Saturday 15 December 2018

Dealing with Conflict (Part Four)

Improving communication
 Like anything, interpersonal communication can be improved through practice. Use the following tips to improve your interpersonal communication skills.
1. Use feedback
Two-way communication allows both sender and receiver to search for verbal
and non-verbal cues (eyes, body movement etc) in order to establish
2. Use face to face communication
Accurate feedback is nearly always achieved more efficiently through face to face communication rather than over the telephone or through written means.
3. Be sensitive to the receiver’s situation
Individuals differ in their values, needs, attitudes and expectations.
Empathising with those differences will improve our understanding of others and make it easier to communicate with them. 

4. Use direct simple language
The more accurately that words and phrases are tailored to the receiver’s situation, the more effective the communication will be.
Communication openers How often would you use these phrases?
1. May I ask a question?
2. Before we make a decision, let’s review the options
3. I suggest we do not eliminate any options at this point
4. Can we stop for a second and look at the way we’re approaching the problem?
5. I’d like to go back a step and clear up something I don’t quite understand
6. I hope we don’t have a case of group think here
7. I’ve been hearing about (x) recently. Do we have any information on it?
8. I don’t know much about that. How about you?
9. Were you aware that …..?
10. Maybe we should reconsider your approach
11. This idea might sound a little strange, so let me explain the whole thing first
12. I have an idea I’d like to share sometime
13. Would you tell me more about what you just said
14. Let me ask for some ideas on how I can go ahead with this
15. Here’s a half-baked idea. I don’t know how it will strike you but I’ll share it with you
16. What other ways can we think of?
17. If we followed your idea through, what difference would it make?
18. I hadn’t thought of tackling it that way. I’d like to know more about it
19. What strengths in what we are doing does your idea tap into? 20. What sorts of options might our competitors be thinking about?
Possessing good interpersonal communication skills is one of the great strengths of an effective official
Active listening is more than just hearing.
Builds closeness and trust
Sends signals without words
Consists of the following behaviours:
S face the other person squarely
O adopt an open posture
L lean slightly toward the other person
D at a distance apart of about 1 metre
E keep good eye contact
R try to be relaxed
Understanding No word(s) mean exactly the same thing to any two individuals.
eg This is what I understand you are saying
or I think you mean
Note: responses should take account of their feelings i.e. don’t just repeat their words like a parrot. Beware not to send your own message
Five good listening tips
1. Listen attentively
All gestures and facial expressions should show acceptance and attention.
2. Listen reflectively
Repeat what was said. The official, by restating in ordinary speech what the competitor said, is able to check that the content of the communication was understood. It also enables the official to check the feeling of the competitor’s message was correctly interpreted.
3. Avoid emotional responses
Have you ever noticed how listening stops when an exchange gets heated?
4. Try bridging
A nod of the head, a throaty noise without words or an occasional “yes” helps the listener to know you’re tuned in.
5. Don’t interrupt
Don’t interrupt means don’t interrupt! 

Monday 10 December 2018

Dealing with Conflict (Part Three)

