Jackie Kellso

Posts Tagged ‘boss’

How to Recognize when you’re Bringing your Inner 9-year-old to Work

In ages in the workforce, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, Emotional Intelligence, emotions management, generations at work, growth mindset, Imposter Syndrome, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity at work, personal development, personal growth, personal life at work, professional behavior, professional development, Professional Reputation, self-awareness, work-related problems, work-related stress on February 4, 2021 at 2:54 pm

Corporate life is the perfect laboratory for inner development. For every negative thing that the workplace triggers in us — aggression, low self-confidence, avoidance, the “imposter syndrome”, procrastination, hate, fear, inability to learn, the need to please, — you name it — the dynamics of a competitive, results-oriented, shared environment can become the springboard for deep personal growth. 

Corporate life, by nature, creates a family-like dynamic: managers may inadvertently play parental figures (whom we wish to please or rebel against) and colleagues might show up as jealous siblings. When adults move into careers with an unhealed emotional life, work can become pretty dysfunctional. This is because grown-ups can drag their inner 9-year-olds into the present. Signs of this can be a lack of self-awareness, unchecked emotions and behavior, and overall poor Emotional Intelligence. 

For all you know, you are unknowingly triggering the 9-year-old in a coworker. Or, your boss is bringing your 9-year-old to the surface. The key to help you see if this is happening is to watch for patterns. Here are some:

*Do you have the same kind of struggle with a boss no matter the job?

*Do your performance reviews routinely disappoint you?

*Are you at times called out for behavior that offends others?

*Have you been overlooked for a promotion multiple times?

*Do you tend to have conflicts with colleagues?

*Do you fear asking for what you want and wish your boss would just acknowledge your value?

When I worked in advertising sales, it took me over 20 years to realize that my 9-year-old had been holding me back; causing me to act out aggressively to overcome the fear of being annihilated by the power of a boss’s authority. This eventually led to a wonderful healing, but not until I was good and ready.

One day at work, I called a dear friend, because I was in the middle of a rage about having to deal with a manager whom I disliked intensely. At that time, I was a VP for a growing internet company, and became infuriated when my boss made a decision that I felt would cause a major problem for my sales team.

So, I called my friend asking her how to deal with this, because I was maxed out. By that point in my sales career, I had had many managers whom I disliked, mistrusted, fought with, thought little of and here it was again, in my face. I spewed all of my frustrations to my friend, asking her, “Why do I always have to deal with managers who are so stupid and thoughtless and who undermine me? 

She asked, simply, “Can you surrender?” “Surrender!” I shouted. “Why should I do that?” 

Several years later, in a new job, with a similar manager, the pattern emerged yet again. He was someone with whom I fought constantly and I finally reached a breaking point. One day, battle-fatigued, I complained to the head of HR that he had cut my team’s summer Fridays down to 4 days while other sales groups in the company could enjoy 6 days. I knew my complaint would get back to him. So, the next day, when he called me into his office, I was prepared for a fight. 

“You don’t support me,” I said. “Really?” he sneered. “You don’t support me!” he barked. 

Now I was 23 years into my career and it finally dawned on me that he was right. He was my boss, he had hired me, and I wasn’t letting him manage me. I had been shutting him out of everything I could for two years. In that moment, I flashed on my friend’s advice about surrendering. My rebellious 9-year-old, had always needed to be right; to feel in control and to keep a distance between myself and my managers. Regardless of my managers’ limitations, I was responsible for the disregard for their authority and responsibility. All because I could not surrender. 

“From here on in you will feel my support 100%,” I said in earnest. “We’ll see,” he said.

I then ran to my desk and wrote on two different colored post-its, the words, DETACH and BREATHE. I was determined to let him manage me even if I disagreed. I owed this to myself and I knew it. I wanted to be free from this pattern.

I posted my notes onto my computer, at home on my refrigerator, my bathroom mirror, and I repeated them over and over.  I wanted to change.

During this time, I realized that I didn’t actually own anything at work, everything was the property of my employer; I was there to get a job done to the best of my ability, with the hierarchy intact.

Within two months, my boss and I relaxed around each other. He allowed me to make unilateral decisions. He rarely told me what to do or how he wanted it done. Trust had been built. By 44-years-old, I had finally learned my lesson. I didn’t have to be right and I didn’t have to feel in control.

It was soon thereafter that I felt the urge to pursue my next career, the one I have now. I believe that my freedom allowed me to move on. It’s been 18 years and I think back to those times now, with gratitude, for all of the managers I had, who were my mirrors, reflecting back to me exactly what I needed to see, so I could grow.

