This was first published on ksl.com
One of the most common people problems that companies bring me to solve is office drama that has gotten out of hand.
The problems often start with two co-workers who can't get along, who finagle the rest of the office to take sides. Sometimes just one gossip-prone person who likes to stir the pot can ruin the atmosphere for the whole office.
Your first responsibility at work is to make sure you aren't the problem. If you are a person who often dislikes co-workers, gets bothered or offended easily, or feels the need to voice complaints to whoever will listen, you might be the problem in your office and this kind of behavior will absolutely hold you back in your career.
Here are some ways you can deal with office drama going on around you and make sure you aren't the problem:
Refuse to participate in gossip
Don't gossip about your co-workers even if it feels justified and you really need to vent. Find someone outside the office with whom you can voice your frustrations.
It is OK to dislike someone, but it is not OK for you to talk about that at work or encourage others to dislike them too. Practice compassion for any co-worker you dislike and understand they are doing the best they can with what they know.
Stop and get some clarity before you react to anything
Your immediate reaction to most situations will not be clear-headed. Calm down and take some time to determine the outcome you really want and the response most likely to create that outcome. If you need to respond, do so calmly and respectfully.
Give people the benefit of the doubt
You don't need to immediately assume negative intent. Most offenses aren't intentional or done with malice. Strive to be hard to offend.
Avoid people who start or spread ill-will
If someone in the office is prone to gossip or drama, stay away from them or walk away when it starts. This could make adversarial co-workers turn on you, but that's better than being part of the problem. Higher-ups can usually see who is causing the problems, and it won't be you.
Ignore most bad behavior
If it is a problem you can't ignore, have a mutually validating, private, kind, respectful conversation to address it. But for the most part, try to let most things roll off.
Don't take sides
If people are closing ranks around two co-workers, refuse to join either side. Encourage compassion toward all involved.
See everyone as having the same value
Everyone has the same infinite value on a unique classroom journey. Let them be where they are and hold back judgment. You have no idea what has happened in their life to create the place they are in now. Assume they are wounded too and that all involved deserve compassion.
Do not allow others to disparage, disregard or mistreat you, but hold these boundaries the right way with respectful conversation or by taking the problem to the right superior. Quietly document inappropriate behavior if necessary.
Don't react negatively to negativity
If you hear people are talking negatively about you, don't negatively react. This is a chance to either learn something and grow or practice knowing it doesn't matter what others say. If the negativity continues and needs to be addressed, have a private, respectful, conversation. But most of the time, just working on being the best you is the best response.
'When they go low ... go high'
Follow former First Lady Michelle Obama's advice: "When they go low, we go high." Keep taking the high road and showing compassion, maturity and respect to everyone, regardless of how low they go.
Remember: what other people do and say doesn't change your value
Another's dislike of you or the things you do doesn't change who you are. You are more bulletproof than you realize. They may try to ruin your reputation, but your best defense is to live so no one would believe them.
If a conversation becomes necessary, make sure you do it right
Find the right time, in private, and start by asking questions about how they feel and listening to them fully. Let them have room to fully share their point of view and honor and respect their right to that perspective.
Then ask if they would be willing to let you share your perspective and do it without being disrespectful or harsh. Know ahead of time what changes in behavior you are going to ask for moving forward. Ask if they would be willing to handle things that way in the future.
Take stock of your own behavior
We all must watch ourselves for inappropriate behavior at work. Watch for your ego's need to talk about other people or complain, and then choose to stay quiet. Strive to be a person who builds co-workers up, encourages them, and has compassion for their struggles instead of tearing them down.
If you are stuck in a job where inappropriate behavior and office drama abounds, consider recommending some people-skills training or executive coaching for the whole office to the higher-ups. If solutions still aren't coming, update your resume and start looking for a healthier workplace.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I often hear from readers who have to deal with someone in the workplace who is highly defensive and combative in their communication. This person might be a co-worker, employee, manager or even a client.
Everyone will have to communicate, at some point, with someone who is upset, offended and on the offensive, so I'd like to give you some tips on how to best handle these difficult conversations.
When a person comes across as combative or defensive in their communication, I believe one or both of the following things is happening.
If this person is a co-worker, client, family member or boss, you will need to find a way to work and communicate with them without things becoming ugly. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that could make them feel safer and give you a better chance of having a productive conversation:
Work to be emotionally calm and balanced
If you go into a conversation scared about having it, the other person will get defensive before you say a word. Make sure you know your intrinsic value cannot change no matter what happens in this conversation. Remember, in the end, this will be an experience that will serve you, teach you or grow you. You are safe here. Throughout the conversation, keep reminding yourself there is nothing to fear. This is just a conversation and you are just going to try to show up for this human being and be kind.
Care about the person first and the topic second
Your only goal upfront in the conversation is to show this person they are important, cared about and worth listening to. If you have another agenda you need to accomplish, it must come after you take the time to show this person you care about them. If you take the time to validate their worth by asking questions, and then honoring and respecting their thoughts and feelings first, they will be less defensive when it's time to address the issue.
Have an exit strategy and a time limit
Set up this conversation when you have a very natural time limit (like with another appointment). Have an assistant or someone come get you at the end time to assure the conversation stays within these boundaries you've set.
