The career saboteur in the mirror

I’ve noticed an uptick in advice about coping with a bad boss and/or belligerent co-workers (or obnoxious colleagues on a nonprofit board, dare I suggest). Mostly the ones to whom the counsel is directed – the aggrieved ones – are presented as blameless and without “sin.”

Enter columnist David Perlmutter with news that at least some of the time, people problems are actually person problems.  Some of the time we’re the cause of our own woes. Now that’s a tough truth to face!

Admitting fault is difficult even for the best of us. Yet this exactly what Perlmutter urges with five examples of where “It’s [possibly] Your Fault.”

  • You have not paid your dues but act like you have. If colleagues are fighting you, it might be because you have not established credibility or shown that you have taken the time to thoroughly investigate a matter before preaching revolution.
  • You are overly suspicious. Don’t assume malicious intent behind the unhelpful words and actions of someone when plain old incompetence or indifference are more likely sources.
  • You are acting selfishly. Being a good colleague means understanding that we all need to sacrifice a little for each other. The more you think about being helpful . . . the more people will see you as someone they want to keep around.
  • You complain too much. If you have a legitimate complaint, that’s one thing. However, if you are someone who complains about anything, then increasingly people will ignore your arguments about everything.
  • You are a jerk. Self-awareness is not just a laudable character trait; it is an invaluable political skill.

Perlmutter’s advice sounds a lot like what another “tough love” writer, the Apostle Paul, had to say about living well with others.

If any of you think you are something when you are nothing, you deceive yourselves.  Each of you should test your own actions. Then you can take pride in yourself, without comparing yourself to somebody else, for each of you should carry your own load (Galatians 6: 3-5 TNIV).

What's your take on this topic?

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