The funny thing about difficult people at work is that they trigger us more than they should.
This is because companies are hierarchies.
Decisions and Dominance
Companies need to be hierarchies of decision-making to function. They need to make big decisions at the top, and progressively smaller decisions on down.
However, when you throw emotions into the mix, you get another hierarchy: a social-emotional dominance hierarchy.
This means that your boss’s emotions can dictate your emotions. And your coworkers’ emotions can dictate your emotions. Some companies are more stuck in this dominance hierarchy, some less. But all have it.
When we’re inside a dominance hierarchy, we’re trying to defend our position on the ladder. We’re either trying to please someone above us, or we’re trying to dominate someone below or adjacent to us.
This is why we get triggered by difficult people at work. It’s not just that they’re annoying, it’s that there’s a dominance dynamic at play. They’re a threat to our ability to own our position.
It’s In Your Brain
The way out of the dominance dynamic is to work on yourself, to change your emotional patterns. This allows you to show up differently, which changes the interpersonal dynamic.
Things like breathing techniques, meditation, this all helps, but it takes time to develop as skills and habits.
A real solution is to use a technique that affects the brain on multiple levels at once, to create real change in the networks.
A Real Solution
I’ve been working on this problem myself for years, and this past year, I discovered a technique that is basically a brain hack, for lack of a better word.
It’s a combination of several “pyschosensory” techniques that, when you put them together, creates rapid changes in the brain.
One of the techniques is called “Havening,” which is about soothing touch. Others involve eye movements, rhythmic tapping. I also use a method of question-asking to go along with it. Together, they affect the brain on multiple levels and create rapid learning. I don’t really know why it works so well, but I’ve been coaching for 6 years, and I’ve never had such powerful results until now.
Dave Wolovsky, MS CAPP
Relationships Coach, answering the internet's questions about all kinds of relationships.