Set some rules of engagement and pick your battles
Let this person know that because you are short on time, you only want to discuss one thing and clarify any issues that you don't want to talk about today. Know ahead of time what the most important issue is and be sure it's important enough to be worth the effort. Know exactly what you hope to achieve at the end. It helps to write these things on paper and get clear of your intention ahead of time. Make sure that making this person feel cared about and heard are your first and foremost goals.
Establish the enemy is an issue, not a person
Sit on the same side instead of across from each other. This makes it feel like the two of you are against an issue or problem, not against each other. Clarify that you want to find a way to create a win for all involved.
Calm their fears with validation and reassurance
Make sure you have validated them and talked about all the things they do right first. They need reassurance before you tell them anything negative. This should help quiet the fears that usually drive bad communication behavior.
Ask a lot of questions and listen
The most important part of a difficult conversation is the beginning, when you make it all about them by asking what they think and feel about the issue. Spend as much time as possible here. The deepest way to show you value, honor, and respect another person is by listening to their views, fears and concerns, and really respecting their right to feel the way they do. If possible, see if you can ask enough questions that you can get them to tell you everything you had wanted to say. It's always better if they figure it out without you telling them.
If you are personally attacked, don't defend yourself
Instead of fighting back against a verbal attack, ask more questions like, "Tell me more about that?" or "What makes you feel that way?" Dive into the attack instead of fighting against it. Just because they think this about you doesn't make it true. Listening to their views doesn't diminish you. Let them get it all out and share all their thoughts and feelings about you. They may be shocked to find you open instead of fighting back. Show them you can handle an attack and are still not scared. None of this affects your intrinsic, unchangeable value.
Put yourself in their shoes
Try to see things from their perspective and look for common ground you can agree on. Don't try to convince them of anything. Focus your attention on trying to understand them. Even if you cannot possibly understand their views, the fact that you are trying will come through.
Use 'I' statements, not 'you' statements
When you do need to share your views, make sure you use "I" statements and focus on your own perspective, observations, thoughts and feelings. Avoid attacks that start with "you" do this or that. Instead, say: "In my opinion," "I have observed," "I feel," "I believe." You are always entitled to your perspective and it's harder to argue with.
Be realistic about what to expect
Realize that people who are deep in a state of fear are only concerned with one thing: their own safety. They don't have the capacity to show up for you, but they might be able to do what you ask of them — if you ask in a respectful way and focus on only future behavior. Use statements like "Would you be willing to do this a little differently moving forward?" or "Next time that happens, would you be open to handling it this way?"
These tips will give you the best shot at a productive conversation, but there are some people you just won't be able to work well with. Don't take this personally. It is not about you.
If this is the case, you will have to avoid dealing with them as much as possible or take the problem up the chain of command. You can also use this opportunity to work on yourself and grow. Try working on staying calm, strong and confident in the face of attacks. It's great practice.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I have noticed lately that many of the men at work and in other meetings I attend interrupt me, cut me off, or talk down to me and the other women in those groups. I am just curious to know if you think there is anything we can do to garner more respect and/or change this? Should we say something when this happens or try to ignore it?
Women are often talked over, interrupted or shut down in conversation, especially in environments where they are outnumbered by men. A study from George Washington University found that men were 33% more likely to interrupt women than they were to interrupt other men.
Another study, from researchers at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, found that this even happens to female Supreme Court Justices, like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Researchers examined 15 years of court transcripts to see how often men, either justices or advocates, interrupted the female justices. Over the last 12 years (when women have comprised only 24% of the bench) female justices being interrupted by men accounted for 32% of interruptions, while female justices interrupting men accounted for only 4% of interruptions.
According to Jessica Bennett, a gender editor at the New York Times, it is not just men who interrupt women. Other women are also more prone to interrupt women, and people of color and LGBTQ+ people fare even worse. The sad truth is we subconsciously see some people as less valuable or less important, and this shows up in the way we communicate.
I believe the crucial first step is committing to see all human beings as having the same value and demonstrating this belief in how we talk to them. Every person deserves to be heard and respected. We must see all human beings as equals, listen without interrupting, and honor their right to think differently than we do.
Obviously, there are also situations where the opposite is true and women interrupt or talk over men. The point of the article is to make us all better at respectful communication.
Practical ways you can be part of the solution
1. Stop before interrupting someone. If you feel the urge to interrupt someone, ask yourself, "Do I just want to ask a quick question to clarify what they are saying? Am I going to invite them to continue afterward, or do I think what I have to say is more important than this person?" If the latter is is the case, choose to keep quiet.
2. Check yourself before giving advice. Before you advise another person ask yourself, "Is there any chance I am explaining something to this person that they already know?" If you think there is any chance they might already know this information, don't insult them by telling them. You could also ask them directly if they would be open to some advice?
3. Ask permission before you share an idea or suggestion, or give advice. Ask the other person if they are open to hearing your idea and give them a comfortable out if they'd rather not hear it. Respect the answer to your permission question and don't forge ahead without permission.
4. Don't use demeaning nicknames like honey, sweetie, love or babe. These are not appropriate unless you are dating or married to the other person, and even then ask how they feel about these terms and make sure they are seen as a compliment, not an insult.
5. Never correct another person's pronunciation or grammar.
6. Avoid sexist or demeaning jokes and misogynistic statements. Call out other people who use them. Explain to them why their behavior is wrong. Watch for situations that make women or other marginalized people feel uncomfortable and stand up for them.
