Self-Doubt is Debilitating
True story - 20 years ago I didn’t feel worthy of a $25,000.00 salary!
After 9 years of raising our daughters, I began the difficult task to return to the workforce, was turned down for every job I applied to and told my skills were ‘out-of-date’.
It felt horrible to be rejected, but what was worse was how I felt about myself. I remember sobbing to my husband ‘Who will ever pay ME $25,000 (the going rate) after being out of the workforce; all I am is a stay-at-home Mom!’
For us, it was the right decision for me to leave work to raise our family. Yet the shame of being seen as just a ‘housewife', made me feel so inferior to others. Just imagine how little confidence I had and what I projected to would-be employers?
It took me years to recognize that these doubt-filled feelings of being inadequate and 'less than' others were born from a broken internal monologue and low self-worth.
I didn't believe in myself.
Many people struggle with self-doubt or inferiority to others; you hear it in the stories they tell. It usually sounds like this: ‘I am not old enough’, ‘I’m too old’, ‘I don’t have enough experience’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I don’t have the credentials, ‘No one see’s me as a leader’, ‘ I’m a new immigrant'. Unfortunately, just like me, these are also the beliefs that hold them back.
Since our society is hardwired to compare, compete, and judge how we stack up to one another it shouldn't be surprising we are hard on ourselves. But the stories we tell our self are usually cruel - filled with negative assumptions, judgements and even boldface lies!
The good news is, also like me, not only can you overcome the stories and lies you've been telling yourself, but also re-write your future to be filled with success!
Steps to Overcome Self-Doubt
Here are five steps I use to overcome self sabotaging doubt, improve self worth and plot the path to success.
Step One - Become Aware Of Your Story
First, notice the negative story you say. What does your rhetoric sound like? Really listen to those words. Better yet, catch yourself saying it aloud to someone else. What shame or inferiority are you carrying around? Can you hear it? If not, the people who know you well will already know it, so just ask them!
These negative stories show up as the excuses you use whenever you consider an opportunity but don’t pursue it! What is holding you back?
For me, it was "I'm just a housewife, who would hire me?"
What is yours?
Step Two - Check the Facts
I can confidently say that most of the internal chatter you tell yourself are lies! Time to do some fact checking.
• What evidence - actual data and facts - do you have to support the negative story you keep saying?
• What assumptions and beliefs you are holding onto?
• What are you afraid of? Is it real or perceived?
• Ask yourself ‘how do I know this is true’ or 'would that be an issue for anyone else?'
Then check yourself...am I jumping to conclusions or minimizing my strengths?
Step Three - Look in the Mirror
Reflect. Make a long list of your strengths and what makes you uniquely you! Think about what assets you've been told you have. Consider how you accomplish tasks, what are your stand-out qualities, or the strong points that have carried you through your life.
Brainstorm the list with others to identify all gifts and traits you bring to the world. These are your truths, and your super powers!
There is only one YOU and each of us have different attributes. Often negative self-doubt overlooks your greatness and focuses on the wrong characteristics! I can pretty much guarantee you were short-changing yourself.
Step Four - Reframe the Story
Change how you speak about yourself. Use the unique skills do you possess. Reframe by reviewing those attributes and how they positively impact others.
Redefine your experience - what you have spoken down about could well be a positive adventure or mountain you climbed! Reinvent that narrative - think about what it says about your character.
Create a new script then practice using it. Focus on finding the jewels that benefit or provide value to others.
Example: Here was my truth ...reframed:
• Raised two highly independent, well adjusted girls
• Obtained my CHRM and CHRP through night studies
• Operated two successful home-based businesses evenings and weekend
• Worked part-time as a teachers assistant for 4 years in a nursery school, as well as completing their Pay Equity plan
• Led hundreds of volunteers in fundraising activities for three different schools
• Served at two different schools as School Council President
My unique skills (never actually 'out of date'):
• Change leader
• Very Resourceful
Far from the 'housewife' I kept calling myself - in fact, I had great foundational skills that would benefit an ever-changing environment, I learn and adapt while helping others grow! I just needed to reframe what I was telling myself to find these gems!
