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Listening skills/conflict with manager

(28 Posts)
PassTheSatsumas Thu 28-Jul-16 20:03:46

Hello everyone - looking for some advice/suggestions/words of comfort

Basic issue - am in a moderately high-flying career, and have a job that really suits me (like it, good pay, commute etc so want to stay!)

I have a bit of history of interpersonal issues at work - people think I am rude, don't listen etc: I actually take this quite seriously as has caused me loads of problems (plus who wants to be rude!) so gone into psychotherapy to sort issues out and making good progress

Meanwhile, I inherited a new boss in a restructure who particularly does not appreciate my style (which I am working on!)
She has: refused a promotion I applied for last year, and now promoted someone above my head -always get great ratings for work, it's the personal stuff that is the issue, problem is I don't even know I am being rude
Her issues with me: I don't listen, apparently am disrespectful/rude 'don't realise I need to change'
I have a new line manager now, who is (apparently) coaching me on this (all under big boss who doesn't like me) I am not sure if I am being set up to fail/put on disciplinary - as give a dog a bad name etc
Feeling battered, want to improve to fix these issues, not sure if I can though

I think my next moves are
- look for a new job!! I have been looking for a year though and not found anything
- NEVER interrupt
- be super respectful I suppose (keep my head down, maybe get in early/leave late..)
- never disagree/challenge others (I think this is the problem)
- be 'super sweet'

Any suggestions? Especially from anyone who has resolved this issue themselves, or if you are a perso who would be annoyed by me: what can I do to quickly demonstrate a changed attitude (whilst I am slowly working on the real deal)

PassTheSatsumas Thu 28-Jul-16 20:04:37

And just to say - thanks in advance if you get to the end of this very rambling post!!

HermioneWeasley Thu 28-Jul-16 20:09:47

Have you been given specifics on what you're doing that's upsetting other people? Do you understand how your style differs to others?

PassTheSatsumas Thu 28-Jul-16 20:15:57

Yes - which does help a lot. Not listening/interrupting (it's so habitual to me, but drives others crazy which I am never aware of when I do it)

I think I come across as a bit my way or the highway/rigidly sticking to rules
I am thinking my best bet is to:
- shut up and listen
- just agree with other people as that seems key to getting on in my company /dept - at least for a year or so

Thank you for taking the time to reply btw - this is a really upsetting issue that has plagued my career (I have been put on a perfect plan a few years ago in a prior company)
I really thought I was making progress so disappointed that things are going backwards: taking it seriously hence the therapy but worried as obv work can just get rid of me and replace me while I am still trying to sort things...

HermioneWeasley Thu 28-Jul-16 20:41:24

I recommend "time to think" by Nany Kline. It's hugely about attentive listening. I've used her techniques for a few years now and they're incredibly powerful. Listening with 100% attention and only to understand, not to respond, is a very different skill and makes such a difference.

Hope that might be helpful

PassTheSatsumas Thu 28-Jul-16 20:48:45

Thanks for the recco - will kindle it tonight!

TigerBreadAddict Thu 28-Jul-16 21:05:05

Hi,
I have toned down from a similar position to you I think, which for me came from immaturity (and being a bit of a know it all) and wanting to impress.

This from your post struck me:

-look for a new job!! I have been looking for a year though and not found anything
- NEVER interrupt yes, never interrupt when someone is speaking, it is rude - especially if it is to put an opposite point across
- be super respectful I suppose (keep my head down, maybe get in early/leave late..) Yes, this is generally a good attitude to have at work, especially if you want to be a leader. Respectful to your superiors and 'underlings'
- never disagree/challenge others (I think this is the problem) It is how you manage a difference of opinion that is critical I think. You can disagree whilst respecting someone's opinion is valid. Perhaps seek out conflict resolution training? This might be most helpful to you.
- be 'super sweet' I don't think this is necessary (unless it's natural) just be calm, kind, respectful, listen to others and try and appreciate their point of view.

PassTheSatsumas Thu 28-Jul-16 21:21:42

Thank you Tiger Bread!