7. Make a committed effort to listen to other people. In any meetings you attend, make sure all the women and marginalized people are respected and heard. Insist that others acknowledge and hear them out. Stop people who are interrupting them.
8. Believe women and what they say. Insist that others do the same.
9. Don't get defensive if a woman — or anyone for that matter — tells you that your words or behavior were offensive or hurtful. Be open to understanding that from another person's perspective things can look and feel different than they feel from your perspective. Apologize and ask questions so you understand what you should do differently in the future. Be teachable.
10. Be careful not to talk over other people. Don't dismiss others' ideas; and if you cannot wait to make a comment, at least politely ask if you can stop them for a second. Then, make sure you invite them to continue afterward.
11. If you are on a board, panel or team, insist that they include a well-rounded number of diverse people. Invite more women or minorities to participate and be included.
12. Teach young people that being feminine is not a bad thing. Don't use phrases like "you hit like a girl." Challenge stereotypes that place women behind men as the weaker sex. Encourage women and girls to see themselves as equal, smart and capable as men.
What to do if you find yourself being talked down to or interrupted
1. Don't take it personally. Interrupting says more about a lack of manners in the other person than it says about you. This experience doesn't mean you are less important or less worthy of respect; it likely means the other person hasn't learned to be aware of how their actions affect other people.
2. Don't blame yourself or see yourself as weak or insecure. This happens because our entire society has been taught patriarchy as the social norm. You allow men to interrupt you because it is deep in your subconscious programming to see it as acceptable. It will take work and time for you to recognize every time it happens and learn to stand up for yourself. Have compassion for yourself during this time.
3. Whenever you are speaking to men, use confident words. Rose Kennedy, from the Atlanta Journal, encourages women to "speak with conviction using words like 'know' instead of 'believe' and 'will' instead of 'might." She says to "lean in and make eye contact," sighting a 1983 study that found men tend to interrupt women more often when they lean away or don't look at the person they're talking to.
4. Practice assertive body language. Do things like keeping your arms out to take up as much space in the room as you can. This is a power position and it changes how people treat you.
5. Be strong and confident without being defensive or overly forceful. You don't have to be angry and defensive to stand up for yourself. You can stand in your power and still be calm, peaceful and kind.
6. If you are interrupted or cut off, you have the following options to respond (which can all be done standing in your power):
You can do this.
First published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — Along with being a life coach, I also provide people skills training to companies and organizations. I have been thinking lately about some of the bad workplace behaviors that can annoy co-workers, ruin the atmosphere at work, or even sabotage your career.
Here are 10 common annoying workplace behaviors to watch for:
1. Do you have trouble accepting feedback?
In the workplace, it is critical that you are open to any and all feedback that could help you learn and grow. Feedback cannot diminish your value as a person (because nothing can). You are the same you with the same value as every other person, no matter what feedback you get. Great employees accept constructive feedback and even ask for it. Being confident enough to receive good feedback can even launch you forward.
2. Do you complain about the company or organization?
Do you have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong in everything around you? If you aren’t happy with yourself, you might tend to focus on the bad in others to distract yourself from your own faults or misfortunes. If you don’t feel safe in the world, you will also be on watch for anything that doesn’t seem right. If this sounds like you, get some help to work on your self-esteem and your sense of security in the world. Then fight the urge to verbalize everything you think. Try talking less, listening more and focusing on the positive.
3. Do you hesitate to speak up and take risks?
Both a fear of failure and a fear of loss can cause you to keep your ideas to yourself and just do the minimum to stay under the radar. This tactic might feel safe, but it won’t open doors for you. Also watch for feeling entitled to promotions just because you’ve been there awhile. Promotions are given to those who take initiative, stretch out of their comfort zone, and go above and beyond the call of duty.
4. Do you lack confidence?
If you don’t believe in yourself and are afraid you don’t cut it, others will pick up on this and won’t believe in you either. If you can tell this is your challenge, seek out some professional help to change the way you determine your own value.
5. Are you overly dramatic, emotional or unprofessional at work?
If your insecurities cause tears, breakdowns, yelling or other emotional scenes at work, this can also hold you back. This behavior is unprofessional and makes people lose respect for you. If you bring your personal problems to work, you may need to get some professional help to work on this. Don’t expect your co-workers to be your therapists.
6. Do you struggle to get along with other co-workers?
Your ability to create good relationships is what drives your value at work. If you create people problems or always end up in the middle of them, this diminishes your value to your employer. If you lack people skills, I suggest you seek out some training to improve them. Improve your communication skills and learn how to handle tough conversations with kindness. A good life coach or counselor could help you.
7. Are you late or undependable?
If you are always running behind, your co-workers could start to see you as irresponsible and someone they cannot count on. If you struggle with this, set your watch, phone and other clocks ahead of the actual time and be committed to becoming punctual.
8. Do you get bothered or offended too easily?
If you are on the lookout for mistreatment, even at a subconscious level, you will find it. We always find what we are looking for. Great employees have thick skin and can let a lot of small offenses and irritations go. They learn to not take things personally and understand that most of other people’s behavior is about their own fears and not about you.