Step Five - Be Your Best Friend
Learn to love who you are. Have faith and trust in your own abilities. I say "be your own best friend."
Many people find positive affirmations to be helpful to quiet their internal critic and self-doubt. Take the reframing you discover and build positive affirmations to replace the BS as it surfaces, just like a best friend would say to you! Best friends would not talk to you the way you’ve been talking to yourself.
You're damn good - now tell yourself that regularly! Learn to toot your own horn. Best friends find opportunities to lift you up!
Put your list on sticky notes where you can see them and practice saying them out loud to really hear them. Best friends help you stay in touch with reality.
Know That You’re Not Alone
You don’t have to be out of the workforce for 9 years like me to struggle with self-doubt. Yet, so many people toil with these feelings. Few really stare down their deepest doubts.
The good news is once you tune into to a more accurate view of yourself you’ll soon realize that there is nothing that can stop you from moving forward. NOTHING!
You have plenty of talents and skills to offer and the more you 'own' your own greatness, the more you can overcome that negative voice to succeed!
If you are struggling to move forward, find support so it doesn’t take you as long as me! Close friends, family or mentors can help you discover what makes you great.
If you prefer to go it alone, I have a self-discovery tool you are welcome to use to help you get started (no email needed, it is a pdf to save).
Or reach out to me when you’re ready to hire a trusted coach and adviser to push you past any of your perceived limitations!
Not only have I been there myself but I’ve also helped countless people break through to accomplish their dream goals; I’d be honoured to help you too!
There is just no doubt about it, YOU are absolutely worthy of much more!
When talking about success Oprah Winfrey said "Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself."
So how do you do that?
When you were young, whether you knew it or not, your parents hard-coded you with a definition of success. This influence not only drives YOU to try to succeed in the way you have done but it may have prevented you from tapping into your greatest strengths and passion.
Your parent’s success norms were established from what was important to them, determined by the circumstances and experiences THEY knew to be true.
As we grow up, we seldom challenge these built-in assumptions or stop and reflect on what we are doing to redefine ‘what does success mean…to me’.
The result for many, is an ongoing internal battle; chasing somebody else’s idea of success, guilt-ridden, filled with negative self-talk, feeling stuck or unfulfilled.
Self-Discovery Takes Work
When working with new coaching clients, one of the first questions we tackle is ‘what does success look like for YOU!’ We do this through a series of questions and in-depth discussion.
Self-discovery to figure out ‘who you are and who you’re meant to be’ takes work. It means thought provoking introspection and reflection about what success really means to you. While it may feel a bit overwhelming at first, you’ll soon reveal clues into what you are good at and where to begin for meaningful progress best suited to the real you.
The definition of your success and the meaning you attribute to it differs from one person to another – it is made up of guiding principles (values), beliefs and desires. It is yours and yours alone to determine.
It all starts with getting to know yourself really well, reflecting and observing all that you know about YOU.
Are you ready to dive in and create your own journey to success? If so, then this post is for you! Below is a personal discovery assessment to help you begin your own journey. Print your own copy to write on.
Personal Discovery Assessment - Blueprint for Success©
For some people, the questions may feel daunting to answer; there is no rush, take your time. It’s perfectly OK to chunk into a few questions at a time, pick the easiest ones first or just talk it out with someone you feel comfortable with.
Each question will help you probe deeper into ‘who you are and who you are meant to be’.
Be very specific and thorough with your answers; take whatever time you need to think about each question to answer fully.
(Click here to download a free Blueprint For Success© to write on)
What Does Success FEEL Like to ME? (check all that apply)
Now armed with this wealth of information, begin to look for patterns and reveal the clues of ‘who am I, what are my gifts’ – what picture do you notice emerging?
Observe how aligned you are on your current path with what you see as success – are you close or is there work to be done?
Once you see the gap you can begin to make your success plan – your blueprint. There are always steps you can take to begin a new journey, a change in direction or even to start all over if needed!
Create Your Success Plan
Success begins as soon as you create the right mindset and take meaningful action in the right direction! There are a variety of tools and methods you can use to understand 'who you are and who you are meant to be', you can begin the journey whenever you are ready.
