Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘business relationships’ Category

Entitlement isn’t the Problem You are Having with Millennials

In ages in the workforce, baby boomers, breakdown in communication, business relationships, communication, communications between generations, entitlement, generation x, generations, generations at work, generations in the workforce, GenXers, improve communication, managing conflict, millennials, professional behavior, professionals over 50, respect by coworkers, Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm

You came into the workforce in the 1970s or 80s or 90s. Guess what? The Veteran population (born before 1946) thought you were little know-it-alls just waiting to take their jobs. And you did. There is nothing new about the inconveniences brought about by new generations entering the workforce.

Truly, can we blame Millennials for feeling entitled? Millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit and don’t tend to view corporate life as one big climb up the ladder in a vertical formula. This makes sense: their heroes are themselves Millennials! We didn’t have billionaire, entrepreneurial heroes. (Lee Iacocca wasn’t my hero when I entered the workforce as a secretary in 1982!)

Millennials had more opportunity to learn a wider range of things in college than we even had names for. Millennials do tend to get bored and want to jump ship if they don’t feel challenged. They feel freer to communicate with higher-ups and want to have a voice. They are a loud crowd!

GenXers rose up and flattened out hierarchy, feeling entitled to change reporting structures. This felt like anarchy to Baby Boomers who feel entitled to be respected for their experience and knowledge of how to successfully run a business.

See? Who doesn’t feel entitled to something? What’s wrong here is the fear and bias we are having with the differences in our ages and our cultures. You want to be a role-model for Millennials? Then start remembering what it means to shift your self-image from being a student to becoming a professional. Realize the hardships you had to face and the ways in which humility smacked the feeling of entitlement right out of you. And if this never happened to you, then ask yourself if people would describe you as arrogant and obstinate. Millennials just need time to grow-up; to run up against power threats and failures, and disappoint higher-ups, just like you had to. Meanwhile, stop blaming them for everything that’s making you uncomfortable with the changes that you don’t like.

I coach people of all ages on how to communicate and build interpersonal skills, and the most frequent complaint I hear is dealing with the other generations in the workplace. The answer is really simple. Use the discomfort to learn about your own unconscious biases, the need for confirmation bias (listening for those things you already believe vs. being open to new ideas) and your fears of not being in control. Then, apply TOLERANCE, the desire to UNDERSTAND, to INCLUDE, and to VALUE people who are not replicas of you.

After all, you’re entitled to be at peace.

Humbly yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Not Fighting Back is Exhausting and Rewarding

In anger management, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, communicating, communicating by phone, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, fight or flight, Gurus, interpersonal skills, professional behavior, Uncategorized on April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

A few years ago, I was challenged by a very difficult client in a fairly visible, corporate position. She would routinely drop the ball on important details and cause mayhem in accomplishing tasks. She bullied and blamed others for problems that she caused. When confronted with a problem (of her making) would say, “Do you know who I am?” (Oh yes, she did!) Anyway, I had to deal with a lot of stress just to ensure that my service to her company was successful, beyond, and in spite of her.

So there I was, someone who touts herself as being an expert in interpersonal effectiveness, and I was failing to build a bridge of trust and rapport with this person, despite all efforts. And after dealing with her for so long, I frankly disliked her so much that it felt too insincere to want to build rapport. Yet, I had to remain professional.

In the midst of all this, she sent me an urgent email to call her ASAP. Taking a deep breath, I called. She then reprimanded me for failing to read the details of one of her emails, berated me for writing back without having done so, and projected onto me her own feelings of being so out-of-control by claiming I was chaotic and acting like a wreck.  Rage boiled and I could feel the sizzle in my brain. I thought I was going to explode and tear her fragile sense of importance into little tiny shreds. (That would have been my old way of coping with someone like this.) But no, I decided to walk-the-walk and model what I teach others to do.

I noticed several things happening as I was holding back my anger and thinking about what to do. First, I know that the act of thinking clearly during high-levels of negative emotions uses more stored glucose than the release of intense emotion. As a result, I found myself getting physically and mentally exhausted. The FIGHT response, my automatic protector, had a full tank of cortisol (stress hormone) at its disposal. My pre-frontal cortex (executive brain) was working really hard to find my way around these feelings and take charge of the conversation. And that was the good news. I had been working to build muscles to think when stressed, and had access to it. I simply used my mantras, “Detach and Breathe” (I wrote an article about the importance of using mantras to manage stress) and, “My feelings are none of her business.” They worked!