9. Do you take credit for other people’s work, or are you a know-it-all?
Be someone who is quick to give credit where it is due, show gratitude, and let other people shine. Employees who don’t need the spotlight and can encourage others are more likely to be promoted. Watch yourself for being a know-it-all and talking too much. Don’t dominate conversations or always "one-up" another person’s story or comment. These behaviors can drive co-workers crazy. Make sure this isn’t you.
10, Do you create more problems than you solve?
If you create more problems than you solve, your days as an employee at your company could be numbered. Your employer can’t afford to keep you on staff if your drama affects productivity. If you want to rise through the ranks, focus on what you are giving and contributing to productivity on a daily basis. Be a problem solver, not a problem creator.
A few other really annoying behaviors include spending work time on your cellphone, calling for pointless meetings, eating smelly food at your desk, stealing food that doesn’t belong to you from the office fridge, being messy, or trying to sell co-workers your latest MLM products. These are annoying behaviors you definitely want to avoid.
If you can see any of these behaviors in yourself, I strongly encourage you to change them. If you have to deal with annoying coworkers who are behaving badly, here are a few suggestions.
This was first published on ksl.com
I can’t leave my job because I could never find one that pays this well, but I have a horrible boss that makes every day a bad experience. He has a quick temper and attacks us over things without even getting the whole story first. He obviously doesn’t care about anyone but himself and how things affect him and how he looks. How can I deal with this situation and survive working there?
There are two kinds of leaders: Those who function in an insecure, unbalanced, fear state and are mostly focused on themselves, and those who function in a secure, balanced state and can focus on the needs of others. I call these fear-driven leaders and love-driven leaders.
It sounds like your boss is a fear-driven leader. You can usually tell a person is in an unbalanced, fear state when their behavior is negative. Anyone who needs to threaten and intimidate employees to control their behavior doesn’t feel safe in the world themselves. They may be insecure, afraid of loss and worried about their bottom line. Their focus might be on protecting and promoting themselves because that is what makes them feel safer.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you work better with a fear-driven boss:
1. Make sure you are seeing this person and their bad behavior accurately
Understand that most of their bad behavior is caused by their fears about their own success, reputation and bottom line. When they feel these things are at risk, they may feel threatened by their own team. In their eyes, their team's mistakes or lack of knowledge could cause the boss to fail or look bad, so the team may become the enemy and is treated as such. Remember, when you are treated as the enemy, it really isn’t about you. The boss may just scared about their own welfare. Remind yourself that their stress and fear doesn’t have to become yours. Not your monkey, not your circus.
2. When a boss is overly critical and fault finding, this may be a sign that they're struggling with the fear of not being good enough themselves
Casting others as the bad ones and pointing fingers might be a way to make someone feel safer. When someone is insecure about their value, they may be selfish and put others down in the process. When you work with someone who does this don’t take anything they say personally. Understand blame is a coping mechanism and doesn’t make what they say factual. As much as you can, ignore the bad behavior.
3. Remember bad behavior comes from fear of failure or fear of loss, so it's really a request for validation and reassurance
Look for opportunities to reassure or validate the boss, including building him/her up. Compliment them when they do or say anything you can appreciate. I know this may be the last thing you want to give them, but making them feel better about themselves could result in less bad behavior.
4. Stay in control of your emotions and reactions
The more mature and wise you behave, the more this person may respect you. Do not whine or let them make you cry. Be kind, respectful, calm and centered. You can stay here by not taking anything personally and remembering no one can diminish your value. When you stay strong, calm and rational in tense situations, you may also earn your boss' respect — whether they will admit it or not.
5. Document everything
Quietly keep track of unethical, immoral or manipulative behavior. There may come a time you’ll be glad you did. Make sure you keep this documentation at home and not at work.
6. Say as little as possible
When you do need to speak, ask questions and listen to the responses, then choose your words carefully. Anything you say can and may be used against you. So limit your communication to only what is necessary.
7. See your boss as the same as you — a struggling student in the classroom of life
He is not better than you, so don’t let him intimidate you. He is not worse than you, so don’t spend time making him the bad guy. See his intrinsic value as the same as yours. This brings compassion, strength and wisdom into the situation.
8. Don't create drama
Do not gossip or backbite your boss with your co-workers. Be very careful that you don’t add to the drama and make the already negative situation any worse.
9. Notice good behavior
When he does behave like a love-motivated leader and gives positive feedback, behaves respectfully or honors a team member, be sure to notice and thank him. Let him know how much you appreciate it. This might encourage more good behavior in the future.
If none of these suggestions help your situation, you may want to update your resume and search for a new job with a better work environment.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after life coach, author, speaker and business owner. To learn more about her programs and to take the Clarity Assessment, Visit her website www.claritypointcoaching.com
This was first published on ksl.com
My company just instituted policy against talking about religion at work. I am bothered by this and don’t feel comfortable being told I can’t talk about such a big part of my life and who I am at work. I’m actually feeling a little discriminated against because of my religion and because my views aren’t shared by some of my co-workers, I have to be censored. Do you think this policy is necessary or right? Are there some topics that should be banned at work?
Gallup did a study in 2015 where they found that only 32 percent of workers were engaged in their jobs and committed to their work. The study showed 51 percent were killing time and doing the bare minimum to avoid getting fired and 17 percent were totally disengaged and deserved to be fired immediately.