Your journey may look very different from mine. But, if you are reliving the same pain at work – over and over again – you may have the opportunity to look in the mirror to members of your work-family to see who the 9-year-old is and if it’s you, congratulations! You are on your way!

Happy journeying!


Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2020. 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.


Responses to Questions about How to Deal with a Bullying Boss

In anger management, arguments, Ask Jackie, asking open-ended questions, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, bullying, Bullying Boss, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, Deal with Bullying Boss, dealing with a male boss, Detach & Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, insecure bosses, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, open-ended questions, people skills, personal power, professional boundaries, remaining calm, Uncategorized on February 6, 2017 at 4:31 pm

The new video in response to questions about the previous video >>>>

The original video, “How to Deal with a Bullying Boss.” >>>>

I received many responses in support of the original, but I also had questions about how I handled the boss from unsatisfied viewers.  Ideally, I would have been able to demonstrate how to change my boss, gain power over the situation, and fix the problem  – but none of these were what I was trying to convey.  Instead, the idea was to empower people to act and think in ways that don’t end up back-firing on them.  This is because we can never control anyone but ourselves.

The goal of the original video was to:

  1. Show how to ask open-ended questions instead of becoming defensive (as in the 1st version of that video).
  2. Use a mantra to try and calm — Detach & Breathe — to clearly and remain in control of my emotions.
  3. Remain friendly towards the boss; to remind him that I’m an ally.
  4. Agree on how to move forward, and in this case, to handle the situation on my own, taking another risk, but deciding it was the only way to proceed.

It’s also important to note that there are many variances in levels of bullying.  This situation was dealing with a bully who is overly sensitive to criticism, fearful for his job, emotionally out of control and in turn victimizes others without giving the benefit of the doubt.  Basically, a pain in the butt!

That being said, there is bullying going on out there that is pure harassment and can cause severe emotional distress to the point of disabling one from managing work and life.  If this is happening to you, please seek legal counsel and professional counseling.

I hope you find these explanations helpful.  Please stay safe out there.


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.

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).


Grew up embracing diversity and informality

Want to achieve balance between fun and work


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,


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.

Focus on your Brain to Get to the Heart of the Matter

In Albert Ellis, anxiety, cortisol, freeze, heart of the matter, irrational beliefs, objective thinking, pre-frontal cortex, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, stress and worry, stress hormones, thinking brain, work-related stress on February 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm

If I asked you why you’re feeling stressed or anxious this very moment, you might tell me it’s because the client has rejected your pitch, or your boss has re-assigned a project to someone else (when you thought you’d be the best choice), or your co-worker shuns you no matter how nice you are to her. There are so many answers to this question there isn’t room to write them on this page.

Let’s just say that those are some of the answers you give me.  Legitimate reasons to be stressed and anxious, yes, but it’s less so the external situation that is the cause of worry and stress, and more the internal processing of external events.

The brain is designed to keep us from harm. When it senses danger, it will help us cope with the threat with a huge injection of cortisol, the stress hormone. And, when it does this, we will respond according to the way we’ve become wired.  You’ve seen or done this:  we’ll argue (fight) or withdraw (flight) or be unable to speak (freeze) or even begin to apologize profusely (appease); unconscious modes of protecting ourselves.  When we respond in any of these ways, we are not using the thinking parts of our brains (the pre-frontal cortex, which is behind the forehead), we are just unloading the surge of cortisol onto the world.

Suddenly, your client might hear you ask for forgiveness; your co-worker might just not get copied on an important email (this is a passive-aggressive ‘fight’ response) or your boss might be told exactly what you think of him, unfiltered, as you are ushered out the door.

In order to really protect ourselves, we must get to the heart of the matter.  And that means analyzing the beliefs we have about our situations.  This is the work of  Dr. Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy; it is the look at how our beliefs, and in this case, those that are irrational, impact the way we end up behaving.

Irrational beliefs start with, “I should,” or “He must,” or “It would be a disaster if…”  What follows will be the body’s attempt to gain control of a situation that doesn’t align with these beliefs (hello, cortisol) and suddenly we are in stress hell, unable to cope logically, rationally or objectively.  Over time the brain has created pathways that have stored these beliefs, so there’s nothing wrong with you that you are acting in a way that is counter-productive.  Cortisol packs a powerful punch that knocks thinking to the ground. That being said, now that you know what’s going on under your skull, you can engage your thinking brain and do something about it.


1. Your co-worker shuns you and you’ve tried to be easy and pleasant and helpful.  This triggers any number of irrational beliefs (based on who you are).

Irrational Beliefs: She should be nice and respectful towards me!  Maybe it’s because I’m unlikable.  I’m stupid.  I’m a burden.

Objective Thinking: What happened to her that she’s so unhappy as to treat others this way?  What’s going on in her life that she’s so miserable?

