How long has it been – really – since you’ve given thought to the arc…
John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
Everyone has one every now and then. You know. The co-worker – or the boss – who is a pain in the you-know-what.
It’s far from being something you’d leave your job over. But, it’s aggravating and you’d just as soon not have to deal with it. Fortunately, you have options.
“Working With You Is Killing Me” could be your handbook to help you empower yourself at the office. This brand new look at the subject is the work of Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, a Harvard-educated psychotherapist and management consultant, respectively, who own and operate K Squared Enterprises, a consulting firm based in New York City. Crowley and Elster have packed their book with the kind of practical specifics that make it a good read and an even better value.
They begin by describing the experience of feeling caught in an emotionally distressing situation at work as being hooked. And that “if you can change your reaction, you’ll change your life”. In other words, unhook. Recognizing that it’s often not as easy as it sounds, the authors suggest a four-step process to unhooking: physically, mentally, verbally and using a business tool.
To the reader, physical and mental unhooking are fairly obvious actions designed to calm you and give you the freedom to examine the problem more carefully. Verbal unhooking represents a slightly different twist. It’s your opportunity to take the high road in your communications in pursuit of a resolution to the problem rather that simply perpetuating it. Using the business tool, then, helps you depersonalize the situation and gives you objective ways to track events and measure performance.
The authors continue by applying this process to the business of recognizing and protecting your interpersonal boundaries at work. These boundaries can include things like time, personal space, keeping your word, personal information, emotional expression, manners/courtesy and noise. As often as not, conflicts with co-workers are rooted in the failure to honor such a boundary. In each of these arenas, Crowley and Elster show you how to apply the unhooking process in setting and reinforcing your boundaries.
They do the same with roles at the office. Sometimes, playing a specific role at work can constrict you professionally, or limit your ability to move ahead. Maybe you’re the hero, the caretaker, the rebel/scapegoat, martyr, entertainer, peacemaker, or even the invisible one. Ironically, this role could be based in a genuinely attractive behavior that has simply been taken to an extreme. By using the unhooking process, though, you can break free from that role and its limitations. Once again, the authors offer specific case studies as a way to reinforce the point and give you ideas for your own situation.
Two elements of this book earn it a particularly high grade. One is the chapter on “managing up”. The second is a corporate culture assessment to help you determine whether you’re in the right place.
The advice in the chapter on managing up is some of the most practical and powerful you’ll find anywhere. Focusing on managing up can help you mitigate – if not eliminate – most of the problems you may have with your boss. It can also be a key to career advancement.
You may have successfully practiced the art of unhooking, yet frustrations remain. The corporate culture assessment enables you to make a side-by-side comparison of your culture preferences and the reality of the environment you work in, leading you to a clearer answer to the question: Is this the right place for you?
“Working With You Is Killing Me” is one of the better books in its genre. Covering a lot of territory, and offering plenty of specific examples of what they’re saying, Crowley and Elster have produced a volume that belongs on your bookshelf.
“Working With You Is Killing Me” is available from most online booksellers.