If you are looking for help to connect the dots from your current situation to a more fulfilling future, then look no further – reach out today for candid guidance and a coach who will be in your corner!
Photo credit: Daniel McCullough CC0 Unsplash
Time to go – those words rang through my head when I caught up with a work-friend I hadn’t seen in years, when she told me about her job.
It all came back to me, the dreadful soul-sucking heaviness when my old job became absolute drudgery.
Looking back, I knew in my heart it was time to go but I continued to persevere, pushing myself to do work that wasn’t ‘me’. I told myself that it was a good job with good pay so I’d be crazy to think about leaving …it even had a pension, and who leaves that at my age!
That is her situation too; she is suffering in a job that no longer serves her and she feels so stuck.
What About You?
It seemed so obvious to me as I saw my friend pushing herself to continue. I saw how weary she was that day, even though she just took a vacation.
Others can see it, even when you can’t. Your family, your friends – they know you are not OK and they worry, especially as we’ve all heard what stress can do.
The thing is, when you are doing unbearable work, a job that doesn’t make you feel valued or are working for a bad boss you shut down after awhile.
So let me be clear if this is happening to you….It. Is. Time. For. You. To. GO!!!
Plan to Get Out!
You may be thinking, easy for you to say Elaine, you don’t have three kids going through private school, one needing braces, a mortgage coming up for renewal [enter all of the other stuff that gets in the way of you making a change].
I get it, timing will never seem right, but let me tell you something – you are no good to anyone else when you are miserable.
In fact, if you don’t make a change for the better, your body has this way of forcing you to slow down or taking time off, whether you like it or not –and yes it shows up as illnesses and injuries!
Pay close attention to the warning signs of stress to avoid becoming one of those heart attack statistics; this is no joking matter.
So, let’s look at what you can do right now to begin your exit strategy!
1. What If?
Remember when you were a kid; you were filled with limitless possibilities. Children naturally dream of all the things they CAN DO, it never occurs to them to squash those ideas and dreams! Yet as an adult we seem to shut down dreams so often that they just stop coming.
I tell my clients to set aside a few minutes every day where you allow yourself unfiltered imagination and take time just to dream. How you spend that time is up to you. It could be writing in a journal, sipping a perfect cappuccino or it might be walking on the treadmill – doesn’t matter how. This was a game changer for me – I took up painting and did a little each day and my mind exploded with possibilities!
What is important, is to allow your mind to be future-focused without filters. Ask yourself what if I did this, or that, and what else is possible? No bashing down any ideas, don’t try to justify them, just let them flow, no matter how elaborate or crazy they may seem. Just let your imagination of ‘what if’s’ open up again.
2. Give Me A Fricken Break, I’m Worth It!
When work became really stress filled for me, I knuckled down. I put my shoulder into it and pushed harder, believing that I could make it better by hard work. WRONG!
It may be how I was raised; you know...don’t give up! The old adage when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Yah no, please don’t be like me! That is total BS.
Instead I want you to do the exact opposite! You see, you can’t consider options if you don’t allow yourself to take a break from the grind. Slow down, book coffees and lunches with people who ‘get you’ – by booking them, you will force yourself to make the time and build some support.
Talk to them candidly that you are taking some breaks because work is really getting to you. Remember, they likely already know, and chances are they will be happy to encourage you to take back some time for yourself.
3. What Are My Super Powers
I’ve mentioned this before. I received the greatest renewed perspective of myself, by asking people (some I had worked with long ago) ‘What did they remember most about working with me?’ I deliberately sought out people who I knew would be candid and truthful.
WOW! It was that very insightful feedback became a huge impetus to taking my next step!
What I learned, was that the impressions I left with others – like years ago - were actually consistent themes over many years. This wasn’t fluffy feedback! It was deep and meaningful context for how I made an impact and what I was known for (my brand…aka my super powers).
So reach out to people who will candidly share their recollections about YOU. The themes will emerge and you’ll discover the attributes that make you unique!
4. What Else Can I Be Good At?
If you’re like I was, then the job you are stuck in is not playing to your greatest strengths. In fact, it is likely much the opposite.