2. Your boss assigns a prized project to someone else.

Irrational Beliefs:  He should have chosen me!  I’m the best person for this.

Objective Thinking:  The boss needs me focused on something else now.  The boss wants to challenge this other person and help her grow. There is no such thing as winning or losing, except in my mind.

When we use the thinking brain we literally stop the flow of cortisol and calm down.  The situation might not feel great, but at least you’re not emotionally drained! The more we practice objective thinking in the face of stress, worry and anxiety, the more we can tolerate situations that make us uncomfortable. Then we can dislodge ourselves from taking external things personally. Then we can start to operate from objectivity, confidence and strength.  Then we feel better because we’ve used our brains to get to the heart of the matter.

Thoughtfully yours,


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 Dead to Us: Getting Edged out of a Job

In career, career change, career opportunities, Compassionate universe, create a new career, discover your passion, Getting Edged out of a Job, getting fired, getting laid off, keep negativity to yourself, leadership, life changes, life mirrors our inner beliefs, live your passion, living a dream, mission, moving forward in life, Mr. Wonderful, opportunity for change, Shark Tank, You're Dead to Me, You're Dead to Us on February 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Many professionals hit a certain point in their careers when suddenly they are fired or laid off (aka FIRED) or (and this is the sneakier one) moved from leadership positions to those of ‘special projects directors.’ This former non-position; now a quasi-unspecified position, is a little closer to the door — but management chose to sit you by the door rather than push you out of it.  They’re 1. Hoping you will find a new job and resign, or 2. Just resign, or 3. Waiting until some HR time-frame comes into play to actually cut you loose.

There are many ways we can find ourselves being pushed out. We are not invited to key meetings.  Our opinions are no longer being requested.  We are offered less and less opportunities to generate some form of work or income.  This is especially hard when we’re not told anything, rather just that the changes are being made and we find ourselves in a career and/or financial crisis.

So, as someone who has experienced the “You’re Dead to Us” phenomenon in 35 years of professional life, I thought I’d share how I made it beyond this type of situation to thrive, hoping this will help those who are going through what feels insulting, denigrating and unjust.

1. Curse!  Cursing is hugely cathartic. Cry. Mourn. Be enraged. Do this for as long as you need (this stage will end, by the way).  HOWEVER, do not display this behavior or say anything negative or share your personal feelings with any of your colleagues!  This is a private matter! Stay neutral around people and show that you’re going with the flow, outwardly.

2. Actions to take (with options):  a. If you can trust your boss, ask him/her “Why the changes? and “What caused these changes?” (NOT, “What did I do wrong?”).  You may receive information that will help you gain some valuable insight, or sadly, to use for legal action. b. If you do not trust your boss, you can go to HR, but they will report your query back to your boss. c. This is really really really really really really really hard to do, but this is the one I recommend: Ask yourself how moving on will support your vision for your career and life.

3. Life mirrors our inner beliefs. I have a theory that when things fall away (like jobs or relationships) it’s a signal that the little gnawing whisper in our heads that has been begging us to listen to it, is actually getting its secret wish, despite our mental control to stay put.  Ever hear yourself say, “Geez, I want to be a pirate, if only…” or “I want to discover the first sponges that don’t smell!” or “My passion isn’t here, it’s in rescuing elephants and I want to be in Africa doing that right now!”  So, if you’re being pushed out, you must ask, “Why is this happening now and how does this SUPPORT me?”

4. Create an interim plan of action.  This might mean going to recruiters or taking a job at Starbucks (actually that could be a cool job!) while you go back to school, or begin marketing a consultancy and get busy on social media looking for freelance work. Ask friends for leads. Or, take that vacation and luxuriate on the Riviera! It’s rare that we feel we are in our dream job when it falls away.  There is usually a dream yet unfulfilled.  The key is to remember that what is happening is meant to cut the apron strings so we are free to move forward.

5. Be excited! The use of our energy at this critical time will produce what happens next.  Yes, if you feel immobilized you must get help – go see a counselor, therapist or coach.  But once you can move through the pain, it’s so important to use your creativity and positivity to define a mission for your career and take the very next step towards that. After all, in the big picture of life, it’s never about defining who we are based on the job, but rather, on what we do with our dreams.

My belief is that the Universe is compassionate and that it juggles us around to put us on the right paths. Many spiritual teachers talk about how true compassion is ruthless. Is Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank”) compassionate when he says, “You’re dead to me?”  Was Tony Soprano?  Well, maybe not.  But I wouldn’t exactly consider them spiritual teachers! The bottom line is that it’s our job to look at the big picture when we are being edged out and perhaps say (silently) to the boss:  “Thanks for setting me free.”



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.