Do you think I would be better off trying to move then?

My therapist thinks a stable environment will help me change my ways (which I want to do) and that I would just be running away from problems...

What helped you to change things?
Thanks for the advice - I think I was more attentive to this in the past but have felt more 'comfortable' in recent months (shoukd however realise that I am being watched...)

RatherBeIndoors Thu 28-Jul-16 21:51:53

Is there someone in your company whose style people do seem to respond positively to? If so, I would try and really observe their behaviour, either by noting their comments in meetings that help win people over/resolve tensions, or by asking your current coaching line manager whether they would help co-ordinate a chance to shadow that other person for a few days. I've found the most useful things I've learned about professional behaviour and influencing others, have come from noticing what other people do well. I'm not saying try and be a carbon-copy of someone else - the things you admire and want to replicate will most likely be things you have the capacity to do yourself naturally, you just need a bit of a model to build on.

PassTheSatsumas Thu 28-Jul-16 22:04:50

That is helpful advice - the person who has been promoted above my head might be a good role model! Trying not to panic sad

condaleeza Fri 29-Jul-16 13:19:16

Give more positive feedback/compliments to your peers/colleagues and superiors especially in meetings etc and use their names. eg "I think Martha's idea is a really good one." "Fred's suggestion would help improve the process/plan". It will help people like you better so they are less likely to complain about other traits.

PassTheSatsumas Fri 29-Jul-16 13:45:24

This one helps too - really trying to be likeable! Not easy ....

PassTheSatsumas Fri 29-Jul-16 13:46:37

The latest update (unfortunately) is that I got contacted by an HR trainee who asked who had last given me my feedback ... I don't think that is a very good sign!

JenniferYellowHat1980 Fri 29-Jul-16 22:07:57

Well I think you sound pretty self aware and you seem to have a lot of humility. Are you sure there's not an element of bullying here? Oh and you've made me reflect on my own habit of interrupting, so thank you flowers

Believeitornot Fri 29-Jul-16 22:14:46

Is this in meetings or in one to ones?

I have someone like this working for me - she doesn't listen and will actually talk at the same time as someone else even when they haven't finished their sentence.

I've told her to get active listening training and to try and let the other person talk.

But I find I get very irritated by her even when she might only make a minor mistake - so I wonder if that's what's happening to you? I'm very aware of my attitude and try and cut her some slack.

You might need to try tips like - listen actively to the other person. Literally write down what they're saying and follow each and every word - with the aim of working out if you could repeat back what they said to you. It is very tough.

Also acknowledge other people's point of view even if you think "your way or the highway".

Also do consider a new job. Sometimes it can be personalities and you waste a lot of energy trying to change but the baggage may not make it possible sadly sad

PassTheSatsumas Fri 29-Jul-16 23:00:51

Jennifer - thanks. I feel pretty abashed but I think I just come over as arrogant which does not help! I think one of the issues is the boss has her own insecurities (she has had a rough year too) but takes it out on me

PassTheSatsumas Fri 29-Jul-16 23:06:00

Believe it or not : thanks for the honesty!! I think you are right - once someone doesn't like you it's so bloody tough to change their mind. I need to sort out my own bad habits, but it's been a year and I feel edged out: will be more open to other opportunities
My personal challenge is that I both would like a settled job so I can work on improving my bad habits and personally I've just broken up with a partner so don't fancy starting again at work while trying to meet someone new!
Will have to accept that if I an there things will move slowly if at all (in my worst moments I fear that will end up on disciplinary but it doesn't seem to have that tone as yet, I'm one of life's worriers)

PassTheSatsumas Fri 29-Jul-16 23:07:39

Thanks SO MUCH to all of you who have posted - the support has been such a help, feeling less stressed now (but still looking for a new job!)

blueshoes Sat 30-Jul-16 00:02:27

I am afraid I was recently on the receiving end of someone who is known to be brusque and dismissive. After a bruising meeting, I had to escalate it to my managers and her manager. She came to apologise to me and said she had no idea that was how she came across to me I take that statement with a pinch of salt

My test in terms of interactions with colleagues is not that they must agree with me or like me. I don't expect others to change their personality. However, I expect people to be civil to each other in the workplace, even when expressing a different opinion.

