What do you do when you have a boss who is a bully? What about a boss or supervisor who is such a bad organizer that their chaos and mismanagement affects your ability to do your job well, but if you were to address this with them, you risk reprisal or retribution? Maybe it’s not a supervisor but a toxic coworker. These can range from bullies to complainers, as well as those who are in constant competition with their coworkers. You find yourself measuring all your words when speaking to these people or going out of your way to avoid them altogether.
“You’re doing it wrong.”
“You could be doing it better.”
“I see room for improvement.”
“So I guess we should probably go ahead and have a little talk.”
“I’m also going to need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.”
Workplace feedback from managers can be an anxiety-inducing prospect, especially when, from some managers, even an unqualified Good job can be patronizing or dismissive. Pep talks laced with comments such as “You’re not living up to your potential” can also elicit a sense of dread from employees when their managers stop by their desk or send an email.
Does this sound familiar?
On Facebook or another chosen social media site, you see a friend’s post that has a link to The National Review with the title “FBI Rewrites Federal Law to Let Hillary off the Hook,” while a few scrolls later, another post from a different friend shares the article from the New York Times with the headline “House Benghazi Report Finds No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.” You like and respect both friends and find yourself wondering which of them could possibly be correct. Or perhaps your reaction is something along the lines of immediately agreeing with one friend while blocking all posts from the other.
The brain acts through habitual action and goal-directed action. It is important to be able to switch back and forth between these types of actions: For example, if our brains operated only on goal-directed action, we would have to think about the process of driving home every day, following a set of directions, or concentrating on basic tasks each time we do them. Instead, our mental auto pilot switch kicks on. These are the good habits.
These days, there seem to be an almost limitless number of reasons to feel stress, from finances, supporting a family, and work (or lack thereof), to social pressures, competition from online social media, loneliness, the current political landscape, and the online comments section of any type of media. We have developed many ways to cope with this stress—and usually, coping involves a type of reward, such as a treat, either with food or with shopping.
Anyone who has taken even a 10th grade literature course has come across a Shakespeare soliloquy at some point. Richard III goes through the list of all the reasons for his discontentment then boldly declares he will be a villain. There are seven soliloquies in Hamlet in which he walks himself through more possibilities than a Rube Goldberg Machine. And the Macbeths talk to themselves through everything they do.