*For an audio version of this post click here.
“Don’t ask questions, just do it” they said, as their hand motioned the termination of our abrupt discussion. It was said quickly and with such strong authority that I was left stunned for a moment.
I was given a firm ‘warning’ that certain attitudes have the power to take me down if they wish to. The warning wasn’t correction towards me, I had done nothing wrong, it was a caring warning to be more aware of my surroundings as I have been selected as the centre of someone else’s bad attitude. I am to do as I am told in order to give way to poor behaviour. And I can’t ask questions? Or try to attain resolution? What?
I’ve been in this place before, I know it well.
The place of feeling hurt that people you have done no ill to are turning on you out of jealousy and identity issues.
The place of feeling sad that some will take a friendly personality as a negative or threatening trait.
The place of feeling angry that people are more willing to sit and gossip about you than they are to sit and chat about their frustrations with you.
The place of feeling frustrated that you can’t address the silent treatment or dirty looks you get because conflict resolution is not a feasible option thanks to attitudes being allowed to dominate the workplace.
The place of feeling powerless because no matter how you act, or what you say, or how you change, there is always something displeasing about you to them.
The place of feeling anxious about crossing paths with them if no one is around to see the interaction.
The place of wanting to quit because you hate senseless drama.
The place of wanting to knock people in the head and force sense into them.
The place of wanting revenge… so you plan to look extra good and be extra appreciated just to piss them off a little more (oops, did my flesh take over?!)
I can’t say I was oblivious to said attitudes, but I was caught off guard as I heard the authoritative words spoken at me. Suddenly not being the centre of attention triggered a dislike for my presence. I am too friendly, too pretty, and I’m praised too much in conversation. I won’t deny that I too would be bothered if I suddenly felt my acknowledgement at work was bumped by a newbie, and this is why it is so important for our identity to be found in God’s honest love for us instead of finding it in what we do or how we look.
So what are you to do? How are you to approach a workplace situation that has left no room for discussion?
1. Acknowledge the issue
Try and find out WHAT has caused this issue. Is it something you said, or did that you can apologize for or change your approach in? Is it your attitude or body language towards an individual, and how can you change it so you are more open and welcoming?
If you are stuck in a case like mine where the issue is jealousy, then take a look at your behaviour and what you can do to simmer the situation. I have started being more aware of when and how I give an opinion regardless of whether the conversation is medical or personal -sometimes not giving a solution allows the other person to feel needed in the problem solving. I ensure I am not left alone with said individual to avoid any tensions or situations that put me at risk of accusations, and I have started being more aware of how often I enter ‘their work zone’. Is it helping? I don’t know. But I feel better, and at least I see the dirty looks less as I avoid their work space.
2. Seek conflict resolution
Conflict resolution should always be a priority when issues arise. If you don’t feel safe or heard in the situation, asking a neutral party (ie. supervisor, manager) to sit in the conversation is a great way to approach conflict. You never want to come off as aggressive or defensive, so make sure you rehearse what you want to say so that tone does not get the best of you. In my situation I have been forewarned that conflict resolution is not an option with said individual, so unless there is an escalation in the environment, I will be focusing on different options.
3. Stick to your job outline
Sometimes conflict arises because others feel “you make them look bad or not needed”. I am known for always wanting to help where I can while I’m waiting for a client, but this has proven to be a touchy issue with some. Not everyone wants help, even if they are struggling. I am currently working on reminding my coworkers that IF they want help I am available, but if I am not asked by them to do a task I will no longer take initiative in completing it for them. It may sound like taking a step backwards because leadership is a good trait, but in an office environment like mine you need to know your place, and you need to NOT step on someone else’s toes.
4. Build honest relationships
Most people like me. They like my humour, they like my friendly personality, they like that I’m not afraid to lend a hand, and they really like the outcome of my work and how it makes their day easier. People know I am honest, they know I will be firm when needed but that I will not lash out in attitude or be demanding. I also try and make it clear that if there is an issue with how I have done something, I have no problems with having a conversation to correct me. Having a larger group know you and enjoy you helps put out fires that may be started about you. You don’t have to fight for yourself when you have a crowd that believes in you wants to keep you around, let them stand up for you, and let your character speak for itself.
5. Don’t fuel the fire
I absolutely want my flesh to take the reins and go pursue a conversation where it is not welcomed; I want to be more aware of how well dressed I am at work to bug said individual’s jealousy a little. THESE ARE NOT GODLY REACTIONS! As much as you may want to fight back or be passive aggressive, take the higher road and do not fuel the fire. We gain nothing from making a situation more heated, especially when you have to work together.
6. Give it to God and let Him work
Stop replying scenarios in your head, stop daydreaming about telling said individuals off, stop escalating negative emotions towards them. Our behaviour changes based on where our mind goes, so if you spend your evenings thinking ill of people who bother you, your behaviour towards them will change for the worse. Instead try laying down your anger and the situation at the cross. Hand over the outcome and control and let God carry you. Ask Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom on how to approach the situation and how to address coworkers. It may not make the situation disappear, but it will give your mind and heart peace. Pray for His presence to follow you and fill your workplace, and for protection from attacks that may be pushed your way.
When we are feeling most powerless, prayer becomes our most powerful tool.
Have you encountered personality issues at your workplace? How did you handle them?
Leave your thoughts as a comment below!