..Look in the mirror!
There is a philosophy that I subscribe to: The things that drive you most crazy in others are the things that you have not accepted in yourself.
I usually get a lot of pushback from my clients about this one. Let’s take the example of the boss making fun of you in front of other people. Here’s how a coaching session about that topic might play out;
After my client tells me about the offensive behaviour, I would share the above philosophy and challenge you by saying,
“Perhaps this is something you also do without realising it?”
“No, I definitely do NOT do that!”
Then I might ask you to think a little more broadly….
“What about outside the work context? Are there any situations at all where you might sometimes say something in jest that puts another person in a bad light?”
“No, I am really careful about…wait….(pause) Actually….(pause) I just had a picture flash in my mind of our last ski trip with a group of friends. I was making fun of the biggest, toughest guy in the group because he got scared to go down a particularly steep slope.”
“So, what was it that caused you to do that in that moment?”
“It’s just… he is so big and tough usually, I didn’t think he would be offended, but he didn’t talk to me for a whole day after that. I guess he was also surprised how scared he got.”
“What made you make the joke?”
“(pause) Well it’s because usually it is me who is the scaredy-cat and I was so amazed and happy that I was not the only one who got scared. I had to point it out!”
“So in a way it was your own insecurity that was at the root of the comment.”
“Yea, I guess so.”
“And that happens. We are all insecure sometimes, right? So now, think of your boss’s behaviour. How likely is it that his comments are coming from his own insecurity?”
“Well, (pause) pretty likely actually. (pause) He came from a different business unit, so he knows that we have more technical knowledge than he does. Maybe he is trying to compensate somehow by highlighting other people’s weakness with those jokes. He probably feels like as a boss he should know more than us.”
“No, not necessarily. Sometimes it is really good to have a non-technical perspective. And, it is refreshing that he can’t micromanage my tasks like my old boss who had been in my role previously.”
“Do you think your boss knows that you appreciate that?”
“No, probably not.”
“How do you feel about his insensitive comments now?”
“They bother me a lot less. I still think it is inappropriate and annoying, but I don’t think it will make me so mad if it happens again. And I will also pay more attention to when I am feeling insecure not to be on the lookout for other people’s weaknesses.”
“Sounds like your boss might have provided a valuable lesson by making you so mad the other day!”
“Yea. Not a very pleasant one, but it is helpful though.”
Think about it, in which ways do the thing and person who annoys you most, tell you something about your own behaviour? What can you learn from them?
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