Communication Leadership

Leaders and Rebels

Today we’re going to look at why we get so stuck when things keep repeating and repeating. It’s the old quote by Einstein, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” And that’s the truth. Ain’t it the truth?

So, we’re going to look at how in relationships we get stuck in patterns and today we’re going to talk about the rebel and the boss, and I got an email from the boss in a company where she said, “I’m going bunkers with Donna.” Donna is our best salesperson but she goes around and everything I say, she has to challenge everything. If I say “today’s Tuesday,” she’ll say, “well, it’s going to be Wednesday soon.” If I say, “it’s sunny outside,” she said, “well it’s going to rain. So, what are you talking about,” and she is driving me nuts. So, what happened was everybody said, “fire her, fire her, fire her,” and I thought there’s got to be a better way and I was reading ‘Don’t Bring It to Work,” and I thought, hmm, she sounds just like the proverbial rebel.

She has to challenge, then she gets all her friends and her colleagues on her side and sooner or later they’re going to swoop into HR with a complaint. So, I thought what can I do and how can I do it differently.

So, here’s an important tip for the day. What I listen to were some of the things that she said and it was always about me being loud. I can be at times, but not often… is what was said to me being being bossy.

Well, I am the boss. So, I have to tell people what to do, but I’m very inclusive and she she said, “you’re always telling me, I’m doing things wrong. Well, sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t and that’s part of being a leader.

Right, right, okay. So, I got some reading. The book “Don’t Bring It to Work,” and then I talked to some people and I thought okay, let me change me, “if you’ve always done what…” you go, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Forgotten, anyway I called her into the office and here’s the tip, I lowered my voice. Now, I’m not loud all the time but I lowered it, so she had to lean in rather than push back. Made a difference and then what I did was, I talked a little bit slower. I had lowered my voice. I talked a little bit slower, and I asked some questions. I asked her, “what is it that I can do so that we can get along together?” And then, I did something that I don’t do as much as I said. I zipped it and I listened and it’s called an accountability question.

So, I waited and she sat there and finally she said, “well, she said I often feel like you, don’t think what I do is right or good or appropriate,” and then I push back and she started sitting back.

Again, watch behavior. Watch body language. Listen to the words. What happened was, I made a commitment to be able to talk with her in a different way the next time, the next times we talked, but I said, “if there’s a problem, can you figure out how to come to me first and then we can discuss it before you start talking with your colleagues and creating a lot of stir of what’s going on.

So, please this is a quick tidbit when you’re talking with a rebel. Somebody who always wants to challenge authority, will lower your voice. Talk more slowly and ask the question, “what can I do to make a difference?

When in our relationship, see what happens. Let me know, and the book ‘Don’t Bring It to Work’ it’s a good one. Take a look at it.

Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

Communication Leadership Leadership Strategies

Getting the Rebels Who Challenge Everything You Do to Comply

You have the skills to be a leader. You are given great feedback about how well you communicate.

So, why is it still a struggle to get some of the rebels who challenge everything you do to comply with what you want done?

You question yourself all the time, wondering if you must always fire and hire to get rid of the troublemakers.

And yet, even with new hires you can’t be right all the time.

Lately, do you question yourself?

Maybe, just maybe, it could be in the way you handle the rebels.

Here is what Matt wrote, bet you can relate:

Dear Dr. Lafair: In reading your book “Don’t Bring It To Work” I began to realize that frustration and conflict at work is a two-way street. Until now, I always viewed the ‘troublemaker’ rebel at work as THE PROBLEM.

I would tell HR to get them out of the place as fast as possible.

This is what I learned from understanding the basic patterns that come from how we were raised and how we bring those behaviors to work.

Wish I had learned this in my leadership development program years ago.

However, glad I know this now.


The rebel I’m talking about is Marcy. She is so skilled at her sales job I don’t want to fire her. However, she is a pain in the ass!

She is always rebelling against authority and then she spreads the seeds of antagonism to others on her team (her team is MY team).

She is always making me wrong or undermining me and telling folks that I must be stupid.

My colleagues said, “Just fire her.” My mind kept saying, “There has to be another way.


Marcy sees me as the angry parent. She told HR that she thinks I am always judging her, that I scold her, raise my voice to her (so she said). She said that I give her more work than the others on the team (not true).

I took a risk and talked with her.

Now, I didn’t want to pry, or sound like a therapist. However, I did want to figure out what I could say that would give us both a new outlook on how to respond to each other.


Here is what I did and how she responded.

I used what I would always say to my kids when they were little, I used my ‘inside voice’. I am not super loud, however, when I met with Marcy, I talked just a tad slower and monitored my tone.

I noticed that she leaned toward rather than away from me.

I asked her to describe what she needed from me when we had some disagreements to discuss.

She sat up straight and sighed.

She then told me that when I talked with her in a demanding, you better do what I say, manner, it pushed her to stand up for herself.

Yikes, I had to look at myself, not just at Marcy. Yes, that two-way street of relating.

I realized that I did sound like an angry parent. I was surprised and even a bit shocked.

That was it. I did not ask her about her childhood. I did not ask her to change. I did not challenge her. I just listened and thanked her for her candor.

Fast forward a month.

I am starting to really like this woman I called a demon rebel to myself. She is more willing to have a conversation, more willing to think about what I request of her. And, is becoming the super salesperson in our group.

She jokingly told me after our last team meeting that she no longer says to herself “Dad, I wish you would just shut up.”

So, there it is. Your idea about bringing what we learned as kids into the workplace has been validated.

Now, onto the pleaser and the avoider.

I have a new leadership skill that will save me tons of aggravation and my company tons of money. I get it, when possible “Fix em, don’t fire em!”


Matt (Smarter by the Day)