Pattern Clash: When The Jerk At Work Meets The Jerk At Work

“I work hard” he muttered. I could barely hear him.

“You do WHAT?” I asked.

“Work hard. I told you, I work hard.” It seemed to him like no one ever really listened.

He went on to say that he was sick of spending his nights correcting his boss’s awful grammar for her reports that had to go out the next day. She was always late with her reports and always had a ‘do it now’ attitude.

“I am a communications expert, not a third-grade teacher” he complained.

“Did you ever tell your boss about your frustrations?” I was just getting to know his vulnerable points in this first leadership development coaching session.

“You can’t tell her anything. No one can. You just do what she says and stuff your thoughts and feelings.”

“What do you think would happen if you said you needed time for yourself, for your family in the evening and would appreciate if her reports were sent to you in a more timely fashion?”

“I would get fired.”

“How long have you been with the company?”

“I have been here for eight years,” he said with deep pride.

“And you would get fired, just like that?”

“She is and always has been a bully. She is and always was loud and a know it all. She is and always was the one to demand that it was her way or the highway.”

OK, you got the picture? A demanding boss and a subservient director of communications. A bully and a victim. Do either of these patterns resonate with you?

In the employee’s eyes, the boss is a jerk at work. In the boss’s eyes, the communications director is the jerk at work.

Will the real JERK AT WORK stand up?

We all have patterns of behavior we learned in our original organization, the family that show up at work; especially when stress hits the hot button. In this case, the ‘VICTIM’ is about to learn why he is such a ninny and so afraid to speak out; why he is so fearful he will be fired if he takes a stand for himself. He will learn in a ten session series of coaching that his ‘bully boss’ was really rooting for him to succeed.

How did this happen? They had a conversation that the communications director requested. It did not happen until the eighth coaching session, almost at the end of the line.

He was coached and prodded to talk with his boss. Not just in a rote way, to really talk with her and get some ideas on how they could work together differently.

As a ‘victim’ he was helped to see that the healthy opposite was to become an ‘explorer.’ When a victim transforms to become an explorer miracle happen. Yes, miracles.

Here is how this ‘pattern transformation ‘stuff works. There is so much energy invested in seeing the other as ‘the problem’ that we rarely look inward, at ourselves. Once we can see clearly how we are derailing our own success, once we can observe our personal style that no longer is effective and once we understand where that pattern began in childhood we can transform it.

It means we take the pattern and flip it to the opposite, just like flipping a coin. Yes, that is exactly what you do. Flip it!!!

Our communications expert (what an irony here) finally found the words, to tell the truth to his boss. And the bully, what did she do to change her behavior?

That has to wait till next blog.

Sylvia Lafair

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