This means employers today are already fighting a battle for the focus and attention they are paying for. They need employees who are focused on work and not distracting others.
I do agree with the policy to limit certain conversation topics at work. There are some topics that make other people feel uncomfortable, awkward, disrespected, offended or excluded. These topics are extremely distracting and can also negatively affect corporate culture.
The office, unlike private homes or social venues, is a place where everyone is being paid for their time and attention, and because of this, it’s important to have everyone’s focus on the tasks at hand. It’s also important that everyone feels safe, respected and honored where they work. Businesses today must avoid letting divisive political views, differing religious beliefs and other hot topics divide co-workers and create conflict. These issues are already creating a divide in our country and letting this atmosphere seep into the workplace can create problems.
Here are some topics that should never be discussed at work and why:
1. Any political topic at all
Right now, there is a huge political divide in our country and tempers can flare because everyone feels passionate about their position. Discussing civil rights, Black Lives Matter, same-sex marriage, legalizing drugs, abortion, the national debt, Supreme Court nominations, vaccinations, the president, or any other topic covered on the news, can create conflict, hostility and confrontation.
Your employer is trying to create a fear-free workplace where everyone feels safe and can focus on their jobs. These topics can be volatile and distracting as they light fires in the office that are hard to put out. It would be best if your co-workers had no idea which way your political views leaned. If someone starts a political conversation or makes a comment about their personal views, let them know you prefer to keep yours personal since these conversations can be divisive.
These days, many people have strong feelings either for or against organized religion. Many are choosing to leave and not participate and they may be passionate and vocal about their beliefs, or even disrespectful. On the other hand, religious people are also passionate about their faith and consider their religion a core part of who they are. Discussing anything to do with religion can create conflict, hurt feelings and discord at work. Avoid negative comments or trying to persuade others to believe what you believe. It’s best to leave all church-based conversations to after hours.
3. Personal relationships or your dating life
If you are having troubles at home or dating drama find a friend, coach or counselor to talk to. Your co-workers are not your therapist and should not be expected to support you through your relationships. Your life outside the office, your dating life, your family, and your personal choices are best not brought to work. If you want to meet a co-worker outside the office, that’s fine, but consider keeping those personal conversations for when you are off the clock. Your employer is paying for your time and attention; honor that by not distracting coworkers with personal issues.
4. Money troubles or health problems
Again, your co-workers are not there to counsel or console you. If you are struggling, scared or sick, you may need a doctor, therapist or counselor to talk to. Your co-workers don’t need to know the details of your health or money problems. It’s not that your boss and co-workers don’t care, they do. They just can’t spend work hours talking about or being distracted by these issues. If you believe a health concern may affect your ability to do your job, discuss it with a supervisor or human resources manager to assess your options.
5. Beliefs related to new age, alternative healing
It is fine that you believe in the healing powers of certain rocks and crystals and have them on your desk, and you organize the feng shui of your office, or spend your breaks in vipassana meditation, but it’s best to avoid talking about this stuff if it distracts your co-workers while on the clock. You might ask if they would be open to hearing about your healing approach outside the office, but do not spend work hours telling them all about it.
Employers know a positive corporate culture where people feel respected and safe affect their bottom line. To create that positive corporate culture they need unity and teamwork to happen. To have unity and teamwork they need less conflict, confrontation and discord.
So, banning conversation topics that create discord makes sense. Instead of being bothered by this policy, I recommend you get on board and even think of other ways to create more unity, respect and inclusivity at work. How can you reach out to make people who are different from you feel more accepted? The employee that solves more problems than he or she creates, is the one who will rise to the top every time.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com - get the app today, take the quiz, invite friends and learn about your shape at - app.12shapes.com and improve your relationships.
This was first published on familyshare.com
Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and it's funny how often at the end of a bad relationship, we wonder why we didn't see the red flags sooner. Were they there? Should we have see them? How did we miss them?
The truth is, we see what we want to see most of the time. At the beginning of any relationship, we are primarily looking for the good, especially if we want it to work out. We do this at work and in our personal relationships, but there are a few early warning signs it might help to flag when you see them. This may save you from unrealistic expectations and real disappointment. It might also mean protecting yourself and using some caution around people who could be toxic.
Here are five behaviors to watch for early in a relationship:
1. They speak ill of others and relish in gossip
If they are critical and judgmental of everyone around them, they will be critical and judgmental of you, too. People who focus on the bad in others usually suffer from a subconscious fear of failure themselves. In this state they find it temporarily makes their ego feel safer if they focus on the bad in others. If they cast others as the bad guy, it makes them feel like the better guy. Anyone who speaks ill of others on a regular basis has the potential to be trouble in a relationship. They may not have the self-worth and wisdom to be able to give the love and support you deserve.
2. Every situation is about them
If you notice that everything is about them, how they feel and how it affects them, you must label what you are hearing as "selfish focus." Again, people who have a fear of failure and low self-esteem are selfishly focused on themselves most of the time. If that is their focus, they won't be able to see situations from your point of view very easily. Just because someone is in this space one day, I would not write them off as toxic, but if it's a pattern all the time, make note of it as another red flag.