Barriers to effective communication
1. Criticising
2. Name-calling Judging
3. Diagnosing
Sender Message Receiver
4. Praising objectively
5. Ordering
6. Threatening
7. Moralising Sending solutions
8. Excessive/inappropriate questioning
9. Advising
10. Diverting
11. Logical argument Avoiding other concerns
12. Reassuring
More barriers to effective communication
Our personal ‘cages - People have different perceptions of words and actions
Filtering information - Hearing only what you want to hear
Emotions blurring the message - Responding to body language
No common language being spoken
- Use of jargon
Conflicting verbal and non-verbal messages
- Ingnoring information that conflicts with what we know
Comparing this person to others - Evaluating the source of the information
Reading the other person’s mind - Looking for personal agenda
Rehearsing what you are going to say
- Not responding to questions
Judging - Determining your response before reviewing evidence
Identifying with the other person’s problems
- Demonstrating some bias
Rescuing - Asking leading questions
Sparring - Asking antagonising questions
Being right - Not being open to other views
Blocking phrases – road blocks to communication
1. Ordering, directing, commanding
- You take this
- You get me the ball
2. Warning, threatening
- If you do that one more time I’ll send you off
- Okay, now you’ve had it
3. Preaching, moralising
- Some people never seem to know when to stop
- I wish somebody would teach you a bit more respect
4. Advising
- Why don’t you try and play the game?
- How about getting your players on side?
5. Judging, criticising, blaming 
- I would have though you would have known better
6. Name calling, ridiculing, shaming 
- You clumsy idiot
- You ought to be ashamed of yourself
7. Interpreting, psychoanalysing, assuming
- How come you’re so penalty prone?
- You were just trying to get back at me for what I did last game 
8. Teaching, instructing 
- How would you like it if someone did that to you?
- I wonder if you know how much that annoys me
9. Rescuing, intervening 
- I guess I’ll have to stop you doing that
- You’ll look ridiculous to everyone if you make that error again
10. Expecting too much 
- It’s so obvious that you should read your rule book
- Other players remember to plan things before they do them
More blocking phrases Which of these phrases would you commonly use and how often would you use them?
1. No
2. Can’t (with a shake of the head and an air of finality)
3. That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard
4. Yeah, but if you did that – (poses extreme or unlikely result)
5. Our business is different. You can’t do that here
6. Our system isn’t set up to do it that way
7. We tried that years ago
8. Look, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks
9. That’s not in our area
10. We’ve done all right so far, why do we need to do this now?
11. I don’t see anything wrong with the way we are doing it now
12. That doesn’t sound too practical. Or That sounds too theoretical
13. We’ve never done anything like that before
14. You’re talking about changing the whole way we do things! 15. Let’s not get off on a tangent
16. Let’s get back to reality
17. We’ve got a deadline to meet, we don’t have time to fool around
18. It’s too expensive to do it that way
19. It’s not in the budget
20. They will never buy it
21. Let’s take that up some other time
22. Are you kidding?
23. Let’s set up a committee to look at it. Or We’ll deal with it next meeting
24. We’ll be a joke if we follow this path
25. I’ve got the whistle
26. I’m the boss

Thursday 6 December 2018

Dealing with Conflict (Part Two)

Strategies for dealing with difficult situations
Strategy / Action
Know-all’s Acknowledge, but seek other opinions
- Use as a resource if they are part of a team
- Use them to assist you in game management
Get the official: Take the professional path and continue to treat the person with courtesy. Don’t react or make a big deal out of it. If the situation continues and is disrupting the group, then go straight to the competitor and ask: “What’s the problem?”
- Remember that by confronting an individual, you may isolate them from other members of the team. So try and involve one other person such as the captain.
Talkative competitors: Don’t panic. One or two competitors can add to the dynamic of the competition.
- Use their peers to help quieten talkative persons.
- If this doesn’t work you may have to cut in and talk directly to the offender.
Off the point or long answers: Short cut the discussion by focusing on the decision.
- Seek an indication that the competitor will try to prevent the situation arising again.
Wrong answers
- When applying the rules, some decisions are black and white. When clarifying such rules, try not to embarrass the competitor.
Three steps for handling conflict
- Eliminate the source of the problem
- Change the perception of the problem
- Use your personality, skills, knowledge, human understanding – i.e. your coping resources
- Flexibility
- Communication
- Closeness – but not familiarity
- Problem solving
Key personal attributes for managing conflict
Communication skills To become effective communicators, officials need to be skilled in the following areas:
Written communication
Verbal communication
Active listening/talking
Awareness of the barriers to effective listening strategies and techniques to improve communication. The communication process
Process of contact
Communication, instruction
The official
The competitor
Intended meaning
Selection, value,
Appropriateness to learner
Interpreted meaning
Decoding, previous experiences,
transfer into action
Capabilities, attitudes,
Knowledge, experience, will
Capabilities, attitudes,
Knowledge, experience,
Oral, visual, manual or combined Competition factors
Terrain, sun, wind, rain, cold, noise etc
Starting level of ability

Monday 3 December 2018

Dealing with Conflict (Part One)

Is the Player always right?
The customer is not always right – but the customer does come first. A friend of mine, Phil Cox standing in the middle of Football Park on 6th July 1996, said the following:
Never let your emotions overrule your judgment when the emotions of the players are at a peak.”
That is, the players and the game come first, but they are not always right.
So how do we develop the skills and attributes to handle the wide varieties of conflict that occur between personalities on the field?

