By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q: Every Monday I walk into work, I face a lot of power struggles. At the end of the day, I end up exhausted and pondering my options. How should I deal with these power struggles so I can actually enjoy my work again?
A: Stop fighting the battles you can’t win. Most battles we can’t win are actually not about solving problems but defending our egos. Defending ours egos is a difficult but liberating habit to break.
We often get intensely upset when someone in the office makes a comment about us that we secretly fear may be true. For instance, if a co-worker insisted that your hair was purple, how upset would you actually be? Most of us would figure that co-worker was color blind and get along with our day.
Now, let’s say the same co-worker insisted that we were stupid, incompetent, or arrogant. Would we still feel a capable of moving along with our day? Obviously, people often have good ideas or valid points to make about how we can improve. However, no valid feedback starts with an insult.
If you want to exit the Ego Wars, make an honest list of everything you secretly worry people may think about you. Notice that some issues are a version of “purple hair” for you.
List in hand, write down the last four power struggles you’ve had at work. How many of these conflicts started after you began defending your point of view? Now, ask yourself: “How would I feel if that person I’m talking to is right?”
Of course, the answer is that you’d feel bad about yourself. But mounting a defense against such accusations won’t solve our emotional problems. It’s like trying to fix a hole in a boat that’s designed to spring holes. The only permanent solution is to learn to tolerate fears that we are “bad” or “inadequate.”
Practice these words: “You may be right.” Write down a list of the worst things someone could say about you. Then take a deep breath, have a friend start reading down the list, and after every accusation, say calmly, “You may be right.”
Notice that the other person really has nowhere to go if you resist defending your ego. The only thing left to do is to solve work problems - and isn’t that what we’re paid, appreciated and promoted for?
In a way, we have more of an ego crisis than an energy crisis in this country. Most of us waste a lot of time, resources and conversation in a futile attempt to silence what’s really a battle with our own insecurities.
Tomorrow morning, when someone invites you into a power struggle, consider the cost. We each have the right to a peaceful, drama-free and effective work life. Give yourself the gift of disengaging from conversations about your ego and focus instead on what you really want at work.
The last word(s)
Q: I work with a guy I think is developing dementia. I’ve tried pointing out his memory glitches, but he tells me I’m just being critical. Should I start a video log of his lapses?
A: No, involve your boss in your concerns. You’ll always end up losing if you attempt to supervise a peer.
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.
(c) 2015 INTERPERSONAL EDGE
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
This column was printed July 26, 2015 - August 8, 2015 edition