Coping With Your Co-workers or Boss

Some people are more vulnerable to co-workers/boss mischief than others. They are more likely to take a co-worker's anger personally, (as if it were a true reflection on their worth and dignity as a person) and to overreact accordingly. Paradoxically, the more vulnerable you are, the more likely a co-worker or boss is to sense it and to make mischief with you in the first place. It follows, therefore, that one approach to reducing the amount of mischief you are experiencing on the job is to strengthen those areas of personal vulnerability that have been inviting it. This is how its done:

Phase One

  1. The first step in coping with the negative behavior of a co-workers/boss is to identify it properly. To clearly see that, "this is mischief!" The person is doing something that does not need to be done. With a little practice, you will be able to spot mischief a block away and not take it personally.
  2. Remember the definition of self-respect. "I'm a worthwhile human being in spite of my faults and imperfections. No one can take that away from me."  
  3. Catch yourself about to take a co-workers angry remarks seriously, as if it made sense in the real world!  
  4. Catch yourself about to "reason" him or her out of their anger mischief, as if reason had anything to do with it.  
  5. This shifting of our emotional gears from our old pattern to a new one, is call disengaging from the mischief. We are NOT ignoring it, or denying that it is going on. We know very well what is going on, only now we have a power we didn't have before the power to choose not to overreact.  
  6. Identify the underlying purpose of the anger and negative behavior. We do that by identifying the way it is making us feel right now. See understanding negative behavior for an example of this process  
  7. Armed with insight into the goals and purpose of the negative behavior of our co-worker/boss, we can deduce what kind of response they expect from us; the same kind we have always given them in the past, such as threats, demands, begging, cajoling..."brown nosing" ( these are all forms of our own mischief). They leave us feeling weak, powerless and ashamed in our own eyes. We can let them go, and respond in a self-respecting and appropriate way.

Phase Two

  1. We are now free to make a NEW choice in our own behalf instead of overreacting to him/her as we have always done in the past, we can choose to do something unexpected!

Very often, the last thing they expect us to do in these unpleasant situations is to agree with them! We are not agreeing that they are correct in their facts, but merely that they FEEL the way they feel. For example, you can say, "I'd feel the same way if I were you."

Validate their anger
"I don't blame you for being Angry." This validates him as a person in spite of his imperfections by treating him with respect.

Give them a choice
They can talk to you later when they have cooled off or write you an anger memo. Ask them "what remedy is it that you seek?" or words to that effect.

Agree with them
Agree that it would be nice if they get what they want from you. We didn't say we'd give it to them. When we validate their "preferences", we are validating them as a person in spite of their negative behavior towards us. What we are giving them is some relief from their painful, out of control anger.

When we choose to behave in this new way, we are standing our ground, but not in a hostile, threatening, morally superior way. We are equal members of the human race, and we are letting them know that they have lost their power to provoke us with their "anger mischief" and shenanigans.

It will help us to emotionally disengage from these provocations at work if we can shift our focus from our angry, mischief making co-workers/boss and focus attention on ourselves to make a change in the way we have historically handled these situations. We are so preoccupied with their nonsense, that we often forget that we are a person too. We are no more perfect than they are. We are not morally superior, but are only an imperfect human being as well. This very understanding serves as the basis for self and mutual respect which is the "key" to conflict resolution.