What is conflict?
Definition: The fight, collision, struggle or contest between the player or competitor and the official.
Explanation: Opposition of opinions or purposes and can cause mental strife.
What is it? Actual or perceived
To answer the question of conflict we need to understand the strategies that can equip you and help you better resolve conflict on and off the field.

Strategies for dealing with conflict
1. Avoid the conflict: It is impossible to avoid dealing with conflict. We need to adopt PREVENTION strategies to help reduce the amount and type of conflict you face during a competition.
2. Smooth over the situation: By employing the correct conflict resolution strategy – each situation has a different solution to the particular situation – often you can smooth over the conflict.
3. One or both parties compromise: Resolution strategies should provide common ground to negotiate compromise.
4. Confrontation: Be firm, not aggressive or arrogant in heated situation. Use the laws and playing conditions to assist, not in a confrontational manner.
5. Address the problem not the emotions: Addressing emotions only inflame situations and increases the level of conflict.
6. Focus on the person: Treat others as you in their situation would want to be treated.
- Don’t treat them as objects
- Don’t be officious
- Show empathy for them
- Know a little about them personally

Start a dialogue with the competitors Essential to ensure game has structure and guidance, and clear lines of communication and dialogue. That is, acknowledge cricketers abilities, experiences, emotions etc.
If it starts to get a bit hot
- Don’t over react
- Don’t try to bluff your way out of unjustified rulings
- If possible adopt a low key posture
- Be factual and honest
- Maintain composure under pressure
- Work together with your colleague

Involve the group
- Seek assistance from the captain
- Seek support from umpiring colleagues
- Get captain to accept responsibility for offending player
Consensus: A decision that players are comfortable with and will reasonably accept and support.
Remember 50% of conflict occurs not with the decision but what was said and the tone in which it was said. Conflict resolution strategies.

Isolate facts from emotions: It has been said ‘sport is simply life with the volume turned up’. Statements like this help to demonstrate just how emotional sport can become. It is easy for the official to get caught up by the emotion, but they must try to remove as much emotion from the decision-making process as possible. Only by demonstrating that your decisions are based on the facts and the evidence available, can the official be recognised by the competitor as having made a fair and accurate decision.

Task versus relationship: An official’s support for a particular team or individual can never impact on the final decision. Officials are human just like spectators, coaches and players and will support a particular team or individual. Decisions must be made according to due process and the laws of natural justice, while all personal relationships and feelings are set to one side.

Listen more: The officials who listen to both the competitor’s verbal and non-verbal messages tend to gather more evidence by which to make accurate and fair decisions.

Try to empathize with the person: Officials who show empathy for competitors’ concerns usually receive reciprocal understanding by the competitors of the official’s role in applying the rules. The reverse applies to the official who is not prepared to show empathy for competitor’s concerns, with competitors showing little respect for the decisions the official makes.

Don’t be defensive or try to justify your actions: Clarifying decisions made during a competition should be a simple process when the decision is based on the facts and evidence presented. It is only when an official makes a difficult decision with no facts or evidence to back up the decision that officials will find it difficult to provide clarification.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Staying at the Top

