I’m a control freak and I used to be a textbook example of the Type A personality. Over the years my personality type changed, but my need for control did not! I like to feel in control and prepared.I can’t help help it – it is in my DNA. I’m the person who considers all possible outcomes in a scenario, and makes a plan to handle each.
Years ago I gave a seminar – How to Work With Difficult People and Difficult Situations – as part of a two day company retreat. I researched and developed a comprehensive approach for my team to discuss. There were books and studies – some pretty fabulous material. We broke into groups and worked through different scenarios. We created plans of action (music to my ears) for almost every type of scenario we faced. In my eyes it was great, however, a few staff members found it to be a little too negative. It wasn’t negative at all – it was realistic!
I had crossed the lines and began working for the company after being on the other side as a multi-year participant. I fit the mold for the event, and I was one who succeeded greatly under their design. In essence, it was a huge project that was designed to be empowering. It was an atmosphere that fostered love, life, and renewal. It was an approach I understood well and I embraced the positive the event was designed to deliver. HOWEVER, it was a project that was fraught with emotion and we all know emotion often triggers situations that need diffusing (enter the realistic approach I was pushing). When I jumped the fence and took on a leadership role I became disturbed by the number of difficult people that came across my desk. Sometimes they took issue with the basic rules, or were simply challenging the policies they new well before they enlisted. As a participant I never saw the difficult people and I was surrounded by teammates who were rule followers. I was quick to realize it was not all love and pink when someone did not like the rules, or wanted special treatment we couldn’t accommodate.
In presenting the session on difficult people and difficult situations I was hoping to lay out ways to deal with the not-so-perfect circumstances. The presentation addressed the various types of people, how to pick up on certain clues, and ultimately talk to the other person in a way they could understand. I thought it was a brilliant way to look at diffusing an emotional bomb. It was a control freaks dream! It was as if every possible outcome was laid out and addressed.
I found my session notebook yesterday and flipped through all the slides and my notes. It was as if the seminar was being presented to me as a gentle reminder of how to handle the not-so-perfect circumstances. I assess the situation, I look for avenues that allow me to understand the message being delivered, and I strategize a plan to diffuse the adversity. I prepare and consider all possible outcomes.
Life is never perfect – a fact I know better than most. I am not naive, and fully understand there are instances where you have no way to prepare for what happens. I have been in that place – The place where the wind is completely knocked out of you and chaos ensues. I still work to take control of the situation within me whether it is to cry, or search for answers I need. I reach out and make sure I do not hold it all inside. I don’t bury my head in the sand – I try to diffuse that emotional bomb.
I’m no longer working and my difficult people issues have greatly lessened, however, my difficult situations continue to come forth. I take it all in, and I make a plan. I strategize ways to overcome the adversity. Life is not always love and pink and full of feel-good empowerment. It’s real.