Welcome to the latest installment of “Investing in Staff Skills” a regular feature in the CAR e-zine. The author, Ian Hope, is the Executive Director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association (AARDA) and in addition maintains a professional practice training others on highly valued people skills. He provides articles on topics that will help collision repair shops and auto recycling yards, among other businesses, to raise individual and team performance. To enquire about Ian speaking or training at your event, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to his website at ianhope.com.
By Ian Hope
No individual or event has the power to make you mad. Anger is actually a choice! It is a choice that occurs depending on that person’s perception, says Janet Pfeiffer, author of the Secret Side of Anger.
What we choose to think about an experience we’re having or the person we’re involved with, determines how we feel. Our feelings in turn can evoke anger, sadness, pity, any number of things. You only have to concern yourself with how you choose to perceive the other person or the event, and how that will affect you.
In her book, Pfeiffer describes anger as a feeling of distress brought about by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. In that light, we need to understand that power and control come from within. Each person is responsible for choosing their own thoughts. No one else controls that! In turn, thoughts generate emotion and we act out what we feel.
This is why we are put ourselves in such a bad position when we start to look at some of the negative things in our life as having a similar magnitude to drive-by shootings!
Pfeiffer suggests instead that when you start to feel really angry you practice what she calls SWaT™ This stands for STOP, Walk and TALK. Simply stop what you’re doing, walk away, and talk yourself calm or buy yourself some time. In short, act, rather than react to things.
I always thought I was pretty good at doing this but I must say that there are times when my wife Linda gives me lessons. Let me share just one of the many possible examples I can give from her experiences.
She was going to Tim Horton’s about a month ago, turning right at a T intersection in the parking lot to enter the drive thru lane. There were left-turning cars also entering from the opposite side of the intersection and a lady suddenly pulled her car right up to Linda’s fender, almost hitting her, and loudly blaring the horn. She got out of her car and proceeded to tear a very large strip off my good wife as she felt she had gone into the drive thru out of turn.
Of course, this is the very definition of what has commonly become known as Timmy Rage and I understand it occurs quite a bit. Nobody wants anything or anyone to come between them and their cup of joe, I suppose.
My wife was apologetic, said she had thought it was her turn and even offered to back up to let her go ahead, but this did little to smooth the feathers of the very ruffled and now spitting peacock. By this time people were actually pouring out of Tim’s to see what the heck was going on. Consider how nasty and poorly this berserk lady must have appeared to others while this was happening. My wife kept her cool in the face of all this, as she is so terribly good at doing (and also explaining why I am NEVER able to win over her).
When she got up to the window, Linda paid for her coffee and then asked the Tim’s attendant how much the charge was for the still red-faced and steaming lady behind her. She quietly paid that amount and drove off without glaring into her rear view mirror or giving any parting hand gestures. When she related the story to me later, I cannot tell you how much I admired her for the mature way that she had responded.
She had kept her cool and stayed in control of herself. This was so smart of her, because she certainly had no control over the flipped out motorist behind her. She was invited to a gun fight, as the old saying goes, but simply declined the invitation. Can you imagine how things could have escalated and been much worse? What if Linda not been so aware of her own emotions and did not possess the common sense and people skills to minimize this incident?
Let’s think about how these same principles can help in the auto parts industry where emotionally charged situations can arise frequently when dealing with customers, also in interactions between staff members and/or managers! The key for any good leader will be to remember the flight attendants on past flights saying, “In the event of decompression, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Put yours on first before trying to help children or others that you are travelling with”.
Clearly unless you are able to breathe yourself, you’ll be of little help to anyone else. Quite simply, it’s the same with your emotions. And you might be surprised at just how powerful it feels when you are focusing on that internal self control when confronting a highly charged situation!
So folks, I encourage you to keep the focus of control on yourselves. By keeping your emotions in check, you’re sure to get the best possible results not only in your business but also in your home life!