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...
Have you ever had a visceral reaction to a colleague where just to be around them made you cringe? Generally that discomfort is based in ego - your competitiveness gone haywire. We get triggered into fight-or-flight and our ego hates to lose.
Prepare before these encounters by anticipating the experience going well - where you shift from being defensive to being CURIOUS about HIS ego and need to be right or superior. Imagine if you could watch her arm wrestling her ego because that is exactly what is happening when people are mean - they are at war with themselves. Happy people do not hurt one another or seek attention.
Be the curious servant leader. “Jean, I sense that I’m not meeting your needs. I want to be helpful. If I were meeting your needs, what exactly would that look like?” She will likely not be able to be specific because she’s so tied up in attention seeking ego. If she is specific you’ll have great intel.
Direct communication is the best way to go through life. But instead, people practice avoidance (ignoring the person or the problem) or triangulation (bringing in a third person to validate that your condemnation is correct).
Leadership expert Dr. Henry Cloud’s Law of Exposure says, “Life is better lived in the light — that is, things are better out in the open, even if these things are negative. Conflict or hard feelings cause a break in the connection between two people, and relationship can only be restored by communicating honestly.
One of the biggest traps that we all fall into at one time or another is getting stuck in the whirlpool of unnecessary drama.”
What I see is that avoidance of direct communication happens when we fear conflict. Rightly so. Everyone hates conflict. Except for those who thrive on drama - the most dangerously insecure people of all.
But what if we shifted the perspective from conflict to...