If you’re going to succeed at networking, you need to play well with others. Just as you couldn’t always choose who came to the playground when you were a child, you don’t always get a say in who your fellow BNI members are. You don’t have to like everybody in BNI. Almost every chapter contains a “jerk,” but that’s not a reason to leave. Don’t let other people control your success.
Tolerance is a highly-used word and an under-used practice. Here are 5 things to consider when you’re talking to someone you think is a jerk. (We’ll call him or her “J” for short.)
- Listen without arguing.
- Ask questions that will give you more insight.
- Show interest in their point of view. You don’t have to agree in order to show interest.
- If you can, get them to focus on solutions. Problems are easy. It takes real smarts to identify realistic solutions.
- Clear, open, and honest communication is the best way to deal with “J.”
Here are 6 things to be aware of when there’s a “J” in your group:
- Make yourself invaluable to the group by focusing on solutions.
- Stay clear of chapter drama and rise above the situation.
- Don’t complain; be positive.
- Stay aware of your emotions.
- Use your support team.
- Be a leader, not a leaver.
Dysfunctional people are really challenging. Dr. Misner recommends reading The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small by Lisa Earle McLeod. Lisa explains the secret to dealing with crazy people without letting them make you crazy.
Don’t just walk away because somebody else is a “J”. This is your group and your success.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Episode 526 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, which features Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan, how are you?
I am doing fantastic, Priscilla, and I have a topic today that will take every bit of my time, so I am just going to jump right in if that is okay. I was talking to a really good Executive Director recently and he said he had a member who left because – and these were her exact words, Priscilla – “because there is a member in our chapter that is a jerk.” That is why she left the chapter.
So that is what I want to talk about today. Here is the primary message. Don’t let other people control your success. Networking is a marathon. It is not a sprint. It’s a long game. I don’t know if you remember, Priscilla, in elementary school in North America- I have a lot of listeners from around the world. I would love to hear if other countries had the same kind of thing in their elementary school.
In elementary school in North America, we would get a thing in our report card where they would grade you on your ability to play well with others. Do you remember that?
I didn’t always get a good grade on that, by the way. It took a lot of work.
So your ability to play well with others applies even in adulthood. You can’t always choose who comes to the playground and you don’t always get a say in who your fellow BNI members are. You don’t have to be friends with everybody. You don’t even have to like everybody. As a matter of fact, different personalities add different perspective, and that could even make a group more productive.
BNI is a referral tool for your success. For those of you who are listening, BNI is a referral tool for your success. Don’t let jerks control that. That begins with some tolerance on your part. Tolerance has to come into play. “Tolerance” is a highly-used word and an under-used practice. Let me repeat that. “Tolerance” is a highly-used word and an under-used practice. I want to talk today about how to use it as a practice.
So let’s talk about Mr. or Ms. “Jerk”. I am going to call them “J” for short. Not the name “Jay”, just the letter “J” so as to not confuse them with the amazing members we have named Jay. Okay? So remember, keep your eye on the ball.
We all have J’s in our groups and certainly in our lives. Remember, keep your eye on the ball and try not to be so sensitive about the jerk, I mean, J. Here are some techniques that will help you with this process and the last one that I am going to talk about is really interesting.
First, I am going to give you five things to consider when you are talking with J. First, listen without arguing. This is important, especially when it comes to the last point that I am going to talk about today. I have five things to consider when you are talking to J and six other things to be aware of. Then I am going to talk about one other thing that comes back in full circle to listening.
The second thing when you are talking to J is ask questions, not argumentative questions but questions that will give you more insight into J’s point. So listen without arguing and ask questions is number two.
Number three, show interest in their point of view. You don’t have to agree to show interest. Trust me on this. I have done it a lot. You don’t have to agree with them to show interest. “Tell me more.” “Explain that.” “I don’t understand.” Just get them to talk.
Number four, if you can, get them to focus on a solution. If all we do is focus on the problem, we become an expert on the problem. Say to them, “I get it. I see the issue. The real question is what is a realistic solution? Problems are easy to understand. It takes real smarts to find solutions.” I have said that to people. I have said that to J before. Problems are easy. It takes real smarts to find a solution, so what is a realistic solution?
If they give you a lousy solution, say, “Okay. That is one possibility. What is another realistic solution?” Coach them into calmness.
Number five. Clear, open, honest and direct communication is the best way to deal with J or to deal with the chapter leadership that may have to be dealing with J. Every single time I have had big challenges with people, Priscilla – every single time in my life – was when one side or the other has held back in communication. That doesn’t mean unload on people. It means talk to them and talk to them professionally.
So those are five things to consider when talking to J. Here are six things to be aware of in general. Okay? I told you this is a lot of stuff in this podcast.
One, make yourself invaluable to the group by focusing on solutions. So just in general, make yourself invaluable. Don’t leave because someone is a jerk. Make yourself invaluable to the group by focusing on solutions.
Two, stay clear of chapter drama and rise above the fray. You can do this by checking your emotions and focusing on results. You may seem a theme here. Focus on results. Focus on solutions.
Three, don’t complain. Be positive. Complaining is not an Olympic sport, although I know people whom I would give gold medals to.
Number four, stay aware of your emotions. Don’t let others limit your success. I will repeat that. Don’t let others limit your success.
