Looking at the toes

28 August 2012 Categories: Gerry's Corner

       During a recent coaching assignment my coachee was sharing his experiences with communicating with a particular individual who he had to deal with on a regular basis. His comments were “ This person is always so negative and aggressive. I look into his eyes and I can see another argument about to start”. He went on to say that when a person comes at him that way, he braces himself to push back and argue. The results were never in his favour what could he do differently. I suggested to him the solution was very simple. Don’t look at the person in the eyes but rather look at his toes and continue the conversation. He tried my recommendations and it worked. I found out later that not only does he use this technique but he shared it with his Manager who now uses it himself and suggests it to others.

       Sounds like a crazy solution to a potentially disastrous situation yet so common. Let us examine this in more detail. A negative, argumentative or aggressive person is always looking to dominate. To achieve this he/she looks in the eyes of the other person and can read fear or intimidation which is his/her fuel to continue. If the person who is listening responds by choosing to look elsewhere this diffuses the situation. This allows you to still be attentive in getting or giving information but not submitting to the other person’s need to dominate and badger. A second solution is to not respond immediately but to temporarily postpone the communication so that you can mentally be better prepared to deal with this person. The dominating personality loves to catch you off guard that gives them the upper hand.

As attested by my coachee it does work so you owe it to yourself to try it at least once.

What did I learn from this: Simple solutions can yield big results?