I’ve been thinking about flow and how I’ve let people f**k with it in previous jobs. Then I saw this infographic on LinkedIn and some further thoughts began to crystalise. For me, flow means working in a way that’s frictionless, instictive almost, but also in a way that aligns with my values and my sense of me. When that’s not happening, well that’s when my flow is f**ked with and I’m off-kilter. Unbalanced, even.
So, what’s with the infographic? First let me state that I’m not claiming to always exhibit the behaviours on the left. Few people do, in my experience. I visualised this as an old-fashioned balance scale with the successful behaviours on one side and the unsuccessful ones on the other. Naturally, you always want the balance to be on the side of success.
I’ve realised that one of the things that really gets under my skin at work and f**ks with my flow is being repeatedly on the receiving end of the behaviours on the right side of the scale. My last role was as an internal service provider and I really struggled with one of my key stakeholders, despite delivering over and above every single time for, literally, years. The context was incredibly complex, but he was Mr Right Side of this chart. He avoided change. He always criticised. He often claimed ownership for my work. He treated knowledge as power.
I found that behaviour really difficult because there was limited sense of collaboration or team. And that put me off balance – it f**ked with my flow. I couldn’t understand why he was so difficult to deal with. Eventually, I avoided him, which pushed some of my behaviours onto the right side of the scales.
What I didn’t know then about Mr Right Side, but do know now, is that his own team – direct reports, peers and line manager – had little if any respect for him and he had a pretty tough time in the office. And as a middle aged man with a couple of kids and a non-working wife, that’s a shitty place to be. Because he’s got to keep bringing home the bacon and is most likely under pressure to bring home more every year.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing that behaviour in any way. But my realisation is that there’s almost always more to someone’s poor bahaviour than meets the eye. Very few people actually go out of their way to be a**holes at work.
My resolution is to dip into my empathy reserves if I’m ever on the receiving end of right-side behaviour. Trying to understand why someone’s being an a** can help me rationalise their behaviour, and avoid tipping to the right side myself.