Rubbed the wrong way
Navigating relationships at work is challenging when people rub you the wrong way. I’ve done my share of rubbing people the wrong way. Sometimes the irritation is my fault and other times it’s about others. A “rubbed the wrong way” moment may be a cataclysmic collision of two people who connect at just the wrong time. It may be the result of negative history or clashing personalities. Or, perhaps it’s stress, jealousy, or disapproval.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with “rubbed the wrong way,” moments.
#1. Don’t speak quickly. Reacting quickly begins an avalanche of negativity. The old adage, count to ten before you speak, slows a series of cascading interactions that may end badly.
#2. Don’t interpret the motives of others. Interpreting motives by assuming, “He did that to irritate me,” or, “she is in a bad mood,” adds fuel to interpersonal tensions.
#3. Focus on behaviors. If someone is late, don’t assume they over-slept. Limit your comments to observable behaviors. Don’t say, “I see you slept in this morning.” Say, “I notice you were late.”
#4. Keep the big picture in view. Years ago, I was told a member of the support staff was nearly impossible to work with. In reality, this person’s attention to detail perfectly suited them for their position and their responsibilities within the organization.
#5. Don’t be too much of yourself. You have negative qualities that should be tempered. Don’t excuse personal responsibility by saying, “I’ve gotta be me.”
#6. Welcome and explore instruction from others who explain that you rub others the wrong way. Ask for examples and techniques that soften your abrasiveness.
#7. Focus on work. Expend your energy achieving organizational imperatives.
How do you navigate “rubbed the wrong way” moments? How do you coach those reacting to interpersonal irritations?
‘Rubbing people the wrong way’ is a bad habit. Knowingly one should avid it. Otherwise, you are doing more harm to a person getting rubbed resulting in a disrespect and withdrawal of interest at work. You may loose a good person if your persist on such a habit. The proven exit analysis reveals that many people in the mid-career leave the organization because of their bosses.
The affected person needs to do lot of adjustments with maturity to avoid the likely stress that can finally damage the health.
Resolving things with one-to-one dialogue and openness can minimize the ill-effects and bring the required clarity for the rubbing cause. The best thing would be to stop rubbing and talk straight to bring the correctness in the organization interest.
As I read you comment, you reminded me of that terrible statistic that people frequently leave their employment because of their boss. Excellent point.
thanks for stopping in.
Hi – point two, don’t interpret the motives of others I think is particularly important. I have often found that my interpretation of motivation that was plain, simple and clear was also dead wrong.
It is also hard to stop doing that, it is human nature…
Great to see you. Thanks for pointing out and affirming #2. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been wrong many times. You’d think I’d learn to stop doing it.
Keep your comments coming… 🙂
Best to you,
Great post Dan. Though you are writing about “in the moment,” you have struck upon one of my frequent fears as a mediator type. #6 probably strikes that chord most. I know that an important key to successful teamwork means clear communication. There are valuable people in my world that I sure as heck don’t want to discourage from working with me. People usually avoid what rubs them wrong and when that happens, there’s no communication. So you can never change the problem and what starts as an irritant, begins to fester. When someone rubs me wrong, I try to resolve it asap, either within myself or with them. If I’m not going to try to work it out with them, then I’ve no place avoiding them either. It is difficult to make things work if there’s some unknown factor causing friction. Once friction becomes smoke, it’s just much harder to tackle.
I do concur that #2 is probably the most important. Though I also see it’s possible to err to an extreme sometimes, in my devil’s advocate way of thinking. People often come to me because I can come up with a myriad of scenarios that fit nearly any picture. Thinking outside of the box is a great skill, but it can also be a trap. I can get caught with trying not to “judge” so to speak and end up with other issues to handle because I guess it was plain as day to everyone else and maybe I should have listened to my gut after all. In general I feel that a good heart and hard work will get you anywhere in life, even resolve differences (emphasis on the good heart part). But there are times when what you don’t know can hurt you. As in all things, temperance and balance.
Your comment is packed with value to LF readers. Thanks!
I love the color of .. “what starts as an irritant, begins to fester.” You really drive home the point that dealing quickly with conflict may prevent worse conflict down the road.
I hear you on #2. We shouldn’t close our eyes to the obvious. Perhaps after assuming another’s motive, we should confirm it with them. (IF it’s important enough to bring up) The problem is, it can be awkward for others to tell us the things that are really motivating them.
Keep coming back!
