Whether you are a practicing attorney or engaged in another profession, horrible bosses are a thing.
Why is it that we have such a hard time working with certain people?
What role do we play in this interpersonal tug-of-war?
I had a free mini-session earlier this week and my client was telling me that her boss often comes into her office unannounced and loudly explains to her what she has done wrong. He leaves her door open during these sessions so that her secretary, the associate next door, and anyone walking the hall can listen as he surmises her short-comings. These exchanges always left her mortified and angry and she wanted his behavior to stop.
Our challenges with other humans are usually founded upon some faulty beliefs:
There are basic principles and standards of how people should treat each other.
People don’t often act like they are supposed to.
Both of these lines of thinking are problematic. Both of these notions will cause you pain and suffering in your personal relationships.
How are people “supposed” to act?
Exactly as they do.
That is the nature of free will. That is every human’s right. When we tell ourselves people are supposed to act differently than they do, we are fighting against reality.
When you resist reality and argue that people should be different, you will lose (but only 100% of the time!).
There is no upside in thinking that others should act any differently than they do. Let it go. The way they act is exactly how they are supposed to act. Whatever they are saying and doing is not within your purview to judge or control. Just let it be.
The only thing you can control is how you decide to show up and respond to it.
For every relationship, many of us carry unspoken “manuals” about how the other person should act. The manual for our bosses states that they should be professional and collected. Sensitive to your needs and willing to guide your development and growth. They are not supposed to berate you or embarrass you.
They are not supposed to be horrible.
We believe that if they would just act how we want them to act, we would be happier and feel better about ourselves. That is a complete lost cause. That means that the only way we can feel more confident and secure with our practice is if the other person changes.
What are the odds of that working for you?!
We can’t control others. We’ve all tried at one time or other and discovered the impossibility of that task. So if we can’t control other humans and if other people dictate how we feel, we are all screwed.
We get to control how we receive the actions and words of our bosses. We get to decide what their actions mean about ourselves as attorneys and professionals.
When you spend all your energy ranting about how the other person “should” act and all the things they are doing wrong, you don’t give yourself the opportunity to decide how you want to show up in the that moment or what you want to think about their actions.
You are too busy being a victim of their actions.
Take your power back. Make CONSCIOUS decisions about what you want to think about that person and their actions. Be aware of how you interpret those actions to mean something negative about yourself.
There will always be “difficult people” in our lives but these people are not difficult because of how they “make us feel.”
They are difficult because they challenge us to examine our thoughts about ourselves and our judgments of others. That, my friends, is the real work of this life.
They are difficult because they challenge us to evolve.
Stop trying to change people and instead focus on evolving yourself. That, after all, is the only thing you can control (but only 100% of the time).
Practicing law is HARD. You will have more people who will challenge you than people who will build you up. Start learning how to deal today.
Stop letting them have the power over your happiness. Life is too damn short.