Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Nothing Person

Reassure and follow through. Once the decision has been made, reassure the Maybe Person that there are no perfect decisions and that his or her decision is a good one. Then stay in touch until the decision is implemented. Strengthen the relationship. Take a few moments from time to time to listen to the Maybe Person’s concerns and help him or her learn the decision-making process whenever the opportunity arises. With patient investment, the Maybe Person may become one of your most dependable decision makers. The Nothing Person. You can’t know what’s going on because the Nothing Person tell you nothing- no feedback, verbal or nonverbal. When events fail to measure up to the standard of perfection, some people get so totally frustrated that they withdraw completely. There may be one last shout at the powers that be for failing to get it right: “Fine! Do it your way. Don’t come crying to me if it doesn’t work out!” From that point on they say-and do-nothing. When people want to get it right and fear that it will be done wrong, their behavior becomes more perfectionistic. They find every flaw and potential error. Nothing People are passive, but they can be task focused or people-focused depending on their intent – get it right or get along. When the intent to get along is threatened, shy people tend to withdraw and become ever more passive. When get it right Nothing People see their quest for perfection thwarted, they get frustrated and withdraw, convinced that nothing will change the situation, no matter what they say or do. Although Nothing People seem to withdraw from conflict, inside they can be boiling cauldrons of hostility. Silence can be either form of aggression. Your goal with Nothing People is to break this silence and persuade him or her to talk. Five surefire step to break your Nothing Person’s silence. 1. Plan enough time. Dealing successfully with a Nothing Person may take a long time. If you’re tense because of time constraints, you may be too intense to draw him or her out. The more intense you get, the deeper the Nothing Person withdraws into nothing. So pick the time and place for approaching your Nothing Person so that you have the time it takes. 2. Ask open-ended questions expectantly. The best question for a Nothing Person is one that can’t be answered with a yes, a no, or a grunt. Ask questions that begin with a “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” or “How” to open up topics for discussion. Make sure that your non-verbal communication is also asking for response. You must look and sound like you’re about to get an answer. We call this the “expectant look” –and it works. 3. Lighten it up. When nothing else is working, a little humor can go a long way. Making absurd, exaggerated, and impossible guesses as to the cause of the silence has cracked the armor of some of the most intransigent Nothing People. 4. Guess. If your Nothing Person still isn’t responding, try putting yourself in his or her shoes and thinking back over the course of events as to what that person might be feeling. Start talking out loud, rattling off possibilities whether they seem plausible or far out. It doesn’t matter. If you can hit on or near the reason for the silence, the person will figure the jig is up and he or she might as well start talking. If you don’t come close, the Nothing Person may figure you don’t have a clue and feel compelled to tell you what is going on. 5. Show the future. Sometimes the only way to get Nothing People talking is to take them out of the moment and show them the consequences of their continued silence. Don’t make idle threats, but be clear about how their behavior could damage the project or your relationship.

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