3. They're frequently upset and irrational
If someone gets triggered into an unbalanced upset state easily and often, and once their logic seems a tad off, that can be a big red flag. Mature, balanced people understand that feeling upset is a choice and nothing (or no one) can make you that way. You are in control of your choices, attitudes and behavior. You are responsible for how immature and over the top your frustration or anger gets.
We find some people tend to have over-the-top responses, drama and irrational thinking. This behavior is important to flag because one day it may be you they are upset at, and this immature behavior makes it difficult to talk things through and resolve them. If they aren't able to see things from another person's perspective, logically see what happened and why and talk about things without drama and emotion, they will have some unhealthy fighting behavior that could be directed at you eventually.
4. They don't trust you
There is a universal law that says we see the world as we are. This means anyone who doesn't trust you, accuses you of cheating, is dishonest or has ill intent might think you would act that way because they would. It's not true 100 percent of the time, but it is worth looking into. Those who would never be dishonest rarely are suspicious of others and are often taken advantage of. If someone is constantly accusing you or others of bad behavior, that could be a warning sign they aren't trustworthy.
5. Their moods and reactions are unpredictable
If you are never quite sure which version of this person you will get today and there is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde feeling to the two sides of their personality, that could be a red flag. Toxic people are often moody, unstable and even may have borderline personality disorder, one of the more difficult mental illnesses to deal with. These people rarely admit they have a problem and rarely seek the help they need to have healthy relationships. If a person is normally very calm, kind and rational, but on occasion has a blow-up that is way different from their normal personality, you might not really know them as well as you think.
When dating, starting a friendship or thinking of promoting someone at work, you want to make sure you see the other person in stressful, upsetting situations and watch how they cope first. Everyone behaves fairly well when things are going great. You don't see their unbalanced behavior until things get scary, unsettled or threatening.
Just keep your eyes open and don't be afraid to love some people from afar.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSl.COM
I work in an office with all women and there is so much cattiness, fighting, gossiping and judging that it is a pretty unpleasant place to work. I realize you might say I should leave and find another job, but jobs that work with my schedule and pay this well are hard to find. Is there anything I can do to be an agent of change or influence others to be kinder and more compassionate to each other? Or is there a way I can at least stay above it all and not let it bother me so much?
Unfortunately, businesses who have a lot of female employees often have more office drama and gossip than offices with more male employees, but we also get calls from human resources directors whose companies are going through a merger, have high stress environments or are in fast growth, because stress and change always create people problems.
This happens because change and stress cause fear of failure and loss issues to rise to the surface, and these two fears are the hidden cause behind most bad behavior and relationship clashes. If the issues can’t be resolved by HR, they often bring us in for executive coaching and performance evaluations to figure out and solve these people problems fast.
Every single employee brings some pain, stress and fear around their families, money or relationships to work with them every day. These pressures in their personal lives mean they come to work almost every day in a fear state.
People functioning in a fear state will be easy to offend and quick to feel criticized, taken from, threatened or unsafe. These employees may be subconsciously looking for mistreatment and they could have a short fuse and a rather selfish viewpoint. Understanding the fear behind the behavior is the key to gaining compassion for them and seeing their gossip and bad behavior accurately.
Every person in your office is fighting a battle at home you know nothing about.
They are very likely in pain and fear, at some level, almost every day, and this is the real cause of their bad behavior. If you want to change how you feel at work, you must get a more accurate perspective about bad behavior and you must not take it personally.
People behave badly because of their fears about themselves. It is rarely about you.
Also remember — it is only hurt or hurting people that hurt people. This means the people whose behavior is bothering you most are the people in the most pain about their value and their journey. Bad behavior is always a sign of inner suffering.
We talk a lot in our articles about the two core fears (the fear of failure and the fear of loss) and how they drive human behavior. The truth is, whenever people are in a fear state they are completely focused on one thing: getting anything or doing anything they can to quiet the fear.
In this state they are incapable of thinking about what others may need or want. All they can focus on is "What would make this fear or pain stop?"
If someone functions in fear of failure, they are deeply afraid they might not be good enough. When the fear is bad and they experience shame or feel insecure, one of the most common ways they react (subconsciously respond) is they focus on any bad in the people around them.
The more they focus on other people's bad behavior, they don’t have to think about their own. We call this the Shame and Blame Game and we all play it at times. The more shame we feel, the more we blame others, criticize and gossip. I suspect many of the gossipers in your office are doing so, because they’re covering their deep insecurities or shame.
If any of you are prone to gossip yourself, ask yourself if your fear of not being good enough might be in play. Be aware of the safety you might feel if you put others down or focus on their bad. The first step to changing any bad behavior is being conscious of why you do it.
If someone functions from a fear of loss, they are deeply afraid of being taken from, mistreated or losing control. These people may be territorial, defensive, protective or controlling and they will be quick to be offended and see mistreatment everywhere, even when it’s not there.
We want you to understand the real cause of bad behavior so you will have more compassion for yourself and the people you work with. We recommend you don’t try to "stay above it" though, as that can be a place of judgment looking down at the "bad" people involved and that isn’t accurate as we all have the same intrinsic value.
Just see bad, immature gossip or dramatic behavior accurately, as fear-driven behavior that happens when people are afraid they aren’t good enough and need to look for the bad in others to distract them from their own.
