Not in the traditional, physical sense, but I was hijacked all the same. Let me explain…
I received a call from a lady, unknown to me who called to express concern that my 19 yrs old son was bullying her online. Now anyone that knows my son will affirm that he would be one of the most gentle, non-aggressive people of this planet, so needless to say that this lady now had my attention.
This lady seemed nice enough, and spent an hour on the phone telling me about her situation: that she was an advocate for a controversial movement that could have very serious consequences for societies all around the world should her movement be successful. This group had a public Facebook page and it was in this medium, that my son that been bullying her. Off to the Facebook page, I marched; well my fingers did anyway.
What I saw when I got there was not one child, but both of my children wading into what was a very healthy debate. They presented strong opinions backed up by respected, validated research with not a single reference to anything that could be deemed as bullying (thank goodness, I thought that I had raised them well 🙂 )
Confused? Yes, I was also.
In this case, the lady in question had spent decades dedicated to this cause. She had traveled the world seeking evidence to support her argument and when another point of view was offered to her, she was unable to open to the possibilities behind that argument. You see, she had lived and breathed her point of view. She had dedicated substantial finances and valuable family time to this cause but more importantly, the need to have this cause and therefore her opinion be the correct opinion, was actually masking an enormous grief process that she had not yet allowed herself to go through.
The sad thing was, in holding on to her ‘story’ she had completely diluted the message that she was trying to get across and when I told my children about her personal story, they were aggrieved for her, saddened by her journey and both children stated that her message was completely different from what she was trying to tell and had they heard that version of events prior, they would not have held a different opinion to her online message but WOULD have considered her real argument, the one that had been lost in the telling.
So often this happens in life and particularly so in the workplace. A colleague or client hijacks your day with an ‘event’ that causes a strong reaction in you and you respond. How many times have you experienced someone snapping at you or being dismissive or rude without realising what lies beneath? I hear you say that some people are just dismissive and rude and that also is true, but I can guarantee that they are that way as a result of something else in their lives. In the meantime, you have had to commit time and emotional resource to dealing with the ‘event’ as well as your reaction to it.
Part of what I do is to peel back those layers, to see what sits behind the behavior or the action and then together, we work out what to do about that.
Just like my children, had you known the underlying story, I imagine that the conversation, and your reaction, would have been very different. Someone shouting how incompetent you are, that you are “useless” and that they knew they “should never have trusted you” is very different from someone saying “I know that you are normally really great/ helpful/efficient and that you have simply messed up this time, but I am so very busy that I feel completely overwhelmed by my workload and you have just created more work, that I am not sure that I can cope with”. That is a very different conversation is it not? What about the bully in the workplace, why do they behave that way and are they aware of how their actions affect you and your work environment?
Professional Supervision is for everyone and every workplace. I am so grateful that people out there can see how this tool in their workplace can increase employee retention, reduce stress and even increase productivity, in so many discreet ways.
So the next time someone in your workplace acts in a way that causes disruption, anxiety or grievance just stop and ask yourself the ‘why’ and perhaps by asking a few questions rather than simply reacting to their behavior, you too can understand the underpinning cause and resolve the real problem.