Ever wonder how much time you spend at the office on emotional issues? It's easy to let emotions drive what you do - or drive you to distraction. They are often triggered by those around you - and can create a logjam between you and the work at hand. A simple task takes much longer due to wasted energy.
A manager's unexpected barb, a co-worker taking credit for your project, or even something you said that you later regret are common examples.
Just because we're sitting in an ergonomic chair versus a comfy TV room couch doesn't change the fact that we're human, dealing with human sensitivities, instincts, egos, hopes and fears.
Our research consistently shows that emotional issues, particularly those that relate to what your boss says and does, eat up an enormous amount of time. You might try to immediately quash these feelings, but if you're analytical or are blessed with human sensitivity, you may also "replay" the event for yourself (or others) until you can understand it, or know how to gain control over it for the next time the pattern re-emerges.
It Is Not You
Here's what you need to know: You are not alone. Toxic people at work are emotionally draining and can be paralyzing to your work. The key is to be able to spot them and recognize the situation for what it is, rather than try to force yourself to ignore the behavior, or imagine it does not exist.
Oftentimes, employers and workers in general could use more interpersonal training, especially as they reach managerial levels. Much more needs to be done to humanize the workplace, and doing so will definitely reap big rewards in productivity. Even the simple courtesies and etiquette that we were taught in grade school need to be dusted off and reapplied in the workplace.
Now I have some great news. You can turn the tables, immediately.
Turning the Tide
If there's something in it for the other person, you can usually effect change. If they seem unchangeable, you can distance yourself and recognize that the toxic person is who he is. Above all, remember, this is your career: you get to make your own choices on how you manage your life!
Here are some tips to consider in channeling your emotions in the office:
1. Oftentimes toxic people, especially bad or childish bosses behave similarly to many. They may have been modeled this behavior in the past, and it got results. This why you see a corporate mass exodus at times, or a reputation develop about a manager. Check in with other trustworthy co-workers to see if they're experiencing similar behavior.
2. This is NOT your imagination; so don't waste a moment self-guessing whether it's real or not.
3. Channel these emotional energies into becoming a "parent" - assume that these people have not developed interpersonal skills, regardless of their intellectual skill level. IQ is not the same as Emotional IQ!
4. Don't patronize, but let your strategic "parenting" empower you to role model good behavior.
5. Allow yourself to become more assertive and, if need be, serious with those who need to "get the message" that you mean business. Don't resist having a professional, assertive heart-to-heart talk with those who go beyond your boundaries.
6. If all else fails, find an ally (or allies) in the company to support you in speaking to more senior level managers.
7. Sometimes the best support you will find is your own when it comes to dealing with personality or "chemistry" issues, especially if you only occasionally interface with these people. It's often best to keep your distance in these situations.
8. There are some who find it a challenge to engage in petty sandbox politics or rumor-mongering. Let them waste that energy with others, soon finding that you're not "signing up" - regardless of their seniority.
Write it Down for Clarity
If emotions are driving your actions, you may also make decisions you later regret. The old adage of "counting to ten" before reacting, does hold merit. Consider writing a short note you do not ultimately send. It can help you answer such reflective questions as: "What do I hope to achieve by sending this?" and/or "If I were its recipient, is it really productive or emotionally-based?" You don't want to be caught playing the same game as a "Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT)" or grown child in the workplace. You want to rise above and stop the cycle - for your own good.
If, however, you must work with a person regularly at work, you might just glean a business-like paragraph from the unsent memo, such as: "I'd like to suggest a weekly meeting to ensure that our projects run more smoothly. Is there a good slot during the week?" Then you'll at least create an open line of communications, and it will serve as a preventive measure.
Now, try letting your savvy job skills drive you. Watch your success unleash its true potential.