Sandbox Politics Can Be Overcome, Says Author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT); How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job
SANTA MONICA, CA, October 10, 2013 – Anyone cringing at the latest Washington wrangling is probably thinking, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Lynn Taylor, author and national workplace expert, is one of those people, and sees parallel behaviors between toddlers and authority figures – including those on Capitol Hill. She refers to them as “TOTs” or Terrible Office Tyrants, and says that every mortal is capable of this during stress or frustration.
“The difference is that when a toddler is stubborn, bullying, demanding, whiny, territorial, lying or throws tantrums – parents can intervene and there’s usually no potential for a global meltdown,” says Taylor. She adds, “The core human and childlike behavior affecting powerful adults in and out of the office has never been more evident and far-reaching as it is during the current crisis.”
Taylor remains hopeful, however, and summarizes tips from 12 of her 20 behavioral chapters, Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT); How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job (John Wiley & Sons). She challenges the opponents to examine practical tips that will inspire a win-win as they try to find common ground. Her behavioral chapters bear a striking resemblance to Washington warmongering, Taylor says. She asks rhetorically, “Do these toddler traits look familiar?”
Tips for TOTs (a.k.a. Powerful Leaders)
1. Set the Stage for a Win-Win. Stubbornness can be mitigated, whether with a small child or a high-powered American politician, by realizing that whether two or 52, no one wants to lose face. Diplomacy can only happen if both sides realize that they can both appear winners. Arguing over who really set up the negotiation meeting, for example, is the antithesis of this mindset. “There is usually no winner unless both sides decide to win together,” Taylor says.
2. Offer Many Choices. “Whether you’re exasperated with a Terrible Two toddler or a political dignitary ready to throw a tantrum, you cannot start off with ‘It’s my way or the highway,’” says Taylor. The more options you put on the table, the better the chances of getting resolve. And that also means being open to new, real-time options during negotiations.
3. Choose Your Words Carefully. A war of words never helped solve a battle. No matter your age, you want to be heard intently. Your response should be devoid of emotion and not drift, e.g., “I appreciate and respect your view. I’d like you to consider a compromise on that particular point that could benefit both sides,” is a lot more palatable and productive than, “That is not possible; we’d rather chew glass than capitulate on that!” Taylor says to watch for words like “you,” “I,” “should or shouldn’t” and avoid accusatory tones: “How you package your argument can trump the disagreement itself.”
4. Pick Your Battles. Just as you can’t instantly and completely reform an out-of-control, frustrated tot, you must be clear on your hierarchy of needs. Know what you realistically believe could be an acceptable outcome. “You wouldn’t tell Johnny, ‘there’s no way you’re getting that cookie unless you eat your string beans. Oh, and by the way, put away your toys right NOW, or no more play dates!’” Taylor explains.
5. Use “C.A.L.M.” Taylor, whose website shows a strikingly parallel toddler-in-suits video, says that during any difficult negotiation, this acronym is a powerful antidote:
Communicate. Do it honestly, openly and frequently;
Anticipate. Go into the conversation with an understanding of the hot buttons and how to mitigate them;
Levity. This is one of the best tension breakers, and while no one is expecting a bi-partisan joke-a-thon, laughter can open a path for better dialogue. Example: “My 10-year- old son read a headline yesterday and asked, ‘Daddy, why not bring everyone cupcakes?’” – and lastly:
Manage. Take the high road, give the “opponent” a chance to respond, remember Aretha Franklin’s famed song, RESPECT, be a role model, stay calm and use positive and very diplomatic negative reinforcement. Example: “I value your very flexible approach on that point; does anyone want to comment before I chime in?”
“Threats, outbursts and competitiveness can be rampant whether you try to break up a tot sandbox brawl, or watch a political speech. But a little humanity and humility can go a long way for both sides – and in this case, the entire planet,” Taylor concludes.
For more information, visit: www.tameyourtot.com.
Lynn Taylor Consulting