Last month I visited a large company in the Midlands, where I needed to sit with a client in a quiet room for an hour or so. I was shown into an office which was relatively bare excepting a desk, computer and a couple of chairs. My attention was drawn to a large notice taped to the middle of the desk. It was several sentences long but the essence was ‘do not eat my food, I know who you are, and if you do it again, I will know.’
Experienced this sort of bullying at work? Or is it bullying? Perhaps the author just didn’t know how to deal with conflict, confrontation and difficult situations? How often does this happen in your workplace?
In my experience of both large and small companies, it is the ‘petty’ issues that loom large. Who parks where, who sits where, who makes the tea, who uses up the milk or leaves plates in the sink’. Ring any bells for you? That’s before we get on to the important stuff – like who gets a promotion, who is invited to a conference, and who is allowed to arrive late every other day without being called to account.
Irritated / frustration / annoyance / stressed / impatience
In most situations these words are used to avoid recognising the anger we are feeling. We could use aggressive behaviours to respond to these feelings (if we want to get the sack or we feel we can get away with it). I spoke with a manager yesterday who highly values the technical skills of one of his staff. However the employee has lost his temper a couple of times, and he doesn’t feel he can allow this to continue. This aggressive response won’t be tolerated.
We could also use passive aggressive responses when we feel angry – like the ‘notice’ I saw today. We could avoid talking to someone, not respond to emails, not turn up for a meeting we are invited to without reason, or many other manipulative responses that don’t address the actual issue. I find most anger is played out in this way at work – it is said that 80% of our anger in the workplace is passive-aggressive.
There is another way. We need to be clear about our needs. Clear and direct, without being hurtful. Choosing our battles and the appropriate timing. We need to know when to sit in the discomfort of these feelings and keep them to ourselves, and when to recognise that suppressing them is making us ill.
And not something we can easily learn from a book. Although there are some great ones around. Try our courses and you will learn how to handle conflict, feeling angry and frustrated in a supportive environment with a brilliant programme that works. Works not just for home but at work too.
By the way, that highly valued technician I mentioned is going to attend some of our sessions with the support of his manager. Good result for everyone. Get to retain good staff, whilst avoiding further problems. With regard to the desk notice, I can only hope the administrator has found a more human place to earn a living.
Paula Backen & Julian Hall are emotional resiliance specialists delivering trasformational behavour changing courses across the country. If you want to know more about the anger management, stress management, and emotional resilience courses run in Derby & Birmingham call click here