Disarming spoilers through nicknames (the reset method)

July 25th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

When people are stressed out, afraid of failing, or frustrated they aren’t getting their way, they tend to do things that makes the situation worse. Well intentioned actions we hope will make things better, but tend to make things worse, I call spoilers.

In the heat of the moment, spoilers are often blind spots to us. They take extra effort for us to notice. And they take an exhausting amount of effort to fix. And they can have a vicious cycle effect on others that we don’t realize til it is too late. John doesn’t realize he makes everyone want to shut off and not listen to him when he starts raising his voice to be heard to re-emphasize his already stated opinion. This leads Sharon to not surface her opinions any more. Group think emerges, and a spiral effect occurs that breaks down opportunities to infuse the situation with fresh ideas.

So, empower others to hit your reset button by giving you a nickname they have free license to say whenever you start down the spoiler path. This takes courage, but usually pays off in big ways.

Why? Because nicknames are disarming and endearing. They make us laugh. They put us at ease. They make us feel understood. They create camaraderie through teasing. And when we are at ease, we are at a better place to actually overcome our spoilers, because they are often motivated by our fears and anxieties about performing well.

One client I call “Pusher” because if she doesn’t get her way, she just pushes harder and harder. When I call her this, she laughs, she takes a deep breath, and she starts talking differently. Another says to calls hims “Dozer”, because he is like a bulldozer when trying to persuade others. Another is called “Pacifier” because they never admits when there is conflict that needs to be attended to.

“Ok, Do everything guy”

“Let’s analyze it more, Overthinker”

Allowing others to joke with you like this can be freeing. It frees you up to know you aren’t perfect, and that others on your team are OK with this. That your team is here to support, in a fun and joking manner.
For people with over-communication as a spoiler, simply give others permission to use the time out hand signal to cut you off so they can get a word in. This empowerment tactic does wonders for their listeners.

To put this into action, make a list of your top spoilers. Ask a few people who know you well to define which spoilers have the most dramatic impact on your effectiveness. Then, have your friends or a coach give you an easy to say nickname about it. Finally, empower those around you to use this nickname every time you engage in the spoiler behavior.

Let others help you do the self-improvement work. You’ll get farther, faster, if you do.

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