Five, use your support team. Talk to others about the solution. Not just the problem but the solution.
Number six, be a leader not a leaver. I wasn’t sure if “leaver” was a real word, Priscilla, so I checked it on your dictionary.com.
I went to your dictionary.com. Leaver is a word. It means someone who leaves. Be a leader not a leaver. Don’t let J’s craziness drive you out of a chapter.
So here is my last point and I think it is a really valuable one. It goes back to the idea of listening without arguing, the very first point that I talked about in terms of talking to J. Dysfunctional people are really challenging. I get it. I am going to recommend a book. The book, The Triangle of Truth by Lisa Earl McCloud. I am going to quote a lot of her material later. “I discovered that what actually puts us over the edge toward craziness ourselves is not other people’s dysfunction. It’s their denial of their dysfunction.”
When I first saw that, I was like, oh my goodness, that is so true. She goes on to say, “You know how they go on acting all normal and self righteous as if we are the ones who are loopy, not them.” She asks, so how do you deal with them?
She recommends, I think, a great concept. She calls it the Triangle of Truth. “The Triangle of Truth enables you to hold seemingly competing ideas in your mind at the same time. And it is the secret to dealing with crazy people.” The secret to dealing with J. I added that. She says, “You get to acknowledge their dysfunction and hold a space for their better qualities at the same time, even if you have no idea what those better qualities may be.”
Here’s how it works according to Lisa: on one side of the triangle, you have your side of the truth, which is this person’s nuts, hopelessly flawed and they wreak havoc everywhere they go. On the other side of the triangle, you have a universal truth which is every person has merit and value. There is an inner “fabulousness” – that’s her world not mine- inside each of us, even the people who do a great job of covering theirs up. I loved that. Even people who do a great job of covering theirs up. “The ability to see this duality in other people represents a monumental mental shift that makes all the difference in the world.” She goes on to say that if you can mentally employ the Triangle of Truth model, the next time your mind is screaming, ‘He’s crazy! He’s crazy!’ you will get to experience the self-righteous indulgence of validating your own negative assessments and pious superiority of taking the high road at the same time.”
More importantly – and I am going to ask you your opinion on this, Priscilla, here in a second – More importantly, in my opinion, don’t give power to others to control your success. Leaving a network because someone is a jerk gives them power over you and them free reign to do it to others.
What do you think, Priscilla?
It all makes sense. It’s just very hard to do, you know.
Yeah. Life is hard and you know what happens. Look, it really goes back to kindergarten or elementary school. How well do you play with others, even with the difficult kids?
To me, it is even a step beyond that because J can’t play well with others. We get it. So are you going to let J control your life?
BNI is an amazing tool for success, an amazing tool. Incredible. I have seen so many people generate so much business and to have someone say, “I am leaving because someone is a jerk,” completely empowers them and throws everyone in that group at the mercy of them because you are bailing.
One of the things that I have discovered over time is if you have a J and you rise above that and deal with the situation professionally, the chapter almost always – the better nature of the chapter will prevail. The chapter will see it. The chapter will act. And if nobody sees it, you might be J.
Just for the record, if nobody sees it and it has gone on for a long time, you might want to assess whether you are J or not. Just saying. Not you, Priscilla, but in general.
Well, Ivan, I think it slightly depends on whether this person has a personality disorder, and if they do, you may have a little bit of trouble making permanent change.
Sure. Look, a lot of people have various levels of personality disorders. That is where you need to be working with the chapter. I have worked with many chapters over the years where they had J in their group and they basically said, “One of our code of ethics is to build positive and professional realtionships, to build a positive and professional relationship with the other members. We are not seeing that, so how can we help you do that?” They will give you answers that are not acceptable, and that is when it is time to say, “You know, it’s okay if you step down. This may not be a good fit for you.” Help them up or help them out.
That is where you as a member – quitting doesn’t solve the problem. It may solve it for you for now, but then it creates another problem. You lose the opportunity to generate a lot of business.
So if you have a dysfunctional member, an honest to goodness really dysfunctional member, and they are not willing to play in the sandbox, then that is when you need to get the chapter involved. I have talked about that a lot in my podcasts about getting membership committees involved.
But in the meantime, before you get membership committees involved, here are some ideas that will hopefully help you reframe the issue because I see a lot of people who just get really frustrated or annoyed just by dealing with – you are looking at the exception, the really, really truly dysfunctional person. Sometimes people just don’t get along. What I am trying to talk about for the most part is just someone who is not easy to get along with. Not the clinically dysfunctional person.
I hope that helps. Here are just some things to think about. Don’t just walk away. This is your group. This is your success. I have a coaster on my desk that says, “Success is the best revenge.” I love that coaster because I have dealt with it. I have dealt with people who have lied to me, cheated me, who have done horrible things to me, and I recognize that the best way to deal with all of that is to be successful. Walking away from an opportunity to generate referrals is shooting yourself in the foot. Don’t leave because somebody else is a J.
That is my message. I would love to hear what you guys think. Post something here on my podcast. Thanks, Priscilla.
You’re welcome. Thank you, Dr. Misner. I think that is some great advice. Well, thank you so much for listening. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we look forward to having you join us again next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.