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A Presentation for the Ohio Award for Excellence Council Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, FAPA June 14, 2002 Dealing With Negative People Some Practical Questions.

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Presentation on theme: "A Presentation for the Ohio Award for Excellence Council Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, FAPA June 14, 2002 Dealing With Negative People Some Practical Questions."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Presentation for the Ohio Award for Excellence Council Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, FAPA June 14, 2002 Dealing With Negative People Some Practical Questions & Answers The Portable Mentor Presentation Series SOMCPress

2 What’s in this for me? We all know some negative people, and they suck the joy out of our lives. These people flourish and annoy at every level of every organization. Dealing effectively with these folks is a challenge for every organizational leader. Your skill in dealing with negative people will make a difference in the quality of your life and in the performance of your organization. This presentation will suggest some practical strategies that can improve your effectiveness as an organizational leader. You just can’t please some people. A farmer complained about his eggs and his wife’s weight.

3 What are some successful strategies for dealing with negative people? Identify them. Accept them. Understand them. Identify with them. Ignore them. Involve them. Convert them. Avoid them. Circumvent them. Use them. Persuade them. Confront them. Stop rewarding them. Punish them. Ridicule them. Isolate them. Fire them. Leave them. Sometimes you just have to laugh, A drunk called me complaining that his wife was drunk.

4 Understand them. Why? –They have good reasons for behaving this way. –Since being unpleasant is so personally unsuccessful, it must be a reaction to something. –They are behaving predictably. –They are impaired, or they may be evil. –This realization will help you keep from taking their behavior personally. How? –Monitor your own emotional arousal—it fogs your lenses; they usually affect others the same way. –Observe with detached interest this animal behavior. –Pay attention to their emotional arousal. –Watch for what triggers their attacks on others. –Observe how others respond to their outbursts. –Observe them over time. Negative people follow patterns too. A man was hauled into court for shooting a condor.

5 Ignore them. Why? –This limits their power to cause disruption. –It removes the air that feeds their fire. –It provides negative feedback. –It sends an important and powerful messages to others. –It discourages others from adopting a negative posture because of its perceived effectiveness. How? –Remain civil but emotionally aloof. –Remain emotionally detached. –Focus on the point made instead of the way it was made. –Stop rewarding negative behavior by responding preferentially to these squeaking wheels. –Reinforce appropriate dissent by pointing out its greater effectiveness Our ability to ignore things is legendary. Jews and Jesus. Protestants and the Pope. Two Baptists...

6 Convert them. Why? –No organizational advocate is more passionate than a recent convert. –Negative people often care deeply, but are simply impaired in expressing themselves. –Negative people often force leaders to make a compelling case for what needs to be done. This is a good thing, and deserves a respectful response. How? –Listen. Really. –Accept their feelings. –Legitimize their perceptions. –Ask for permission to persuade. –Make the case. –Admit the weakness in the case. –Ask for time. –Ask for help. –Deliver. –Document. The best way to silence whiners is to put them in charge. I once gave a physician the JCAHO manual to review.

7 Isolate them. Why? –Many negative people are vital to your success. –Everyone knows these folks are negative. –Left alone, they will bring others down. –Unchallenged, they will intimidate highly motivated people, discourage risk-taking and stifle innovation. –Isolation permits continued contribution. How? –Make a careful and deliberate decision that this is the best option. –Confront the negative person about his assets and weaknesses. –Take formal action after explaining to the involved person why. –Avoid public humiliation of the isolated person. Everyone will already know why. A drunk used to wander into my Dad’s church and announce that the Lord had given him a song.

8 Fire them. Why? –When a person’s “net worth” turns negative and is not likely to improve, failure to take action is irresponsible. –Tolerating unredeemed negativity demoralizes the committed rank and file. –This is how culture is built. How? –Confront them with the necessity for change, and the consequence of failure to conform. –Document this confrontation. –Be fair but firm. –When you decide it is hopeless, act quickly and move on. Sometimes there is a definitive answer. A man was jumping on a manhole cover saying 98…98…

9 Where can I learn more? Stewart, Kendall L, “Dealing with Negative People: Some Practical Guidelines,” A SOMC White Paper, SOMC Press, 2002 Stewart, Kendall L., The Portable Mentor: Practical Guidelines for Organizational Effectiveness, SOMC Press (In Press)

10 How can we contact you? Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. Medical Director Southern Ohio Medical Center th Street Portsmouth, Ohio

11 Southern Ohio Medical Center  Safety Safety  Quality Quality  Service Service  Relationships Relationships  Performance Performance  What questions do you have? What strategies have worked for you?


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