women
There are always people who have the power to affect you and your goals. The influence of your manager, clients, politicians, and others within or outside the organization may be a source of severe stress.

Handle Potential Conflict

People may sometimes undermine or block you, load you with stressful tasks, or be unreasonable in their demands. Clients may see things in the short term and try to get as much out of you as they can, regardless of the long-term consequences for you. Your relationship with your manager is of great importance here, as you try to balance work and free time, manage your workload, and handle apparently excessive demands or unreasonable behaviour.

Case Study: Setting the Limits

For months Naseema had been working long hours, trying to do all of the things her boss wanted her to do, but as soon as she finished one job, her boss would give her more to do. She was exhausted. The work was piling up around her, and she was losing sleep over it.

Reflecting on the situation, she was aware of how much she wanted to impress her manager and of how she always said “yes” politely when asked to do something. Naseema thought about what her workload should be, and arranged a meeting with her manager. She calmly and clearly explained the situation and asked for the help of an assistant. Within a month Naseema had the help she needed and was no longer losing any sleep.

  • Naseema’s manager wasn’t a tyrant – he was just busy himself, and assumed that Naseema would say when she was becoming overloaded.

  • Because Naseema approached her manager in an adult way, he engaged with her as an adult and worked with her to resolve the problem she was having.

  • By presenting a workable solution, Naseema made it easy for her manager to say “yes”.

Believe in Yourself

If you are using time management and planning skills well, you can be confident that you are working efficiently and effectively. If you have fully clarified your job using the job analysis tool and are acting appropriately, then you are concentrating your efforts on the right activities. If your workload is still excessive or your working conditions unreasonable, you need to change the situation.

Dealing with people in power, whether clients or managers, is all about communication. Talk over potential problems before they have a chance to get out of hand.

Resolve a Stressful Situation

This six-step procedure will help you to remedy sources of stress in an assertive way with the person in power. Use the acronym LADDER to guide you through this process.

  1. Look at your rights and what you want, and understand why you feel the way you do about the situation. Analyze, as unemotionally as possible, why you feel your rights are being violated.

  2. Arrange a formal meeting with the person in power to discuss the situation. This shows how important the situation is to you and ensures that sufficient time will be allocated to discussing it.

  3. Define the problem specifically. Keep information objective and uncoloured by emotion. Make sure your comments are correct and are supported by the facts.

  4. Describe your feelings so that the other person fully understands how you feel and how important it is to you to resolve the situation.

  5. Express what you want clearly and concisely – prepare some reasonable proposals before the meeting. Be courteous, but take care not to confuse your message.

  6. Reinforce your message to the other person, explaining what the benefits of the course of action will be and showing how your solution will improve the situation.

Change Your Situation

NOTE

Favours have no place in the work environment

You can do this well or you can do it badly. Taking a submissive position when you communicate, hoping to minimize any potential conflict arising from the request, is a weak approach, because you put yourself in the position of asking a “favour” that may well be denied. Another bad approach is to be aggressive and try to force someone into giving you what you want. While this can be successful in the short term, it can damage long-term relationships. This will clearly be a problem if you are dealing with your manager.

Tip

If you are making a request that may be unwelcome, the best approach is to communicate your needs assertively.

Be Assertive

Ask for what you want in a fair, reasonable, and positive manner, making your request clearly and openly, explaining rationally why you want it, without trying to use emotional leverage. Keep your request short, direct, and unambiguous. Do not attack or blame the other person for the problem. This is the most effective way to defend your right to a well-balanced life, and to express and get what you want in a manner that is non-manipulative and adult.

How to Get What You Want

High Impact

  • Taking an active role

  • Communicating in an adult way

  • Asserting your rights

  • Requesting rationally

Negative Impact

  • Adopting a passive role

  • Taking an inferior position

  • Asking for a favour

  • Demanding aggressively

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