Working With Dominant People
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When I use the terms "Dominant People" I am referring to those people who
tend to take charge, to be little abrupt, seem to be arrogant, to be impatient,
and don't always listen. It's their way or the highway in many cases. Many
people are intimidated by Dominant people. Most of us do not like conflict, but
Dominant people always seem willing to create it.
Typically, most of us manage Dominant types by staying out of their way. We
avoid confrontation, avoid saying how we really feel, and often tell them what
we think they want to hear. We rationalize our avoidance by complaining that the
Dominant person is insensitive, aggressive, impatient, and arrogant. We complain
about these "faults" but they really aren't faults at all. They are strengths.
Let me explain.
Insensitive means that the Dominant person doesn't care about your feelings.
It isn't that he doesn't care. He just isn't aware that you have feelings. What
this means is that the Dominant person is so focused on task that feelings
aren't even on his radar screen. The ability to be totally focused on task is a
strength. When a task focus is over extended it becomes insensitivity. It isn't
personal. If you are being overrun, you have to learn how to speak up.
This is where the problem comes. People don't want to confront. They keep
quiet, or they speak in vague terms, or they avoid altogether. None of these
strategies work. They enable the Dominant person to keep on being insensitive.
The idea is to calmly and firmly speak while making direct eye contact. If she
reacts with intimidation you have to stand your ground. You don't need to yell
or get upset. Calmly and firmly speak your mind. The more you do this, the more
respect you will command from the Dominant person. Don't lie and don't make
excuses. If you are right, express your confidence that you are right. If you
are wrong, admit it and say how you will take care of it.
"You spot it; you got it!" is the phrase that applies to many dominant
people. They see what they want and they go after it. Where others may
procrastinate, make excuses, or become indecisive, the Dominant person is going
for it. If their aggressiveness encroaches on your boundaries you, again, have
to speak up. I once had a Dominant manager who interrupted my report in a
meeting and then went on to other business. I met him in his office later. I
told him I did not appreciate his interrupting and then eliminating my part of
the meeting. I expressed my expectation that I should be able to clearly and
concisely speak my part. I made sure I presented myself in a rational way. He
didn't realize what he had done and apologized. In other words, if I hadn't told
him, he would never had known. I could have kept quiet and nursed my grievance,
but how would that have taught him how to treat me?
It is important to add that presenting yourself as a victim often backfires.
Most Dominant people have little patience with victimhood. Instead of focusing
on how we think the Dominant person has hurt our feelings, we would gain more by
clearly speaking our expectations.
Dominant people want results. That's why many of them are impatient. It is
certainly a strength to be results oriented. When we feel pushed too hard we can
be understanding saying something like: "I know you want this yesterday, and I
am doing all I can to get it done fast. I have to tell you that your
interruptions and constant asking me if I'm done yet are slowing me down. Let me
do my job and I'll keep you posted." Directness and honesty are the way to a
Dominant person's heart and mind.
What many see as arrogance is confidence over extended. If a dominant person
is being arrogant we don't need to teach her a lesson. I would suggest the
opposite approach. Compliment the Dominant person on her confidence and express
your concerns. For example you might say: "I respect your confidence, and I need
to see some more data before I feel comfortable making this move."
To be offended by the behaviors of a Dominant person is a choice we make.
Most Dominant people I know respect people who stand up to them, who are direct,
and who get things done. Your ability to accept Dominant people for who they
are, rather than resisting them, will strengthen your ability to deal with them
effectively. Dominant people have a strong need to be in control. This isn't
good or bad, it just is.
In my past corporate life I worked with a very Dominant leader. At first I
found myself complaining about the way he treated me and others. I soon realized
that the problem was more in my expectation than in his behavior. I was
expecting him to take care of me. His way of being taught me how to take care of
myself--to speak my truth and to be direct. I learned how not to take his
behavior personally. I learned that you don't take problems to a Dominant
leader; you take your solutions to the problems. He may not agree with your
solution but he will respect you for having one.
I now have a five year old daughter who has a Dominant personality. Recently
I informed her that she is not the boss. She immediately stated that she is the
boss. She added that she is the boss of the whole world and also outer space.
I'm looking forward to next several years with this Dominant child, helping her
to refine her many strengths. It will always be a challenge to use persuasion
and firmness rather than force to teach her how to behave. I understand her need
to have control, and I respect it. The challenge most Dominant people have is
managing their need for control without allowing it to destroy their
relationships, their careers, their friendships, or their lives.
Each personality style has its own unique qualities. Understanding others
makes it easier to deal with them. It makes it easier to connect with people in
both personal and professional situations. Our resistance to the styles of
others makes us ineffective. Complaining about the way others do things
distracts us from learning how to work with them. We need to shift our tendency
to see people in terms of their faults to an ability to see them in terms of
their needs. What does this person need to be great? That is the question we, as
leaders, will ask ourselves when we are confronted with others who are motivated
differently than we are.
About the Author
William Frank Diedrich is a speaker, executive coach, and the author of three
books including Beyond Blaming: Unleashing Power and Passion in People and
Organizations. William offers an online leadership class, The Leaders' Edge,
that is both inexpensive and effective. This ten week class helps leaders to
transcend ego issues and become truly great at what they do. Register at
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-11-25 21:12:05 in Employee Articles