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The Danger Point

If people simply bother you at some abstract level, maybe what

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they’re doing isn’t worthy of a conversation. Perhaps the prob­

lem is not their behavior but your tolerance. For example, an

executive laments, “My employees really disappoint me. Just

look at the length of their hair.” It turns out that the employees

in question have no contact with anyone besides one another.

Their hair length has nothing to do with job performance. The

boss really has no reason to say anything.

However, when actions are both subtle and unacceptable,

then you have to retrace your Path to Action and put your finger

on exactly what others are doing or you have nothing to discuss.

Abstract descriptions peppered with your vague conclusions or

stories have no place in crucial conversations. For example,

whenever your family gets together, your brother constantly

takes potshots at everyone else using sarcastic humor. The indi­

vidual comments aren’t directly insulting enough to discuss.

What you want to talk about is the fact that these constant com­

ments make every get-together feel negative. Remember, clarify­

ing the facts is the homework required for crucial conversations.

The Solution

Retrace your Path to Action to its source. Identify specific behaviors

that are out of bounds and take note. When you’ve done your home­

work, consider the behaviors you noted and make sure the story

you’re telling yourself about these behaviors is important enough for

dialogue. If it is, then Make It Safe and STATE Your Path.



asked, but no more. If they run into a problem, they “YEAH, BUT. ..

lake’ one simple slab at fixing it. But if their efforts

don’t pay ofr, thc’y qllit. ”




The Danger Point

Most people are far more likely to talk about the presence of a

bad behavior than the absence of a good one. When someone

really messes up, leaders and parents alike are compelled to take

action. However, when people simply fail to be excellent, it’s

hard to know what to say.

The Solution

Establish new and higher expectations. Don’t deal with a specific

instance; deal with the overall pattern. If you want someone to

show more initiative, tell him or her. Give specific examples of

when the person ran into a barrier and then backed off after a

single try. Raise the bar and then make it crystal clear what

you’ve done. Jointly brainstorm what the person could have done

to be both more persistent and more creative in coming up with

a solution.

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