JJ's (Mar '08) Tips in this issue:

1. Do You Mask Caring With Gruffness
2. Favorite Quotes
3. Tele-Coaching & Tele-Mentoring


Use the following tips as training tools.

Present this situation to your group and brainstorm solutions together, or submit your own situation question to be answered in an upcoming newsletter.


A reader wrote, "What causes managers to treat the people who report to them in such a gruff manner? Usually we know they care, but they always seem to be treating us like children who need to be disciplined and taught how to do things right. It is bothering us, and we are beginning to resent their
leadership style.


Some of the best teachers are gruff in their style and they keep their students or reports high on the tree trying to avoid their wrath.

Gruffness is unsettling as it jangles tranquility and puts you on guard. You want to do something immediately to get back in their good graces.

Some personality types love to see others flinch and respond because it makes them feel powerful. Others cringe at the thought of making others uncomfortable and perhaps not liking them any more. Some enjoy the challenge of seeing how quickly they can get back in the gruff one's good graces. It is an ongoing game with them.

Most adults would like to be treated as adults as long as they know they are conducting themselves as adults. When they revert to high school tactics or even two-year old tantrums, they expect a manager or supervisor to step in to bring the work situation back in control, just as parents do.

Some of those managers had gruff and angry parents who raised them with harshness and angry parent/teacher techniques. It didn't mean that their parents didn't care about them, in fact, it probably meant the opposite, that they took their responsibility to an unhealthy level. Otherwise, they would have left the children for someone else to raise. They were probably reared in this "no nonsense" way because of a number of reasons. Their parents could have been overwhelmed with debt, grief, too many children, sickness or something else that would have made them too severe in their leadership and parenting.

Your managers have learned by example, from their parents, bosses or friends who have been influencers in their lives. What kind of example are you setting for those you are influencing? You don't have to have anyone reporting to you to be a leader and an influencer.

You have choices! You can continue to mimic the leaders who have been your role models or you can choose another role model. Choose one you admire, and watch and listen to how they communicate and treat others. They show respect and caring in their manner instead of provoking fear and discord to get
the job done. Fear management is such an outdated management style.

If you are a supervisor or manager of others, you had better care about the people who report to you, or you are in the wrong job.

If your style is gruff, regardless of the caring underneath, you are playing with your reports self esteem. You should be building self esteem up, not tearing it down.

Do you have children? Managing people in the workplace is just like raising children. You will grow your people and children faster and better when you model a caring, nurturing manager/parent than an angry, harsh one. Stop getting in your own way with a frowning face, tone and words. Show your caring up front without judgment and anger in your voice. Don't sound like the reprimanding teacher either.

It has been said that, "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." You can also retain more good employees by creating a work environment that provides growth, risk taking, teamwork,
accountability, trust and mutual respect. Gruffness does not create or show respect. Respect
and trust must be earned.

The first step to overcome gruffness is to have an attitude shift about how you converse with others. Monitor some of your interactions on a tape recorder and listen to them later. Close your eyes when you listen and you will hear your attitude, loud and clear. If the attitude (tone, not the words) you hear has gruffness or harshness, you will know you need a bigger attitude shift. Then work with a mentor who has the nurturing style you desire, and watch how quickly you make the transition. Your attitude about
the interaction is the biggest factor!

With these insight and tips, you should be able to see through the gruffness to the caring that your manager probably has underneath. If the gruffness still takes up more of your mindshare and the resentment is building, practice a stress reliever or two.

Try automatic writing. Start a journal about your feelings when you hear the gruffness. Does it remind you of other times in your life when you were treated in a similar way by an authority figure? How did you deal with it then? Now is another time and you are more mature to actually have a crucial conversation about the gruffness that is bothering you. Both of you need to change and compromise to create a more harmonious working relationship.

Another great stress reliever is exercise. Walking, running and playing sports can be helpful in venting your frustration. Working with a manager who is treating you in a way you dislike can reduce productivity,
camaraderie and damage your health. If you must stay in this job, do something to reduce the stress it is causing!

If you are one of those gruff managers, perhaps it is time for you to make a change! If you don't know if you are or not, ask for honest feedback from people who work with you and live with you. Tell them you are following through on an assigned exercise, and you promise not to be upset with their answer. Then don't be. You will usually have the same behavior noticed at work and at home.

You can also take it a step further and ask several people at work and home to list your assets and liabilities (the good and bad traits, habits, etc.). With several people answering, you will definitely see consistency of the best and worst traits. It is important that you do not choose people who are upset with you at the moment or they will use the opportunity to take a potshot at you!

This technique has been used repeatedly in my management and leadership training as it works extremely well to open managers' eyes to how they are really being perceived by their coworkers and families.

Remember, you are never too old to change...that is, if you have a good enough reason to motivate you. Do it and watch your productivity, cooperation and popularity soar!


"Unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do, he will never do all
that he can.

It's never too late to be what you might have been.

What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible."
-- Stan Billue, CSP

"Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too
fast‹you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."
-- Eddie Cantor

"A dead end is just a good place to turn around."
-- Naomi Judd


DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE in an area? Service? Sales?

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TRY our one-on-one Tele-Mentoring (phone coaching service) that is available to business owners, executives, managers, supervisors and staff members.

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Have you had an Evaluation of Your Environment lately so you could receive suggestions on improving it? (It's like the doctor's check up, you often don't know you need it, until after you've had it.)



JJ Lauderbaugh, CMC
408 445-1590 or 800 500-9656, 1716 Husted Ave., San Jose, CA 95124.

JJ works with companies that want to give exceptional customer service to increase sales, and with Directors and Call Center/Help Desk Managers who want to improve human performance.

She's an international speaker, trainer, facilitator and certified management consultant (CMC) on customer service management, specializing in performance improvement, call centers, up/cross selling and outbound calling.

For training resources, free articles, tips and streaming video, go to our web site at


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JJ Lauderbaugh, CMC, JJ Lauderbaugh & Associates, 2008. Reprinted with permission from JJ's Tips, a monthly internet newsletter. For your own personal subscription, email jj@jjlauderbaugh.com.

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