Once I got my emotions under control, I used a technique that David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute refers to as “Choose Your Focus.” The idea is to stay out of the DRAMA, PROBLEM and even DETAIL and move up the ladder to where constructive dialog can occur. The areas of focus are on the PLANNING and SOLUTION. So, here’s what the conversation sounded like:

CLIENT: “You need to calm down. If you had read my email you wouldn’t have had to write so many. This is absurd and it cannot continue this way.”

ME: “I think we’re talking about a breakdown in communication, and that’s fixable. So, if I understand correctly, we still need to determine the dates for the training.”

CLIENT: “Yes.”

Once she agreed, I held to the facts, and followed up the conversation with an email. It’s really that simple looking in; you just don’t go down there with the other person. But the effort to keep calm is zapping!  She will never know how much energy I spent keeping myself in a neutral and thinking place.

As challenging as this situation is, I see her as my Guru keeping my skills sharpened. It is so true that “Your Most Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher.”

Calmly yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Coffee Talk with Colleagues: Loose Lips Sink Ships

In business, business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, gossiping, leadership, office politics, people skills, professional behavior, professional development training, sales, training, Uncategorized on January 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

“Let’s have cawfee, we’ll tawk!”  How many of us frequently grab that cup o’ Joe with a colleague, for that quick, yet productive meeting?  A good idea unless the jazz, low lights and chocolate-y cupcakes encourage the conversation to spin out of control.

Recently, at a mid-town Starbucks, I overheard a man and woman (both of whom were wearing expensive-looking suits, holding the very latest Smartphones, and sipping double espressos) talk about the utter hatred they had for their boss, about how they weren’t earning enough commission and how when the market got better they would both look for other jobs.  She said, “Bill, I can’t believe you feel this way, too!”  He said, “Oh yeah, I’ve felt this way for years.  Maybe it’s good to finally talk about it.” I thought, the only way either of them is going to be safe sharing this information with the other is if they are siblings or spouses. But they weren’t, because the woman discussed her plans to be with her family for Easter and the guy mentioned his fiance and their upcoming wedding. Before they got up, they agreed not to share each other’s feelings, and on terms for a client meeting for which they were teaming-up.  I felt for them because the tension and strain of the work environment was affecting their morale, leading to this discussion.

Without even knowing it, this inappropriate sharing of feelings is likely to become the undoing of any real trust between them, over time.  He could become her boss, she his. They could get a new boss whom she likes but he doesn’t.  You just never know how circumstances will change.

Having a cup of coffee with a colleague can enhance a good working relationship because those few moments away from the daily numbers-crunching grind to have a rich, aromatic daily grind, can inspire open communication, information sharing and improved negotiations.  That being said, the step out of the office can also loosen one’s inhibitions and potentially jeopardize work relations.

This is why conference rooms were built. People don’t typically conspire to blow-up the boss or talk about their job interviews or affairs after a meeting has ended.  No one can fault you for wanting to be the consummate professional.  So, here are some tips to keep yourself on track and in the mind-set of doing business when out of the office:

1. Be the listener.  In case your associate is mouthing off, you can nod your head to show understanding and sympathy without engaging in the negativity.  Tell your partner that you are sorry to hear about these problems, but that you don’t feel you are in a position to discuss the situation. Suggest that an impartial, third party be consulted for support.

2. Start talking about the business at hand. Gently drive your partner back to the thing you came to discuss by asking for input and suggestions.

3. Openly watch the time.  Say something to the effect of, “I only have another 10 minutes, what haven’t we covered?”

4. Confirm your neutrality. As you are leaving, wish your associate a peaceful resolution and reaffirm your interest in working on this and future projects together.

It is so tempting to gossip when you feel you have found someone who sides with you. But there is tremendous danger in engaging in conspired negativity, and from my experience, ALL gossip leaks, even among friends.  So, take the high road; you may even encourage the gossip to end.

