The adult in the room
publiziert: Montag, 20. Dez 2010 / 14:55 Uhr / aktualisiert: Montag, 20. Dez 2010 / 15:15 Uhr
It is rather obvious who the adult in THIS room is. But who is it in your organization?
It is rather obvious who the adult in THIS room is. But who is it in your organization?

Bill Liao on the necessity to have somebody in a company that behaves like an adult to make them go smoothly again, when arguments are heating up and nobody listens to each other, anymore.

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Excerpt of Bill Liao's book on doing business.

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In his excellent book «Just Listen», Mark Goulston, eminent psychologist and advisor to the FBI hostage negotiators, has an excellent process called «Oh F&#k to OK» which describes how to move from being upset and angry to able to deal with a situation by engaging your higher more enlightened consciousness through language.

It turns out that the sooner you can articulate what is going on in a crisis situation, the sooner your primitive fight/flight lower brain will settle down, which gives you a chance to tackle whatever it is in a rational and accepting way. Useful as this is, perhaps there is something it shows us, that is potentially even more useful.

Often when I see companies that have been founded by partners who once got along really well, I am faced with a partnership that has changed and the key element in that change is stress. As a species, we are prone to getting things wrong and to fail. When this happens, we get stressed out and we start to fear more failure which is actually ridiculous, as the only way to really learn, is to fail at something. So you can outright expect any startup to have about three years of pain and failure before it is really a success.

While all that stress and failing is going on, there is a tendency for people to be triggered into using their lower brains, as fear and anger drive that part of them and when one person gets angry, it tends to be highly contagious. So those partners, who used to get along so well, start to react badly towards each other with predictable results, as cycles of fear, anger and blame go round and round.

So what to do? Well the answer is compassion. If you see some kids fighting, it is much better to have compassion for them and to be calm, as you get them to deal with the upset. So too, in business it pays to assign an adult in the room for any potentially stressful day. The job of the adult in the room is to have compassion for everyone else for that day. It is usually a good idea to run the days in roster, so that everyone gets a turn at being adult in the room.

Whenever someone gets upset in the business or organization, they go to the appointed adult in the room who's job is to just listen and have compassion. The person doing the job does not even have to be a partner in the business and the idea is that the adult in the room stays calm and listens and allows the upset party to say whatever they need to say to re-engage their higher self and thus calm down and get rational again.

When an upset person feels really heard by someone who has compassion for them, there is a very good chance they will become calm and rational and then be able to actually deal with whatever issue triggered the emotion. So the next time you are in a fight with someone, notice it and stop and try out being the adult in the room. Let go of being right and use your compassion and your listening instead.

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