The Frustration Factor


Do you ever have to work with people who absolutely, totally, and unequivocally drive you up the wall? Do you sometimes feel like climbing the wall all by yourself as the quickest way to escape from those people? Are there those days when you struggle with the nearly irresistible impulse to turn into a ranting, raving maniac? Is there that one person who gets you so uptight that you don't know whether to throw your office key in his face and walk out or just sit down and cry? If you are saying Yes! Yes! Yes! you have had first-hand experience with "The Frustration Factor," up close and personal.

If instead, these questions are hard for you or if you have never experienced "The Frustration Factor," it is likely that you have lived your life on a very lonely island or are a saint, complete with robe and halo. The Frustration Factor is an ever-present ingredient of organizations from banks to hospitals, from schools to used car dealerships, from large corporations to service clubs.

The dysfunctional behavior of people who drive you up the wall is self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating. It feeds on itself. Unless you are aware of the behavior patterns of the people I call "players" and are prepared to counter them, it is easy to become the foil for their antics. Once this happens, it is too late for most people. The game is on. The world quickly divides into players and foils.

Here is the real problem though. Anyone new coming into your company enters in the middle of the game. He is immediately part of the process, either as a player or as the foil for other players. The game quickly consumes senseless amounts of time, energy, and company resources. The Frustration Factor becomes a major resource drain. Playing the game takes on as much importance and sometimes more importance for the players than taking care of business.

The Frustration Factor is much the same as the virus causing the common cold. The symptoms are always about the same although the virus has a hundred varieties. Players range from warriors to mainliners, from troublemakers to those who always play it By the Book. There are players who are aggressive and those who are passive, players who are extroverts and those who are introverts. I describe and discuss all types of players and their techniques in detail.

A Short Trip On The Success Train

Do you have time for a short trip on the success Train? I sure hope so since I am going and would very much enjoy sharing the trip with you. I hear we may get a few tips on saying “Yes,” to our success. That shifts the journey from a pleasant outing to one that promises to be totally terrific. Let’s climb aboard.

The Know-It-Alls Of The World

The expertise and insight of the know-it-alls of the world are boundless; and the K-I-A’s are ready to provide advice and input anywhere, anytime, for anyone. A K-I-A was there to point out to Noah that there may be a flood, to T. Edison that playing with electricity might be shocking, and to Neil Armstrong that pulling off his helmet and yelling, "Where's the party?" could take his breath away. There may have even been a K-I-A around to tell Moses to be sure to get it in writing.

The K-I-A openings have an annoyingly familiar theme: "Have you thought about…?" "Did you notice…?" "You may want to…," and the old standby, "If I were you…." Well, thank you very much; and while you are getting the inflection on your sarcasm just right, don't forget W. Churchill's admonition "Even a fool's right sometimes."

• Whether you have a chance to explain your reasons or can only walk away, don’t let arguments get out of hand.

This post was, in part, adapted from Your Exclusive Guide To The High Road, available now in the bookstore.

Ecological Human Services Management

Thanks for the chance to tell you about Ecological Human Services Management: An Organic Model for Practice. If you are a student, a human services professional or are just interested in management and organizational development, this book presents ideas and approaches that will serve your interests quite well. Let me tell you more about the book.

Ecological Human Services Management: An Organic Model for Practice has a limited and focused purpose: to initiate, implement, and manage human services. The practice model is explicated through the establishment of a new human services agency; but the approach, strategies, and techniques also apply to initiating new programs and services within an existing agency structure. The model shows how to transition from an identified, unmet human services need to clients benefiting from an array of helpful services provided by a successfully functioning human services agency.

Chapter One (The Helping Triangle) discusses the path from someone having difficulty coping with his (or her) life issues to his becoming an agency client who is receiving services enabling him to cope better.

Chapter Two (Leadership VS. Management) highlights the Leadership Team and shows how to complete the steps and activities discussed in the chapter and how to develop the Leadership Perspective from which the Team can successfully participate within the agency’s incorporating environment.

Chapter Three (Successful Leadership Connections) shows developing successful leadership connections is a relatively complex process but can be Managed effectively by agency staff members who meet the criteria included in the Leadership Connection Assessment presented in the chapter.

Chapter Four (The Management Team) discusses how the Management Team implements the policies, rules, and guidelines promulgated for the agency by the authorizing entities with which the agency is associated.