Happy communicating,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do Your Co-Workers Like You?

In arguments, avoiding arguments, being different at work, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, career-related problems, communication skills, compassion, conflict resolution, feeling accepted, feeling safe at work, impress, Insults, keep negativity to yourself, Liked by coworkers, professional behavior, professional boundaries, Respect, respect by coworkers, self-worth, Uncategorized, work relationships, work-related problems, work-related stress on January 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Hey, who doesn’t want to be liked? The problem is we can’t be liked by everyone and that’s a hard concept to take in. In fact, some people get so stressed about how much they’re liked that they’ll go out of their way to be part of the group: hanging out after work even if they’d rather be alone; going along with someone else’s idea (even if they think it’s a bad one), and being ingratiating and over-complimentary (while being insincere). It’s all an attempt to feel accepted, included and made to feel a-okay. It’s so understandable.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “People cannot make you feel inferior without your permission.” Think about that. Are you giving away your power to someone else’s judgment of you? True that it’s demoralizing to be ostracized by a colleague with a strong personality or by a team of followers. But, any act that undermines one’s self-worth to fit in is not the route to being liked, anyway.

So, are you actually liked? In truth, people generally think mostly about themselves and gauge others on how safe they are around them. When I say ‘safe’ I mean that the brain is checking every 12 seconds or so to see if we are safe. If you, for whatever reason, are not safe in another person’s mind, you are probably not liked. It may have nothing to do with anything you’ve done to that person, it could be because you are confident and assertive, or are generating more revenue than your colleague, or you’re thinner, or you’re up for a promotion…whatever the trigger is for that person, decides how safe you are. However, if you are not a trigger (meaning, not perceived as a threat) you are probably liked. It’s such a subjective thing. While being liked might feel safe to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are respected, especially if you are going out of your way to be liked!

My advice to you: go for being respected. Respect goes a lot further in helping you, your team and the company. Here’s how to gain respect:

  1. Always be sincere and diplomatic in your honesty. So, instead of saying, “No, I don’t like your idea,” you say, “I like your courage to change the program and think that the idea itself needs more flushing out.”
  2. Don’t get pulled down into others’ fear, anger, or jealousy. Say someone’s trying to undermine you; is talking behind your back and condemning you. Don’t Energize. Rise! Don’t try to mollify or ingratiate yourself. Don’t try to retaliate. Don’t gossip about it. Look within. What about you might be causing this reaction to you? What can you do to improve? What about him/her would create such jealousy or fear? Let your insights help you become stronger. Focus on being the best you. Yes, it’s unfair! But remember that you are being shown how to separate yourself from negativity – you are learning to set boundaries and keep your emotions in check. (Now, this is very different from hearing that a co-worker is upset and doesn’t know how to address you. In this case, you gently work to improve communication and ask that person what you may have done. Sincerely look to patch things up. Be accountable and work to compromise. That action gains respect.)
  3. Avoid being argumentative. State your opinion only after you’ve made sure that others feel heard and validated. You can even agree to a point of their opinion without actually agreeing to something that goes against your beliefs. Instead of “I don’t think we should just hike our fees next year by 35%.” You say, “I can agree that we should initiate a new fee structure; it protects our company. If we do this incrementally, clients will be more apt to go along with it. I hope we can figure this out together.”
  4. See things through others’ eyes. Judgment is being placed upon you, yes. But, you can stay above the negativity by not judging others. People are where they are in their level of conscious understanding and awareness. You be the one with the high awareness and objectivity. When you can free yourself from judging others, you can climb to a place of compassion.

With this compassion, you awaken to the point that you don’t NEED them to like you. You will stop seeking acceptance from people who can only project who they think you are through a lens that is foggy, at best. Instead, you will be liked – and admired – by people who see who you truly are; those who are self-contained, aware and compassionate, and not threatened by your greatness or your differences. The best news is that the more you become the detached, respected professional, the more you will find yourself surrounded by people just like you!

Do your co-workers respect you? That’s the real question and the thing most worthy of your focus.

