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TTYY – That’s Them You’re You

TTYYA training colleague of mine recently introduced this concept to me: “TTYY”. It means “That’s Them You’re You.”  It was in the context of how to handle difficult people.  Let me clarify what I mean by difficult.  Typically this person is afraid of something such as change, failure, the unknown, looking foolish, etc…  So the fear translates into becoming resistant to the situation.

We’ve all been guilty of it.  Imagine a time when you felt uncomfortable or nervous – did you make up an excuse to leave the situation?  Did you redirect attention to someone else to avoid the spotlight being on you?  Have you ever avoided someone or a situation entirely?

I saw these behaviors while working with two very different clients this past month.  The first was a group of production workers at a local manufacturing facility.  In the beginning of my required Improving Workplace Communication class , one participant was very clear about not wanting to be there.  I paraphrased what his concerns were.  I sympathized with his feeling that he hadn’t been given enough information about why he was asked to attend the class.  I encouraged other people to share if they felt similarly.  I then asked, “What can we do differently to change your mind about being here?”  “Nothing.  I’m outta here.”

So this is a good example of employing “TTYY.” I had tried to engage him, relate to him, have others validate his perspective. But his mind was made up.   Later, I was told that there were extenuating circumstances contributing to his behavior.  A good reminder that we rarely know the whole story behind other’s resistance.

The second example, albeit less obvious, was a mixed group from higher education – professors, staff, and administrative employees.   Very bright, well educated, and engaged.  The class was optional and the topic was “How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence” so I didn’t anticipate much resistance.

But it did show itself during activities!  As I introduced each activity, I was bombarded with questions. At one point, I simply stopped the questions and said let’s begin.  I realized that “TTYY” applies here as well.  Questions are a clue that resistance is mounting, particularly with  “What if…” questions. They were spending too much time in their resistance to simply have the experience!   It wasn’t about the activity or me.  And, in the end, they really enjoyed the activities.

When needing perspective when someone appears to be difficult, remember “TTYY.”  We rarely know their whole story.  For me, using a combination of inquiry and/or firmness, I can move on without being distracted by their behavior.

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