Chapter Five (Establishing the Agency) explains how we know who agency clients should be and understand the issues and difficulties they are having coping with the problems in their lives. Readers examine the resources and opportunities Potential Clients have as they struggle to cope and appreciate that their struggles relate mostly to their limited access to opportunities and resources other people access on a private, self-directed basis.

Chapter Six (Structuring the Internal Agency Eco System) brings forward the working model for services delivery developed in the previous chapter and established as the core function of the agency eco system. Using this working model, the secondary functions circle is conceptually developed, with accountability, responsibility, and authority delegated from the agency Board to its CEO and the Executive Function and then to various secondary functions such as Administrative Services, Fiscal Services, Human Resources Services, etc.

Chapter Seven (Staffing the Agency) points out how readers can understand the agency’s internal eco system in terms of the elements and entities within the system. The internal eco system is also understood in terms of the people who accept the duties and responsibilities involved in assuring the agency’s internal eco system functions successfully.

Chapter Eight (Meta Management) discusses strategies for better assuring the agency eco system functions efficiently and effectively. The eco system in principle is self-regulating and sustains its functioning indefinitely in the absence of drift. Unfortunately, drift is an ever-present, unavoidable ingredient of human services agency life.

The first Appendix includes suggested Management Guidelines for a human services agency.

The second Appendix presents The Ten Commandments of Management. Here, readers have a capsule view of the key elements needed for Management excellence.

Your copy of the book can be found in the Kindle Store on Amazon or by clicking the books cover image in the sidebar on I think you will find the book helpful.

May I Drive You Up The Wall, Please?

In the world of people who drive us up the wall, Committee Players are among the most frustrating. You do know about Committee Players, don’t you? On the off chance you don’t, in this episode of the Leadership Shop Podcast, you are about to find out all there is to know about these exasperating types.

Leadership & Dark Matter

Abstract: Leadership is a product of the dark matter in the world of organizations. Like the dark
matter in the cosmos, leadership is hypothesized to exist, although its
existence can, for the most part, only be inferred from actual observable
conditions, events, and circumstances that include successful conclusion of
“leadership events.” Thus, leadership actualizes as a transactional event that
occurs between the leader and his or her colleagues. (Northouse, 2004, p. 3)
Putting the point in a different frame, teams and team work (leadership events)
are not just the best leadership strategy, they are the only leadership
strategy available to us.

Let’s Make a Deal

Are you ready to make a deal? If so, being a good negotiator is a skill you will find useful when making deals with me and in many other situations. Negotiation skills facilitate your being more effectively assertive, being a better problem solver, and being a better conflict manager. Developing the skills is sometimes tedious and requires a lot of practice. The payoff is both substantial and positive, though.


In this episode of the Leadership Shop Podcast, you learn about the preliminary skills you must have to negotiate effectively and successfully. Please listen and prepare for the fun and games.

Which TATOR Are You? (Playing Office Games)

It is easy to start analyzing ourselves and others in our groups and organizations and to take what happens personally. A better way to look at what goes on is to understand that people grow into certain roles or styles and are usually just being whomever they are out of habit or just because that is the way their personalities are. They are just being TATORS. If we are able to understand this and accept them for the TATOR they are, we will be a lot more comfortable.

Which tator are you?

1. Agitator: Ajy likes to keep things stirred up, find fault, criticize, and make things seem worse than they really are.

2. Anitator: Anny likes to have the last word, always “gets his/her two cents worth in,” and always has an opinion on everything and likes to show others that he/she knows more than everyone else.

3. Commentator: Common likes to be sure that everyone knows everything that is going on, is in charge of gossip and “tattling,” and seems to talk all the time even if no one wants to listen or if everyone already knew about what is being said.

4. Dictator: Dick likes to take charge, boss everyone around, be the one who makes all the decisions, and generally be in charge of everything whether or not it is his/her business or responsibility.

5. Gravitator: Gravi is pretty much of a “couch potato,” always hanging around and there when others want a little privacy, and always seems to be too tired to help out, do things, or get out of the way.

6. Hesitator: Hezy can never decide, always waits to see what someone else’s opinion is and then uses that one, is very unsure of himself/herself, goes out of the way not to offend anyone or get anyone upset, and thinks that if he/she can please everyone all the time things will be okay.

