Leadership / 01.11.23
INTIX 2023: Mayhew Will Share the Keys to Navigating Difficult and Toxic People
Most trade shows and conventions feature a plethora of workshops and seminars with titles meant to appeal to specific subsets of an association’s membership. But pretty much anyone attending INTIX 2023 in Seattle later this month will get something out of Bruce Mayhew’s “Self-Care and Tactics When Navigating Difficult and Toxic People.”
In addition to being an experienced conference speaker, Mayhew is a professional development trainer and executive coach. He also operates his own firm, Bruce Mayhew Consulting, and has been a favorite at INTIX events for years.
So what is his main goal in moderating the “Navigating Difficult and Toxic People” workshop? Mayhew says, “I want attendees to know we already have many of the tools and abilities required to safely navigate difficult conversations and even toxic people and that our investment into these conversations is valuable sometimes in the short term for simply our own well-being … and often in the long term as they build a shared foundation of trust, respect and loyalty.”
Mayhew, who spent more than a decade with Scotiabank before opening his own consulting firm, believes this session is an especially important one to attend this year. It’s the first month of a new year, the COVID-19 crisis is waning, and more and more people are interacting in person with each other. Interpersonal skills once again have to be honed and, in many cases, even relearned.
“Whether we are playing the part of a leader, an employee, a customer, a family member or even quietly as ourselves, I believe exploring self-care is always important,” he says. “But, if I were to focus on why it is important now, I would point to how many of us have had less practice over the last few years to engage in meaningful two-way conversation, especially heated conversations. I also believe that while the world is expanding — along with our choices and opportunities — it’s easier than ever to be more impatient, isolated and linear in our perceptions. As we move back into more contact and face-to-face interactions, I believe listening skills and empathy are even more important now than they were before the pandemic.”
What’s the difference between someone who is “difficult” and someone who is “toxic”? Mayhew was quick to answer: “This can be a very robust question and answer. For simplicity, a difficult person can be many things. It may be their situation is complex or time sensitive. It could be they lack some skills to share what they are feeling or needing. Or they could be acting on fear that their needs are not being respected or met. I see difficult people often being a reflection of their situation and when a solution or compromise is built on listening, empathy can be found.”
And those who are toxic? “Oh, toxic people usually just want everything around them to burn!”
As far as ticketing and live events are concerned, some on the front lines of customer service could make the case that negativity — even hostility — among fans, clients and the paying public has increased in the post-pandemic era. If this is indeed the case, factors will need to be put in place to bring down that negativity.
Mayhew acknowledges that “lots has changed within the last two-plus years which has impacted people in most aspects of their lives, including how they approach entertainment. For example, at first, we need to contend with the isolation many have felt and how that has changed them. Then, getting into the ‘new normal,’ meaning that people may be experiencing uncomfortable feelings associated to change … like feeling a bit lost and vulnerable.
In addition — and people from INTIX may be able to shed more light on this point — I imagine people’s perceptions of ‘going out’ to an entertainment event, no matter what the type, may now have higher excitement over the event; a greater emotional and financial investment, and perhaps anxiety; and, therefore, likely carry higher expectations.”
In Mayhew’s profession, he himself must certainly be a “people person.” So, what wisdom has he accumulated that has helped him personally when dealing with difficult, even toxic people? “There is a lot I have learned over the years, and I must continue to practice on my journey self-care and managing difficult conversations,” he says. “Always do your best to respond versus react. Know what you are responsible for and what you are not responsible for. And with this, know what you can do, are willing to do, and what you cannot do. And then be equitable!”
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Tags: Leadership , INTIX 2023