Take stock here, what would you rather be doing? I want you to think really practically here. This can be tough to do on your own, consider talking it out with a friend or confidante (or a coach).
What are you extraordinary at – what do you do better than many other people? What work/job or company uses or needs that very strength?
Hint: check for clues in the super power feedback.
5. Does My Resume Truly Reflect The Real Me?
Not everybody will be able to start their own business but everyone can use the same process I did for reimagining what the next gig should be.
Armed with the information you revealed through the steps above (1-4) I am confident the right options and/or roles, or even company for a better fit, will become clearer.
Now, consider what changes you need to make to your resume to ensure it reflects the capabilities you have for THAT right fit!
First, reflect on the most ideal job, then:
6. Who Can I Connect With In My Network?
So now you have inklings of the kind of work you really want. You’ve acknowledged that you are not the right place. You’ve begun taking breaks to release the stress. You’ve learned that you are pretty damn awesome BUT you definitely need to make a change that fits you better. You’ve also got a great start on a new resume and a renewed sense of direction.
The next step is to get out and start telling others what you are looking for!! Don’t narrow it to a job title, instead share a list of the kind of work you are great at and love to do.
When I say ‘network’, I mean everyone. It’s not to peddle your resume to, instead it is to connect personally, talk about the skills you want to use and ask others for ideas on jobs and companies they know you’d be a good fit for.
It still amazes me how connecting with people starts a cascade of serendipitous opportunities.
YOU Are Worth Making A Change!
You may find your next move doesn’t need to be drastic, it may be just a different position in the same company that will suit you better. It might be returning to something you did before!
Decide that you are worth making a change! Getting out of that work environment will lighten your life; improve not only your own quality of life but the lives of everyone who cares about you as well!
As I told my friend, the things you’ve been telling yourself about persevering and putting up with this job, is just fear of change. Fear is what holds us back to make a move.
It is times like this that a coach can be hugely valuable. Someone to be a sounding board, who can remain objective but also hold you accountable to be true to yourself! Take me up on my 30-min free consultation offer to get started today!
Taking steps to re-imagine your future will unlock all sorts of opportunities. You just have to start. Drop me a note if you need a coach to get over the fear of change or need someone to guide you on the road to success!
Photo Credit - CC0 Pixabay
Hanging out with my grandson the other day he told me about a neighbourhood bully who makes ‘bad choices’. We had a great conversation about people who make bad choices, particularly bullies. In his vast wisdom of nearly 5 years, my grandson told me ‘Bullies are people too but its not OK when they hurt other people and if they do, then a grown up has to give them a time-out.’
What a thoughtful leadership lesson in this little statement. After all, we use time-outs with children to make them think about their actions, they must apologize and we expect them to do differently so they learn from their experience. So why don’t we tackle bullies in the workplace with the same energy - especially people in a power position over others?
What Would You Do?
You know the headlines these days are dominated by allegations of sexual harassment; victims are speaking out about their nasty experiences, almost daily - a topic seldom talked about before. Women everywhere have been emboldened to speak up and share their personal stories of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in work situations. With every news story, it triggers another woman's courage to speak out. Rest assured, there will be more to come.
Will you know how to manage an allegation at work if someone in your company or organization turns to you for help?
Policy and Practices Start with YOU, not HR!
Lets face it; dialogue about sexual harassment makes most of us uncomfortable. Anything ugly is difficult to speak about, but open discussion is vital to bring about improvement. It really concerned me when I read the Globe & Mail article that '94 percent of Canadian's leaders believe sexual harassment isn't an issue.'
Given harassment has become such a hot topic, every company should recognize that sexual harassment IS a real problem. It is time for leaders, or anyone in a position to help, to stand up, call out and follow through with discipline for inappropriate behaviour. No one should ever feel harassed at work, particularly if it is unwanted and sexualized in nature. It’s just not ok, regardless of how you qualify or explain it away as ‘that is how it is here’.
Turning a blind eye to anyone’s harassment claim can make worldwide headlines within a few hours through social media when they don’t get the help they need. So #Time's Up on covering up transgressions of anyone, especially senior level leaders or officials.
