Bad behavior needs a time out. We know this. For those of us who have had to watch kids, you know that sometimes you just need to put some distance between the child and the situation. Sitting them down in a certain area so they can calm down and re-approach the situation is very helpful. We know, as well, that some kids need much longer to sit there so they can get to a place of calm. It’s tough for them to re-engage in that situation appropriately without that separation.
So why, when we get older, do we not encourage the same separation?
Jo Frost, aka Super Nanny, encourages time out when providing corrective action to kids. She has a child sit in chair, on a step or on a mat for one minute per year of age. 6 year-olds get to sit for 6 minutes. Very straight forward. And if the child gets up sooner than he/she should, then you just pick the child up, place him/her back in the time out area and start the time over again. Behavioral modification in a basic form.
Interestingly, we assume that our staff have experienced a basic indoctrination towards behavioral modification. Think about how often you use the word “should.”
- “I can’t believe he did that. He should know better.”
- “I mean, really? She is an adult and should behave like one.”
- “Do I have to train on communication skills again? These people are supposed to be professionals. This should not be necessary.”
Sometimes those “should’s” should alert us to our own false assumptions about our people. If someone grew up without an emphasis on personal space, boundaries, dealing with conflict or manners, then why would we expect miraculous responses from such a person? A first step for us might just be the basic behavioral modification example.
Take people out of a tense situation or conversation when you see it moving towards unhealth. Perhaps don’t use the phraseology of “sit in this chair for the next 44 minutes” (likely an ADEA violation...) but instead, introduce it as a reason to gather thoughts and focus on the point of the disagreement or tension. As we all know, in those moments, we can digress into majoring in the minors and miss the overall point we were trying to make.
This is a first step. Stress management and conflict resolution are skills that we can affirm often and in various ways, but we must know that everyone is beyond the starting point. Help these folks get caught up. It’s most likely to occur in those conflict-related moments. An associate can appreciate that things got tense once he/she steps away. That’s why the step-away opens a new door. Staff can learn to cope, to process and to respond more maturely and in a helpful, productive manner.
I have observed staff conflict that started with one person’s recommendation for a change in process from another and turned into various commentary about each other’s mothers. And while I can appreciate the creativity in the comebacks (really, there have been some amazing responses through the years…I should write a book), it’s likely not the tactic most beneficial for any facet of the business. And yet, those times have opened the door the widest for behavioral consideration around training and development.
Of course, we won’t need to look for those opportunities. They usually show up in our doorway. So, practice your best British accent and address that unacceptable behavior.