Those who have the capacity to stay at the top are driven not by reaching one particular goal but by satisfaction and pleasure that comes from doing things well.
The secret of success in sport is not to be distracted by the expectations and ambitions of others and be able to stay on track.
Two of the keys to staying at the top are an ability to keep an eye on what it is that made us good in the first place, and the need for coaches and managers to keep coaching and take nothing for granted.
The challenge of staying at the top is to continue with the core principles and values and to continue to keep being coached once you reach the top.
It’s no body else’s turn to be the best unless you let your standards slip, lose focus on the values that made you great and stop learning and growing as an athlete.
Complacency is: - “acceptance” that it’s someone else’s turn to succeed.- an “expectation” that it will be okay on the day.
You must prepare diligently for the contests ahead and have strategies for handling every possibility.
Doubts can be positive, by making us acutely aware of the need to work hard and follow our first 5 principles, but they can act negatively by eroding our confidence and dragging us into lethargy and inactivity.
The optimal state of doubt is one in which the task or opposition is respected, but not feared. An appropriate respect can stimulate us to be vigilant, sharp and prepare fully.
Those who practice excellence prepare thoroughly, learn from every source, work cooperatively and are resilient and flexible, will be able to manage doubt and fear.
Most, if not all, of these ideals contained in the summary are self explanatory. There is no doubt that what we do as cricket umpires is incredibly challenging when there is an automatic expectation that every time we walk out on the field, that there will be a faultless performance with no errors. The reality is that we do make mistakes, however, the concept of “staying at the top” demands that we treat preparation and making mistakes differently from the rest.
For quality outcomes in terms of performance, there needs to be quality inputs and processes. If you practice quality in everything that you do, then the quality outcomes will take care of themselves.
You will not get to the top and stay at the top on your own. Only by being a cooperative member of your team with your fellow umpires, coaches and managers will help you achieve. This means that support for each other in the team and upholding the values of the group and profession of cricket umpiring is paramount.
There is no way that you can stay at the top without ongoing training and learning. You need to develop good habits and routines that centre around the skills that got you to where you are and create new ones that will improve them. Avoiding complacency and practicing humility is another key that will prevent you from stagnating and having the expectations of the game or others passing you by. 

Courtesy of Simon Taufel 

Thursday 8 November 2018

Match Management


• The way umpires present themselves to the players and scorers sets the tone for the days play. First impressions are very important as there are no second chances.  

• Key components for appearance include: – Pressed clean shirt and trousers. – Clean, pressed, non faded tie and tie bar. – Clean boots/shoes and white socks. – Clean hat & hat band (white).  

• It is important that both umpires “present themselves together” as often as possible and be attired similarly in accordance with the previous items. 
• Situations where the umpires should always “present themselves together”:
– meeting the captains or scorers.
– ground inspections.
– at the toss.
– when consultation between umpires is required
– at instances of unfair play or conflict. 

• The observance of the above items will ensure the umpires present in a professional manner.

• Effective match management requires constant attention to working as a team with your colleague, and very importantly, the scorers throughout the match (together the third team) • When together always make out as the third team • Teamwork requires umpires to “present themselves together • Regardless of personal feelings, to earn respect the umpire must maintain teamwork and professionalism. 

Do not undermine a colleague at any time.

• During conflict situations watch how your partner is handling the problem and give support as needed. 

• Not supporting your colleague will lose you respect from both the players and your colleague. 

• Remember that you will be judged as a team, so perform as a team.


• Effective communication with your colleague, scorers and the players is essential for a well managed cricket match.

• Discuss signals and other communication methods that you wish to use with your colleague before the match.  

• Verify signals you each use so you know what to look for from each other - signals for penalty runs, byes, leg-byes, etc.

• Meet scorers before the match and establish basis for working together throughout the game including where the scorers should sit.

• Interact with Players only on request and respond to queries only when asked.

• Develop a set of standard responses to use which will cover as many situations as possible.

• Captains and players love to hear the sound of their name. Endeavour to seek out the captains and scorers names. Ask the bowler his name in case you need to speak to him during the game. Listen for players talking among themselves - before and during play - to pick up names.

• Talk to the players, not at them.

• Be careful of what you say - a well intentioned comment may backfire on yourself and/or your colleague.

• Strive for a presence - a way of dealing with people that demonstrates confidence without arrogance, amiability without being too friendly.
• It is important that your body language suggests a cool head amongst turmoil.
• Consult with your colleague as often as necessary on points of fact.

Handling Pressure

• Pressure manifests itself in many ways and affects logical thinking and performance. • Pressure breaks attention span and leads to a lapse in concentration. • Stay cool.

