One of the greatest lessons and blessings in my life has been the power of playing the fool (not to be confused with “acting a fool”).
I used to pride myself with the fact that I don’t suffer fools gladly. Act up with me or, even around me and I’ll call you out on your actions.
Suffice it to say, that this approach to dealing with inappropriate behavior in others was “not a sustainable friendship model”.
Granted, I had addressed the issue but, how I went about it created an even greater one - ill-will between me and the person.
I felt I was right and justified, and that “they” needed to be held accountable for “their” behaviour.
What I didn’t realise was that the cost of my behavior on our cooperation in our common pursuit, was far too great a price to pay for “being right”.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t address inappropriate behavior anymore, I do. Only now I look out for it in myself before I point a finger at others.
I have now learned to first keep the peace; thinking through an approach that would address the issue, honour the person, and keep us working effectively towards meeting the objectives that brought us together in the first place.
Here’s my advice to anyone that is struggling to strike the balance between allowing others to treat them as a doormat, and, completely singeing their eyebrows with fire at work; before you address a negative situation, first remind yourself:
1. Not to react - leaders pause to think first
2. Check sensitivity - could you be easily offended, and therefore take offense even where none is meant
3. Be the bigger person - even where the counterpart means to offend, be the bigger person, and let it go
4. Be tactful - find an appropriate time, place, and situation to address the behavior (if there is any need to at all)
5. Safeguard from reocurrence - create an environment where that behavior cannot be easily repeated (including clarifying roles and responsibilities, boundaries, and consequences for the breach)
We have to remember that workplaces are communities where people of diverse backgrounds, temperaments, and agendas, come together under highly pressurised, and competitive conditions, to pull together towards the same corporate goal.
Some come together, others fall apart, whatever you do, remember who you are, and why you are there and do your best to keep it together and play your part.