Dear Dr. Sylvia,
I am more than miffed. I am furious.
I usually can stay in the calm zone but right now I can’t.
Here’s the situation: I had a great idea for all of us working from home. I thought I found some ways to keep people more engaged with less conflict during the workday.
I told my colleague and guess what?
He stole my idea.
He took all the credit. He sat all smug and smiling during our conference call with the company big wigs.
I had to make an excuse and get off the call early or I think I would have blown up the whole internet with my anger.
My question: How do I get over this injustice? I feel discounted and really want to make him grovel and ask forgiveness.
Actually, I want to get him fired. That is really what I want.
I want revenge.
Pissed off and then some
Let’s set up a strategy call. I know you have more to say and I don’t think just writing some comments here will be enough.
PO+ responded and we had a telephone session.
Here is what he learned when we talked, and he was finally able to calm down:
- When stress hits the hot button and does not get resolved quickly there is always more than one area that needs to be explored.
- The nature of anger and feeling discounted is both in the present situation and in the back story.
- Each of us has a primary pattern that gets set off when someone pushes our buttons.
- Some of us stuff it down while others shout it out.
- He is the shout it out type.
- All of his life he had to yell and make strong statements to be heard in his family.
- He became a drama king.
- He had to search inside himself to find the core reason/s why he could not let go of his anger nor find a way to resolve the present conflict with his colleague.
Here is what he did to get to the root of the fury:
- He wrote in a journal about the situation to gain some perspective.
- He then talked again with me about similar situations from his growing up in a highly competitive family.
- He began to see the links and connections from the past to the present.
- He agreed to talk (calmly) with this co-worker about what had happened without finger-pointing (not easy to do).
- He learned that the drama king in him was able to take a deep breath and look beyond his desire for revenge by talking about what he felt and the disappointment he experienced without throwing the other man “under the bus.”
- When they finally talked, he stayed clear and confident taking credit for his idea.
- He asked questions determined to understand what the obvious snub was all about.
- He received an apology (although he was never sure it was truly honest). He accepted the apology so they could move past the stalemate.
- He also saw that the man who he saw as his adversary was unaccustomed to thinking things through and was more of a frightened, insecure individual rather than a strong and competent opponent.
- He used what he had learned about stressful situations in a new way.
The final result: PO+ was able to be strong and resolute and resolve the situation with great leadership skills and equilibrium.
At the next staff meeting he was able to acknowledge his co-worker and say in front of the team that included the big wigs:
“I really appreciated your ideas last week for helping all of us become more engaged with less conflict. In fact, that was exactly what I said to you before we joined the zoom meeting. I’m glad you found my ideas valid and I look forward to having you help me flesh out the details to present to the entire company.”
In taking charge without the need for overt revenge, he avoided an incendiary situation.
Afterward: Months later I got another call. This time with a ‘thank you’ and an update. He had recently been promoted and the CEO of the company told him that the way he handled the “one-upmanship” situation showed he had the emotional intelligence for a higher-level job.
And the other man? He now reports to PO+. To be continued.
P.S. PO+ is now having his whole expanded team do the Stress Busters online program so they can all handle difficult situations with more equanimity and less frustration.