Article originally posted at https://www.verywellmind.com/ways-to-deal-with-workplace-cyberbully-460547 and written by Sherri Gordon.
Most people consider cyberbullying a teenage issue, but the workplace is not immune to cyberbullying. In fact, workplace bullies often use cyberbullying to intimidate coworkers and control their environment. As a result, knowing how to respond is essential. While every situation is different, if you know in advance how to handle a workplace cyberbully, you should be able to get through the situation unscathed. Here are 11 ways to handle cyberbullying at work.
Do Not Respond Immediately
When a coworker or a supervisor says something inflammatory, posts something untrue or attacks you online, take a moment to gather your thoughts. No matter how much the words hurt you, do not respond in anger. Instead, take a deep breath and collect yourself. The goal is not to react but to respond in a reasonable manner. Sometimes there is no need to respond. Other times your job requires that you maintain contact with the person.
Keep Your Response Calm and Rational
Although it is usually best to ignore a cyberbully, sometimes work situations require that you respond to an email or other forms of communication. If you can respond in person rather than in writing do that. But do not get into a shouting match. It’s also not a good idea to lash out with angry words and accusations of your own. You do not want the entire office watching an exchange between you and another co-worker.
Tell the Cyberbully You Expect the Behavior to End
Remember, your interpretation of the written word may be different than intended. So be sure to communicate openly and honestly about what you found offensive. Do not resort to threats but instead, calmly indicate that you were offended. Be sure the cyberbully knows that you want the comments to stop. If your co-worker’s behavior doesn’t change and the cyberbullying continues, it’s time to move up the chain of command.
Print and Keep Copies of All the Harassment
Try to save all messages, comments, and posts as evidence. This includes emails, blog posts, social media posts, tweets, text messages and so on. Although your first reaction may be to delete everything, without evidence you have no proof of the cyberbullying.
Report the Cyberbullying to Your Employer
Include a copy of the emails or other correspondence for their files. It is important that you continue to report each incident that occurs. If your employer is unwilling to respond or address the cyberbullying, consider contacting the police to file a report. While they may not be able to do anything legally, having a report on file is important should the bullying escalate.
Report the Cyberbullying to Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
When cyberbullying occurs on your personal accounts or happens at home, it’s important that you report the incidents. Be sure to forward copies of the cyberbullying to your ISP. If the bullying occurred on a social networking site, be sure to report it to them as well.
Contact the Police Immediately if the Cyberbullying Includes Threats
Threats of death, threats of physical violence or indications of stalking behaviors are against the law and should be reported immediately. You should also report any harassment that continues over an extended period of time as well as any correspondence that includes harassment based on race, religion or disability. The police will address these incidents.
Close the Doors of Communication to the Cyberbully
Cancel current social networking and personal email accounts and open new accounts. If the cyberbullying is happening via cell phone, change your cell number and get an unlisted number. Then, block the cyberbully from your new social networking sites, email accounts, and cell phones. Find out if your company’s email program has a filter that allows only those on your “safe” list to send you emails. And if possible limit your online communication at work too.
Report Anonymous Cyberbullying
Many times, the police can track down who is sending the emails and messages. Remember, you don’t have not have to put up with cyberbullying. Many times, cyberbullying will leave a clear trail of evidence that is reported to the appropriate authorities can go a long way in putting an end to it.
Take the High Road
No matter what the person says or does, try to maintain your composure at work. The goal is to remain calm and rational. If you get upset, post negative things or say something you later regret, this could hurt your position at work. Remember, the cyberbully is hoping to get a reaction out of you. Do not allow this to happen. Be as professional as possible at all times.
Cyberbullying is a big issue that shouldn’t be handled alone. Be sure to surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Look for people who can understand what you are going through. Remember, it helps to talk to someone about what you are experiencing. So consider seeking professional help or counseling so that you can heal from the ordeal.
Article written by R. Morgan Griffin and originally posted on WebMD.
Controlling Holiday Stress
Experts say that the holidays can make people feel out of control. We feel at the mercy of our relatives or steamrolled by the sheer force of family tradition. But you have a say. The key is to take some control over the holidays, instead of letting them control you.
For instance, you may find the family obligations of the holidays overwhelming. You have to make the rum balls according to your grandmother’s recipe, even though you personally find them inedible. You have to go over to your aunt’s for the holiday dinner, even though she always drinks too much, makes a scene, and freaks out your kids. You have to leave a poinsettia on your grandfather’s grave, even though it’s three hours and two states away. You don’t exactly want to do any of these things. You just have to.
