October 31 is Halloween Day in the United States, a time when people of all ages dress up as different characters—some heroic, some funny, some scary. Along with the latest popular celebrities from movies, television, and popular culture, you’re sure to see some classic monster characters from the past.
The only problem is that some of these characters don’t disappear on the day after Halloween. Instead, they continue to haunt and torment people in workplaces everywhere. See if you recognize some of these personalities working in your organization. See anyone familiar?
- Frankenstein’s Monster: Functioning at a basic level. Has all of the pieces, but missing the emotional intelligence to function successfully in the work environment.
- Dracula the Vampire: Vain, self-absorbed, and elitist. Operates in their own sub-culture, focused mostly on their own needs. Uses people. Sucks the life out of everyone around them.
- The Mummy: Mostly asleep. Spends most of their time unaware of what’s going on, but once you disturb them, or slight them in some way, watch out.
- Wicked Witch: Always plotting and concocting schemes. Spends most of their time engaged in office politics and manipulating things behind the scenes.
- Werewolf: Generally destructive. Given to emotional outbursts. Unable to control urges. Often acts without thinking.
While these labels are seasonal, the behaviors behind them are not. If you report to one of these personality types it can be especially challenging.
If you are currently dealing with a personality like this in your work environment, authors Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster of Working With You Is Killing Me have a great four step “unhooking” process that can help you deal with monstrous behavior. Here’s their advice from an interview with Good Morning America:
Unhook physically: Release unwanted negative energy so that you can see your situation more clearly. For example, you come out of a business meeting feeling upset because your boss unfairly bashed you in front of your peers. You know you need to cool down. You look at your options. If you can grab a brisk five-minute walk outside, you go for it. If you can’t go outside, you go to the bathroom, splash your face with cold water, and BREATHE. When you’re in a distressed physical state, the last thing you want to do is calm down, but the fact is that if you want to change your life at work, you have to focus on relaxing physically first.
Unhook mentally: Unhooking mentally is the internal version of talking yourself down off the ledge. It involves looking at your difficult situation from a fresh perspective. Start with a quick inventory of the situation:
- What’s happening here?
- What are the facts of the situation?
- What’s their part?
- What’s my part?
- What are my options?
Unhook verbally: Verbal unhooking involves finding ways to say no without jeopardizing your job, speaking up when you feel overlooked, or tolerating your boss’s temporary silence immediately after you ask for a raise. To unhook verbally, you must be willing to focus on your overall goal in any situation rather than staying stuck in the petty details. It’s a high-road approach to communicating. The goal is to express your ideas and convey information in a manner that resolves problems rather than perpetuating them. High-road communication contains no judgment, no anger, and no accusations. It includes taking responsibility for your side of the situation.
Unhook with a business tool: A business tool is any standard procedure or written document used in a business setting. It includes contracts, timesheets, job descriptions, memos, performance reviews, company policies and procedures, and other forms of documentation. Business tools help depersonalize challenging situations by providing objective ways to track events and measure performance. To unhook, survey the business tools available to you and identify which ones can help improve your situation.
Don’t let a boss’s bad behavior keep you from being productive at work. To learn more about the unhooking process, be sure to check out more information about Working With You Is Killing Me here.