Being flexible (for example, being willing to work late to meet a deadline)
  • Offering alternatives (for example, suggesting a different way of achieving the required result)
  • Stating both parties’ objectives
  • Doing your homework (for example, knowing your audience and responding in an appropriate manner)
  • Encouraging creativity (for example, brainstorming other options).

Here are some examples of phrases you might use for these approaches:

  • Yes I’d be delighted to help, but the only time I could do that would be…
  • I’d love to do that for you. Could you pick up the children/visit my mother in the hospital/cut my grass for me, otherwise I’ll have no free time at all this week?
  • No, I couldn’t do all that, but if I did this bit, you could do the rest, couldn’t you?
  • If I weren’t so pressed for time…
  • If I had known about this six months ago…
  • If you had asked me sooner, I’d have been delighted, but…
  • I am fully committed at the moment, but will you remember me next time round?
  • I am in such demand at the moment that I could not really do justice to what you need, but my planning gets easier next week/month/year. Is that any use to you?
  • Thank you for asking. I am otherwise engaged then, but have you thought of asking Mr/Mrs…
  • I always feel bad about saying ‘no’. It makes me feel guilty. Please forgive me, but I just have no time for additional commitments that week.
  • I’m very poor at that; you need someone who could do it better.
  • I’m working on a project at the moment. Please ask me another time.

Giving reasons for saying no

Beware about giving reasons for saying no. If it is your line manager, you may need to substantiate your decision and eventually come to a workable compromise. With others, the picture can be very different.

Reasons or excuses become ‘hooks’ for the other person to come back to you to debate your refusal. This is ineffective because it makes it more difficult to stick to the refusal and wastes valuable time that you could be using to get on with other priorities.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – @peoplealchemy


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Do you know how to properly delegate work? Part 1

Delegation is a process, not a one-off activity, and it needs to be done well to ensure success. The steps of the process are set out below.

The amount of your time and the level of formality you apply to each step will depend on a number of factors: the nature of the task to be delegated, how critical it is and the level of experience of the person carrying it out. The key point is that you need to include all the steps to ensure success.

Step 1: Define the task

Make sure that you have a clear idea in your own mind about what it is you want done. It should meet the criteria for delegation.

Part of the definition of the task should be to identify the actual customer of the task, internal or external, and decide what a successfully completed task would mean to them.

Step 2: Choose the person

If the person to whom you are delegating a task needs any training, make sure it’s in place before they start.

Step 3: Agree objectives and scope

You need to explain what the job is and why you are delegating it to this person because you want to ensure that the person is enthusiastic and motivated to take on this work, and will not see it as just another task to add to their already lengthy to-do list. 

You might also want to use the SMART way of agreeing objectives:

Specific – it is very easy to give vague instructions that can be misinterpreted. Give clear guidance and agree together what the scope of the work is and what it isn’t. Are you giving them authority to act, to make decisions, to spend money, or what? It is essential to agree all of this in advance. Ensure understanding by getting feedback from the other person on what they think they have been asked to do.

Measurable – how will you measure success? Both of you need to understand what the success criteria are. Think about success in terms of benefits also, and what these mean to the task’s customer, rather than just looking to the technical result.

Agreed – make sure that you both agree about all aspects of the task. People cannot be held responsible for something to which they have not agreed and they will be more committed if they have been allowed to contribute to its set up.

Realistic – this might seem obvious, but many people are given unreasonable targets or inadequate budgets. Set your people up for success, not failure. They may need resources – budget, equipment, other people’s time. Whatever they need, it’s your responsibility to make sure that it’s available.

Time-bound – be clear about when things must be completed (both intermediate and final deliverables).

You may also need to inform others that you are delegating this work to this person. These others might include your boss, your peers and/or your customers. Pay particular attention to any internal politics or difficult situations that might be relevant.

Help your delegate to understand how this task fits into the bigger picture of the organisational goals and mission. This will give them a better sense of why it is important. Don’t just assume that they will know this. If relevant, explain what recognition will be achieved on successful completion of the task.

Step 4: Deal with any concerns or objections

  • Ensure they answer yes to the following questions:
  • Do you know what to do?
  • Do you have the resources you need?
  • Can you do it?
  • Will you deliver according to what we agreed?

Finally, when you have a yes to the first four questions ask if there is there anything else that needs to be discussed. 

In effect, you are agreeing a contract with them. It is often a good idea to ask the person to send you an email detailing what they think they have contracted to do.

You need to carry through with this step because you absolutely must know if there are any concerns or objections lurking in the background that could derail the task. These might not even be related to the task: for example, the task may require someone to do something at a certain time each day that will then stop them from using their flexitime arrangements to collect their children from school.

The key here is that it is the perception of the delegatee that is important.

If you delegate a task to someone and they end up in the panic zone, you need to alter their perceptions, as they will not be able to perform while in this state. In order to get them, in their mind, to change zones, you must either increase their perception of their competence or decrease their perception of the difficulty of the task. You have several options to consider:

  • Point out that they have done something similar before – they may not have made the connection
  • Say that they can call on help from another person who has done it before
  • Show them how to do it
  • Send them on a training course
  • Break the task into pieces they consider manageable
  • Ensure they have understood the task correctly, as they may see difficulties where there are none
  • Redefine the task in terms they understand.

If you delegate a task and the person ends up in the drone zone, there is less you can do, but these types of routine, boring task still need to be done. Try to find some way of increasing the person’s perception of the difficulty of the task, for example:

  • You can turn it into a challenge: for example, ‘Sally did this last week in two hours’
  • Give them a reward task to do once the boring job is finished
  • Have them do it in parallel with another, more demanding, task
  • Have them think about ways to change the process, improving the task
  • Delegate two people to the task and make one of them responsible, and a teacher for the other.

Post provided by People Alchemy (@peoplealchemy)

Stay tuned for Part 2 in which we will look at monitoring progress and how to support, coach and provide feedback to the delegate. 


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