- Sherry Lachine
Is Working with People Annoying? – 3 steps to daily interactions
Aaah, yes dealing with people is a daily occurrence. Sometimes it is straightforward and enjoyable, other times it can be annoying and painful. I believe we can learn the skills to work with people, including with ourselves, because we are people too. A dear friend of mine is reading a book called Surrounded by Idiots by author Thomas Erikson. The cheeky premise (at least from what she has mentioned – I will read it soon) is that if everyone you interact with you classify as an idiot…chances are…well…you might be the idiot (or if that doesn’t sit right, replace idiot with a-hole, jerk or any label that your thoughts go to).
So what can we do? How do we work well with people amidst challenging times, bad behaviour, disrespect and more? What if the Idiot is me?
There are so many variables to consider when we find working with people annoying. My sense is that we need to pay attention to our feelings in those moments. Yes feelings. We are emotional creatures; these emotions are clues and messages about what you are experiencing. Compounding this challenge of paying attention to feeling messages is that many of us are emotionally illiterate. It’s not our fault, we are coming through generations or eras of stifling emotions and the corresponding reactions (at least my Gen X conditioning did). So, practising paying attention to these messages is an important first step.
Step 1 - The practice of emotional regulation can help you in these challenging daily interactions. Slowing interactions down with breath-work is a great bio-hack, but it needs practice. One of my favourite 5 minutes meditations is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inpok4MKVLM
Step 2 - Is to not take it personally, which for me is sooooo hard and requires practice. I misunderstood this notion of “don’t take it personally”, I was always like How can you not?? They are attacking ME? I have come to understand that their anger/disrespect/frustration is not really about you. It is about their emotions and perspective. Yes, you may have made a mistake, but I believe that does not give anyone the right to be verbally cruel. Own your mistake and understand the boundary between you and the other person.
Step 3 - Is to choose your words purposefully – think and speak on purpose. For example, if someone seems to be on the attack (you may know this because the feeling you have is possibly fear or anger). Pause (because you are practising breath-work) then speak to the emotion in the room, “I can see this is an important/emotional/scary issue. I would like to help <or> this is not the right time/space for us to have this conversation. Can we find a better way to address this?” OK, so the intent is there, but implementation is always a bit tricky because there are so many variables. The idea is slow it down, pay attention to your emotions, check in to see if you are personalizing and practice word-tools to diffuse.
Last tip, don’t gossip or discuss the incident with others who may get swayed or impacted so that they treat the individual differently (unless it is a workplace imperative). Find a person to discuss the incident with to gain better perspective with no impact.
Being safe at work can be challenging, starting with and taking care of you can help. This is a really great way to ensure you are not the idiot or worse :-).
Glad you were here!
If you want to practice some skills and get certified in Mental Health First Aid - sign up here for our upcoming course 18 Nov 9-4pm EST