If you see bad behavior accurately you may also see what these people need, which is to quiet their fear, so they can stop criticizing others to feel better. What they need is validation and reassurance about their worth. This is often the last thing you feel like giving someone who is acting haughty, arrogant or better than others, but it is what they need.
Look for opportunities to point out kindness, compassion and good behavior in your gossiping co-workers. Tell them often how grateful you are to work with such kind, encouraging and non-judgmental people.
You may even say that when you first came to work there you heard a lot of gossip and backbiting, and you are so grateful that doesn’t happen as much anymore. Tell the people who do it the most how positive they are and you admire the way they never say an unkind word about anyone.
I know this may seem like lying, but it’s really helping them see who they have the potential to be before they even show up that way. This positive encouragement literally encourages better behavior, because people always want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
When you point out their good qualities you literally push them in that direction. This is the most compassionate way to encourage better behavior. When you help them to see their light, instead of their darkness, you push them toward being their best.
It may also help you to remember that all unloving behavior is a request for love. Every unkind word or fearful reaction is a request for validation and reassurance they are good enough.
This is true for the people in your home, too. We have seen one person completely change the culture at work or home by just giving more compliments and validation to the team. When people start to feel safer, more appreciated and even admired at work, they are happier and show up with more respect and kindness.
Go get them with your positive uplifting attitude and help them rise into better behavior. Don't criticize or point out their bad behavior because that will increase their fear and will only make it worse.
If you do all this and they still remain in negativity and drama, see this as your perfect classroom, take nothing personally and work on being a source of light and love in your office anyway.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the founders of claritypointcoaching.com and Identiology.com. They are human behavior experts who help companies and individuals to be their best.
I have had some pretty negative feedback in my last review at work and I’m totally at a loss on how to fix it. They say I lack soft skills, communication and people skills, but how do I suddenly start to do better there? What’s the best way to change or improve on those levels? I admit that I don’t always show up great at work because I have a lot of difficult stuff going on at home. I probably bring those feelings to work and they make me harder to deal with. What do I do about that?
Did you know that 85 percent of your career success depends on your people skills? New research has shown that many employers believe interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills are even more important than your hard skills or education.
Mark Murphy, who wrote the book "Hire for Attitude," says 46 percent of new-hire employees are let go within 18 months because their soft skills are inadequate or they have bad attitudes. Much has been written recently about millennials and their severe lack of people skills in the workplace, but the reality is we could all improve in this area. People skills are a definite must if you want career success.
The problem is they don’t teach these skills in school, and if you came from a family with low emotional intelligence, you probably picked up a lot of immature, fear-based, emotional and reactive tendencies. You may not be naturally good at getting along with, motivating or negotiating with others. You may not know how to be emotionally resilient, handle conflict or keep a positive attitude when things get rough. These skills are so important, if your company doesn’t provide training or personal development, you might have to go get some on your own.
Here is a list of some of the most important people skills employers are looking for and ways to improve yours:
The art of not making everything about you:This is really about social-awareness and understanding human behavior. Social-awareness means having empathy, being able to give presentations that are focused on the needs of the audience, not your desire to impress, and being able to anticipate how others might feel in any situation. It means knowing when a comment is appropriate and when your input really contributes and when it isn’t necessary. It means being a good listener, not interrupting others and not taking things personally.Many employers say the majority of their office drama comes from a few people who lack this skill and tend to make everything about them. They seem to lack a social filter and can’t see how their behavior comes across to other people. If you have this tendency in your subconscious programming, a good executive coach can guide you through this and help you understand human behavior at a deeper level. There are also many personal development seminars that facilitate this kind of work. You will have to become open to some serious feedback though, even if it hurts.
Just remember we all have the same intrinsic worth no matter what, and your need for some people skills doesn’t diminish your worth as a person.
Situational awareness and problem solving:This is the ability to see situations accurately and find solutions. It includes being able to prioritize and see what needs to be done first and who the right person is to do each task.Situational awareness is a hard soft skill to learn, but some experts think that doing puzzles, problem-solving games and even video games that include teamwork and strategic thinking may help. Many of these games require you to scan a situation and respond quickly and accurately. Millennials, who employers find lack many people skills, are often strong in this area. Maybe you need to start playing some strategy games and, even better, get your co-workers to do it with you.
Self-awareness and the ability to control your emotions:Can you process situations and how they make you feel clearly and accurately? Can you step back and calm yourself before reacting? Can you recognize what are facts and what are stories or meaning you have inaccurately applied?Self-awareness also includes the ability to know how much personal information is appropriate to share, clarity about your own strengths and weaknesses and the ability to own your mistakes, apologize and learn from them. If you can tell you aren’t self-aware enough, you may need to find an expert who can teach you mindfulness and show you how to process emotions in a healthy way and help you to see your strengths and weaknesses more accurately. We have a free assessment on our website that shows your subconscious tendencies on paper you may want to try. It’s a good start to understanding which areas you need work on.
Resilience:This is your ability to bounce back from challenges or failures, have flexibility with change and remain calm under pressure. This also includes your ability to manage stress, stay cool in a negative situation, and reduce your negative emotions when they show up.We believe a lack of resilience is a fear problem (because you fear failure and loss). We work specifically on reducing your subconscious fears in our coaching program because when those go down, your ability to be resilient goes up. Find an executive coach that specializes in eliminating the fear of change, rejection, setbacks, failure and loss. When you become resilient you will become bulletproof and in high demand at work.