Respectfully,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Handle Opposing Political Views at Work

In anger management, anxiety, arguments, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, building rapport, bullies at work, business relationships, change, Change the Subject, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, keep negativity to yourself, political beliefs, politics, sharing political views at work, Uncategorized on December 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

You are thrilled that Trump won. Or, you’re horrified. It doesn’t matter; trying to be right and fighting for your beliefs in this extremely divided climate isn’t good for healthy work relations.

Sure, you and a team of co-workers may be in agreement, and you feel relatively secure speaking your mind with them. But, not only is it likely that there’s the one or the few or the many within hearing range of your political conversations; those people may end up causing you and your friends some very undesirable consequences.

What I mean is that most people already don’t handle conflict well in the workplace. I’m talking about the kind of conflict that arises out of a need for power, control and to be right, which plays itself out with things like: how to handle a client, who should lead a project, etc. What’s erupting now is a type of conflict that arouses hate and vitriol, hence what’s happening on our streets. The stakes are extremely high and walls between folks are being fortified. So, the goal here is to not mix political views with business needs. Avoid creating a hostile environment that will make being at work unnecessarily impossible.

So, what do you do if you are hearing political views that you find despicable?

  1. Concentrate on the common ground you have with the person on the work-front. In what ways do you need to cooperate? Focus on the work.
  2. Remind yourself that everyone is coming from their unique experience and has the right to an opinion without being told, “You’re wrong.”
  3. Remember that no matter how factually correct you can prove yourself to be, the office is not the place to persuade people to change their political views.
  4. See yourself as tolerant. Behave with tolerance. This is what a great leader does.
  5. Remove yourself from political conversations that could disturb others. Tell your friends that you don’t want to inadvertently alienate anyone and want to stick with work-related topics.

Whether you’re anticipating that great things will unfold or are scared to death by what is happening, remember that we are truly all in this together and are all going through change. At the least, you can play your part in keeping your workplace a safe place.

Wishing us all the best,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Stop a Binge-Talker On the Spot

In anxiety, asking questions, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, Binge-Talkers, Binge-talking, body language, boring speaker, brain, breakdown in communication, building rapport, business relationships, Change the Subject, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, engagement, gossiping, human relations, improve communication, interpersonal skills, lack of relatedness, listening, manage stress at work, open-ended questions, People Who Talk Too Much, profesional boundaries, saying no, sharing information, stress and worry, work relationships on October 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm

How to Manage Your Personal Power with an Insecure Boss

In aggression, arguments, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, business relationships, career challenges, career path, career-related problems, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, effective communicating, emotional balance, empowerment, gossiping, handling tough boss, insecure bosses, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, person to person dynamics, personal growth, personal power, professional behavior, professional boundaries, professional development, team-player, Uncategorized, women in the workplace, work-related problems, working with a younger boss on September 11, 2016 at 5:42 pm

I have been told many times that I am like a lightening rod; I tend to ignite a riot. Let me say this: I don’t mean to, my energy is like that. It creates reactions in others and it makes people like me difficult in a corporate environment. I think independently, I’m self-motivated and truly out-of-the box in the way I approach things. This can be very rattling for those who adhere closely to “the way things are done here.”

As a coach, having worked to become self-aware and accountable for my actions, I always try to use my lessons for the betterment of others. So, I only share this background about myself because work can be hell for a person like me who reports to an insecure manager. I was a victim and contributor of hell for many years during my twenty-plus-year career in advertising sales, until I made the decision to work with my authentic self in a constructive way. Until then I was clueless about managing this energy of mine.

Now, as a brain-based coach and trainer, and I hear stories like mine from the highest levels of corporate leadership to mid-level and even junior level professionals. If this is your plight, you must first acknowledge that you may be delivering a sting with your beam. Here are a few questions for you. See if you say yes to more than two.

  1. Do you make unilateral decisions when you know your boss should be included?
  2. Do you dismiss his/her ideas?
  3. Does your boss side with your co-workers instead of you?
  4. Is your boss inaccessible unless to criticize you?
  5. Does s/he steal your ideas without acknowledging you?
  6. Are you being blocked from a deserving raise or promotion?
  7. Are you overlooked for invitations to important meetings?

