For almost 2 years I was engaged in a battle with my boss.
No weapons needed.
It was simply my EGO versus her EGO.
She was competent.
She was smart.
She was well-educated.
I was also competent, smart, and well-educated.
You would think that would bring us together, but it did not.
Although we shared a lot in common, there were a few differences that seemed to stand out amongst the rest.
She was a big picture person.
I was more detail-oriented.
She thought rules were flexible.
I thought rules were meant to be followed.
Her go-to line was, “How can we spin this?”
To me that was just a cover for lying.
This is how we got so stuck.
Our core values didn’t align.
We got so stuck in “My values are the right values” that we couldn’t come together.
Our commitment to being right, and thinking our values were “right”, overshadowed our commitment to making our relationship work for the betterment of the staff and the people we served.
Even though I talked about how I wanted my work situation to change, what I really wanted was to be acknowledged for having the better value system.
In retrospect, it seems so silly.
I quit a job I loved, and a career of 12 years because I was more committed to being right, than I was committed to finding common ground with my boss.
What about you?
If you aren’t getting what you want at work, what hidden commitments are standing in your way?
Creating Community Not Competition
I don’t actually know if that is true, but what I do know, for sure, is that my crappy work situation was putting a major strain on my marriage.
I was complaining.
I was bitching.
I was blaming.
I was snapping.
I was going in early.
I was coming home late.
I was bringing work home.
I stopped listening.
“How was your day honey?”
And then before he even finished, I would launch into some tirade about my awful boss.
For almost 2 years, I don’t think I had a clue what my husband was doing, or how he was feeling.
It was me, me, me, me.
Well more like poor me, poor me, poor me.
I also started MOTHERING HIM.
I felt like I had no control of my situation at work, so I came home and tried to control him instead. (Yes, some men like to be mothered, but my husband isn’t one of them.)
And it wasn’t just my husband either. It was my parents, my siblings, my friends. EVERYONE around me was being drawn into my drama at work because I couldn’t stop complaining about it.
Looking back now, I know that I was hoping that someone would have quick fix, but no one did (and even if they did, it would have only been a band-aid, when I really needed a tourniquet.)
When I finally decided to look inward for a solution, rather than outward, I was able to see how my negative work situation was affecting almost every relationship that I had.
It was one of those “A-ha” and “Oh, shit” moments.
When I finally “saw the light,” as they say, I was able to see how my relationship with my boss, wasn’t just about my boss--it translated into how I was being with a whole host of people in my life, and strangers too.
I quit my job because it was the only solution that I could see, but quitting didn't make me feel better because I hadn't dealt with the inner issues.
It was only when I did that, that I was able to take responsibility, stand up for what I wanted, and repair the relationships in my work life and personal life.
If you are worried that your negative work life may be affecting your personal life, take step back and try to see what you aren't seeing.
Are you bringing that negativity home each day?
Is that negativity poisoning some of your other relationships?
If you still can't see it, ask the people you care about most to tell you what it is like to be with you at the moment.
It will take courage, but I know you can turn this negativity around.
Community. Connection. Collaboration.
We all mess up from time to time--even me!
Without going into too many details, there was a situation that happened at my old job, where I made a choice that benefitted everyone involved tremendously, but involved a small lie.
Maybe not the most ethical of choices, but I was thinking of the bigger picture at the time, and in the end the lie was never revealed and the problem was resolved quickly and efficiently.
(A lie is a lie, is a lie. I know.)
When I told my boss about what happened she was like, “Great, glad you got that resolved.”
Then a few days later her opinion of the situation did an about face.
I was in her office with the other staff member who was involved in the lie and she said, “I told my boss about what happened she thinks I need to formally write you up for the unethical way that you handled the situation.” Etc, etc.
I stood there dumbfounded.
In my head I was thinking all sorts of things:
But just the other day you praised me for handling it so easily.
You made no mention then of a poor decision, or an unethical one.
And how dare you reprimand me in front of someone else.
And what about ‘him”? He and I made the decision together?
Oh yeah, he is one of your “favorites.”
And while we are on the subject of ethics, let’s talk about when you…..
And around and around it went in my head.
It was like my mind was sputtering, as I was being taken to task by a teacher or a parent.
Did I say any of these things out loud?
Of course, not.
I had a habit of staying silent when reprimanded.
Then I would go home and cry about.
Then I would proceed to beat myself up about.
Then I would yell to my heart’s content about how unfair the person was.
What I didn’t do, was stick up for myself.
Yes, I did something wrong. I fully admit that.
It wasn’t that I she reprimanded me that really got me. It was how.
Specifically the fact that she did it in front of another staff member. A staff member who I oversaw, which in turn could have discounted my credibility with that person.
Since then I have learned 2 important things.
If the second learning sounds interesting, then I have something for you.
I have created a free guide called BE HEARD WITHOUT BEING A BITCH.
In it, you will go through 4 steps to identify what you really want from the relationship, and how to craft the conversation in a way that will lead to you getting the respect you deserve.
If you are interested, you can grab it at www.thrivewithin.com/free
Creating Connection, Not Competition
P.S. If you are new here, and want more, come hang out with me on Facebook in Harmony at Work. I go live twice a week, and post daily to support women entrenched in negative work relationships. See you there!