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Article Summary

Skills for Drug Addiction Recovery

Time Management

Time management is a set of strategies that helps people consciously choose how to spend their time, rather than react blindly to external demands. The point of time management is that people have the power to make general choices about what they do and when.

While there are many factors affecting time management over which people don't have control, there are also "internal" or "personal" contributors to time pressures. Some of the most common examples include:

  • approval seeking

  • lack of planning

  • procrastination

  • difficulty delegating

  • perfectionism

  • difficulty asking for help

Stress Management

Stress management is a plan of action that prepares people to meet life's challenges by helping them to rest and refuel. Although there are general guidelines for developing a workable stress management program, it must be tailored to meet people's individual needs. While it may not be possible to influence the sources of stress, such as the general economy or a family illness, people can take steps to prepare themselves for dealing with stress and can exercise choice in their response to stressful situations.

People's thoughts can create stress. Even when thoughts appear fair and sensible, they can set people up to fail, and can undermine people's best efforts. Listed below are some common thoughts that are inherently stress producing:

  • My work must always be perfect.

  • People don't always do what they say they will.

  • I should know how to do things, even if I've never done them before.

  • Saying no or setting limits of any kind will make me look incompetent or not committed.

Effective Listening

Sometimes, despite their best intentions, people find it difficult to practice effective listening. One of the most common problems is that people may have grown up in a family where effective listening was never practiced. Or, they may have learned listening strategies to help them cope with difficult situations and continue to use those strategies, even though they are not now in the same situation.

Effective listening is a technique that allows people to listen without judging, condemning or criticizing, while helping them to draw out important information from the speaker. Effective listening occurs when the listener is involved in the speaker's words. It requires the listener to try to understand what the speaker is saying as the speaker experiences it.

Listeners may express their interest and involvement through body language (nodding, or leaning forward), by acknowledging and summarizing what the speaker has just said, by asking for clarification when necessary, and most important, by temporarily suspending their own personal thoughts and judgments in order to listen fully to the other person first.

Assertive Communication

Most people learn to communicate by watching and imitating others. While there are many lessons people can take with them from childhood, there are some lessons that can cause people to have difficulty communicating, such as:

  • It is never all right to disagree with parents or other authority figures. They become enraged and punish you either by yelling or by withdrawing positive attention. It is better to keep your mouth shut and protect yourself.

  • People will not listen if you only say something once. You have to repeat yourself in a progressively louder voice to make people listen.

  • People will respond and eventually give you what you want if you yell, whine, or give them the silent treatment.

  • If you tell people the truth, they will become angry or hurt and it is your fault. It is better not to tell the truth, or only tell it partially, to avoid further problems.

  • No one really wants to listen to what you have to say anyway.

  • If people don't respond to you immediately or in the way you want them to, it means that they do not respect or like you. This justifies overtly or covertly bullying them into giving you what you want, punishing them silently, or anxiously trying to prove your worth.

  • It is better to say nothing at all than to risk appearing stupid or incompetent. If you come across as if you do not know the answer, people will look down on you and impede your progress in the workplace.

  • Assume that other people will not give you the benefit of the doubt: if you are at all hesitant or confused about communicating your thoughts or feelings, they will either criticize or reject you.

To communicate effectively:

  • Use "I" statements: "I" statements allow people to clearly state their perceptions, thoughts and feelings. For example. "I am a bit perplexed. I've made several suggestions about how we might plan the project and I haven't heard any concrete responses so far. Can you tell me what you are thinking?" "I" statements avoid blame, criticism and judgment "I think that what you just did was really stupid" is not an "I" statement.

  • Two part message "when you?then?" is a non-threatening way to discuss objectionable behavior without blaming or punishing the person. For example, "When you don't get to the paperwork quickly, the bills don't get out to customers soon enough, and our cash flow suffers."

  • Empathic message these are statements of understanding linked with statements of need or wish. For example, "I know you have a lot of work to do. This report also needs to be done before the end of the day. I realize this puts additional pressure on you. Is there anything I can do to help relieve you in some other way?"

Change management

Change is a normal part of life, but it can be frightening, especially for people who do not feel confident that they have the power, authority or resources to ensure a favorable outcome. Those who grew up with frequent change and stress may believe that chaos in other spheres, such as the workplace, is normal as well. As a result of their experiences, some adults believe:

  • Authority figures (management) cannot be trusted to ultimately look out for their best interests

  • If their work is not perfect, their supervisors and colleagues will be angry and lose respect for them

  • Other people are treated better than they are

  • There is only one right way to do things

  • They cannot trust their own judgment when someone has different ideas

  • They are responsible for keeping others happy

  • They are fundamentally different from their co-workers because of their past experiences

The three factors that most influence how people respond to change are control, a sense of challenge, and commitment. To increase their sense of control, you should focus on what you can control, avoid panicking and rushing, and get support. You should also try to think objectively and seek outside perspective, and set limits by saying no. To increase your sense of challenge, explore and dispute negative assumptions, ask yourself what role you want to play, and try to reframe negative feelings. To increase the sense of commitment, set goals, do what you like to do, and be persistent.

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