If this has never happened to you… you’re lying. Seriously.
No matter how common of an occurrence it may or may not be for you, it can still be an incredibly frustrating challenge. I’m not being a total brat. Compromise does count; it is often even preferred. However, it takes effort from both sides. What we’re talking about is the power that someone’s complete and utter disregard for your ideas and opinions has to totally derail your day.
How to Recognize It
This unfortunate phenomenon exists in a multitude of ways. One of the most common is someone’s subliminal (or liminal) practice of putting your ideas and proposals off, constantly. Maybe for no reason other than lack of interest. It can be particularly heartbreaking when you have direct access to their day-to-day, and know that they probably have the time.
Another way this happens, is when you finally secure the time to discuss your opinions—and they steamroll over your ideas with theirs. Just because they give you the time, doesn’t mean they’ve really given you the time. Them talking over you, over-explaining their ideas and opinions? That’s not the opportunity you were seeking.
The litmus test is really just, how does someone make you feel when you offer insight? Proud and hopeful, or, embarrassed and uninspired?
Often, these styles of belittled value compound. Alone, but especially together, these forms of disregard—and others—create an environment that is not suitable for creativity (or any kind of productivity at all).
How to Deal With It
First off, make sure you aren’t contributing from this angle in someone else’s experience.
Then, don’t just deal with it. These kinds of ‘relationships’ are extremely detrimental to your mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as your professional growth. You can try to avoid them at all costs, but you’re bound to encounter them. Luckily, there are ways to address and manage such personalities.
Avoid inciting anger. This risks making it worse, or depending on their power, your job.
A helpful tactic can be to remind them of your experience and the reasoning behind your idea, opinion, or proposal. However, this can be a challenge (or just plain ineffective) when they don’t often give you the time to speak. And, you’ve probably already tried it.
If this is the case, make time to speak to them before or after work—not necessarily outside of work—but during a time where you can pretty much demand their complete attention.
Perhaps even ask for the conversation to be ‘off the books,’ and begin it by laying out your feelings. Be careful not to overexpose yourself, but be honest about how their actions make you feel. Provide specific examples, as well as a solution that will allow both to feel more confident in your abilities.
Be respectful, open minded, and willing to compromise; but stand your ground.
If this is unsuccessful, don’t feel like a tattle-tail for going above them (if possible). They’re likely impacting others in a similar way, and it needs to be addressed.
I’m not one for giving up easily. However, I am also not one who enjoys a hostile work environment or being disrespected. If you’ve stuck it out as long as you could manage, have made several efforts to address the situation, and have gotten nowhere—move on.
Sometimes, you’ll experience relief for a week or two—and then it goes back to how it was. While a step in the right direction, your journey should never be at the pace of someone else’s gait. Get up, and go get it. Make the move, take the risk—do what you need (and want) to do.
Positive, exciting, safe work environments are out there. They may even outweigh the number of negative, harmful ones. It shouldn’t have to be, but it is your responsibility to stand up for yourself here and make the change—or make the move.
No title, salary, or company is worth losing your sanity over.
Have you ever been in a less than positive work environment? How did you manage? How did you improve it? How did you know it was time to move on?
Let’s talk about it in the comment section below!