7. Levitator: Leva thinks he/she is just a little better than everyone else, is sort of above it all most of the time, seems like he/she is looking down the nose at others, and feels pretty much superior to everyone else.

8. Meditator: Meda seems to take forever to do things because he/she has to think everything over very carefully before doing something, never wants to do anything quickly or on the spur of the moment because anything worth doing is worth thinking through carefully, and is usually hard to talk with because everything has to be analyzed and discussed in great detail.

9. Militator: Milla is always on guard and ready to go to war, will argue with anyone about anything anytime, never gives an inch, and is ready to stand his/her ground with anyone who tries to take advantage or confront him/her.

10. Precipitator: Precipi is one of those TATORS that is able to get other people into arguments and then walk away, say or do things that get others upset and then pretend like he/she is totally innocent, and seems to get things messed up or stirred up without seeming to have started it or without seeming to have been involved.

11. Spectator: Spec likes to stay on the sidelines and not really get involved, simply watch or listen without really participating, and just stays to himself/herself because that seems like the safest way of just getting by without getting involved.

12. Facilitator: Facili does not mind being out of alphabetical order because his/her job is to be helpful, to do things for other people, to be there when others need him/her, and to stay away from things that have to do with accepting responsibility, showing leadership, or running the risk of being blamed for what is done or how things turn out.

13. Baby Sweetator: Baby Sweet is the kind of TATOR that is always happy and cheerful no matter what, is too nice for anyone to get upset with even if he/she does something that they should get upset about, cries or has his/her feelings hurt very easily, and tries to get special treatment just because he/she is so sweet, innocent, and not really responsible for anything that happens that is bad or causes problems for others.

Making The Cut

Do you recall when you were young and the leaders among you picked and chose when choosing sides in a game? Some kids were chosen first and a few were usually last to be chosen. If the number of players on each team was limited, some children didn’t make the cut at all.

Things have not changed all that much since those days. Making or not making the cut still applies at work, in clubs or other organizations, when dating, anywhere teams are the order of the day, with who is and who is not seen as a friend, and on and on.

In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, I share six tips for making the cut. Please listen and consider using the tips whenever making the cut is important to you.

3 Steps To Better Outcomes

There is a fairly simple principle that most of us know but frequently don’t follow. When we are not getting to where we were headed, continuing in the same direction probably won’t get us there. If how we have been trying to succeed is not leading to success, doubling down on the same strategy likely will not result in eventual success.


I know, you already knew that. I knew it too but still find myself using the same approaches that haven’t worked in the past with children, co-workers and in other situations where the success of others is important to me and to them. It is frustrating but actually not surprising that those approaches still don’t work.


In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast I spend a few minutes thinking about this peculiar behavior and suggest steps to get beyond staying stuck in ways of relating to and working with people that haven’t worked and are unlikely to work any time soon. Please listen and see if there is a point or two there that you may find useful.

Authority Junky?

Do you know someone who delights in figuratively pushing others around, telling them what to do, being in charge, and generally bossing others whether they are actually in a position to do that or not? It seems that their main agenda is letting everyone know that they are the big dog. Even worse, do you have to work with someone like that or spend time around them? If so, you have an authority junky in your life.


In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, I explore what is going on with those authority junkies and suggest one strategy you may want to use when put in a position where you have to put up with one of them. If this is of interest to you, please listen.

Prejudice Is Unavoidable

Are you prejudiced? It won’t be surprising if you quickly say that you are not. But what is prejudice? It is Being biased or having a belief or attitude formed beforehand. It is to pre-judge.


I think the reality is that we are all prejudiced about some things and about some people. Actually I doubt if it is possible to grow up in a particular society at a particular time without developing prejudices about some people or groups of people in particular. We have opinions about people in our family, in our community, people in proximity to us. In turn we have opinions about people outside of our direct experience. The truth is that it would be very difficult if not impossible to function without these prejudices. Were it not for these pre-formed opinions about people, we would have to start from scratch every time we interact with someone new.


The problem comes in when we have negative or pejorative opinions of and attitudes toward groups of people simply because of their membership in a group different than ours. This is especially true when the individuals have no real choice about membership in the group. They are members of group X and we have subconsciously made prejudicial judgments about group X.


