Archives For Danger Series

If you’ve been reading the past few weeks you are aware that Chronic Confrontationitis  may be present in your organization.  The problem with this disease is that it really is an organizational cultural issue. If the organization as a whole does not reject Chronic Confrontationitis, there is little the individual can do to change a misguided company culture.

Ron Leishman_Bullying Cartoon

Successful programs aimed at reducing workplace bullying need to be instituted at the corporate level. For leaders facing this issue within their organization, here are a few suggestions for a comprehensive approach: Continue Reading…

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An individual with Chronic Confrontationitis is persistent in his attempts to force others to comply with his will. His methods are subtle – disguised with all the right behaviors. People respect and trust him, and he quietly betrays their trust whenever necessary to fuel his addiction. He must always be right, using confrontation to prove his point because, to him, the end always justifies the means.  And if he is particularly good at this, no one except his targets notice the betrayals. In some lethal workplaces, he may survive for years, or even become a high-level executive.

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To make matters worse, our chronic confrontationitis victim usually has the dedication, focus and business acumen to create success, or at least the appearance of success. He is held up as an example of a company-centric leader, despite his underhanded tactics and inability to lead. He is rewarded, while the frustration builds among the targets of his bullying, intimidating, backstabbing and manipulating behavior. Continue Reading…

As outlined in  Control Cataracts (Part 1) ,  Control Cataracts is a disorder that occurs in a leader’s vision. It happens when someone becomes desperate to maintain control at the expense of the group or the organization. He or she becomes reluctant to share any measure of authority for fear of losing control. This results in a blindness to the value that could be added by those around them, as well as a short-sightedness as to what success really looks like. Competent employees do not appreciate Control Cataracts; this leadership style erodes confidence and motivation, and will eventually drive them away.

Continue Reading…

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Some confrontation at work is expected, however if there are individuals in your organization with Chronic Confrontationitis, it’s up to you, as a leader, to protect your organization. Those afflicted by the disease separate people from general information, social situations, peers, tools to do their job, affection and admiration, as well as hard earned acknowledgement and praise.  They actively create a culture where people feel “less than”, causing both emotional and physical stress. Without the acquisition of effective strategies to combat Chronic Confrontationitis, competent employees may damage their careers or become so uncomfortable with the conflict in the environment that they opt out all together.

If you, or individuals within your organization, are impacted by someone with Chronic Confrontationitis, there are several things you may want to consider:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Avoid becoming self-critical or becoming isolated. Cronic Confrontationitis is about the bully, not the target. There is nothing you could have done to deserve this behavior.
  2. Understand the circumstances. Even if you know historically that the individual is afflicted with Chronic Confrontationitis, give the initial benefit of the doubt. Ask the individual to clarify the intention of their confrontational approach.
  3. Don’t ignore the confrontation. Call it out. Point out what the afflicted individual is doing that is offensive and notify this person that you will not put up with it in the future.  By calling the conduct into question, you’re putting the person on notice. Maintain your position and by the second or third attempt, the diseased individual will tire of spinning his wheels and move on to another target.
  4. Confront the offender in a professional manner. Don’t sink to their level. Stay as calm as possible. Chronic Confrontationalists are looking for a reaction and it will encourage them to come back for more.
  5. Listen to what the infected individual has to say – especially when they become aggressive, intimidating or hostile. Get their attention by starting your sentence with their first name, and keep direct eye contact. If they cannot control their behavior, give them time to cool off and suggest another meeting time.
  6. Respond appropriately. Sometimes the offense cannot be smoothed over with a clever tactic. You must respond to the individual in an assertive manner. Bullies don’t expect direct comebacks, which is why they take more liberties in what they say to those they expect compliance from. Most people avoid the toxic individuals or soften their response so as not to offend the offender — which weakens their credibility. Keep the response brief and pointed, in a tone that is authoritative and controlled.
  7. Remember you have choices. Many excellent employees leave organizations which allow Chronic Confrontationitis to run rampant. You don’t have to tolerate a hostile work environment. Knowing you have choices and investigating your options will give you strength. Remember, Chronic Confrontationitis is not about you. It’s about the afflicted person and his personality problems.

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Is there someone at work who seems intent on drawing others into a state of constant confrontation? Does he belittle, embarrass or even disrespect people on a regular basis in order to goad them into engaging him?  Maybe he is overly critical or micromanaging, attempting to intimidate or control everyone in his path? If this behavior is blatant and habitual, this person is likely afflicted with a dangerous and difficult to cure disease – Chronic Confrontationitis.

An individual with Chronic Confrontationitis is persistent in his attempts to force others to comply with his will. His methods are subtle – disguised with all the right behaviors. People respect and trust him, and he quietly betrays their trust whenever necessary to fuel his addiction. He must always be right, using confrontation to prove his point because, to him, the end always justifies the means.  And if he is particularly good at this, no one except his targets notice the betrayals. In some lethal workplaces, he may survive for years, or even become a high-level executive.

To make matters worse, our chronic confrontationitis victim usually has the dedication, focus and business acumen to create success, or at least the appearance of success. He is held up as an example of a company-centric leader, despite his underhanded tactics and inability to lead. He is rewarded, while the frustration builds among the targets of his bullying, intimidating, backstabbing and manipulating behavior.

A skilled, clever victim of the disease displays an elaborate, complex set of behaviors to exploit people around him and draw them into open confrontation. Habitual patterns of intentional, socially inappropriate behavior are indicative of the disease, including the subtle tactics of deceit, distortion, misrepresentation and misdirection.

Continue Reading…

As outlined in  Control Cataracts (Part 1) ,  Control Cataracts is a disorder that occurs in a leader’s vision. It happens when someone becomes desperate to maintain control at the expense of the group or the organization. He or she becomes reluctant to share any measure of authority for fear of losing control. This results in a blindness to the value that could be added by those around them, as well as a short-sightedness as to what success really looks like. Competent employees do not appreciate Control Cataracts; this leadership style erodes confidence and motivation, and will eventually drive them away.

Improve leadership skills, and reduce the tendency to micromanage in your organization, with the following strategies:

1) Expect more of your employees; encourage them to have powerful expectations of themselves. Knowing that you believe in them and hold them to a higher standard is vital to improving organizational performance.

2) Improved communication will reduce the acute nature of Control Cataracts. Encourage those with the disorder to hold feedback sessions with employees in which they, first, compliment them for something they have achieved or done well.  Only then can they provide feedback and ask questions about an issue that may concern them. Finally, encourage your micromanagers to finish the session with another commendation. By finishing the feedback sessions on a positive note, they will preserve employee’s dignity and commitment to the job.

Continue Reading…