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Last week, I talked about how insults can be more about them. But today I want to draw attention to the fact that too often we get defensive and indignant about what someone said to us rather than looking at why that particular comment got to us. When your first reaction to someone is ‘what a bitch I can’t believe she said that to me’. It might be time for you to go against your first impulse to stir up a bunch of drama pause and get curious about yourself.
Let’s look at Julie and Susan.
Julie has to give a presentation for work. She knows the content but she struggled with using technology to display her presentation. Julie was up most of the night beating herself up for how much she didn’t know about technology. She did the presentation and it actually went well! Julie is pleased with how well it was received despite her technology ignorance. After the presentation one of Julie’s co-workers comes up to her and says, “nice job on that presentation, you really nailed it, there are a lot of new technologies when it comes to presentation software if you want I can help you for next time.” Her first reaction is, “What a bitch!” “Who does she think she is?” “I can’t believe she had the nerve to say that to me.”
Julie then runs to another co-worker and re-tells the story (maybe embellishing for affect) and getting them to agree with her. Before she knows it because of all the drama, she has ruined her day, lost sight of the fact that she actually nailed the presentation, and made her co-worker (who actually was trying to help) into a raging bitch.
Now let’s do that scenario a little differently this time with Susan.
Susan gave a presentation for work and even though she struggles a bit with technology she muddled through Powerpoint and feels really good. She know she has more to learn but she also knows she really did a good job considering what she knows about technology. She knows she nailed it. She worked hard and prepared and it paid off. After the presentation Susan is feeling awesome and one of her co-workers comes up to her and says, “Nice job on that presentation, you really nailed it, there are a lot of new technologies when it comes to presentation software if you want I can help you for next time.”
“Great!” Susan says. “I would love the help, I really need to learn about technology, thank for offering”
There are two concepts to pull from these stories.
One: Our tendency is to get ‘triggered’ by someone usually occurs when we are already beating ourselves up about the topic. The fact that Julie was feeling sensitive about her technology ignorance resulted in her feeling threatened by the offer to help. Actually, Julie’s monger became the co-worker. Even though Julie’s co-worker was being nice and helpful; Julie probably heard, “Wow, you really suck at technology, I could totally help you but at this point you might be a lost cause”.
Two: Because we tend to get triggered by our own ‘stuff’ it is important to recognize when we get triggered AND to do a check in to see–is this really about me? So after Julie leaves the meeting and has chatted with her co-worker her first reaction might not be to run to tell a friend but rather to stop and ask her self,”What is REALLY going on? My reaction is not equal to what was said to me.”
Scenarios like this are why it is important for us to have good friends so when Julie goes to share the story to a friend, rather than jumping on board and soaking up the drama a good friend would say “hey, that seems like a nice offer from your co-worker, what is really going on here”.
We tend to get triggered by our own stuff. Next time you notice yourself causing drama and stirring the pot–ask what is REALLY going on here?
I would love to hear from you in the comments: Can you relate? Have you ever noticed this pattern in your own life? How did you handle it?