You know that co-worker that you have… the one that just keeps getting under your skin? No matter what he (or she) says or does, it’s the wrong thing? Even when you try to get along, he’ll say something stupid that will just set you back further? Wouldn’t life just be easier if he would just go away?
Truth be known: he irks you because you let him… and it may be more about you than you think or choose to admit. When we are triggered by someone, or something, we get thrown into a response that can sometimes be out of proportion to the situation. This amplification is a cue that it’s less about the other person and more about, well… you.
As a leader, when you are triggered, frustrated, annoyed, or irritated that energy is both observable and contagious. Your team performance suffers, as does your reputation. Boyatzis and McKee talk about this contagion of leadership in Resonant Leadership. On the flip side, when you are curious, confident, compassionate and accountable, so too is your team. What team would you rather lead?
This week I invite you to join in my experiment. When you get triggered by someone, stop and ask: “What’s my part in this.” Get serious and real with yourself. Try these tactics:
- Change your lens. You see the world through your filters. Values, beliefs, family history, past experiences: these all shape your perception of people and situations. You can’t change another, you can only change yourself, so try on a new pair of glasses to see the world through.
- Own your part. If someone gets under your skin, look in the mirror. You might just be casting your shadow where it doesn’t belong.
- Get curious. What’s going on for the other person? Would your response be different if you came at it from a learner mindset?
e-musings confession: I’ll tell you what gets my irk on… ego. Pure. Arrogant. Ignorant. Better-than. Ego… That grandiose sense-of-self is in direct conflict with my value around learning. And if I get really, deep-down honest with myself I’m triggered because I, too, can be egotistical. I inadvertently make other people feel small when I show up with blinders on. So, to make life easier (on me!) I prefer casting that shadow onto someone else rather than own it myself. Please tell me I’m not alone!
We get triggered all the time. It’s how we respond to those triggers that determines our character. Notice, reflect and then choose your response. I know it’s something I’ll be working on… forever.