I suspect our list of personal prejudices would be fairly long for most of us. Having those prejudices is not all that much of an issue. They come with life and living. The issue is keeping the prejudices, not examining them, not making rational decisions about whether or not to maintain the prejudices we have naturally come to have.


In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, I explore the elements of prejudice and suggest some strategies we can implement to minimize how much they control our thinking, our behavior, our interactions with other people. With time and effort we can move away from judging people more or less exclusively based on which group they belong to and mostly on what they do, what they believe, how they relate to and interact with the rest of us.

Who Do You Respect?

I have heard people say that they have no respect for this person or that individual. I think this generally means that they disapprove of the person’s beliefs, behavior, or some other aspect of who they are or how they behave. Fair enough. For most of us, there are some people we do not want to associate with and who we deplore.


Consider this though. If we were to interact with those people, how would we conduct ourselves? Would we behave disrespectfully? Would we behave in a way that conveys our contempt? Perhaps we would but more likely we would try to avoid the individuals or should that not be possible, we would try to restrain our urge to be overtly disrespectful.


Most of us have few occasions to interact with people we truly disrespect but do frequently interact with people who we can easily disrespect without any conscious intent to do so. We are simply dismissive with them and make no effort to offer them the respect they hope for and likely deserve. Although we may give no thought to it, they know we do not value them and they thus feel (quite validly) disrespected.


In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, I focus on this tendency in all of us and suggest an alternative approach to everyone and to all of our interactions with others. I suspect you will find yourself thinking about at least one person you know who has this respectfulness with others thing down pat. They are one of those people for whom respectfulness is their middle name, as they say. How do they do it? Please listen to see if the episode offers an important clue.

What Is Blocking Your Success?

We hear that some of us are traveling on easy street. Well, maybe so but probably not. I think it is fair to say that there is never a clear path to success. No matter how smart we are, how lucky we are, how rich we are, how old we are or how determined we are, there is always something or someone getting in our way from here to there. The issue is not whether we confront road blocks along the way. We do and will. The issue is what we do about them, how we get there in spite of the barriers and challenges.

In this episode, I share with you a little story of challenge and opportunity along with some thoughts about PRIDE and its role in our success. Please listen and consider the message.

Managing The Future

We have all heard that the world is divided into those who tend toward optimism and those who lean toward pessimism. Some folks live at the extremes and others fall somewhere in-between. In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, I share with you a philosophy that suggests that it makes little difference whether you are optimistic or pessimistic, although Winston Churchill did note that given a choice, he figures that optimism is more fun. As we approach our futures, we have what I think of as a management opportunity. Whether we think positive or think negative, the management challenge remains the same. Please listen and see where you come down on the issue.

The World’s Best Advice (Vol. 6)

The Audio Tidbits Podcast team has collected a series of tidbits incorporating the world’s best advice. These life gems are packaged in six episodes that we are sharing with you in the hope that you adopt them as elements in your personal style as you continue to make a difference to people who make a difference to you. This edition of the Audio Tidbits Podcast shares one of those six episodes for your enjoyment and consideration.

The World’s Best Advice (Vol. 5)

The Audio Tidbits Podcast team has collected a series of tidbits incorporating the world’s best advice. These life gems are packaged in six episodes that we are sharing with you in the hope that you adopt them as elements in your personal style as you continue to make a difference to people who make a difference to you. This edition of the Audio Tidbits Podcast shares one of those six episodes for your enjoyment and consideration.

The World’s Best Advice (Vol. 4)

The Audio Tidbits Podcast team has collected a series of tidbits incorporating the world’s best advice. These life gems are packaged in six episodes that we are sharing with you in the hope that you adopt them as elements in your personal style as you continue to make a difference to people who make a difference to you. This edition of the Audio Tidbits Podcast shares one of those six episodes for your enjoyment and consideration.

56 Keys To Rate Great Bosses or Why You Call It Work

James joins the Audio Tidbits Podcast today to help you decide whether or not your boss is a keeper. I know. You don’t need James to know if your boss deserves a place among the boss elite or perhaps already is solidly at the bottom of the pile of jerks who just happen to be in charge. Even so, you may find it helpful to know these 56 specific points that distinguish great bosses from the rest of the pack. They will be handy the next time you wonder if the grass may actually be greener somewhere else. Have a listen and decide for yourself.