Telling someone they’re wrong can be a politically risky move. Imagine, for example, explaining to your boss that he’s just made an unethical decision, or imagine telling your key client, as a small business owner, that the course of action they’re committed to is based on faulty assumptions. At an even simpler level, imagine needing to correct an erroneous fact your colleague has just presented to a senior management group during an important meeting.
What’s the first thing you should do when you’re verbally attacked? It’s not defending yourself, even though this is the instinctive reaction which drives most people. If you want to shift the power dynamic and take control of the situation, you need to work smarter. You need to ask questions instead of rebutting what has just been said.
“I just say it like it is.” “I’m just telling the truth.” “I don’t suffer fools gladly.”
These are all lines I hear regularly in my courses on dealing with difficult people. Invariably the speaker is someone who has been “sent” to the course and is coming across as aggressive and hostile in the workplace. These people claim they are simply being direct and expressing what they think. In reality, though, they are using so-called honesty as a weapon. Their direct, frank approach invades others’ personal boundaries and creates an attacking tone, which colours their feedback.
Energy vampires, mood bombers, confidence wreckers; they all have one thing in common. They’re chronically negative and a toxic influence on workplace team dynamics. Sadly, people with negative mind-sets often set the tone for the entire team. They’re the ones who speak up first and loudest. They’re the ones who find problems for every solution. And they’re the ones who always seem to have the last word. In a perfect world, you’d be able to avoid dealing with chronically negative people. In reality, though, you’re likely to be exposed to them on a daily basis. If you work in customer service, for example, your job will involve handling complaints and dealing with angry or upset people. Or it could simply be that you’re sitting next to a cynical and negative colleague. Or perhaps your boss is burnt out and exhausted and it’s obvious to everyone.
Difficult people invade your boundaries play psychological games. In doing so, they use predictable verbal attack patterns. Learn to respond to verbal attacks calmly and assertively, by using 3 critical rules of verbal self-defense by watching this video.
You thought you were going to a simple catch-up meeting with your boss; instead you ended up feeling like a naughty child. Although the meeting started well, halfway through your boss became aggressive and critical. You’re still not even sure what the main problem was. However, you definitely know you’re in the bad books. This scene is typical of what happens during psychological game playing at work.
Have you ever felt uneasy, anxious, or just plain at the end of a conversation with a difficult person? Chances are you were dealing with a boundary invader. This is someone who invades your psychological space in a way that makes you feel violated or uncomfortable.
I’m not a big fan of tourist buses, so I decided to take the local bus to Portofino. This proved to be a bad decision. The bus was overcrowded, and I was squashed into the space next to the door. My arm was trapped when the door opened resulting in a fractured elbow and risk. In some ways, my visit to the Italian hospital was even more traumatic than the accident itself. In the long months of recovery and rehab though, I learned some valuable lessons in resilience. I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of resilience. After all, resilience is what allows us to bounce back after traumatic or negative experiences. My accident certainly gave me an opportunity to test my practical application of what I’ve learned through all my years of studying this field. Five unexpected lessons emerged from my mishap.
Have you noticed how popular the word “expert” is becoming on social media profiles? My quick search of LinkedIn has just yielded a result of 885,170 results for people using the word expert in their profiles. Many of them fail to explain exactly what their expertise is. For example, among the top 20 people who appeared in my search, six use the format “Expert at (company name)” as their profile headline. Four use the format “(very broad topic) expert”, for example, “digital expert”. This haphazard use of the term is rendering the label expert meaningless and that poses a problem. If you are genuinely an expert in your field, wanting to showcase your technical or professional mastery, you need to overcome this problem. I recommend that you begin to behave like an expert, rather than simply relying on labelling yourself as one.
It’s an all-too-familiar tale. Serena makes rapid progress in the early days of her career, then for no apparent reason, her momentum stalls. Despite her desire to continue developing, she is unable to access a more senior role. In everyday language, we call this hitting the glass ceiling. What exactly does this term mean? Is it still relevant to professionals in today’s business world? And if so, what can we do when we hit the glass ceiling?