Let me tell you a (true) story about miscommunication, conflict and stress management.
I once participated in a learning-intensive one-month course about how to set up your training business. That course brought immense value to my life as a trainer and business owner.
Every day, for 30 days, we met for a live online session that was planned to last about 1h30. More often than not, the organiser kept us longer (even 30-45 mins longer), as she was trying to answer all of our questions and to give us significantly more value than we expected.
While we were in awe of her dedication and the high value we were receiving, one evening, one participant started complaining and being very vocal about her not respecting the schedule.
The organiser started to feel terrible, and guilty and doubted her capabilities. She could barely focus on the class because of the stress.
(Note: It’s absolutely normal that some of us will sympathise with the participant, and some of us will understand and support the organiser… or both 🙂 )
What happened there?
Well, knowledge of PCM (Process Communication Model) could have avoided this miscommunication and conflict situation or, once started, could have helped to solve the conflict faster. The complaining participant had as one of their main Psychological Need Time Structure (specific to the Thinker floor in us). This means that they like to have a clear image of their schedule, what needs to be done and by when and thus, any delays were triggers for distress.
Thinker Phase Distress: Because the sessions were regularly taking longer than planned, this participant felt that he was not in control of his schedule anymore, which was both very important and very stressful to him. Because of that, he did not see that he was getting a lot more value for the money and instead, he focused on his need not being met. Thus, he became distressed and started attacking the organiser, criticising her for her lack of time structure and disrespect for his own.
The Harmoniser: The organiser has a very strong Harmoniser energy (most probably her Base and Phase floor). She is warm and caring and she wants to give as much as possible of her knowledge to help others. She always gives more than expected so that others are happy. Under the stress of the attack, she started to blame herself, felt like a victim, could not focus anymore, and lacked assertiveness… Specific behaviour for a distressed Phase Harmoniser person.
How could this have been avoided?
The organiser, knowing how she likes to give so much more value, which often translates into significantly longer sessions, could have communicated this from the beginning and made sure participants understood all sessions were recorded and available afterwards for those who cannot stay longer than the initially agreed schedule.
Once started, how could the conflict have been solved?
If the organiser had known PCM, she would have recognised the attack as being the distress sequence of the Thinker phase who didn’t get their need for Time Structure met. Covering psychological needs is a good manner of inviting people out of stress. Therefore, she could have tried to meet his need for time structure (by apologising for the delays and re-agreeing on a new schedule, or just asserting that indeed, most of the sessions will take longer and that participants should take that into consideration – and also, the extra value they receive through longer sessions, or by mentioning the recordings available for the participant to watch at a later time, etc.).
If such situations are no stranger to you…
…and learn to better manage stress and conflicts at work or at home.
Sign up for my newsletter!
Please check your Spam folder or Promotions Tab for a sign-up confirmation email. You will only be subscribed after you click the confirmation link in that email message. Thank you!