This is tough stuff to handle but there are steps you can take, immediately, to prevent all forms of harassment from happening at your work. Lets look at how you can create work environments where both men and women feel safe to bring forward concerns and get support rather than feeling they have to go public or leave the company.
Think ‘METALS’ - Leadership Steps to Say #Times Up
1. Model. Everyone is watching you whether you know it or not. Don’t speak inappropriately about women (or men); leave any form of sexual innuendo out of the workplace – sexual dialogue does not belong in a work environment. Help your team remain respectful in every interaction, show them how you manage with respect. You are the one your team will imitate, so show people the right way to treat others.
2. Enforce. The basis for change at work begins with having policy as a guidepost. No matter the size of your business, you need policies in place to fall back on to enforce. Ensure your workplace has a clear harassment policy in place with specific actions to take should any disrespectful behaviour occur – regardless of level or position in the company. Check to see that your company has a policy, become familiar and communicate it. If they don’t have a policy, suggest it be implemented ASAP. You can be the catalyst for ensuring a harassment policy is in place, communicated and enforced.
3. Talk. Talk about harassment with your team, long before an issue occurs. When opportunities arise to reinforce, discuss behaviour openly, highlighting what is acceptable and what is not at work. Openly share stories about past personal experiences and state how you would handle it now. Immediately discuss any sign of disrespect you observe or hear about so your team know you will not tolerate it. Make your team aware that they each have a role to play in keeping the workplace safe, people who stay silent are complicit; give them the courage to speak up. You create the environment of open dialogue.
4. Act. In the best work environments ‘respect in the workplace’ is a foundational training piece for all employees so they understand what behaviour is expected of them and what to expect in return. Many people go through training but notice when management doesn’t consistently follow through when something occurs, so they clam up. Be the one who acts swiftly. People want to work for leaders who readily step up and take responsibility for the wellbeing of their people. They will know you care enough about both the ‘bully’ and the bullied to deal with bad behaviour head on. Any form of bullying or inappropriate behaviour should be investigated and acted upon with appropriate discipline, without delay. Action begins with you, not HR.
5. Listen. Treat any form of harassment claim with urgency, seriousness and respect by hearing out those who have the courage to speak up, suspending your own judgement. Ensure a proper investigation is done while taking steps to protect the complainant from any form of retribution. Active listening shows them you care, understand and can be trusted to help. Listening with empathy is a key leadership trait.
6. Speak Up. By respectfully speaking out for those who feel harassed at work, you quickly become a powerhouse leader of tomorrow. Inappropriate behaviour at work is not OK; it is never to be tolerated. By speaking up and supporting others who speak out you will be the leader everyone wants to work for.
Take a Stand
You make choices everyday for how you treat others, we all do. If someone chooses to be a jerk or worse, an aggressor, then they should face appropriate consequences for their actions, regardless of their position in a company or organization. But it takes strong leadership to follow through with these people and take deliberate action. Take a stand!
As a leader you have the ability to choose what your team’s workplace should be like, irrespective of the culture or industry you’re in, or whether you have an HR team. YOU can be the shining example to others in management. YOU count to the people who report to you and how you act during the toughest times will be a key differentiator to their lives.
I’m here if you need guidance to manage tough leadership situations. Send me an email if you want support to develop policy or practices to enforce a respectful workplace or you’re struggling with a difficult issue and want a coach to talk it through.
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It could be you’ve heard of others being let go; you’ve seen a shake up at the top leadership levels or you suspect your new boss is really here to restructure. Any of these scenarios can make you uneasy about your own job stability. And once the anxiety sets in, it can affect your normal ability to focus, make you dread every unexpected meeting or just make getting up to go to work, feel miserable.
Given the percentage of our life we spend at work, this ongoing negative stress can be bad for your health so it is worth finding productive techniques to take back control.
If you are one of those people sensing impending doom, I’m here to say relax, don’t let it unnerve you. Instead let me show you how to actually take full advantage of it.
While I can’t guarantee you won’t be on the chopping block, I can help you reframe your mindset and give you hope for a much more positive outlook. Simply by learning how to Duck, Prepare to 'Jet' and/or get ready to make a Career Pivot!
