Handling Bad Behavior
November 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
If I had to say I had any regrets as a personal assistant for 23+ years, it is the fact that I put up with people behaving badly and made them think it was okay, condoning it by acceptance. When I say bad behavior, it is frankly, a understatement to the 10th degree! Now that I am older and more experienced, and definitely, more confident in my position, I will not tolerate anyone disrespecting me.
Now let’s face it, you won’t have a job for very long if you make your employer wrong, humiliated, or if they think you have nothing but distain for them. But how do you do your job when you do? After all, not every day is going to be easy.
What I found is when I look at all the circumstances of what made them react there is usually some fear behind their reaction or behavior—fear from not knowing what they think they should, fear that they won’t be respected if they don’t seem to be in control, fear of leprauchauns…who knows? All I know is I could usually see a pattern in why they got upset and how they handled it. And while I didn’t feel sorry for them, I also learned to distance myself from the outcome, not being personally affected emotionally. I found the best way to handle an outburst was dead silence. By remaining silent until the tirade is over, I don’t condone, don’t outwardly disagree, I just observe. And you know what? It is like a child who’s tantrums no longer get a reaction. There is no fun in it. And I no longer felt like a participant in their bad behavior. By not reacting I could live with myself and yes, they may want to find someone else who reacts in the manner they are seeking.
So make sure you set your boundaries early on in a job. What applies best is the old saying, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I apply that to bad behavior. The first time your boundaries are challenged, the monster has raised its ugly head and now you know what you’re up against. Now you can make a decision on how you want to handle it should it happen again. When things calm down you can have the conversation about what happened and how you were made to feel uncomfortable or disrespected. Maybe it can be a productive conversation? At the very least, they have been warned, right? So now, when it happens again, you have to enforce your decision, whatever that is. And no one will be surprised when you leave since you were clear on your boundaries.
You see, jobs will come and go but me, myself and I are together for the long haul.