I have spoken to a friend recently who was undermined and harshly judged at work despite her obvious competence and remarkable work ethic. These things hurt especially when you know that you sacrificed the time with your family, your hobbies and your health in order to deliver projects in good time.
When we find ourselves in a situation like this, we immediately want to react whether that is by defending, attacking or retracting. If we jump to one of these knee-jerk reactions, we take ourselves down to the level of those people who caused the perceived injustice. We are now a part of a drama triangle, effectively becoming a victim with those ‘wrong-doers’ being the persecutors. Soon we start looking for so-called rescuers (people who would affirm our innocence in the situation) to fight our corner. Often, people get stuck in the drama triangle for weeks and months on end.
There is no solution to be found when we are in a drama triangle. We can’t see the situation clearly because we are busy playing our role. Furthermore, we are stripped of our true power.
In any conflict resolution, it is absolutely a must for at least one of the people involved to rise above the situation. Otherwise, everyone is just boiling in the same soup.
I want this person to be you!
So, how could you?
Respect yourself. You don’t need to respond immediately. Often the immediate response makes us feel emotionally hungover few hours later. Be a little bit like Mark Darcy from the Bridget Jones series. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, his normal response to any type of insult would be “Alright then, I see”. Joking aside, leave the room, breathe deeply and give yourself time to digest what just happened. If you can’t just walk out, ask for a 15-minute break.
Rise above the situation. Remember, hurt people hurt others. Whatever has been said is not coming from a happy place. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes for a moment can do a magic trick – quickest way to change our perception. What’s going on in this person’s life? What’s going on in their intimate relationship? What is happening for them at work? Any form of attack is usually a call for love. The best question you can ask yourself here is “How can I see this situation differently?”. It shifts our focus from being a victim to gaining much broader perspective.
Communicate non-violently. You can and you probably should still call them out, address the behaviour but with compassion instead of anger and judgement. Explain how what they did/said made you feel without the blame. Ask direct questions but from the place of curiosity, not judgement. “Have I done anything to upset you?” / “Please tell me honestly what aspects of my work are not satisfying to you? I need to know in order to be able to improve”. The preceding steps help to get to this point where you are actually able to communicate in this manner. In my own experience, when I spoke to anyone in this way, people got very humble and 100% of the time they told me that it wasn’t about me, that they were facing some challenging situation either at home or with their health.
Set the example. Don’t tell people, instead show them how to treat you. Remember, you always set the example to people on how to treat you. People will only treat you as well as you treat yourself. Good questions to ask yourself in order to shift this are: “Do I truly value and respect myself?” / “Do I truly value my contribution to this project at work?” / “Do I truly feel like I am giving my 100% or am I feeling a little bit guilty (even if for no apparent reason)?”. People pick up the energy, therefore, on a subconscious level they know how you feel, whether that is justified or unjustified. People pick up when you are feeling ‘not good enough’ and, again subconsciously, they will be treating you this way. Effectively, the conflict on the outside (in what we call the ‘real world’) points right at the conflict inside of us. That conflict is between the deeply ingrained limiting beliefs that we hold about ourselves and about the world without even realising it, and what we think and believe on the conscious level.
Every tricky situation that upsets us is usually a call to have a really good look at ourselves and adjust the relationship that we have with ourselves first and foremost. When all we want to do is to point the finger at others, it takes some practice and stamina to come back to our centre and to turn this ‘pain’ into a gift, but we can do it – we can do hard things.