Here is how ‘Duck’ worked for one of my corporate clients:
I’ll call her Eileen; Eileen had a new boss, a bossy boss with a big ego, who she didn’t see eye-to-eye with.
My advice was this - get on with the work, don’t act in an artificial way, just keep the focus on doing a good job. It wasn’t always easy. Eileen asked clarifying questions to understand what her boss wanted and then delivered accordingly. She gave the boss no cause to centre her out, no angry or emotional outbursts – she kept her head down and managed her emotions. (We would often debrief after the tough days).
We found that when she focused on only what her manager asked for, it became much easier for her to cope day-to-day. This gave her personal control. She controlled her reaction, her output, and her thoughts. The goal was to deliver, and deliver she did!
Only those close to her ever knew the true feelings of doubt and worry. She is a great example of how positively shifting your state of mind gives you the ability to work through job stress. She proved to me that anyone could overcome the dread just by changing your mindset!
This concept not only reduced stress for few years until the boss moved on, but she said it taught her to become more focused and action oriented.
Every Exit is an Entry Somewhere
The other strategy is to get ready to 'jet' (aka. leave, exit, vamoose, hit the road). This means ACCEPT that you are going to go, stop worrying about it and begin your own transition now…while you’re still working!
I always tell my clients “you have the gift of time so lets use it to your own benefit.” Think of it as extra paid time to regroup, plan and prepare for your next move.
Here are some action steps I suggest to create change, on your own terms:
Create an action list with target dates to be done by:
This mind shift is a game changer to overcome the oppressive feeling of dread. You invest in yourself and take back some time. If all goes really well, you’ll receive a nice little severance package AND start your new job shortly thereafter. Or you may land a great job before they send you packing – either way is a positive outcome!
Consider a PIVOT!
Treat this as a defining moment in your career where you sit back, take stock and re-evaluate what YOU want for your future. It’s the perfect time to consider an intentional career change in a completely different direction!
Maybe there are departments you’ve had a yearning to join but never had the courage to apply? Perhaps you may have been thinking of starting your own business, or you’ve had a side hustle that you should consider if you can do it full-time?
I’ve had clients take this opportunity to plan to return to school, become certified in a speciality or finish higher level education that later jettisoned them on to a successful new chapter in their life.
Regardless of where the pivotal change takes you it usually needs a catalyst to push you over the edge and make that wishful change happen. Turning the dread into a meaningful plan can make all the difference.
Need a Career Lifeline?
I’ve supported several leaders through this uncertainty, waiting for the day they will be let go. I’ve also sat on the other side, breaking the news of downsizing to quite a few people and I can say with 100% confidence that everyone finds a new path and 9.8/10 times they end up happier than before.
Rather than let the worry drag you down or make you sick, I say shift your thinking to make it work for you! The big trick is finding ways to take back control, accept change quickly – better yet, embrace it!
If you find yourself stuck and want to work with a professional to review your options, create a personalized career plan, hold you accountable or give you candid feedback, advice and insight, give me a call or send me an email! I offer a 30-minute free consultation.
Regardless of the scenario that has you anxious or worrying about job loss, I’d love to help you ‘connect the dots’ for the next phase in your career!
Image: CC0 Creative Commons
You’ve been there–it could be a pain-in-the-butt colleague, a trouble-making employee, or worse, a devil-boss who makes your workday absolute torture! Regardless of who they are, they likely all have this one thing in common…nasty bullying behaviour.
Sadly, if you don’t find ways to manage it, the stress may cause your health to decline, you disengage from work resulting in your performance taking a hit or you have the sudden urge to quit because you simply have no other way out.
Dealing with a workplace bully wears us all down. Repeated over time, you may actually believe what they say, sparking self-doubt and eroding your self-esteem. They yearn for this power and as such, once they’ve set their sights on you, they do what they can to take you down.
I’ve helped several clients rise above these difficult people. It takes a little bit of work but in the end, they feel a sense of accomplishment once they triumph!
It’s important to note that if what you are dealing with is an extreme case of bullying or a possible harassment case, there are Human Rights laws to protect you. Handling those situations requires a formal process. The Ministry of Labour (Ontario) provides guidance to both employers and employees regarding these laws in my province.