Duckworth encourages people to stop right there. Do you really have to?
“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing things that make me miserable?’” Duckworth tells WebMD. “Think about the reasons.” He suggests that you draw up a list of reasons why you engage in these holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Just making a simple pro and con list will remind you that you do have a choice.
Changing Your Outlook
The next step is to challenge some of your assumptions. If you enjoyed the holidays differently this year, what would happen? What if you didn’t go to your aunt’s for dinner? What if you didn’t bring the poinsettias to your grandfather’s grave?
Your gut feeling might be: Calamity! Disaster! But get past that initial reaction. Think about what would really happen. Maybe your aunt would be annoyed. Is that really such a big deal? Could you make it up to her later with a brunch in February? Instead of trekking to your grandfather’s grave, could you honor him in a different way — lighting a candle or saying a prayer?
The key is to be conscious about what you’re doing. This holiday season, don’t unthinkingly do things the same way just because that’s how you always do them. If the old holiday traditions aren’t working, if they’re not making you happy and causing holiday stress, it’s time to do something different.
Tips for Beating Holiday Stress
Once you’ve taken a clear look at the holidays — about what works and what doesn’t — it’s time to make some changes. Focus on the holiday stresses that you can control. That includes making different plans and changing your responses to situations. Here are four key don’ts for the holidays.
Don’t do the same old thing. If the usual family gathering is causing holiday stress, try something else. If you’re too overwhelmed to host, discuss other possibilities with family members. Maybe a sibling could have the dinner this year.
Don’t expect miracles. If your holiday anxiety stems from a deeper history of family conflict, don’t expect that you’ll be able to resolve any big underlying issues now. Sure, it’s supposed to be a season of forgiveness and good will. But in the midst of a hectic holiday season, you can’t pin your hopes on leading family members to big emotional breakthroughs. You may be better off focusing on your own state of mind and confronting difficult issues during a less volatile time of year.
Don’t overdo it. To reduce holiday stress, you have to pace yourself. Long before the family gatherings actually happen, decide on some limits and stick to them. Stay one or two nights at your parents’ house instead of three or four. Plan to drop by the holiday party for a couple of hours instead of staying all night.
Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” says Duckworth. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But in fact, most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings — they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.
It’s between the notes of some of the greatest songs ever recorded. We don’t always notice because multiple tracks of vocals, percussion, string and horns block it out. But silence is there. Without it, the recording would just be noise. Adjust silence and the song changes.
Silence is prevalent within the greatest speeches in the world. The dramatic pause has been mastered by the best orators of our time.
With strategically placed silence,
listening and retention increases 30-40%
Silence is an equalizer in an argument or verbal confrontation. Being silent and calm while the other person yells and screams is liberating. This goes against the grain of the normal reaction of yelling or screaming back.
Silence in a negotiation reigns supreme. Silence refuses to give away your hand. Silence with a confident look commands the room and exudes power.
Silence can produce intimacy. A look, touch or smile with verbal silence as the sidekick can set the tone for an amazing night of romance. Now when you speak, the impact can be immediate.
Go to silence immediately when you are faced with something you don’t like, want or enjoy. This could be anything from financial bad news, a missed 3-footer, a sick relative or a wrecked car. Keep silence with you, until you can remove emotion from your mind.
By being silent you can now read body language better. Approximately 70-80% of what’s communicated is non-verbal. With silence you can hear voice inflections, tonality changes, facial gestures and other body cues. Two ears and one mouth beckon you to listen twice as much as you speak.
Judiciously sprinkle silence throughout your meals and you’ll start eating slower. When dining in relative silence, you will be more prone to putting down your fork between bites. Now you can taste and smell your food. Stop loudly eating and start silently dining. This could help your waistline.
Silence is powerful.
Finding a place of silence is a great refuge for learning, creating, pondering and innovation.
Once a year for 43 years I find this place in Sedona, Arizona. Here…I’m silent and at one with my surroundings. My soul is replenished from my trek to the red rock beauty of this place. In fact, I’m there in one week. Yippee!
If Sedona isn’t on your bucket list (go there at least once) then find a silent room in your home. We have a white room and a Zen garden that both scream…S-I-L-E-N-C-E. I love to silently hang out there!
Set your phone alarm three to four times a day to signal 90-seconds of silence. You can even be silently alone in a crowd. Now the musical notes of your day with soar on a blanket of silence…and the Zone day arrives.
