By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I’ve been doing well in my career for a long time. Lately, however, I’m noticing that when I attempt to point out pretty obvious problems, a lot of people either cut me off or get angry at me. I think it’s my responsibility to pass on what I’ve learned to people less experienced. Why am I getting punished for trying to be helpful?
A. You’re getting punished because before the truth can set anyone free it usually makes them really, really mad and they generally get mad at whoever pointed the truth out to them.
At a speech once, a supporter told Harry Truman, “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” In response, Truman quipped, “I don’t give them hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s hell.” You may recognize the reality of this observation in your workplace.
I counsel my clients to carefully evaluate what exactly are their responsibilities in their workplaces and to stay out of the responsibilities of others. Most people are not able to use (OPM). Nope, this is not Other People’s Money but Other People’s Mistakes. Most people have to get doctoral degrees from the University of Hard Knocks before they wise up.
Many people you work with seem to be harboring a lot of unconscious self-hatred. Whenever these folks see they have room to learn, grow, or do better, this self-hatred comes roaring out of their psychological basement. Since you have the misfortune to be among folks burning up in a forest fire of self-hatred, they probably figure you’re holding a match and will treat you accordingly.
There are a rare few people you’ll meet in your life who assume they’ll make mistakes, don’t know everything, and are cool with feeling inadequate, but such people are as rare as Buddha. If you’re lucky enough to have any of these exceptional people on your team, by all means bend over backwards to help them.
Now, for the rest of the bears, you really are better off to wait until people start to experience extreme pain due to their inexperience or unwillingness to consider better options. People who are drowning are much more likely to consider a life ring being tossed their way without abusing their rescuer.
Anytime you attempt to help and notice a co-worker starting to growl, back off. Whatever fantasy you have about your noble intentions to rescue your colleague, the truth is you’ve just triggered the person’s self-hatred and it’s time to head for the hills, or your cubicle.
Monday morning, when you go into work, look at your fellow staff members through a different set of eyes. Realize that if we all could cope with seeing our shortcomings exposed without drowning in self-hatred, your workplace - and the world - would probably function quite differently.
In the meantime, use what you know to excel, delight in your career, and create great things for your customers. Retire from your position as Office Rescue Officer. You will find that you’re more effective when you stop trying to save people who didn’t ask and don’t want your advice.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the March 8, 2015 - March 22, 2015 edition.