talk to the hand

It’s hard enough for many of us to summon the nerve to provide someone with constructive feedback. Ideally we’ve done some work preparing for the conversation: we’ve thought about a way to convey that we mean well from the start, we’ve identified the specific issue in question (rather than focusing on someone’s personality), and we know how to articulate our expectation for that person moving forward.

Therefore it’s particularly difficult when, despite our best laid plans, we encounter resistance, blame or outright denial that there is a problem. Below are some ways to effectively respond to specific types of defensiveness. However, the overall general formula for responding is three-fold:

  • Listen to the person’s objections thoroughly without arguing against them. If necessary, convey that you understand their point-of-view by restating the essence of their position or perception.
  • Validate and empathize with the emotions that accompany their position in order to diffuse the tension. Agree if they raise a legitimate point and reaffirm that you not interested in blame – rather you are just trying to find an effective way forward.
  • Redirect by restating the expectation and ask if they are willing to help you reach a solution. (Note: Do everything possible to avoid saying the word “but” between your validation and your redirection. It comes across as undoing the validation you just provided. Instead segue with the word “and.”)

Sometimes you may need to repeat these three steps as new objections are raised. However, it’s important to respond to each new point in a similar fashion.

Here are some common types of defensive responses you may encounter and some potential ways to reply:

Scenario: Two or more people in the office are not getting along or experiencing a breakdown in communication. When addressing the situation one-on-one with one of the individuals they put the bulk (or all) of the blame on the other person.

Response: It sounds like you think I’m taking sides or putting all the blame on you for the situation. I can see why it feels that way – after all you and I are the only ones here. I want to be clear that I’m not putting this all on you. And, at the same time, I think that in any communication breakdown or disagreement some responsibility lies on both sides. What I’d like is to discuss ways to improve communication moving forward. Can you help me with that?

Scenario: That person responds by saying it’s more the other person’s fault.

Response: Perhaps. We could probably talk all day about what percentage each person is responsible. I’d rather focus our time and energy on a solution rather than blame. How about you?

Scenario: That person says their behavior isn’t a big deal or that you or someone else is just being “too sensitive.”

Response: I understand that you didn’t mean any harm and why the same thing might not bother you. At the same time, everyone has different sensitivities regarding different things. There might be something that bothers you that doesn’t bother someone else. In either situation it’s important to try to adapt to the other person’s preferences since it’s essential to creating a respectful and effective workplace. Given that, would you be willing to try a different approach with so-and-so?

Granted, in the heat of the moment, it can be hard not to follow someone down the rabbit hole of blame, deflection and other tangents. Yet, if we can remember to genuinely listen, validate, and redirect back to the underlying issue we’re more likely to have a productive conversation.



Rote Weihnachtsbaumkugeln und weiterer Schmuck

So much to do . . . so little time. Between holiday baking, canned food drives, Secret Santa gifts, school holiday programs, gift giving, family parties, friend parties, recovering from all the parties . . . what is a person to do?

I just had the conversation with my spouse stating that it’s all a bit too much. This is one of my favorite times of the year, but this year has seemed more overwhelming compared to years past. Rather than feeling “joyous” (insert sad emoji face here), I just feel stressed!

I decided I needed to suck it up and remember what it is that I love about the season. During some fun Pinterest research looking for some yummy holiday baking ideas that will surely perk up my mood . . . well, and add to my pant size . . . I came across an article that talks about what employers are doing to help reduce stress on their employees.

The article goes into not adding additional stress on employees. We all know what that includes! Whether we are trying to make those few extra bucks for gifts, getting those last few year-end projects on the books, wrapping up open-enrollment, finishing budgets, etc., it can be overwhelming. Even when employers plan what seems like “fun” events, it still adds to our plate and gives us just one more thing to do. Here at Cascade, we have a few traditions that really help to lessen our stress levels and also make us remember what is important. Rather than stressing over the perfect gift for our favorite co-workers, we are encouraged to bring in goodies to share with one another. And there is one thing that Cascaders can agree on . . . we all love food!

During the holidays we typically choose a charity to contribute to as well. Whether it is to support families in need, or bring in books for children . . . we are reminded that the season is about giving.

One other more recent tradition (which may be a bit early to call it) is holding our annual Holiday party after the traditional holiday season. This came about when we had to postpone things in 2016 due to the awful holiday-time weather. We all have so many things to balance in one short month that our team agreed it would be great to once again have our party in January. Why not have something else to look forward to after all the typical parties are over, when we can relax and actually enjoy some downtime with our co-workers!

The Society of Human Resource Management conducted a survey of HR professionals and found some great practices to help alleviate some of that pesky holiday stress that gets in our way of enjoying the season:

  • Schedule holiday events during normal business hours.
  • Show extra appreciation for employees who work during a holiday.
  • Encourage casual dress for holiday parties.
  • Provide holiday food.
  • Give quarterly or annual bonus early for holiday shopping.
  • Provide floating days for holidays worked.
  • Offer reduced or flexible hours so employees can run errands, make holiday preparations or attend a child’s holiday program (or other Holiday celebrations).
  • Allow time for volunteer opportunities during work hours.
  • Allow employees opportunities to work remotely during the holiday season to save time by not having to commute.

All-in-all, it is a busy time of year, but employers can definitely do their part to ensure employees are not too overwhelmed from a business standpoint, and try to provide some added benefits that will help in their personal lives as well.

Don’t forget the most important part of stress . . . STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS . . . Enjoy!!!!

Happy Holidays!



ABC House Playroom Image

This nonprofit member works with children, youth and their families to overcome the crisis of abuse and neglect. Did you know…

  1. Established in 1997, ABC House is a Child Abuse Intervention Center (CAIC) offering child abuse assessment, treatment and support services, post-trauma counseling and youth and adult educational programming.
  2. ABC House is the only agency in Benton and Linn counties providing forensic evaluations and support services to children whom authorities have received a report or allegation of abuse.
  3. The organization’s staff is a multi-disciplinary team working in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Health Services (DHS), the District Attorney’s office and many other agencies focused on children’s health and safety.
  4. ABC House provides services to over 4,500 people annually, including abuse assessments and medical consultation services to over 600 children each year.
  5. More than 50% of ABC House’s funding comes from the community—individuals, businesses, foundations and other funders.

Cascade is proud to feature ABC House, a member that envisions a world in which every child has the opportunity to be happy, healthy and safe.



A Thankful Post

by Angela Bergerson on November 23, 2017

in Reflection

Thank You

We’d like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You!”

We’ve been blogging for about seven years now, and the time has flown by. Thanks so very much for reading and connecting with us through this blog. We’ve had 388 posts so far (389 counting this one!) and we won’t be going away or slowing down anytime soon. We hope you will continue to join us!

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend!


Cascade Team

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