A friend of mine recently contracted laryngitis. He literally could not speak a word without strain and discomfort. Maybe his wife, co-workers and a few friends were happy, but he was not. After three days of verbal silence, he started feeling great. Also, he thought less. By force he understood the power of silence.
What would happen if you didn’t speak for one full day? Sometimes you really need to quiet your mind. With our conscious mind being bombarded from the Internet, TV, radio, co-workers, family and friends, it is no wonder we overthink, overreact and ultimately clutter our mind. This, of course can easily spawn worry, anxiety, fear and other mental maladies.
For 549 straight months, I’ve had a personal, monthly Silence Day. During these waking hours I speak and think the least of any day of the month.
Reduce your thoughts by 30 percent on your personal Silence Day. Speak only if necessary. This will energize you. Text. Email. Nothing more. This extreme measure will work for you. It’s only 12 times per year. Try it!
Non-verbal silence. Verbal silence. Mental silence. Physical silence. Spiritual silence. Romantic silence. Business silence. Sports silence. Less is more.
Article written by Timandra Harkness and originally posted on BBC.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me if I suggest human beings generally want to avoid conflict.
“Most of the time we’re trying to get on with people,” says professor of conversation analysis at Loughborough University, Liz Stokoe. Even when we disagree, we try to signal that we want to stay on friendly terms, by our words, body language, and even rhythms of speech.
‘Having diversity of ideas means people will disagree’
“We’re trying to make concessions,” says Stokoe. “We’re constantly monitoring our conversations to try and put people in a position where it’s easy for them to agree with us.”
We’re especially inclined to avoid friction at work. Who wants to start a dispute with somebody you have to sit beside, eight hours a day? If your workmate is your boss, there’s even less incentive to dissent. But this may be entirely the wrong approach, according to Amy E. Gallo, author of The Harvard Business Review Guide To Dealing With Conflict At Work.
“Everyone thinks they want to work in this peaceful utopia where everyone gets along,” she says, “but if we don’t disagree, we’re not going to produce good work, it’s just not possible.”
‘Having diversity of ideas means people will disagree.’
“I see organizations all the time talk about wanting diverse perspectives, inclusive work environments,” says Gallo, “and when they stunt disagreements, they’re basically saying, ‘we don’t want to hear different opinions.’ It’s an important way to bring out different perspectives, and to create more successful work.”
In science, for example, new theories are not just tested by experiment, but also challenged by other researchers. Professor Stuart Firestein of Columbia University thinks these challenges are vital – even when he is on the receiving end.
‘Organisations talk about wanting diverse perspectives, inclusive work environments, when they stunt disagreements, they’re basically saying, ‘we don’t want to hear different opinions’’
“We have on many occasions in my laboratory submitted a manuscript for publication, and a reviewer has found some significant flaw in it,” he says. “I’m very thankful for that, because I could have gone ahead and published this, and been dead wrong in public. Now it’s just me and this reviewer who knew that I’m an idiot.”
‘You could call science a system for harnessing this testing process.’
“Science is a structure that is intended to permit disagreement,” says Firestein. “I can remember going to meetings with people yelling at each other, but then they’d go to the bar and drink, and that’s the way it’s supposed to work. There’s a relationship of respect in spite of how much you disagree with somebody.”
You may be thinking you’re not thick-skinned enough to endure this culture of perpetual challenge. However deep our commitment to a shared goal, whether that’s more innovative ideas, better problem solving, or the scientific pursuit of truth, nobody likes being wrong.
Let me try to persuade you that disagreement is worth the pain.
First, it tests your ideas against competing ideas. That’s a good thing, says Claire Fox of the Academy of Ideas.
“It’ll either help improve your side of the argument, because you’ll try and engage at the highest level with the best arguments coming from the opposition, so you’ll have to be better at your own argument,” Fox says. “Or, you never know, you might change your mind.”
Second, you can harness your egotistical side, instead of trying to deny it.
“Bias and dogmatism and stubbornness” are fuel for forging better ideas, says author Jonathan Rauch. “You don’t want people to walk into the room not feeling strongly convinced of things. All you want is that they submit their views to checking by other people. Then you harness the energy of their certainty, and their biases, and their disagreements.”
Third, quirks of human thinking that seem like flaws may turn out to be advantages after all. Take confirmation bias, our tendency to look harder for evidence that confirms our existing opinion.