• PRESSURE causes:
– Lack of control over a situation.
– Tightness of muscles and breathing.
– Loss of feeling for the game and its values.

• THIS RESULTS IN: – Loss of basic technique and discipline. – Complete breakdown in skills

• What Creates Pressure: – Appeals. – First few overs - high pressure and intensity then pressure drops off. – Last over before a break - pressure increases. – Increased pressure after resumption from break and at fall of a wicket. – Type of match - self creating pressure.

• RESULTS of Handling Pressure Well. – Actions are positive, confident and flowing with the game. – Feelings are calm and in control with a sense of enjoyment and anticipation without effort. – Positive player perceptions.

• RESULTS of Badly Handled Pressure: – Negative thoughts; easily distracted; information overload. – Tense; heavy; tired; lack of motivation. – Focus on looking ahead at the score in anticipation of conclusion; look back on possible mistakes; think of captains report on performance.

• Symptoms of Anxiety: – Increased Heart rate. – Lump in the throat. – Upset stomach. – Withdrawal or reluctance to talk to players.

• Suggestions: – Stand with feet apart, knees slightly bent. – Relax neck & shoulder muscles. – Direct thoughts inward and realise how tense the rest of your body may be. – Try to breathe normally - feel the heaviness. – Take deep, slow breaths - feel tension leave. – Continue with a few deep breaths - clear mind. – Continuous movement to stop feeling stiff.

• Use individual actions to maintain concentration.

Conflict Resolution

• Conflict stems from pressure.
• The handling of conflict situations requires special personnel management skills.
• Poor handling of these conflict situations creates the basis for a difficult game and may place undue pressure on the umpires.
• Animosity arises from 2 main sources:

• Player versus Player:
– Don’t intervene too quickly.
– Allow players to have their say.
– After a short time defuse the situation with a suitable comment.
• Some umpires have a dislike for getting involved whilst others step in too quickly.
• Either of these paths can cause the loss of respect of the players.
• Approach captains and ask them to take suitable action to control players.

• Player versus Umpire: – Frustrated players often show excessive disappointment to umpires which reduces their credibility. – Stand by decision & reject guilt feelings. Understand and recognise that you will not please everyone - at all times be consistent. – Show control and dispassionately explain your decision if asked. – Never even up an error subsequently.
• Due to the nature of their decision making role, umpires must expect that dissent will occur from time to time. Each event should be assessed on its merits and dealt with appropriately (be consistent).
• Being an umpire does not give immunity from criticism. Successful umpires know how much to take before invoking the code of conduct. Experience is the key.

• Player Conduct reports: – First of all work with Captains to control players in accordance with the spirit of cricket. Drop a few hints to help maintain control. – Never speak to a player in an aggressive manner. Never lose your cool or you will lose respect from everyone. – Never walk towards a player in an aggressive manner or point a finger (body language). – Any necessary reports must involve your colleague, and the captains informed.

Tact & Attitude towards Players

• Tact in an umpire is very important and the best way to be tactful is to remain silent and generally only speak when spoken to - keep mouth shut and they will only think you are stupid.
• An umpire should be pleasant towards players, but always firm and exercise control in an unassuming manner.
• An umpire must not talk too much - nothing irritates the players more.
• Chattering affects concentration significantly. (Mainly the umpire’s.)
• An umpire should never ask a batsman if he hit the ball or not. Attracts disrespect and a perception of lack of confidence.
• Never call a player to you for discussion. Stand your ground, allow player to approach.
• If you need to speak to a player, wait until he comes near you.
• Knowing players and captains can influence attitude to be taken.
• Use the LEAD principle.
• Remember it is a players game and the umpires are only there to interpret the rules.

– And apply the laws with commonsense.
• Don’t constantly look for minor technical violations to show off law knowledge.
• Use laws as a deterrent - not a solution.
• Know how to integrate laws.
• Try to anticipate problems and solve them before they occur (read the game).
• Be Complimentary. For example: – If keeper replaces bails say thank you. – If you speak to a captain about player behaviour finish request with a “please”. – After he speaks to a player say “thank you”. – Apply these basic courtesies with the scorers throughout the match.