What I’m talking about today are the scenarios where someone is staying within the bounds of the law, but making it unpleasant for you to work with them. These people know how to get at you but management may not see it, may choose to ignore it, or it just may not be bad enough for you to want to raise a big fuss.
The Bully Profile
These nasty people often share similar characteristics, they:
So what CAN you do to battle this kind of unpleasantness? Lets look at some simple tactics to disarm these bullies and take back your own power:
1. Let them shine
It may seem counterintuitive but people who are problematic are typically seeking some kind of attention.
Take time to assess this person’s underlying insecurity; ask yourself the following questions to become aware of what is really going on:
With this information in mind, look for a moment to praise them when they do something you can comfortably acknowledge: “Jane had a good point”, “Jane was absolutely right, ‘Thank you Jane for xxx” “Jane I quite liked xxx”.
These comments begin to neutralize their need to be nasty because their own esteem rises.
However, it’s important that you approach this genuinely. Don’t do it if you don’t really feel it or it will come off as disingenuous and inflame them further.
Giving them the limelight is a powerful tool and it works in most situations.
2. Use the power of Aikido
If you haven’t heard of it before, Aikido is actually a form of martial arts. Yet, it is non-threatening and doesn’t use force.
In fact, what makes Aikido so effective is that it removes aggression from an adversary by yielding to his/her force in a way that they end up only hurting themselves. For instance, imagine stepping out of the way as someone tries to strike you–the attacker would likely fall down, hurting only themselves.
Mean people are easily unsettled when you DON'T react the way they are expecting. Because most of these people have very low self-esteem, their actions come from a place of insecurity; they lash out or belittle to make themselves feel better.
To use an ‘Aikido-like’ reaction:
3. Find your inner comic
Instead of letting these people get under your skin, find a way to make light of their behaviour. I have seen really great leaders deal with some very annoying people simply by making a quick thinking remark. For instance, in the case of an employee continuously interrupting a meeting, the leader might say, “Slow down there speedy, I’m driving this meeting”.
If it’s your boss who’s pushing your buttons, this can be a bit trickier but you can still make light of their nasty comments. Laugh out loud and say something like, “Oh, for a moment I thought you were calling me an idiot–that’s a good one”.
It may not immediately come to you in the moment, so after an interaction has happened, consider things you could say next time. The AMA has a great article on how to have the last laugh, worth a read! Try to avoid insults as you don’t want to stoop to their level–I’m talking about making light of their comment so you take back control.
4. Call them on the behaviour
We naturally try to defend ourselves or strike back when mean people put us down or make a condescending comment. These people have become experts at making others look second-rate so that they can feel superior. That is where they draw strength.
If you can’t ignore their comments, respond firmly with a response that exposes the behaviour, “That sounded like a put-down”. It usually holds a mirror up to the individual and catches them off guard.
Most of these people won’t want to ‘look bad’ in front of others and a public call-out will make them uncomfortable enough to switch gears.
Over time, this tactic can actually help them with their own self-awareness.
5. Nip it in the bud: stage an intervention
This approach takes a great deal of courage and I recommend doing this with support. Book a face-to-face meeting with the difficult person and address their behaviour head-on when you are cool-headed.
Be sure to have several specific examples at the ready. Make sure your discussion is done in a way to help them understand the affect they have on others. Conduct this meeting in private; clarify what the issue is as factually as possible and set out a plan to fix the problem offering support and guidance.
Let them know how these behaviours are making you or your team feel. Use ‘I’ or ‘I feel’ messages. For instance, “I feel embarrassed when I’m called out in a meeting in front of others”, or, “I feel disrespected when I am constantly interrupted in meetings”.
‘I feel’ messages usually resonate better because the other person is not put on the defensive–no one can deny your own feelings. If you have internal HR support, they can assist you in this discussion. If not, then consider bringing in external support to help you plan this discussion and to be present during the meeting.
Don’t let nasty people ruin your work experience. Approach them as though they have a problem and don’t let it be your problem anymore.
Typically they have developed this behaviour over many years but no one has called them on it. It is possible for them to change, but it takes work on their behalf as well as yours.