‘Disagreement does not have to be unkind. It does not have to be mean. You can do it with empathy, compassion and kindness’
“If you’re on your own, or if you’re only talking with people who agree with you, then it is likely that you will have arguments piling up for your side,” says cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier, “ and that might lead to overconfidence and to polarisation.” With professor Dan Sperber, Mercier wrote The Enigma of Reason. They argue that apparent weaknesses in human reasoning become strengths when we’re arguing against others. We are better at assessing other people’s arguments than our own.
“If you’re in a good faith discussion with people from the other side of the political spectrum,” says Mercier, “they will shoot down your poor arguments, they will give you arguments for the other side, and things should end up working OK.” Argument, according to Mercier and Sperber, is the natural home of human reason.
Alone, we easily fall into lazy thinking and gather arguments to reinforce our assumptions. Only by setting yourself the challenge of convincing others, of finding the weaknesses in their arguments, and letting them seek out the faults in your arguments, can you test out ideas.
That’s why I’m arguing that you owe it to yourself, the people you work with, and society at large, to get into a good argument at least once a day. And by ‘good’, I mean both rigorous and respectful. As Gallo says, “Disagreement does not have to be unkind. It does not have to be mean. You can do it with empathy, compassion and kindness.”
Unless you’re a genetic anomaly, it’s likely you will meet people you don’t like throughout your lifetime. Whether it’s your mother-in-law or one of your colleagues, you’re bound to come across someone you simply don’t click with.
In a blog post for Entrepreneur.com, Patel highlights some tips successful people use to deal with people they don’t get along with. After all, it’s unlikely you’ll simply be able to avoid people you don’t like — in fact, Patel argues if you restrict who you can work with, you are only limiting yourself.
Instead of burying your head in the sand, try and shift your perspective in the ways successful people do. Here are some tips from Patel and other sources such as Psychology Today.
1. Accept that you can’t get on with everyone.
As much as we hope to like everyone we meet, it often simply isn’t the case. Patel says the first step to dealing with the people you don’t click with is accepting nobody gets on with everyone, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, and it doesn’t mean they are either (not necessarily, anyway.)
According to psychologist Dr Susan Krauss in a blog post on Psychology Today, it’s likely that you and the person just aren’t a good fit. Consultant and author Beverly D. Flaxington explains in another blog post on Psychology Today that our behavioural styles can get come between people. Some are dominant, whereas others are timid. Some people are optimists and others consider themselves “realists.”
A research paper by Hamstra et al looked at something called “regulatory fit,” which translates as: we are much more likely to put effort into the things we like doing. Chances are you don’t enjoy interacting with the people you don’t like, and so you don’t put much effort in. Over time, this lack of effort can turn into contempt.
2. Try and put a positive spin on what they are saying.
Krauss says you could try and look at how people are acting differently. Your in-laws might not have meant to imply that you aren’t smart, and your co-worker may not actually be trying to sabotage you.
Even if the person you’re having difficulty with is aggravating you on purpose, getting angry about it will probably just make you look bad. So try and give them the benefit of the doubt.
3. Be aware of your own emotions.
Patel says it’s important to remember your own emotions matter, but ultimately you alone have control over how you react to situations. People will only drive you crazy if you allow them to. So don’t let your anger spin out of control.
If someone is rubbing you the wrong way, recognise those feelings and then let them go without engaging with the person. Sometimes just smiling and nodding will do the trick.
The key, Patel says, is in treating everyone you meet with the same level of respect. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with a person you don’t like or go along with what they say, but you should act civilised and be polite. In doing this, you can remain firm on your issues but not come across like you’re attacking someone personally, which should give you the upper hand.
4. Don’t take it personally and get some space.
More often than not a disagreement is probably a misunderstanding. If not, and you really do fundamentally disagree with someone, then try and see it from their perspective.
Try not to overreact, because they may overreact in return, meaning things escalate quickly and fiercely. Try to rise above it all by focusing on facts, and try to ignore how the other person is reacting, no matter how ridiculous or irrational. Concentrate on the issue, Patel says, not the person.
If you need some space, take it. You’re perfectly within your rights to establish boundaries and decide when you interact with someone. If you feel yourself getting worked up, take a time-out and get some breathing space. President of TalentSmart Dr. Travis Bradberry explains it simply in a post on LinkedIn: if they were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? No, you’d move away and get some fresh air.
