Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Like a Referee

Sometimes I feel like a referee. That's because I spend considerable time trying to teach our clients - and staff - how to talk to each other.

Most things that happen around TLC aren't big deals. Someone made a mistake. Maybe something was overlooked. Someone filled out a form wrong. Nothing major. Usually nothing malicious.

But it becomes major when egos get involved. And most generally it's always about ego. Then the attitude kicks in.

"Don't they know who I am?"

"They can't talk to me that way!"

"I'm a grownup and expect them to treat me like one"

Ego. It can contaminate and permeate any environment if it goes unchecked. And sometimes these issues end up in my office.

I teach staff and clients to stay out of conflict like this:
  • Never tell an employee, co-worker - or anyone else - what to do. Always ask for help. You'll find that people like to be helpful. And that's what I always want - their help.
  • If you're in a conversation that’s getting heated, back off. One manager does this well. When he feels his anger rising he tells the other person he needs to cool down before continuing. It always works.
  • Apologize right away. It's easier for me to say I'm sorry immediately, rather than wait until the next day. And others seem to like when we admit our mistakes. It makes us seem more human and less arrogant.
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