The following is an illustration of how to use the OSCAR method.
Step One: Observe what is going on in each circle.
Circle One: (Pay attention to our self-talk about our concern.)
"My boss doesn't communicate. He's never clear about what he wants done. On top of that he's always criticizing my work. Never a compliment like, 'Good job'. I get so damn frustrated with him. He always gives me just an average evaluation. The best thing I can do is avoid him as much as I can. I'm always complaining about him to my friends, my wife …. I've got to do something about this."
Circle Two: (How am I behaviorally and mentally responding to my concern?)
I'm avoiding him and complaining about him. My thoughts are negative and unproductive.
Circle Three: (How could this relationship be? What ideals are important to me?)
I'm unhappy at work because I'm not experiencing cooperation and creativity.
Circle Four: (What tendencies am I experiencing in this situation?)
I feel confused because I don't know how to handle my boss. Maybe I'm on the verge of blowing up and losing control. But, I'm in touch with what's important. I have to hold on to my vision of cooperation and creativity.
Step two: Sort out the emotions, behaviors and thoughts in each circle to see what changes need to be made.
Circle One: I need to change frustration to patience. I need to change my behaviors of avoiding and complaining to connecting. I need to change my expectations that my boss will change and that he will praise me. I need to stay in touch with my ideals of cooperation and creativity. No change here.
Circle Two: I need to change my unproductive strategy of distancing myself from my boss to the productive strategy of engaging him in a prudent way.
Circle Three: I need to strengthen my awareness of my ideals of cooperation and creativity by reminding myself of them each day.
Circle Four: I need to reduce the tendency of confusion about solving this problem and the tendency of depending on my boss for validation. I need to strengthen my tendency of vision by concentrating on my ideals of creativity and cooperation. I need to order my thinking, I need to get control of my emotions. I need to change my self-talk to conform with my ideals. I need to change from behaving and thinking reactively to behaving and thinking proactively.
Step Three: Connecting the vision of one's ideals to the practical ways that will transform the situation in Circle One according to one's ideal values.
This is the creative thinking step.
Remembering:What experience in the past can I recall when I felt cooperative and creative? How was I thinking, behaving and feeling at the time? I will let those thoughts and behaviors influence my present situation.
Imagining: If I can't recall an experience that will help me now, I will imagine a situation in which I am cooperating and thinking creatively, so that I can get in touch with positive thoughts, behaviors and feelings.
Brainstorming: What practical ideas go along with my ideals of cooperation and creativity?
Cooperation: sharing ideas, finding out each other's interests, expressing trust in each other, clarifying mutual goals, respecting differences, freely initiating ideas, listening to the thoughts and feelings of the other, etc.
Creativity: clearly seeing the problem, be open, be aware of my own bias, think in new ways, be patient and don't force a solution, visualize possible results of using different ideas, use analogies ie. this situation is like...
How can I make the above ideas concrete in my situation?
- What interests does my boss have? ___________________
- How can I initiate a conversation with him? ___________________
- How can I share with him some of my professional goals? ________
- What is the real problem? The real problem is not just my boss. The real problem is made up of me and my boss. We have different personalities. He's more of an introvert and I'm more of an extrovert.
- What's this problem like? (Think of an analogy.) It's like I'm locked out of the house, and I'm trying to get someone's attention inside. But the doorbell and the phone don't work. I'll slip a note under the door.
- How can I get my boss's attention so that I am not locked out? I need to take the initiative. I need to remember he's not like me. I need to find out his interests discreetly…maybe indirectly inquire from others in the office. Once I find out I'll search out some printed information about his interest. I'll send him one of those FYI envelopes with an article related to his interest. (Like slipping a note under the door.)
Step Four: Act on the new practical way of realizing the ideal.
In this step I need to plan and rehearse the implementation of this new idea of initiating an action to make contact with my boss.
- What is the best time to drop off this information? Probably, Friday.
- How will I follow up on this action? When is the best time to elicit a response from him?
- I will rehearse this plan with my friend to discover the best way to initiate a conversation with my boss.
Step Five: Re-evaluate the action taken in step four.
- What were the overall results of my action? Positive or negative?
- Did I feel free in communicating with my boss?
- Did I get a better understanding of him at some level?
- Do I believe that this relationship is changing toward one that is more cooperative at least on my part?
- If I didn't get the expected results, at least to a reasonable degree, what do I need to change in my thinking and behaviors?