For 6 months or so I had noticed a woman who works in the building I’m in become less social, less energetic and somehow not herself. This dear woman had always struck me as someone who strove for the best; she had worked hard to put herself through a doctorate program after runs at two other careers, cared for her work and was clearly passionate about doing well. When the opportunity came to ask if everything was OK she was surprised both to be asked and that her level of unhappiness was showing.
What had changed? It turns out the people she was working for were telling her that she wasn’t smart, wasn’t talented nor had any idea what she was doing in this line of work. Wow. And not in a good way wow. This is the part that reminded me of so many other folks who are striving; she had started to believe them. By far she’s not alone.
“The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says 77% of employees receive significant stress symptoms from a bad boss. Research published in the Journal of Business and Psychology shows that negative leadership behavior produces lower employee morale and emotional distress.” This from an article by Rick Conlow (‘6 Proven Ways to Deal With a Bad Boss’). 77% is a significant number of workers. We have certainly discussed stress and its impact our capacity to Thrive, both as Practitioners and Individuals, but to see this number is just amazing.
It is extremely easy to begin to believe that what is being said by someone such as a boss or client or others who hold sway over us, is in fact reality. Sadly, this is not true and couldn’t be further from the truth. One of our responsibilities is to learn how to weed out the grain of helpful feedback from all the rocks that might be hurled.
There are several strategies to help you stay focused on your realities. As the saying goes, “consider the source.” If the hurler is unhappy or not confident in their skill set it would be fair to take into consideration these pieces when deciding if their feedback about your work is the best it can be. Don’t forget; when threatened a number of individuals will go on the attack to keep the focus off of them.
Strive to stay true to yourself. If you’re in a situation such as the one mentioned above do your best to treat your boss or co-worker in a manner that speaks to who you know you are, not who they believe you are. In the long run you’ll feel better about yourself and your work, not to mention that there won’t be anything they can pin on you later such as poor performance.
You might be working for yourself or hope to do so shortly – great! How does this apply to you? Even when we are our own bosses there are those who will do their best to convince you that their thoughts about who you are and what your motives are is really reality. This one, I can tell you from the School of Hard Knocks, happens all the time! If I were half as mean, cold hearted and uncaring as my mandated clients believe I am, I would melt in the rain! (Reference to the Wizard of Oz where the mean witch melts when a bucket of water is thrown on her.)
Some other methods to keep you afloat:
Write down your accomplishments so that you can refer back to them
Speak up about those same accomplishments if its appropriate to do so
Engage with negative people as little as possible
Seek outside support from a significant other, a coach, family member, good friends
Try to keep in mind that its very likely those who are being so critical and negative may well have a grain of truth in what they’re saying but are also just as likely to be feeling pressured or less-than themselves
Please don’t forget you didn’t get this far on nothing – you are strong, capable and extremely intelligent!