Hateful People at Work

I saw this license plate in front of me at a traffic light this morning while I was stopped in front of a church, talking on the phone with my daughter who is experiencing “mean girl” behavior at work. I decided it was a sign  and sent her the photo. (Also, it's not often that we see a car from North Dakota in Pittsburgh.)

Happy people don’t hurt one another. Never lose your executive presence and get emotional with hateful people. They hate themselves far more than they hate you. Their internal barometer is far more angry than you could ever feel toward them. Don’t become them. Don’t defend against them. You’ll only look small. Smile and say, “Help me understand what you mean by that” as you give yourself space to remember that you’ve got this.

If you want more executive presence tips here’s a link to my FREE report: 31 Success Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World 

Your coach,

Mary...

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At first I didnt believe this.

At first I didn't believe this graphic. Be careful how you interpret your responsibility for an unhappy person’s environment. I do believe as leaders we have to nurture our team culture and provide a safe place for mistakes to happen without shame. I believe we must encourage and be accepting. But when someone is stuck and their behavior is disrespectful and uncalled for boundaries are necessary. We don’t own or placate someone else’s bad behavior or it just enables more bad behavior. If we constantly need to rescue someone from themselves by making excuses for them or declaring that others do the same and cater to them we’ll be rescuing and enabling for a very long time. And the person being rescued’s behavior will only get worse as will their unhappiness.

It’s not our job to fix the flower. It’s our job to create boundaries around what we will and will not allow for ourselves. We can’t change them. Only our own behavior. That...

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Six Steps to Protect Yourself from Drama

When there is drama in our lives it involves other people and our emotional reaction to them. If you are miserable at your job, the situation likely implies a boss, colleague or group of people is at its root. If you repeatedly avoid situations you most likely dodge a person who you feel strips your power. If you commonly find yourself angry with someone, it is probably because you feel a need to defend against how they make you feel.

Don’t Personalize Their Behavior

We think people cause our sorrow. Not so. Our interpretation of another person’s actions - our emotional response to having been judged - is what really makes us unhappy. We personalize their conduct. We make it about us. We judge back. We feel left out. We become needy for approval. Right now, there is someone personalizing your behavior that you’re not even aware of. 

Recognize Your Own Ego 

If you feel that another person’s conduct makes you feel less than you are, that’s your...

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Anger is a Mask for This

Anger is always a mask for a sad feeling we are turning away from because it makes us uncomfortable and feel unworthy. Invite the discomfort and sadness you avoid in closer - so close that you can feel it, smell it, taste it, touch it. Describe it in detail. This disarms it’s power and the anxiety of avoidance melts to acceptance.

Here you can stop running and finally relax. You become a third party observer to situations that used to threaten you without inserting your heart and emotions into the center. Your relationships and sense of fulfillment shift upward. Your executive presence soars when you aren’t afraid of what might happen. You accept and value yourself as is without needing to be perfect. That’s a good life.

If you are ready to get off the treadmill to nowhere and have peace, confidence, executive presence, career advancement and high performance in the face of challenges, personal agendas, cynicism and bureaucracy request a free consultation call...

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Six Acts that Build Executive Presence in a Difficult Moment

If you have ever been in an escalating conversation that is confrontational you know how hard it is to maintain composure when your heart starts racing and every nerve ending in your body is screaming “Danger!” With practice you can be the master of your own behavior in these high stakes moments, pacify yourself and be the respected colleague people notice has grace under fire. 

When you’re first aware that a situation is getting combative that is the sign to switch tracks before you’re on the runaway train of freeze-fight-or-flight. This is when your reaction becomes physiological -  your voice quivers, your palms get sweaty, and your heartrate elevates. Most people fear that this lack of physical control will show and undermine their effectiveness. It’s important to regain control of your body’s reaction by accepting what is going on with you and creating space for it to calm down. Turning away from the discomfort is not the...

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When Drama Overwhelms You

You’ve seen it at work and at home. Someone is anxious about something and suddenly you are feeling anxious too. You know this isn’t healthy and that you shouldn’t feel this way which only makes it worse. Now you’re self-judging for not distancing yourself from the drama and begin to doubt your own effectiveness. You start losing sleep and wake up in the middle of the night, running the day’s conversations over in your mind.  

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and sucked in by another person’s angst. Drama is created when a person can’t accept the way they feel so they try to externalize it or put that feeling off on others, usually in a highly demonstrative or desperate way. This behavior provides them a temporary yet unsustainable relief from their discomfort. Thus, they continue the drama dance to try to unload their despair. 

I notice I have been feeling anxious and assuming the anxiety of this person. I’ve...

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When They Threaten to Make You Look Bad

Last evening a client told me a story of how a customer was being condescending and threatened to report her to her boss in a truly snotty way over something that didn’t make sense. My client felt under siege and desperately asked her not to do that. The customer is doing it anyway. I suggested three things:

  1. Never act desperate. Never. You have no power after that. 
  1. Write down the script of the conversation between both parties word for word (don’t just tell him), put it in front of your boss and ask one thing, “Do you have my back?” Trust must occur between manager and direct report or your culture is crap. 
  1. The next time anyone threatens you, confuses you, accuses you or makes you feel undone ask one question, “So that we are clear, what is it that you really want?” Most unhappy people don’t know and will try to deflect. Just keep asking the same question. This is your home base. 

My client said that if she had asked...

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When Someone Makes You Look Bad at Work

If you work anywhere you likely have had a colleague try to make you look bad. Most of my clients have had to struggle with this. It is disempowering and injects a fear of losing your job which ultimately leads to a fear of losing people who you love. This is where executive presence is crucial. This is where you don’t react at all. This is where you just pause, stare at them for a count of five and then ask, “Are you trying to make me look bad?” That will stop them dead.

Call them out with curiosity for exactly what they are doing. Don’t characterize them, get angry or defensive. Simply ask them if what it looks like they are doing is in fact what they are doing. If they deflect back to you say, “Ok, I wanted to get clarity on that because for a minute it felt like you were trying to make me look bad.” No one can argue with how you feel.

This scenario gives you a few moments to recenter yourself, for people on the periphery to validate in their...

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How to Let Go

This week a very capable client was struggling with some of the work I am having her do around ‘doubt’ and ‘letting go.’ She said she “came up blank” on what she was angry about, what she can terminate right now, where she feels shame and what she feared.  

Questioning our thoughts and feelings often uncovers that they are assumptions and not true at all. These questions help you get deeply into the thoughts and feelings that hold you back - keep you guarded, resentful or powerless. Nobody wants to face them. But, if we don’t they chase us down the rest of our lives. Think of the last time you lashed out, withdrew, or quit something. What FEELING was at the heart of the behavior? I want you to be able to re-examine that feeling as to whether it is an assumption or really true. (This photo shows the process of finding the pause moment to accomplish this strategy.

She then shared that she does feel shame around weight and being...

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Disarm the Bully with Your Game

Last evening one of my clients was suffering because of a colleague who was bullying her. This bully was sucking her energy and high performance right out of her. I was so happy for her to watch her become a mindful third party observer of the bully’s behavior such that it even made her laugh.

Losing your cool is as bad as withdrawing. Both render you ineffective. Both dummy down your authentic risk taking ability. People notice both. 

When you play it safe or are reactionary you are playing THEIR game. Play YOUR game. Pause. Critical think. Observe what is behind the mask. Be curious. Then get back to your strengths. 

When the bully senses that you are holding it together his or her behavior will escalate. That is where you become amused. Just stare at them. Observe. It can be quite entertaining.

May you become a silent witness to all your experiences, including your personal history. That’s power. That’s executive presence.

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