Julia’s Website: http://aberrantcrochet.wordpress.com/
Being wrong, making mistakes, is part of everything we do. That is how we “learn”. The key is to try very hard not to make the same mistake twice! Over a very long time in our business I have made mistakes, ticked off employees, etc., but learning, and changing my behavior, is key and is always ongoing! It is a journey for me. We are not perfect, will never be perfect, but we try and try and try! The key is to feel good about what you have acheived and positive about the future.
I love how you’ve contributed your personal journey. It’s encouraging.
Best in your business,
Max owns Susquehanna Fire Equipment
#8 could be “Mind your body language”. Avoid negative body signals. Regardless of how a particular gesture means to you, it’s how the receiver perceives it that’s important.
Great point! Thanks for adding it.
Frankly, most of communication is nonverbal so you are hitting a home run.
Peter’s blog: How to beat your competitors at their own game
I also vote with #2 in a past/present context which also might be ‘don’t bring in past bias to today’s interaction.
Making the great leap that we all can and do learn, perhaps this person who has grated against you in the past has learned and is motivated to engage in a positive way. If you bring in last year’s garbage, the whole room will stink.
I like/hate the question once a negative interaction has gone down…”and my role in the interaction was….???
Great value in your observation that we may let past bias control present interactions.
As far as your question, “what is my role in the interaction?” Ummm, I don’t think I’m interested! (sarcasm)
Way to bring it home!
Somehow almost every post of yours since I joined the LF community, seems like a mirror to my current actions. Completely guilty of doing the opposite of #1,2,5 and 6…
Will be using this post as a call to do the right thing.
One of the things I love about the LF community is the candor filtering into the comments.
I think it always encourages us when we see others honestly grappling with the things we grapple with. It’s more than misery loves company. However, it does mean we aren’t alone.
Thank you for sharing,
Dan, as always great post. As a leadership consultant, I tend to also focus on a lotof these, especially when working with teams that are stuggling to get along or hold their employees accountable. I think the majority consensus is that #2 is extremely important, and I couldn’t agree more.
Perception is such a key component when dealing with the issue of rubbing people the wrong way. Although we may not mean to do it, our behaviors can cause others to perceive us in an adverse way. Thankfully, as you mentioned, we have control over our behaviors. This is where we need to welcome and explore instruction from others. I have actually been involved in something like this, where a group has taken the opportunity to share how they perceive the behaviors of each other, both good and not-so-good. While this can be difficult to receive, I explain that, unless we are told we will never know and therefore can’t make the necessary changes.
For those who often rub others the wrong way, they will eventually desire to make the necessary change to their behaviors or they leave. This is where it’s important to set behavioral expectations hold people accountable for their behaviors.
Great post Dan the Man. Keep ’em coming! Jake
Great to see you and thanks for the good word. Back atcha!
I appreciate you bringing up a strategy that helps others see themsleves more clearly. I imagine in some cases being told how others perceive you is surprising,perhaps unnerving.
Here’s another strategy for seeing the “real” you. Video your interactions. Small video cameras can easily be set up to recored meetings and then played back for the amusement or distress of those in the meeting.
I’m going to set a camera up to record some interactions this week.
Love having you add value to the discussion.
Jake dispenses his insights, questions, and comments on his blog at:
Well done, Dan.
I coach folks to not take things as personally at work as one might in the personal realm. Unless you work with a consistently petty – and unprofessional – party, most of what people do really isn’t about you – it’s about them and what they’re focused on. Yes, focus on work, big picture – perspective, behaviors that are a true impediment to work, make clear requests – and pick your battles.
I’m glad you stopped in to share your thoughts.
Thanks for reminding us that we shouldn’t take things personally because usually people are grappling with their own issues.
When I read, “pick your battles” it makes me think that most of the time we should let things go and move on.
Best to you,
Tracy’s blog is at: http://tracyelpoured.wordpress.com/
Good post, Dan. If I may, I’d like to use it in my weekly staff newsletter. As is indicated in your seven points, relationships are a two-way street. I ‘rub’ you; you ‘rub’ me. Reminds me of a teaching moment about sharkskin. If you rub up against a shark from head to tail, its skin is smooth, but if you rub it the ‘wrong way’, watch out! Its outer skin is made up of teethlike structures (denticles) that point backwards. To rub up against a shark the wrong way can be hazardous to your health. The teaching – Ask yourself, am I a shark?
It’s always great to have you drop in. I know you are out there lurking. 🙂 Please feel free to use “Rubbed the wrong way” in your staff newsletter.
I love the shark illustration. SWEET! Love the term denticles.
BTW, the global LF community doesn’t know you but I know you exemplify the quality of “steady-calm” that I talk about in another post.
Best to you,