Want To Grab Them By The Throat And Knock Them Senseless?
by Rhoberta Shaler, Ph.D
Sometimes, a fellow worker can irritate, annoy or frustrate us so much that we feel we're about to lose control. But all that may be required is a recognition that we're responsible for our own attitudes and actions.
Want to grab them them by the throat and knock them senseless?
Sometimes you just do, don't you?
"Say that one more time and I'll send you to
You may not say these things, but they do run through the mind. They are the kinds of things that get your shoulders up around your earlobes by the end of the workday and send you scurrying for an over-priced coffee drink just to keep going.
There are other solutions.
First, we need some practical things to simply do for ourselves on these occasions—without saying anything to the other person. You may think this is next to impossible, but try it!
I once married a man who was a calm, delightful man, bright, warm, caring. Soon after the wedding, I learned his big secret.
He snored in that bring-the-house-down-and-calm-the-neighborhood-cats fashion. Really, the walls shook 3 rooms away. What to do? One solution would have been to have the marriage annulled, another to move to separate houses.
Neither was an option, so, I learned something. I could take my attention away from his snoring and not be bothered by it.
Do you think that was easy? It was easier than it sounds. (Of course, having written a book with the title "What You Pay Attention to Expands" I was bound and determined to overcome this difficulty.)
If he had been hurting anyone or impeding progress or was incompetent, another solution might have been the first to try. We'll discuss those in a later article. Turning my attention to thoughts of vacations, goals, love or fantasy, I no longer heard the snoring. It did take some practice. And, it worked.
Sometimes, we just let people bother us too much and we take no responsibility for our own thoughts and attitudes. It is often easier to blame than to look within for answers.
Am I focusing on a co-worker's issues when I could be looking at your own?
We humans like to look outside of ourselves for reasons we are unhappy. We want SOMEONE to blame. It couldn't possibly be us! The most effective thought is to look within first.
Is there something I am doing that is setting this person off?
Is there something I am doing that is setting this person off? You know how to push someone's buttons, don't you? Many folks master this very early in life and they just keep practicing.
What's in it for you? You can always make someone wrong and things seldom change. Therefore, you always have something to moan or whine about. Therefore, you can always be miserable...and you are choosing it.
This is sheer lunacy!
Am I communicating clearly?
Am I communicating clearly? We've been carefully taught to be nice. Often that means that we do not communicate clearly. We are subtle, indirect or silent.
Nothing will change if you cannot communicate well. If you happen to be a truly passive person, you may be hoping someone else will handle difficult people. Meanwhile, you are creating an ulcer.
You must learn to be assertive. We all need to. Assertive, but, not aggressive.
Am I teaching people how to treat me?
If someone speaks to me in a way I find offensive, and I don't say anything, I've just told them it is all right with me. Sure, the first time, you want to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are having a bad day.
The second time, though, speak up. It is not necessary to get really fancy with the words. Simple is good.
"When I hear racist jokes, I feel very uncomfortable because, even though they can be humorous, they are at someone's expense. What would work for me is that we agree that you'll warn me before you tell one so that I can move away, or, you resist the urge to tell them around me. Would you agree to that? I would really appreciate it." (This is one of my pet peeves, so, I take care of it right away!)
Isn't that a better solution than squirming, judging or silently sending daggers in their direction?
Taking care of business like this is empowering. You'll notice in the example above that I did not make the other person wrong. I spoke about my feelings and what would work for me. Then, I asked for agreement. I took care of business.
So, next time you want to whack someone upside the head, take a deep breath and use one of these strategies. (You'll find many more in my book, "Wrestling Rhinos: Conquering Conflict in the Wilds of Work".)
It's a jungle out there sometimes. Be prepared.
Dr. Rhoberta Shaler solves "people problems" at work by making it easier to talk about difficult things. Dr. Shaler speaks to, trains and coaches executives and entrepreneurs worldwide in the communication skills essential to creating powerful conversations that reduce conflict and anger, build trust, and streamline negotiation. The rewards: stronger teams, optimized productivity and increased profits. Author of over a dozen books and audio programs, Dr. Shaler's new book, "Wrestling Rhinos: Conquering Conflict in the Wilds of Work" is receiving rave reviews for "helping people to play nicely in the company sandbox". She is the founder of the Optimize! Institute in Escondido, CA. Visit the Institute's website for information on upcoming teleseminars and programs and to subscribe to Rhoberta's free newsletter.
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