5. Express your feelings calmly and consider using a referee.
Usually, the way we communicate is more important than what we actually say. If someone is repeatedly annoying you and it’s leading to bigger problems, Patel says it’s probably time to say something.
However, confrontation doesn’t have to be aggressive. Patel recommends you use “I” statements, such as “I feel annoyed when you do this, so could you please do this instead.”
Being as specific as possible will make it more likely the person will take what you’re saying on board. It will also give them a better opportunity to share their side of the story.
Krauss says it might be a good idea to use another person as a mediator in these discussions because they can bring a level of objectivity to a situation. You may not end up as friends, but you might find out a way to communicate and work together in an effective way. She says learning to work with people you find difficult is a very fulfilling experience, and it could become one more way of showing how well you overcome barriers.
6. Pick your battles.
Sometimes it might just be easier to let things go. Not everything is worth your time and attention. You have to ask yourself whether you really want to engage with the person, or your effort might be better spent just getting on with your work, or whatever else you’re doing.
Patel says the best way to figure this out is weighing up whether the issue is situational. Will it go away in time, or could it get worse? If it’s the latter, it might be better expending energy into sorting it out sooner or later. If it’s just a matter of circumstance, you’ll probably get over it fairly quickly.
7. Don’t be defensive.
If you find someone is constantly belittling you or focusing on your flaws, don’t bite. The worst thing you can do is be defensive. Patel says this will only give them more power. Instead, turn the spotlight on them and start asking them probing questions, such as what in particular their problem is with what you’re doing.
If they start bullying you, call them out on it. If they want you to treat them with respect, they have to earn it by being civil to you, too. Dr Berit Brogaard, a neuroscientist, explains in a blog post on Psychology Today that workplace gossip and bullying can be a method of power play, or a way of bullying others into submission.
8. Ultimately, remember you are in control of your own happiness.
If someone is really getting on your nerves, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture. However, you should never let someone else limit your happiness or success.
If you’re finding their comments are really getting to you, ask yourself why that is. Are you self-conscious about something, or are you anxious about something at work? If so, focus on this instead of listening to other people’s complaints.
You alone have control over your feelings, so stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Instead, remind yourself of all your achievements, and don’t let someone gain power over you just because they momentarily darken your day.
As I have been thinking about my relationship with my significant other, I’ve had to reflect on my past to help me understand why I do what I do in the present. Truthfully, I learned my style of arguing from my dad. He had a way of being overly protective to the point of paranoia, assuming we were always up to no good. I recall being late for a family dinner and he exploding, accusing me of being out somewhere I wasn’t with people I hadn’t seen in years. Feeling incredibly defensive and embarrassed I retorted with just as much vigor. The argument quickly digressed into a nonsensical screaming match with harsh words being exchanged on both sides and ending in me apologizing to him and the other dinner guests for the outburst.
In hindsight, and in a calm state I realize in all of these arguments my dad was fearful for my safety. He explained to me shortly after this argument that as a pediatrician, he had seen the worst-case scenarios for parents played out in front of him hundreds of times over. He would always fear that his children would be harmed or killed. Armed with this very raw piece of information about my dad, I knew we needed to develop a better way of communicating where we were heard and our fears were acknowledged immediately, as opposed to after the storm had passed and the damage done. How to do this though? I mean dads forgive, daughters forget and we go on until the next outburst.
Flash-forward to living in a new city with my fairly new boyfriend, it hits me like a ton of bricks: I have this pattern of developing poor boundaries with others, building resentment and then pairing it with a short fuse because I am so STRESSED. My deliverance so poor that it would blind the recipient to my very valid hurt feelings and immediately put them on the defensive. The other party now unable to listen let alone apologize or work on a resolution. I know this cycle very well. I’d have to apologize for my behavior, walking away from the conversation, seething inside, confused at having just apologized to someone who had hurt me and feeling angry at myself for blowing another opportunity to stand up for myself effectively. I can give myself multiple excuses for my behaviour, but ultimately I have to change if I want a change. Here are my changes as I head into the New Year with my new boyfriend, in my new city, in my new job, and with my self-reflection intact:
I am responsible for setting my boundaries. This includes letting others know how they can talk to me, behave with me, and even argue with me.
I have to find the courage to talk to people when a problem first occurs and not store it away to hit them with it later when I can’t take any more.
I need to talk to people in private versus create a scene in public. Ultimately, no one looks good including me, and it scares people away.
