By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I watch some of my coworkers and managers act like complete jerks at work and end up with some amazing goodies. I know there's the old line about good guys finish last, but do you really need to turn into a horrible human being to get ahead?
A. No, but you do need to contemplate your definition of "get ahead." If sleeping at night, enjoying your own company and getting long-term results are part of your definition, then being a horrible human being is not in your best interests.
Here's the deal with acting outrageously bad: People will be scared of you and in the short-term will often give in just to shut you up. However, people have long memories, and they will get even with you.
The other serious consequence for those who run others over to get what they want is that they have to live in a snow globe of rage and blame. They have to remain in a hellish state to justify constantly damaging other people. They don't have empathy because this chronic toxic state prevents any awareness of their impact on others.
Contemplate this: If you are willing to keep yourself in hell just to scare someone into giving you what you want, then why would you be any nicer to anyone else?
I am not advocating that "nice" means you act like a doormat. My column is all about negotiating hard for what you want by offering benefits to others. I also want you to set solid limits on work/life balance and make sure you get something when you give something. Trotting around your office being helpful with a smile and hoping someday someone might return the favor isn't nice - it's foolish.
When you are mature enough to set your ego aside and use the words and behaviors that are effective rather than opening your mouth and blurting out the "truth," you create long-term support. When you negotiate by offering what helps others get ahead, you create long-term allies. If you realize even Samurai warriors know the best fight is the one you resolve before you go to war, you live in peace.
The Dalai Lama states there are three rules to a successful life: kindness, kindness and kindness. Turns out his spiritual advice is pretty good guidance for a successful long-term work life as well. When you leave people better than you found them, they remember you. When they remember you, they will be willing to help you.
None of us can create an optimal work life by pretending we are an island. We also can't create an optimal relationship with ourselves when we are obsessed with sinking the boats of everyone around us. The best careers balance our external achievements with our inner harmony.
Obviously, none of us is immune from dropping into emotional storms triggered by outer challenges. Let these emotions take you all the way out like a riptide rather than fighting your feelings, and your emotions will become a plan of action. Walking around just chanting, "Om Shanti, I am at peace," isn't effective or realistic.
My advice and my own choice is never to get ahead in a career at the expense of the one relationship you never escape - the one with yourself. You can have everything you want if you play the long game, and you'll have a lot more fun in the process.
The last word(s)
Q. I'm obsessing with a past betrayal by a coworker and can't seem to stop going over and over the event. Is there anything that helps heal from really disappointing events at work?
A. Yes, spend more time looking at your road ahead and avoid becoming hypnotized by your rear view mirror. The best revenge for any past betrayal is to pour yourself into a delightful future.
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.
Printed in the January 22, 2017 - February 4, 2017 edition.