It’s time to stop blaming your boss for being bad, wrong, insecure, etc., and start looking at what you can do to create a positive connection.

Here are some critical dos and don’ts:

  1. Directly acknowledge what your boss does that impresses you – be sincere.
  2. Seek your boss’ opinions on real issues (don’t make things up just to ingratiate yourself) and apply what you receive to your work.
  3. Maintain your composure regardless of your boss’ mood swings.
  4. Show respect for his/her views.
  5. Do not gossip to anyone about your boss. It will come back to you with a vengeance.
  6. Do not attempt to become friends – keep your professional boundaries at all times.
  7. Demonstrate that you are a team-player. Share the glory!
  8. Be your confident self and be humble.

Your authenticity is not at stake when you are aware of how to use your brightness and get along with others. People perceive you by how you make them feel. Bosses are just as vulnerable as any of us – and if you’re a boss you know this to be true.

Lastly, corporate cultures can vary and it’s important to know when you don’t belong. On the other hand, use any tension and adversity you are experiencing to teach you about you. It’ll make your experience valuable beyond the years you spend in any particular job.

 

 

Brightly and happily yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You’re 50 and Your New Boss is 30. Now what?

In assertiveness, baby boomers, business, business networking, business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, communications between generations, diversity, effective communicating, executive coaching, executives, generation x, generations in the workforce, gossiping, interpersonal skills, leadership, managing, millennials, networking, office politics, people skills, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, professional behavior, professional development, public speaking, training, Uncategorized, working with a younger boss on September 1, 2016 at 10:15 am

I’m a Baby Boomer, born in 1959, and I’ve had this experience.  I was once VP of a sales department, having been overlooked for the open SVP slot.  A woman, 10 years my junior, became my boss.  I immediately read what I thought was fear in her eyes and I did what I could to show that I supported her. For several months she kept telling me, “You’re great!  What would I do without you?” Then at around the three month mark, she fired me. Not based on my performance, not because I was acting out against her.  I asked her point blank, “Why?” and her response?  “You’re not a fit.”  You can imagine what that felt like!

Not all younger boss scenarios end badly, although they may be challenging. If you’re currently reporting to someone who’s your junior, and there’s tension around this reality, then this article’s for you.

Here you are, sharp as ever, valuable as hell, and watching your peers leave (voluntarily or by being pushed out).  Inevitably, you are wondering what’s going to happen to you and your job. Plus, you have this younger person as your boss. From your perspective, you might be tolerating what you see as the bumps and blunders your manager goes through to gain respect and be an effective leader (only to show signs of vulnerability and feelings of inadequacy). Just think of how threatening it must feel to manage someone older than yourself!

You may be observing that he or she likes to run things a bit loosely. This person is likely to want more contact via email and text and less in-person contact. Your manager might be in a state of unconscious incompetence (which is another term for, not knowing what we don’t know) and may think your view on leadership is antiquated.

The truth is, good leadership is ageless. That being said, your younger boss comes from a different era, and has generational tendencies for which you should be aware.

Here are some traits associated with our younger colleagues, the ones about whom I am referring.  They likely born after 1975 and before 1987.  (The full span of “Generation X” is 1965-1981 and of “Millennials” is 1982-2000).

Techno-literate

Grew up embracing diversity and informality

Want to achieve balance between fun and work

Self-reliant

Enjoy a lack of rigid structures

(*Source: The Generations, Gary Trotta’s Training Games, Inc.)

Some of these tendencies are a breath of fresh air! So, what to do when there’s a conflict or you feel critical of your boss’ ways? Try to see things from your boss’ perspective. Imagine you’re 30 again and people the age of your parents report to you. Threatening, maybe a little? Much to prove? There’s a really powerful interpersonal dynamic that can become an opportunity to show your ability to dance with change, with people of all ages, and with the demands of the job.

When you see them struggle, offer assistance without being obsequious, pedantic or passive-aggressive. Just be you with all of your experience and wisdom.  Ask about your manager’s vision for the department and the role he or she sees you playing in it.  Occupy your space with confidence. Show interest in your boss’ perspective and demonstrate respect.  Become curious and enthusiastic about working together.

