Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Give and get

Are you a person who tends to give as good as they get?

Last week, as I was about to kick off a training course, three of the delegates arrived looking rather unenthusiastic to say the least. The three men sat down together – body language clearly indicating that they most definitely did not want to be there.

Thankfully, having experienced this kind of thing all too often over the years, I did not react defensively or judgmentally.  I had ways and means of dealing with it in a way that would help turn things around. It transpired that they had arrived at work at 8.30 that morning to be told, with no prior notice, that they were due to attend the course and had to leave almost immediately as the venue was at least half an hour’s drive away.

They also expressed discomfort at the idea of having to spend several hours in a training room, given they were manual workers, used to working outdoors in the fresh air. It was a warm, sunny morning.

I felt a mixture of frustration and sadness at this state of affairs. How can anyone be managed in this way? Little wonder they displayed such resistance. I have learned that people are rarely, if ever, stroppy for no reason.

I recalled a phrase a very experienced facilitator shared with me years ago: “the group is as good as the trainer”. In other words there is no such thing as a “bad group or delegate(s)”.

It was wonderful to see how the three guys ended up engaging in the training. I know it was because I suspended instant judgment and took time to listen to how they were feeling about the whole situation. Given they showed such strong resistance I could very easily have fallen into the trap of “giving as good as I get” and making things very difficult for myself as a result.

For example, a little while back  I ran a course that had not gone too well for a couple of participants in particular. After the course,  whilst battling against the temptation to project the problem onto them, I remembered my colleague’s wise words and could pinpoint the reasons why they had been so disappointed. Perhaps, we can’t please all the people all of the time and thankfully such situations are extremely rare for me. There’s always something to learn from them though.

There is no more luscious feeling than initially resistant participants coming up to you at the end of a course and saying a genuine “thank you”, such as happened last week.

I am still concerned, however,  there is a risk that those three men may want to find some way of getting their own back on their manager by making life difficult for him in any number of ways – just as they may have with me had I been officious or defensive with them that morning: a “give as good as I get” attitude. I’d like to think though,  that they will apply some of what was covered on the course and deal with it more assertively and constructively and end up “getting as good as they give”.

What the incident highlighted was that we can choose one of two ways when confronted with “difficult” behaviours:

“Give as good as you get” behaviours:  snap judgment, defensiveness, disdain, victim consciousness, fighting fire with fire…….

“Get as good as you give” behaviours: understanding, listening, looking for reasons behind the behaviour, negotiating, appropriate expression of feelings and needs……

This week, which of the two approaches will you be taking? How is your week likely to unfold as a result?

Oh, and the subject of the course I ran last week?  Conflict resolution.       


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4 Responses to “Give and get”

  1. I wonder how many managers deal with their staff is such a non-judgemental fashion. As with training course participants, it is no more difficult to make staff feel welcomed and valued as it is to make them feel uncomfortable and judged.

    It’s time for managers to take responsibility – your blog keeps pushing them in the right direction.

    I so enjoy by Monday morning read. Thanks Chris.

  2. Great story, Chris and a wonderful reminder to take responsibility for what we are getting and act accordingly . I loved the motto “Get as good as you give.”

    Thanks for another terrrific Monday morning read.


  3. I would add your letter from training journal as it adds to what you have said above. I too like to discuss resistance early on which sometimes involves a contract of learning – so that people can know what to expect from me and the course.

  4. […] life and can’t recall the last time I did. I wrote on this theme a while back in my post called “Give and get” where I touched on the notion of “getting as good as you give” rather than the other way […]

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