Unfortunately, sometimes in life we have to deal with people who are impolite, condescending, or exhibit other assh*le-like behavior. It’s difficult to be around, and particularly when the nastiness feels personal — but sometimes we have no choice. Like at work, for instance. Here are 4 tips to not only help you survive these situations, but to help you thrive when you feel under attack at work.
1/ Compassion 101. It doesn’t take a psychologist to realize that when someone ‘lashes out’ there’s a reason. Depending on the extent of the person’s meanness, it could just be their personality type; but it could also be due to any number of things, like a reaction to stress, or to feeling threatened at work. This doesn’t in any way justify nasty behavior; however, it may help you take things less personally, once you have a more complete understanding of the situation. Try to evaluate things as objectively as you can. (i.e., if you’re a sensitive person, consider that your reaction may be heightened. But maybe it’s not. Think about it.)
2/ React in the Moment. When someone says something offensive, don’t wait to call the person out – say something right away. The sooner you react, the better. Saying something in the moment actually makes the issue ‘less of a big deal’, while making it immediately clear to the other person that you’re unwilling to accept or engage in inappropriate behavior. This may take practice but can be extremely effective in changing an unhealthy communication pattern.
3/ Be Like a Duck. Whatever you do, don’t let this person’s negative energy get the best of you, by affecting the quality of your work or ruining your workdays. Build support among your co-workers; talk to people. Chances are, some of them have experienced something similar and will have sympathy for you. It’s important you speak about the issues and recognize that you are not alone. By doing this, you’ll be able to maintain a positive attitude, while letting the nastiness roll off you, like water off a duck’s back.
4/ Put Yourself First. If you’ve successfully worked on #1-3, you’ve been compassionate, spoken with your colleagues, and are making a sincere effort to address the nasty behavior when it happens. What more can you do? If you’re being singled out among your colleagues, speak about it with a superior (if the nasty person happens to be your boss, speak with someone in the Human Resources department). If his/her behavior is verbally abusive toward you, don’t be afraid to report it. You’ll be protecting yourself and others. Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with a situation that’s unpleasant but more or less manageable job-wise, it may be in your best interest to either grow closer to your ‘inner-duck’ and ‘get over it’, or work to find a better job. Life is short and you can only control so much. And your happiness is worth a whole lot.
* Song to keep you going: “Money on My Mind” by Sam Smith.
While this song is about living with heart (which we’re passionate about) – the chorus repeats “money on my mind” and it will stick with you. When all else fails, keep collecting your check, staying strong and positive – and seek a better job situation if things don’t improve.