Do you act a certain way at work, thinking this behavior will help you better fit in or get ahead?
It’s not uncommon – and it’s basic human nature to want to be in the loop when plans and decisions are made. But what some experts have termed “below the line” behaviors can actually hold you back in the long run.
See if you recognize yourself in any of the following … also known as “self-protecting” behaviors:
Taking Things Personally
Do you tend to take other people’s remarks or actions too personally? Remember, this is work. If you take things too seriously, people may start tiptoeing around you or leave you out of key discussions altogether.
Being Overly Dependent
Rather than voice your opinion, do you keep quiet and let others make all the decisions and then simply follow along? Trust your courage and confidence, even if your ideas are vetoed every once in a while.
Avoiding conflict or risk-taking is another behavior that stems from fear of rejection. But in fact, confronting challenges and taking calculated risks can be highly positive and productive.
Sure, a lightly biting comment can be funny sometimes. But unless you have a strong enough level of authenticity to be sincere in what you’re really trying to say, sarcasm often backfires. Instead of being effective, you come across as arrogant, boastful, or uncaring.
Competition can be healthy but, like many good qualities, too much is too much. Competitiveness can lead to you constantly comparing yourself to others, pushing you to exaggerate, manipulate, or even cheat. Not where you want that to go!
If you become so fixated on results that you begin to control everything your teammates do, this is a surefire recipe for stress and antagonism. Relax, listen to others, and be open to new perspectives. Let somebody else take the reins for a change.
Instead of seeing the big picture and striving for optimal overall outcomes, are you too focused on avoiding all mistakes, even the smallest, least important ones, at any cost? This not only alienates others, but also can lead to your becoming a workaholic or feeling like you’re never good enough.
Take it above the line.
As you strive for authenticity, understanding, and truly solid work relationships:
- Stop and breathe. This enables you to shift your energy, think differently, and calm your anxiety. It slows your pulse and clarifies your thoughts, keeping a check on that “fight or flight” area of your brain.
- Think before you act. Ask yourself: “How can I behave authentically?” Then make a conscious choice to do so. Keep practicing, and eventually, this will become automatic.
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