Is your boss or someone at work saying or doing inappropriate or hurtful things?

If so, how can you maintain positive self-composure? How can you manage to not get triggered and do something you’ll regret later? How can you make him/her aware that his/her behaviors are creating a negative impact on other people? And should you even tell him/her?  Is it even worth it to have “that” conversation?

This is something many of my clients struggle with and one of the challenges I too faced in corporate America. Let’s be real – it’s hard to not be triggered when somebody exhibits bad behavior, especially when they do it consistently.

Here are three things I know for sure:

  1. We each own our own behavior
  2. We can only be triggered if we allow ourselves to be triggered
  3. No one else can make us do or say anything we don’t want to do or say

In my opinion the first step of dealing with the bad behaviors of others is to ensure you get control of yourself. Two ways to do this include:

Be mindful of the current situation – this means recognizing in the moment when someone is behaving badly and recognizing you’re about to be triggered or have been triggered. Choose to take a stand for yourself and say, “I am not going to allow someone else to control how I show up.”

Make an effort to reframe the situation – ask yourself, “what else might be going on in this person’s world that’s causing them to show up with these bad behaviors?” Attempting to put yourself in the other person’s shoes can bring about compassion which often serves to diffuse your own frustration, enabling you to recapture control of your emotions.

Now let’s say you’ve done a great job being mindful of your triggers and behaviors; at this point things might be fine; you might simply be ready to move on and let go of the frustration – great do it! This is often the case when you know someone else is under a great degree of stress and their bad behavior isn’t something that’s consistent.

However, if you’re not ready to move on and let go (and it’s ok if you’re not), you might decide it’s time and you’re ready to have “that” conversation with them. So how should you approach it?  Here are few steps to consider:

Step #1. Get Yourself Into a Positive Mindset

This means thinking about the attitude you want to have going into the conversation. A positive mindset might be something like: “There’s opportunity for me to help (person) better understand how their behaviors are impacting others.”  This is in comparison to a negative mindset which would be something like: “This (person) needs to know how bad they and their behaviors are and I’m going to be the one to tell them and put a stop to it.”

Step #2. Prepare For and Outline the Conversation

Yes, this will take a little time and require some thought; however, if you’ve done step #1, it will be a much easier and quicker process.

A simple outline to use includes:

  • Set the context and attempt to build a connection with the other person, e.g., “Hey Bob, I value our relationship and because of that I’d like to share some thoughts about how things went in yesterday’s meeting.”
  • Talk about specific behaviors or facts relevant to the situation and the impact they had, e.g. “When you ended the meeting before the Q&A was finished, I took that to mean you didn’t have time for the Q&A; additionally, several people scheduled time on my calendar because they had questions they weren’t able to get answered – and because I believe it’s important to ensure everyone is comfortable with the presentation material I now need to find additional time with everyone for the Q&A.”
  • Tell them what you’d like to see next time, e.g. “It would be great if next time we could have the Q&A with everyone that way we can get all questions out on the table including all of your questions too – would that work for you?” If being this direct isn’t something your comfortable with you could always approach it by being curious about their behavior and ask questions, e.g. “I was curious if there was something else going on that might have been driving you to want to end the meeting early?”

Dealing with the bad behaviors of others can definitely be a challenge and there’s no one right way to handle it. If you’re struggling with this, please free to reach out – email me at: Look forward to talking with you soon!