Start by giving what you want to receive
I wish I remembered who first introduced me to the idea that “the best way to feel love is to give it” so that I could thank them. When you express love to someone, your heart is full and your mind gets quiet. Giving what you wish to receive is powerful! On the other hand, if you sit in a corner, pouting, waiting for someone to come to see you and make you feel loved, you may have to wait a long time.
You know I am an Executive Coach, not a Love Coach, so you might wonder why I am even bringing up this topic. It is because this concept is true for all human emotions and applies to the workplace every day. Take a moment to reflect: what emotions do you want to experience more deeply, or more often, at work?
My clients’ goals vary significantly, ranging from improving professional relationships, becoming stronger leaders, reducing stress, to moving up in higher ed. administration. One thing they all have in common is a desire to feel more of something. Some want to feel more appreciated, valued, and recognized. Others want to feel more empowered, trusted, and respected.
Focusing on the self
A natural human reaction to a less-than-perfect workplace is to focus on the self. Our attention goes to what we are not getting. Can you relate? Maybe you feel you are not appreciated enough, not given enough autonomy, not respected enough, or not understood. That’s completely natural, but it’s not helpful.
The next natural tendency is to blame others for what they are doing wrong and to justify and defend our own actions. Most professionals know to keep their judgments to themselves and don’t create conflict by criticizing others verbally but nonetheless, their negative emotions remain strong. They crave change but they wait for others to change, and it is a losing strategy.
If someone’s ego is too strong for their own good, they will tend to be self-righteous and tell me “Audrey, I deserve more and shouldn’t have to make more efforts or change. It’s other people who are at fault.” However, when someone approaches the situation with an open mind and a strong desire to improve (rather than to be right) they can experience a radical shift in their emotions very quickly.
The law of reciprocity
People have a deep-rooted need to reciprocate what has been done to them, good or bad. When you do something nice for someone, especially something they value and something that makes them feel good, they will have an urge to reciprocate. Here are some examples to consider applying in the workplace.
1. You want to feel understood
If you were the one who spoke the loudest, or the most, trying to convince others, you would automatically make people feel dismissed. You would be doing to them what you thought they were doing to you, perpetuating the problem. Instead, seek to understand them. Listen actively and make your co-workers feel heard and understood. They will be more likely to reciprocate once the tension is gone and you give them space to express themselves.
2. You want to feel appreciated
If you feel taken for granted, or even worse, undervalued, and you focus on how unfair the situation is, you will feel powerless. You can’t demand more appreciation but you can encourage it by giving it first. Stop focusing on yourself and put your attention on what you can appreciate in others. Feeling appreciation will immediately improve your emotional state and foster better professional relationships. Once people start to feel good around you, they will automatically appreciate you more.
3. You want to feel included
Do your feelings get hurt when you hear of a meeting that was held but you weren’t invited to participate? Or perhaps if nobody consulted with you before making an important decision? Don’t waste a minute feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, model the behavior you want to see in others. Start being more inclusive and consultative with your own projects. You will put yourself back on other people’s radar and show yourself as someone who needs to be at the table.
4. You want to feel safer from criticism
It is common for high achievers to be both self-critical and critical of others. If you tend to be too hard on yourself, you probably dread being criticized by others too. If you want to feel safe trying new things, even though there will be a learning curve and a few mistakes, start by giving others permission to innovate. Spend much more time acknowledging accomplishments than pointing out errors. Watch your reaction to your teams’ work and be more supportive. Once people feel safe in your presence, they will no longer get defensive or attack you when you do something imperfect.
In summary, remember to give what you want to receive and your emotions will shift from feeling victimized to being empowered. It never feels good to wait for other people to change their behavior. Your personal power comes from focusing on what you can do to change the situation.
Be less focused on yourself and engage in activities that will make people want to treat you better. Never underestimate the law of reciprocity!
If you are dealing with a challenging situation on your campus, don’t wait for things to get out of control to take charge and work with a professional strategist. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation and find out how I can help you turn things around. Don’t give away your power. I am here to show you how.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.