It’s helpful if I give the facts of the situation first and then follow it up with the impact on me versus slather them with my emotional response.
We all benefit if I am open to adjusting my perspective.
Perhaps I will be successful at this and perhaps I will struggle. The beauty of this season is that I will have many opportunities to practice my new mindset.
Wishing you all a settled and easy holiday season,
I recently moved to BC from Ontario with my partner of just over a year. We made the decision to relocate provinces after only a month of meeting each other. The catalyst for the move was his limited two-year working-holiday visa from the UK and not wanting to pass up an opportunity to ski in some of the best snow in the country.
Our relationship developed quickly and with far more ease than either one of us had previously experienced. Both rounding 30, we were painfully inexperienced in committed relationships, having chosen to spend most of our younger years studying and traveling, while paying little attention to our dating lives.
We found planning the move shockingly easy with little tension or disagreement. Neither of us had savings by the time we arrived in BC (HA!) and we moved in with a couple we knew well. My partner immediately jumped into a low paying job, while I spent the first several months working odd jobs and desperately looking for solid work- something I was not accustomed to doing.
Very quickly, the reality of our situation and the fragility of our new relationship became apparent. The stress of navigating a new city, low paying jobs, unemployment, less than ideal living conditions, etc… all hit us within days of arriving. It became apparent that our ways of handling change were drastically different. I am extroverted and rely heavily on my ‘people’ in times of stress. I need distractions, conversation, physical comfort and usually an afternoon of people watching in a crowded mall with my mom. My partner is an introvert and closes in on himself, often quite literally, when experiencing stress. He disconnects from others, puts his head down and naps frequently.
These opposing approaches to managing external changes instantly affected the dynamic of our relationship and the ease we previously felt was replaced with disconnect, confusion, isolation and conflict.
I found myself incapable of relating to his withdrawn behaviour, unable to accept that his coping strategies were effective in any way and feeling extremely volatile and confused. I was exhausted and quickly fell into old habits of being confrontational and unpredictable. Our first true blow out left me feeling shaky and unprepared for how to move forward without any support system and lacking confidence in my partner. I realized I needed to do something different, and dig deep for skills in order to put into place a better system for managing the conflict in our relationship.
This is when I found myself sitting in a course called “Building and Maintaining Resiliency” by Raj Dhasi of Turning Point Resolutions Inc. This marked the beginning of my journey as an individual and as part of a couple, navigating unmarked terrain and working through very raw conflict. What I learned and am working hard to apply, sometimes with success and sometimes not is:
Honesty WITH GRACE is the best policy. Trying to avoid hurting my partner by guarding my raw feelings or withholding my disappointment in him was only prolonging the inevitable conflict and creating a wider gap in my connection with him. He can’t read my mind and he certainly can’t work with me to improve the relationship if I am not fully honest about difficult feelings. How I frame my comments to him though would determine his ability to listen. Adding grace to how I speak has become critical.
I need to put my own oxygen mask on first! Raj’s course opened my eyes to the very real side effects prolonged stress was having on my neurological systems. I found myself identifying with far too many of the physical expressions of stress she was discussing. By not looking after myself and managing my own stress I was bringing a less than ideal version of myself, down to the cellular level, to my relationship.
There is no glory in being an emotional martyr. I find myself often putting my own emotional needs second, third, sometimes ninetieth on the priority list. If I CHOOSE to do this I can’t get angry with my partner for not making them his first priority. I needed to develop a mature way of meeting my own needs instead of looking for my partner to do this.
I needed to get creative. If my old patterns of managing stress and dealing with emotional issues with my partner weren’t working, I had to lay them aside and explore new options. This meant changing up parts of my daily routine, scheduling actual time for self-care and learning new ways of having old conversations.
This course ignited in me a desire to demand better for my relationship and myself. It gave me the wake-up call I needed to look at who I am in the relationship and hold myself to a higher standard. If I want my relationship to last the test of time, I need to become a more resilient teammate. I am trying every day as I move through conflict, change and even chaos.
This is the true story of a workshop participant.
We hope to welcome her back to share more of her journey.
Most adults know that there is no reasoning with a child in the heat of a temper tantrum. What if we applied this same understanding to adults in conflict? What if we accepted that adults tantrum too and at times are not open to rational dialogue? What if we accepted that each one of us can tantrum and needs a way out before we demonstrate a full blown explosion whether it be in person, on the phone or via text?