Being proactive, not reactive:To reach your highest career potential, learning to be proactive is a must. You must learn to be responsible for your emotions, thoughts and reactions and gain the ability to self-monitor and regulate them.This is really about emotional maturity and the ability to respond to situations appropriately and at the right time. It means having long-range plans and not just putting out fires, and the ability to prioritize what is urgent and what is really important. It requires self-awareness and the ability to manage your impulses and prevent distractions. If you struggle with these, download our free paper on 14 ways to reach your potential at work. This gives you practical suggestions for rising above average.
Treating people with respect and showing up happy:There is a strong correlation between how happy you are (with yourself and your life) and the way you treat others. If you are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, failure or disappointment in life, or if you have personal problems at home, you may subconsciously look for people to criticize or disrespect at work. When you find negatives in other people to focus on, it often distracts you from your own fear or pain.If you show up at work grouchy and treat people with disrespect, it is going to negatively affect your career. If you are discouraged or depressed with yourself or your life — do something about it. Again, I recommend working with an executive coach who can help you gain the skills to improve your mindset and learn to handle conflict with kindness.
If your personal relationship issues are causing problems with your behavior at work, own that and do something. Most people let negative situations go on way too long, mostly because they don’t know how to solve them. But there are answers and people who can help you … you just have to ask around to find them.
Don’t let any negative situation, feeling or pattern stay in your life. If you don’t know how to fix it, ask 10 people what they would recommend and find an option that works for you. The first thing you need is a change in perspective or mindset. Albert Einstein said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."
You must gain a different perspective and look at the problem in a new way if you want to create change. We find most of our coaching clients experience major shifts in thinking with only one session and they feel better fast. But you can’t do better until you know better — so get out there and learn.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
I have a co-worker who is driving me crazy. He is super competitive and he constantly puts us all down to make himself feel more important. He is subtle with his insults too, and assumes we will take them as joke. He brown noses the boss too and takes credit for other people’s ideas. The boss doesn’t see what is happening and is apparently impressed by him. I know it’s pointless to try to talk to the guy, I’ve kind of tried in the past and he’s not interested in getting feedback from anyone. Is there anything I can do to make him stop being a jerk or get him to just be nice? If not, can you tell me how to survive dealing with him every day?
I’m going to give you a couple different ideas here (and these suggestions will work for anyone who has a difficult person in their life.)
The first technique is to have a mutually validating conversation and directly ask for different behavior. This works great if the other person is rational, calm, logical and capable of actually caring about you. But if you are dealing with a toxic person, who may even have narcissistic or sociopathic tendencies, you can’t get anywhere with conversation.
You could then try the encouragement technique (explained below) because it sometimes makes toxic people actually want to change themselves, but most of the time you are going to end up at option No. 3 to work on yourself and become really chill and unoffendable.
One thing to keep in mind, no matter which option you choose, is that rude people who insult others, are overly competitive, show-offs, know-it-alls or brown-nosers are usually battling a lot of fear they aren’t good enough.
It is terrible fear of failure and insecurity that makes them need to appear better than others. It will really change how you feel about this situation if you see this person accurately as scared, not just rude.
Then, one thing you can try (along with the three options below) is validating, reassuring and building up this person as much as you can. Praise them and tell them how wonderful, amazing and good they are. Even though this is the last thing you want to give people who treat you badly, it is exactly what they need.
Sometimes when they get some validation they will feel better and won’t need to put you down anymore. So keep that in mind with each of the following suggestions.
Remember people are always more motivated to change when we show them their light than when we point out their faults. People who feel good about themselves are also more loving, positive and giving towards others
Here are my three suggestions to solve this problem:
1) Have a mutually validating conversation with them
Follow these steps for best results:
This is a great way to go if this person can’t handle a direct conversation. First, figure out the behavior you would like to see in this person. Then, think about how you would treat him and what you would say to him if he behaved this way. Then start doing and saying these things now.
Example: "John, I just want you to know how great it is to work with you. You are so careful and respectful to all of us and so kind. I just want you to know I appreciate you man."
This might make John want to be that kind of person, because people always want to live up to your highest opinion of them. Also, when you see the highest best in people you literally push them in that direction.
Then, every time he does anything good, jump right on it and tell him how awesome, honest or humble he is. (Focus on the qualities or kind of person you want him to think he is, not the specific behavior.) This isn’t lying, it’s showing him who he has the potential to be.
(And this technique works great on kids too.)
3) Ignore the bad behavior and work on you
When you are dealing with someone whose fears, insecurities or even a mental condition makes them really impossible and toxic to deal with, there is really nothing you can do to change them or get them to care what you need.
In these situations all you can do is work on you. Practice being strong, bulletproof and in trust so no person can diminish your value with anything they do or say. You can see this experience as an amazing personal development opportunity to make you better and stronger.
You can choose to see every situation in your life as a perfect lesson the universe has brought you. Ask yourself what dealing with this person could teach you? How could it make you stronger, smarter or wiser?
See every day as a chance to practice being the most balanced, unoffendable, confident, wise person you can be. If you do this consistently others will sense the truth about who you are, and goodness, confidence, wisdom and hard work do get noticed. Eventually the truth about who you are will come through.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.