Ever had a colleague you had trouble getting along with? Where the relationship seemed like oil and water? You just didn’t mix.
I was talking with a client the other day who was upset about an encounter with a colleague. It was not the first one like this. She described the colleague as always confrontational and felt like even when they did agree, the colleague intentionally found something disagreeable. Whatever this client tried to do, or whatever new concept she was presenting, the colleague was always upset and had objections to whatever was on the table.
The painful truth? The colleague in question didn’t carry the sole responsibility for the dynamic at play.
When I asked my client for more details, the rest of the story emerged. A story that she couldn’t see for a variety of reasons; and, all of the thoughts, feelings and assumptions that tend to perpetuate a conflict were creating a significant blind spot for her.
We’ve all heard the saying, “it takes two to tango.” It’s hard to face the fact that we are contributing to, or even causing the problem.
This is completely normal. It’s challenging to see where we could be contributing to the issue when our lens is clouded by other things. When I held up the mirror for my client, she started seeing the story for what it was in its entirety: she kept tripping her dance partner and didn’t even realize it.
Think back to a conflict you had with a colleague. You know how much of an energy vampire it is. You take it home with you. You dread seeing this colleague’s name on your calendar. You sit as far away from them in meetings as possible, or you go off video on Zoom so you can roll your eyes when they speak. (Think I’ve been there? I can assure you I have).
Imagine how it would feel knowing you and your colleague finally figured out how to make it work and dance together, without tripping over each other. Wouldn’t it feel like such a relief to see your colleague’s name on your calendar and not cringe? It would feel like a roadblock was lifted when you can actually engage productively in a meeting together, and feel confident doing so. Picture yourself having so much motivation for your work, because this conflict is no longer living rent free in your head, sucking all of your energy.
It’s not a fantasy. It can happen. And it feels so much better when it does.
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Photo credit: Jean Wimmerlin via http://www.unsplash.com