It is the behaviour, not the person.

OP, do you have the same feedback in social situations as in the workplace? Can you get a trusted colleague to give you a metaphorical kick when you start to go off, just so you are more aware of your triggers and when you are starting to rub people the wrong way.

EBearhug Sat 30-Jul-16 00:09:33

One of the things about active listening (which I think is the same as attentive listening mentioned above) is reflecting back to people how you've understand what they said. If you can learn to do this, it will also prove to other people that you're listening to them - and give them the chance to clarify, if you haven't understood what they're saying (which may well be down to them not being clear.)

I am bad at interrupting others and speaking over them - it's not really conscious, I'm just bad at judging breaks in conversation, when it's appropriate to speak; it works both ways. Today I was being careful not to interrupt, with the result that I barely got to say anything at all. Manager jumped in instead, so the things did get said, it's just I sounded like I had nothing to say.

Do ask for specific feedback from people. And I agree with trying to emulate the people you see who do things well.

blueshoes Sat 30-Jul-16 11:03:08

Ebear, I thought this article about what makes a good listener is pretty good and builds on what you said: hbr.org/2016/07/what-great-listeners-actually-do

About not knowing when to jump into a conversation, I find it it harder if during a meeting and there are many people who could speak and jump in at any time. I think many people would find this challenging if they were not part of an existing discussion (meeting discussions tend to be dominated by a few) and wanted to find the appropriate time to interject. When to start talking is easier to gauge if it is a one-on-one convo.

EBearhug Sat 30-Jul-16 22:13:25

It's why I like message boards - it's no problem if we all cross post, because it all shows up in the thread even if we're typing and posting at the same time.

erinaceus Sat 30-Jul-16 22:39:42

I agree with previous posters on the active listening. It is a powerful skill. It takes practise. Depending on the size of your organisation, you may be able to find specific training in listening skills. The art of "Difficult Conversations" is another skill that it is useful to master. There is a book of this title and you can find videos on YouTube if that is your thing.

My therapist thinks a stable environment will help me change my ways (which I want to do) and that I would just be running away from problems...

I am not a therapist. That said, I caution against you making assumptions about what your therapist thinks. Maybe your manager is the problem and leaving the organisation would be the wiser choice? Who knows?

I am curious as to what it is you want to change about your ways. Interrupting people less is one thing; however, people thinking that you are rude and that you do not listen is quite different to you being rude and not listening. From your attitude on this thread you do not come across as rude or not listening. Has it occurred to you that it is not you who needs to change?

I don't listen, apparently am disrespectful/rude 'don't realise I need to change'

You have received some excellent suggestions regarding active listening.

Do you respect your manager? If you do respect her and she does not feel respected, are you and her able to put this on the table between you and work out what is happening? If you do not respect her, are you able to work out why?

Depending on the size of your organisation, are you able to spot like-minded employees and take them for coffee and ask them how they have handled such feedback? We are all over the place. I could tell you some stories. Your position is not unique in corporate life.

PassTheSatsumas Sat 30-Jul-16 23:06:13

Thank you Erinaceus - I think there is some truth in my manager having taken a dislike to me, that's for sure.

I tend to respect my manager apart from the fact that I think she gets irrationally angry with me. I think I did tend to be rude in the past but have shaped up a lot (grown up really)

Having put in a year of slog to try to have a good relationship with her, I am less convinced it will happen! I'm hoping to make a move within the organisation if I can - we are having someone new come in above my boss so that might help...

Dozer Sat 30-Jul-16 23:10:16

It does sound like your manager(s) dislike you and unlikely that they will change their opinion of you. So you're facing an uphill battle. In your shoes I might look for an internal sideways move. Leaving for a new employer is more risky because you might lose employment rights etc, but might also get a clean slate.

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