Besides, what are the options?  Just walk away? Fight the system?  Disregard the new manager’s responsibility for you?  We Boomers have been through a lot and we know that change is inevitable.

If we can accept what’s happening, grow with it and be a role model of flexibility and integrity, we can lead our younger managers to victory.

Enjoy the ride,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher

In aggression, assertiveness, business relationships, career, communicating, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, gossiping, handling tough boss, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, office politics, passive-aggressive, people skills, professional behavior, professional development, Uncategorized, Winning, working with a younger boss on May 25, 2016 at 1:24 am

The most challenging people are our greatest teachers. We can use our reactions to them to start taking control of ourselves.

You’ve got a challenge in the office — that thorn in your side, or actually, more like a knife in your gut.  You dread every minute you have to interact with this person. You have dreamed about ways to get rid of him or her, coming up with some ominous fantasies that have words in it like, “extermination.”  Or, perhaps there’s such a lack of trust and respect that you believe s/he’s going to attempt to hurt your job or career.

On a day-to-day basis you find yourself snapping, yelling, arguing.  You and your enemy go at it freely. Co-workers are warning you that they’re sick of your complaining, but you’re stuck deep in the mud. When you do find someone else with whom you can commiserate, you share war stories and eat up valuable work time letting off steam behind closed doors.

Maybe you’ve even tried the exact opposite approach– showing too much appreciation, flattering him or her, praising this person to the point where you feel nauseous and certainly disingenuous. And, it’s still not working.

Good news!  You’ve been blessed by having this individual cross your path.  Let me explain.

Recently, an ambitious 20s-something, whom we’ll call Joe, told me about his boss’ executive assistant — a woman in her mid 50s (whom we’ll call Gina).  Joe was beside himself with exhaustion because Gina refused to return his work on time, or if at all, despite the fact that it’s part of her job.  Gina’s attitude is profoundly bitchy and argumentative.  It reduces Joe to arguing, yelling and then finally backing off. Since their boss won’t intervene or help Joe, Joe ends up doing the work himself.  Even worse, despite complaints about Gina by others, the company refuses to let her go or even send her to anger management courses.

Joe, being exhausted and frustrated, realized that he was about to throw away a great job for this co-worker.  Instead, he came to me to learn how to deal with Gina. Here was the process we used to help him realize he was being given a tremendous opportunity to learn from her.

1. Look at yourself through the other person’s eyes.   She is twice his age.  Been with the company for years.  She reports to Joe’s boss and yet is being asked to support Joe, who is of a lower status. This might seem unfair to her and her tenure. She doesn’t care about his success.  She’s tired of helping the young kids with their grunt work who never ask what she thinks.

The exercise of guessing of what might be on her mind opened up Joe’s mind for change. This made him more sympathetic to her. He decided that he was done screaming, fighting and seeing her as his enemy.

2. Analyze the lesson. What did Joe learn?  That Gina was his Guru.  She was the impetus for him to become more self-aware and aware of others. She helped to prepare him for dealing with difficult people in the workplace and it got him to pursue skill development. Gina was Joe’s mirror. The reflection showed him just how bad his behavior could become in the face of an opposing force, and he didn’t like himself for it one bit.

3. Accept what we cannot change. Joe’s plan was to continue seeking Gina’s assistance, as it was his right and her job. If she said no, he would accept it and move on.  Because he was done fighting with her, he was willing to do the work himself without getting into a verbal brawl.  Joe’s self-esteem rose for having the control to accept what he couldn’t change.

Think of your challenging person as your greatest teacher. Whatever negativity he or she is bringing up in you, IS IN YOU to begin with, and is merely having an outlet.  The question is — what about you is being reflected back?

If you’ve become someone you can’t respect as a result of someone else’s behavior, you are being given a golden opportunity to grow, without ever trying to win or change the other person.  We can only ever control what we say and do anyway, so might as well use the situation to teach us how to detach enough to control ourselves.

These ‘difficult’ people are catalysts for our transformation. They may initially bring us to our proverbial knees, but we can choose to get back on our feet.  Thank these “villians” my friends, they are our greatest allies.

Enjoy the lesson!

Jackie

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