Most great companies have formal policies to reinforce values for treating people with respect. This is great for employees, but what about you as a leader?
Check out our additional posts that deal with bad behaviour like bullying at work:
- 6 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult People
- Difficult People or Competitive Edge - The Constant Critic
- Difficult People orCompetitive Edge - Take No Prisoners
If you’re dealing with colleagues or team members who are disrespectful to you, I’m here to help. I can arm you with proven practices to help you manage through the tough stuff. Send me an email or give me a call today, I offer a 30 minute free consultation!
How many times have you heard that your friends and colleagues are tired and stressed out with work? These days everyone is putting in longer hours, but not feeling as fulfilled as they would like to. It’s almost as if you’re on a treadmill that is increasing in speed with no destination!
“Work” – according to the Oxford Dictionary is the activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result; as a means of earning income. So we know that effort of any type can tire you out, but when you lack balance in that effort it can lead to chronic stress and tension. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress lowers your immune; it also lowers your digestive and reproductive systems. It affects your ability to sleep and is said to be a silent killer.
So how do you regain personal balance to prevent burnout and chronic stress? Here are 5 ways to take back your life:
1. Get Quiet & Clever
Step back from the crazy day that consumes you from morning, noon to night. Steal an hour to yourself on a weekly basis – book it in your calendar, just like you do for a meeting. Turn off all devices for that hour. Use that time to take stock of all the things that you have to accomplish this week. Make a thorough list and prioritize it. I have heard from many people that just taking time to get everything out of their head, gives them peace of mind.
2. Book Some ‘Me’ Time
I know many people who don’t even give this a second thought – they just automatically take time for themselves. But chances are, they are not the people who are struggling with stress. I love this infographic all about ‘me’ time and why it’s important to your happiness. You see, giving yourself permission to do whatever the heck you want is not only good for your own well-being but it is good for your family and those around you too. It will feel like you are stealing time from work at first, but eventually you’ll see that taking a break will refresh you and you’ll actually come back more productive.
3. Get Moving
Yes you’ve heard this one before – exercise!! So lets break this one down a bit because chances are you’re not likely to run out and hit the gym every day if you’ve never done that before. When I say get moving I mean just that ……MOVE!! That means get up and out of your office chair, out of your car or off the couch – make a commitment to do a walk around the block, or around a mall or even around the office at least once a day. Take the stairs, or park further from the mall – deliberately! Exercise will clear your mind of the work clutter; it will help to balance those dangerous stress hormones. The very act of any exercise increases the oxygen in your body and stimulates brain chemicals that should make you feel happier and more relaxed. Lets face it, most of us can improve the amount we move.
4. Draw the line
When was the last time you said no, declined to work late, or let people know you will not be available? Regain control by setting some boundaries with colleagues and other stakeholders, including your boss – what hours are you available for work-related meetings, what constitutes an emergency and what should they do in that event? When you book vacation, ensure you have someone who can be your back up and handle the majority of issues in your absence. It is important to carve out family time as well as downtime to recharge. Make a personal commitment to turn off your computer(s) and work phones at specific times. Many of us don’t want to let people down so check out this article by The Muse.com, which talks about setting boundaries without creating resentment at work.
5. Manage Yourself – Not Time
According to TED Talk by Rory Vaden who wrote the book Procrastinate on Purpose (pdf version avail), you can’t solve today’s time-management challenges with yesterday’s time management strategies. In this TED talk he explains why procrastinating on purpose is the key to being able to multiply your time. Spend time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow. He provides techniques in triaging your to do list, finding ways to save yourself time, and he helps you deal with the guilt of your decisions. Give thought to what influences you into using your precious time and set out a plan to be more strategic in how you review all of your “to do’s”.
You owe it to yourself, as well as to those who care about you, to find strategies for work life balance, reducing the work stress and taking back control of your time!
As an executive in these busy work environments, you may need help in planning how to take back some control over your life and regain personal balance. At Dots Leadership Solutions we provide you with one on one coaching to help you get organized and make a plan! Call us today for all of your leadership dilemmas. Check back time to time to check out features in our blog to help you be an effective leader.
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.