By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q: I work with people who constantly tell me how much they value me but treat me badly. They are late to meetings and don't follow through. Weirdly enough, they also flatter me a lot. How do I figure out how to handle these confusing people?
A: You'll figure out how to handle these confusing people if you stop listening to what they say and only pay attention to what they do. Non-verbal experts tell us that actions and body language always tell the truth. Words are the least important part of communication.
When my clients focus only on the walk and ignore the talk of people everything gets crystal clear. The people you will enjoy, who will be productive, and support your success are obvious. The people without integrity are also easy to spot.
Many people use words at work like an octopus uses an ink cloud to camouflage their true intentions. Excuses are what people use when in fact they never intended to keep their promises in the first place.
Generally, if people are flattering you they are attempting to numb you against noticing they are up to no good. Specific feedback about what you did that helped is fine. Vague, syrupy compliments should always make you suspicious.
Try this homework assignment. Go home tonight, turn on your favorite show and turn off the sound. Watch the actions of the characters and see how much better you understand what is happening. Now try the same thing at your next meeting. Only pay attention to the actions of people in your meeting.
If you ignore the distraction of language and only believe what people do your career will thrive. Pay attention immediately to who calls you back, who shows up and who takes time with you. Quit listening to or believing the excuses of people who simply do not choose to make you a priority.
Be aware that pointing out publicly what you now see about others is a mistake.
Lastly, realize that people who plan to use verbal excuses rather than make contributions hate dealing with anyone who has them figured out. The great news is these folks will avoid you.
By ignoring words, you'll only trust people who have integrity, value you and are able to deliver.
The last word(s)
Q: I am in my sixties in a career I love, but I still get really disappointed when people I get attached to let me down. Is this a character flaw?
A: No, unless you believe the capacity for caring and getting attached to people is a weakness. Attachment to others demands a more courage and resiliency then a tough, stoic, indifferent attitude.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru.”. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006).
You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.