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Living with Lunatics: They?re Crazy and They?re in Charge!

They're out there? they look like people you know, but they're different. Someone has sucked out their brains and turned them into mindless oafs. They are dangers to society, dangers to your work environment, and dangers to themselves. But the most troubling fact is that they are in charge! They are making business decisions that affect your livelihood and you don't know what to do. Help is here!

Normally, when things go crazy most people turn to their supervisors or managers. But what do you do when the problem and the first source for assistance are one in the same?

1. Check your emotions. Emotional responses seldom solve problems. Locate a co-worker (a sane one, if possible) and vent your emotions. Redirecting your anger or frustration away from the person who can terminate your employment is a wise thing to do.

2. Sort out the details. List the issues you are facing and prioritize the list from most important to least important. Then work from the bottom of the list eliminating issues that aren't worth the fight. Ask, "Is fighting for this issue worth the potential consequences, such as jeopardizing my job?" If the answer is not a resounding, "YES!" eliminate the issue.

3. Organize your thoughts. Once you have identified the critical issues, get a pad of sticky notes and begin to write individual thoughts pertaining to each issue. Then organize the thoughts under each issue from strongest to weakest. Eliminate any statements that cannot be substantiated. What you want are straight-forward statements that lead to a solution. Building your case on assumptions and hearsay will be more destructive than constructive.

4. Rehearse your argument. Some thoughts are difficult to communicate, so practice saying what you intend to say. You might discover that your argument is clear in your head but stated in a confusing way. Enlist a neutral party to listen to your statements and to provide feedback or ask for clarification.

5. Be positive. A full frontal attack will put most anyone on the defensive, so approach the conversation with respect and a positive attitude. In addition to identifying the problem, offer to be a part of the solution. Ask for the privilege of helping develop a solution to the problem. A positive attitude will keep the conversation calm and prevent emotion from overtaking the thought process in which you engaged.

6. Accept the outcome. Realize up front that things might not go your way. Be satisfied with your effort to offer a solution. You can't control how other people respond; you can only control your reaction--and that can be a struggle sometimes! Many managers need time for suggestions to simmer. You might be surprised to see your suggestions incorporated into a future action.

7. Maintain confidentiality. One of the worst things you can do is leave the meeting and start telling everyone what took place. Show respect for your manager and your employer even if it requires biting your tongue. If you are so miserable that all you can do is complain, do everyone a favor and find another job! If you're the type of person who demands your way, chances are you'll find something wrong with every job and every boss!

There's no doubt that we find ourselves in frustrating situations having to implement plans that seem doomed from the start. Sometimes we reject ideas because of our disrespect for the person who generated the idea. We need to make sure that the person in the mirror isn't the real problem! Think about it!

Dr. Terry Hadaway is an author, editor, university professor, and conference leader. He is the author of 30 Seconds to Chaos: Mastering the Art of "What If" Thinking, and numerous articles. His is considered by many to be a leading authority on adult education and is a gifted communicator. For more information visit http://www.thinkezine.com.

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