C. P. D. Calm, Professional and Dignified

angry man stem

Figure 1 Getting angry isn’t necessary when we learn CPD

Many of the people that I work with find themselves stressed by work. Frequently they mention that they are surrounded by people they see as difficult, awkward to deal with or downright obstructive. It can be work colleagues, their manager or the clients or customers who they interact with on a daily basis. Then there are others who seek me out because they are experiencing difficult relationships with friends or family with whom they have had disagreements or a falling out.


One of the keys to successfully dealing with other people in situations where we do not agree with them is to recognise that the only behaviour we can control is our own. We cannot make someone behave the way we would like them to; and this includes our children too!


If we can accept this truth then it allows us to redefine success. Success therefore is not that someone does what we would like them to, success is that we behaved in a way that increases the chance they will do what we would like them to, and that we are really happy with our behaviour (not theirs!). If success is about our behaviour then how do we measure success? This is where CPD comes in. The measure is whether we were Calm, Professional and Dignified. Let’s define each of these measures so we can truly understand how to be successful in our interactions with other people when they may not agree with us or do what we would like them to.

had enough

Figure 2 Calm, polite and dignified can save a lot of stress

Calm – the dictionary definition is ‘the absence of strong emotions’ which means that displaying a calm presence is going to be difficult if you feel really strongly about something. This doesn’t mean you can’t display a degree of passion but it’s really important to keep your feelings in check. Don’t raise your voice, don’t roll your eyes, don’t display poor body language (arms folded, lack of eye contact, huffing and puffing when someone says something you disagree with). Being calm is not necessarily about what you say; it’s about how you say it. Take your time and don’t rush.


Professional – be professional (yes even if you’re dealing with family or children!). Prepare for the discussion by having facts and figures to hand that support your view. Ask the other person about their point of view – try to understand what motivates their argument. Wherever possible try to find areas of overlap between your view and their view. Don’t feel that the issue has to be resolved there and then; suggest that both parties take some time to think about the issues and reconvene later if necessary – especially if things become a little heated. Perhaps you can think of a way to trial an idea and then review its success. Be prepared to compromise, especially on points that are not pivotal. When you can see something is really important to the other person but is perhaps not that vital for you then willingly concede the point but don’t be frightened of asking immediately for something in return – negotiate fairly.


Dignified – this is perhaps the most important of our trinity of behaviours. The dictionary again comes to our aid in defining this – having or showing a composed or serious manner that is worthy of respect. This means worthy of your own respect not just the respect of others. Remember we have defined success in terms of our behaviour therefore it’s really important that we feel our behaviour was worthy of respect regardless of whether we actually received any respect. Being dignified means that if our request fell on deaf ears and was rejected that we don’t sulk, stamp our feet or walk out, and that we do thank people for taking the time to listen to us. We can also try to keep the door open for revisiting the subject at a suitable time in the future. It is also important to act in a dignified manner if you were successful. Don’t smirk or crow about your victory.


The beauty of CPD is that it is within your gift to be successful; nobody can deny you.

content couple

Figure 3  Even map reading together can be pleasant when remain CPD.

Written by Dr Rick Norris

To read more tips and suggestions for making life easier and more fulfilled you might want to check out Dr Rick’s books. A good starting place is our books page.

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