Some of our most difficult and frustrating relationships happen in the workplace. Inevitable really, considering we spend 8 to 12 hours a day (if more, be sure to read my next blog on Overworking and Underperforming: The Perfect Partnership) with people who we possibly didn’t choose, potentially have nothing more in common with than a shared work space and who ultimately have their own ideas and agendas about how best to navigate their working life. In other words, our working relationships can feel like a poorly executed arranged marriage in which both parties feel equally dissatisfied with whom they’ve been partnered with and equally absolved of any role they play in contributing to the failing relationship.
So…wait for it…this is when the break-up adage, “It’s me, not you” turns from something we say (but most often don’t believe) to ease the pain of a wanted but somewhat sympathetic breakup into an opportunity for relationship building brilliance in the workplace. How? Simple. Believe it to be true. Maybe, just maybe, it is actually us and not them. Maybe our perception of someone and subsequently our resulting thoughts, feelings and behaviors with them are actually what is creating and contributing to our most difficult and unsatisfying relationships with the people we work with. Pause. I am putting forth a challenge to resist the urge we might be feeling right now to rationalize the intense wrongness of my suggestion, to begin formulating in our brains all the reasons why we believe we have done everything we can and yet “Jane” is still difficult, “John” is still moody, “Joe” is still incompetent, and “Judy” is still lazy.
Rather, consider this; How are the labels we’ve attached to Jane, John, Joe, Judy (or whoever that person is to you) helping us improve our relationship with them or better yet, our overall experience in the workplace? Labels (or the application of negative qualities) actually aggravate already challenging dynamics that exist between people, they change the way we act and communicate with people (and not in a good way), they prevent us from seeing what qualities this person possesses that might be valuable to us or the workplace and above everything else, the labels we assign to others prevent us from seeing clearly and reflecting on what we bring to the difficult nature of the relationship. Negatively labelling people blinds us to recognizing and changing the behavior that we are putting forth into our workplace universe, behavior that may be resulting in the resurrection of another age old adage; what we put into something is what we get out. I am not suggesting that co workers are perfect and we are always the problem, but what I am suggesting is that we are not perfect and our co workers not always the problem. So, let’s all ingest some good old fashioned advice that is loosely buried in the sentiment “It’s me, not you”, follow it up with a hearty dose of critical self reflection, apply it to our most troublesome relationships at work, and stir. Continue to repeat recipe until perfected. After all, we can’t blame people for a bad meal (relationship) if we are the ones cooking, but we can certainly take credit for a good one.
The result will be:
To learn more, consider viewing our webinar on this topic of Dealing with Difficult People. Find details here: www.achievecentre.com
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