The following question came from a thoughtful viewer of the “Stepping into Emotional Pressure” video:
Q. Alright, so you got clear on how YOU wanted to work, and communicated that to Don. How is that different from giving him an ultimatum?
A. At the broadest level I agree that yes I presented an ultimatum, albeit one having special characteristics.
First off, my stance was founded in core values, things that matter very much in how I want to work and live. It isn’t every day that these values come into such sharp relief, but when they do it’s usually in important situations. This was a case that mattered to me–a key working relationship that would impact my working environment a lot.
And secondly, my stance was focused on me, as opposed to being focused on how I wanted “Don” to be different. For example I didn’t say “I expect you to change,” or “You need to just hang in there,” or even “You shouldn’t feel that way.” Rather it was “here’s where I’m at, where does that leave you?” And with that I invited Don to get clear on what he needed, and then to decide what he wanted to do.
Thus what I’ve described could be called the non-negotiables of a situation, which I think deserve a lot more thought and discussion in the workplace. If the non-negotiables are compatible, and accurately understood, then productive discussion can take place about the many negotiable points.
But if there are non-negotiables that don’t line up, then that’s trouble. One way to view stepping into emotional pressure is that it’s a process of clarifying one’s non-negotiables, and then interacting around them.
In other words, “Here’s who I am, who are you?”