By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I ended up getting squeezed out of my last job by an underhanded coworker and a malicious boss. I have to admit that revenge fantasies are consuming most of my time, even though I found a better job. How do I handle wanting to get even?
A. Handle wanting to get even by channeling all that aggressive energy into going after everything you most desire at work. Once when I was feeling vengeful, a wise mentor asked me who I would want to get even with if I had everything I wanted. I considered the question, and noticed my interest in vengeance evaporated.
Realize there is nothing that kicks us in our self-esteem chops like being the victim of a great injustice. Most of us just aren't resilient enough to realize that people who act badly - act badly with everyone. Most of us take bad behavior very personally and somehow decide we have been singled out for torture by the universe.
The truth is, in a long life, we will all be the victim of other people acting badly. The more we pay attention and get to know ourselves well, the more we will spot human predators or people we simply shouldn't trust. But, no matter how awake we are, sometimes bad stuff really happens to good people.
In the wake of experiencing malicious people at work, we may compound our suffering by becoming consumed by hurting them back. The irony is most of us really aren't horrible people who delight in inflicting pain on our enemies. The desire for revenge is motivated by a longing for empathy from people who hurt us. We get it into our heads that if we can hurt them the way they hurt us ... then our enemies will realize their mistakes and apologize.
Although revenge fantasies can seem sweeter than chocolate ice cream, the reality of acting out our fantasies is that our enemies just get madder and meaner.
People at work who have a capacity for empathy tend to not act badly in the first place. People with empathy have a high ability to feel any pain they inflict upon others; thus, they are compassionate and kind. People with low levels of empathy can't walk a mile in any one else's moccasins. Since they cannot imagine how you feel, they usually focus only on what works for them.
Therefore, the people who are most likely to treat you horribly at work are the exact same people least likely to have any remorse, consciousness or understanding of the pain they inflict. They know not and care not what they do.
At this moment, you may not be comforted by the fact that these people's lack of empathy is also what ultimately creates suffering for them. People stop trusting them, stop wanting to do business with them, and socially isolate them. What they put out to others does eventually come home to roost.
While you're waiting for the universe to balance your score, pour that aggressive energy into making sure you learn why you didn't see your boss and coworker plotting. Make sure you will never fall victim to the same game again. And use your aggression to put rocket fuel into your current career.
THE LAST WORD(S)
Q. I just took a job but also have a much better job offer that just became available. Should I check it out?
A. Yes, if your current employer had a much better employee, they wouldn't hesitate to replace you.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.INTERPERSONAL EDGE. DISTRIBUTED BY TMS
This column was originally printed in the September 26, 2010 - October 9, 2010 edition.