There is this common but unspoken expectation at the workplace; that you leave your personal issues at the door and come into the office with your business face and keep things simple and professional. We imagine that if we all brought our personal issues to work, the workplace would be simply chaotic. We are normally urged to suppress our struggles for the sake of professionalism.
While it is a good thing to focus on work when at work, it is quite a difficult task to stay motivated when you are preoccupied with countless worries. That is why one needs to reflect and develop self-awareness. We also need to understand that we each have our blind spots — things about ourselves that we are not aware that we have or have forgotten about that hinder us from doing our best despite our struggles. Once we recognise these internal gaps, we can intentionally strengthen our weaknesses with dedication, practice and time.
1. Being afraid to ask for help
There is no shame in asking for help when handling unfamiliar tasks. Sometimes, going at it alone may limit your effectiveness. No human being was born “all-knowing”. It does not matter if you are the senior-most employee at your place of work; if someone junior offers a way out of a crisis, the least you can do is give it a try. Especially if none of your ideas have yielded any fruit. Swallow your pride and learn from your juniors if you have to.
2. Conflict avoidance
Conflict resolutions skills are a valuable asset to anyone who wishes to rise to senior positions in their career. The difficult conversations during conflicts are the blades that sharpen the minds of excellent managers. Most people do not wish to be associated with conflicts. They are afraid of being caught in the middle or in the spotlight where they have to defend an opinion while trying to endure unpleasant conversations. Conflict avoidance does not make the problem go away. Instead, it creates an opportunity for the conflict to escalate to costlier implications.
3. Refusing responsibility
Are you the type of person who often plays victim when a problem arises? Are you too quick to throw someone else under the bus? Do you find yourself driven by personal agenda to conspire against a colleague? Working with someone you do not like does not have to be accompanied by unnecessary drama. Nobody enjoys being at the centre of a crisis. However, if you happen to stir up trouble, own up. It is the first step towards finding a solution.
4. Emotional blackmail
Most people who have been through terrible bosses can attest to being victims of emotional blackmail. This dysfunctional form of manipulation can be used by people in authority to make demands and threaten their juniors — especially newbies — to get what they want. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you are being blackmailed, that’s an indication that your emotional triggers have exposed you to vulnerability of compliance. The other person will exploit your sense of guilt to trick you to give in to their demands.
5. Tolerating low standards of performance
Working in a team exposes each player’s strengths and weaknesses. For team tasks to succeed, each player must put their best efforts to see the project to completion. However, a colleague’s weaknesses should not be an excuse for substandard work. Calmly critique your colleague and help them identify their gaps.
6. Treating commitments casually
Excellent people skills will take you a long way. One way of ensuring that you relate well with bosses, colleagues and clients is to honour their time, energy and resources. Show up on time and give relevant and timely feedback. Commitment emphasises your dependability. Embrace a more hands-on approach when following up with clients to underscore that you mean business.
It is very difficult to work with a person who cannot take a stand. Most of the time, such people are unaware of how they show up to colleagues around them. It is highly likely that indecisive people are eventually left out on decision-making simply because there is no difference whether they are present or absent.
Fix your blind spots
To gain clarity of your blind spots and cure them, you need to deliberately interact with diverse thinkers with the motive of learning from them. People who are well exposed have a variety of perspectives, experiences and approaches towards issues that you can adapt.
In addition, examine your past failures and successes. What circumstances contributed to your success or failure in the past? Your past can indicate your triggers and the responses to different events. Where there is a pattern of undesirable incidents, impulsive reactions or jumping into conclusions, make a choice to adapt alternative formulae next time. Fixing that attitude deficit could be the only remedy you need. The bottom line is that you have to master your triggers to master your responses. This way, your reactions will work for you rather than against you.
You can also choose to attend trainings that do not naturally appeal to you — something totally out of your comfort zone. An unfamiliar territory will most likely encourage you to expose behaviours you seldom use. Widening your scope will broaden your incentive to be more creative.