At our most rational, we know that erupting leads to a false sense of relief, as the damage is often greater than any gain achieved from letting the other person have it. So when do we walk away? How do we walk away so that we can actually come back later?
You can see your ability to remain rational is compromised. Your body is giving you cues that you are losing control.
The other party is escalating beyond a place of rationality. You can hear it in their voice or see it in their face and body movements or in the intensity of their responses.
You have set a limit on problematic behaviour and the behaviour is continuing.
You can reasonably guess that if the conversation continues, the outcome will be negative and harmful and you need time to think to get it back on track.
More information is needed before the conversation can continue.
Name what you are noticing occurring in the conversation that is not helpful. Make it about you. “I am noticing that I am struggling with…”
Name the impact of what you are noticing on your conversation. “…which is making it difficult for me to…”
State that you believe a break would allow for a more constructive conversation later on. “…therefore I think a break would serve us well…”
Let the other party know when you will re-engage with them and how. “I will connect again tomorrow at…via…”
Exit the conversation and that means get up and go!
Follow through with re-engaging at the date and time you said you would:
Thank the other party for allowing you to take a break.
Discuss what caused you to take a break.
Set clear boundaries on what might work better for you in this discussion and/or state what you will do differently to ensure a productive dialogue occurs.
Re-focus the conversation to the issue(s) you were originally discussing.
Knowing when and how to walk away is part and parcel of healthy living.
Have you ever been in the trenches of a challenging and emotional conversation, where you find yourself fighting feelings of nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath or even numbness? Your heart begins to race, your throat constricts and the conversation seems to be moving so quickly you can’t even attend to these physiological changes. You say things or behave in a manner that you end up regretting later as the situation becomes increasingly problematic.
After the conversation ends, these ‘signals’ may temporarily subside, however each time you think about the situation, they re-emerge taking you by surprise. They appear in the shower, driving to the grocery store, in meetings, or as you are drift off to sleep. This physiological feedback tells us we are triggered, bothered, or uncomfortable with something that occurred in the conversation. These signals can be intrusive, uncomfortable and if left unattended, they can grow to take up all the head space we have to offer. If honed, these signals can help us settle, attend to ourselves, the other party and the engage in a productive conversation.
Tips for honing and using your internal signals:
Build your internal awareness. Notice changes in your body. Do not fight these sensations. Notice them even in everyday interactions- traffic jams, interactions with coworkers, dinner conversations with your partner or a friend or even reactions towards inanimate objects.
Look for the patterns! What symptoms do you most experience when you are angry, sad, frustrated, depressed embarrassed, shamed, etc? Where in your body do you tend to feel these symptoms?
When you notice the pattern emerging, breathe, straighten your posture and relax whatever part of your body where you notice the symptoms emerging.
Express! When in conflict, use this information to acknowledge what experience you are having, and then to express your experience to the other party.
If you are unable to attend to or use your internal signals in the moment, don’t hesitate to go back to the conversation to address whatever is outstanding for you, including any behaviour you need to take responsibility for.
Your internal signals, when attended to, will keep you settled, grounded, and effective in challenging conversations. Try it out!
Traditionally, many of us have learned that a good negotiation involves putting our needs and concerns at the forefront of the dialogue. If we come out ahead of the other party, the negotiation or resolution will have been a success. In essence, we engage in fighting and exhausting tactics so that we walk away with the biggest piece of the pie.
There is however, a better way to get a big piece of the pie and ensure the other party comes back to you with the next pie. Engage with a mindset of mutual gain, meaning each party will get the exact amount of pie they need to fully satisfy them without compromising or harming the other party. In our families and workplaces this approach leaves relationships solid, nourished and well supported as each person gets their needs met while also contributing to the other party’s success. This approach ensures a creative resolution is easily achieved, is long lasting and more satisfying.
How to Cultivate an Attitude of Mutual Gain
Recognize that a mindset of “and” vs “either/or” will allow you to see all of what is possible in a negotiation. The pie is huge and it can be shared in a manner that works for all, if you can just see that.
Be aware of what resources you have to bring to the table – you often have more than you think.
Lead with the intention of contributing to the other party’s success.
Be transparent about your intention to ensure the final outcome meets the needs of each party to the greatest degree possible.
Be clear on the needs and concerns you want addressed in any final agreement and put aside those that are simply created by your emotionality.
Anticipate the criteria the other party wants met in the final agreement and consider a range of solutions to meet those needs without compromising your own.
Manage your emotions so that you stay true to working to the benefit of all.