You don’t just deal with adversity.
You use it to propel you forward.
first blind person to summit Mt. Everest
A year ago, Claire (names changed), who works in HR, attended my UCLA Extension class on interpersonal communication. Her boss, Mike, suggested the class and Claire’s non-verbal telegraphed how much she resented having to attend.
As the weeks progressed, though, she warmed to the class dynamics and enjoyed the other participants. She stopped feeling like this was “punishment.”
At the mid-way point of this 11-week course, she told me that Mike thought she was improving her communication skills.
Claire finished the course grateful for this opportunity and feeling more confident in her social abilities.
Six months later, Mike brought me into the company for leadership training.
During this time, Claire had another “episode.” Mike thought she was falling back into old patterns and in her performance-review dinged her for communication.
Claire was distraught and convinced Mike was out to “get” her.
The three of us sat down for a conversation and Mike assured her that he was not out to get her.
Everything was “good” by meeting’s end and they agreed that every Friday they’d carve out time to review the previous week and make sure things did not build up over time.
Then, last week, it started over.
Claire and Mike had gone out to lunch with a service provider. At the lunch, Claire felt slighted, ignored. She was pissed with Mike.
In the course of conversation, it came out she felt Mike was keeping her deliberately out of the loop. She gave examples and became a puddle of tears; she didn’t know what to do.
What’s going on here?
Without looking at security footage, it’s hard for me to determine the accuracy of Claire’s perceptions.
I’ve never had the impression that Mike was manipulative or passive-aggressive; rather, I’ve thought he genuinely wants Claire to succeed.
It would be easy to say that Claire is overly sensitive and is too quick to misread others. Whether that’s true or not, here’s what I do know. . .
Old habits die hard.
Not even an 11-week course with me is going to permanently solve your problems!
Honing one’s skills, adopting new skills, re-aligning old relationships, all of this takes much time and much practice.
And practice implies making mistakes, taking risks, and making more mistakes.
In order to break self-sabotaging habits, a person needs to feel the fire-in-the-belly.
I think Claire has always seen her boss as the problem and that she had to find a way to deal with the problem that was her boss.
I don’t think she understood she had a role in any of this.
Claire basically has had the wrong attitude as she approached the relationship challenges with Mike.
And attitude goes a long way to producing new, healthy results.
Claire is playing the role of victim (yes, she resented my suggesting this).
Here’s the thing, though. . .
When she perceived herself being out of the loop, she pouted.
When she felt ignored at lunch, she withdrew.
When she felt frustrated with her boss, she shut down.
She didn’t claim her power.
She didn’t develop a strategy.
And this is, perhaps, the most important thing. . .
She didn’t take responsibility for her communication.
From taking responsibility comes power and from the power
comes an increased sense of self-worth.
This now is Claire’s challenge – to understand how she has contributed to this breakdown in communication and to be brave enough, self-confident enough to formulate and try out new communication strategies.
She has to commit to the practice!
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