Working with You is Killing Me
Freeing Yourself from Emotional
Traps at Work
This Presentation is Based on
the Book, “Working with You is
Killing Me”
By Katherine Crowley and
Kathi Elster
Copyright 2006 – Warner Business Books
This Class is About:
 Identifying when you are
“hooked” to a stress
inducing person or
situation at work.
 Identifying Business
Boundaries – Protecting
yourself at work.
 Identifying and unhooking
from Roles at work.
 Identifying and unhooking
from Fatal Attractions at
work.
Take the Survey
Activity: See if someone at work is killing you by
filling out the inventory.
Work on the Surface:
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Making Money
Delivering Goods and Services
Producing results
Crunching Numbers
Meeting Deadlines
Increasing Productivity
Expanding to meet needs of the
“customer”
Work Below the Surface:
What Lies Beneath:
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A Hotbed of Emotions
People feeling anxious about performance
Anger with Coworkers
Misunderstood by Managers and
Coworkers
• Taking personal problems to and from
work
THIS CLASS IS NOT ABOUT CHANGING THEM.
IT’S ABOUT CHANGING YOU.
How do you know you are
“hooked”?
• Do you feel trapped by your
circumstances?
• Do you consistently have strong negative
internal reactions to someone or
something in your work environment?
• Do you suppress your feelings?
• Do you think your only options are to “suck
it up” or quit?
Warning signs that you may
be Hooked:
• Physical -- clenched teeth, stiff neck, tension headaches, tight
chest, overheating, chills, stomach pain or nausea, shortness of
breath, tingling arms, backaches, muscle spasms, facial twitches,
insomnia, or fatigue.
• Emotional -- anger, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, confusion,
depression, repulsion, helplessness, or despair.
• Mental - obsessive thinking, spacing out, constant distraction,
paranoia, revenge fantasies, forgetfulness, or an inability to
concentrate.
If you can change your reaction,
you’ll change your life.
Step 1 – Unhook physically
Step 2 – Unhook mentally
Step 3 – Unhook Verbally
Step 4 – Unhook with a Business tool
Unhook Physically
Calms the body and releases unwanted
negative energy so that you can see your
situation more clearly.
Steps to Unhook Physically:
• Begins with focusing your breath –
relieves shallow breathing brought on by
stress. Conscious, deep & gentle
breathing lets you “scan” your body and
see where you are holding tension. Gives
you time to think
• Release energy through physical activity
Physical Unhooking Tip
The more extreme your
emotional response is to your
external circumstances, the
more vigorous your physical
unhooking activities need to
be.
Unhook Mentally
The Internal Version of talking yourself
down off the ledge.
It involves looking at a difficult situation
from a fresh perspective.
 The goal is to view your circumstances
objectively and see what practical options
are available.
Steps to Unhook Mentally:
• Take an inventory of the situation:
*What’s happening here?
*What are the facts of the situation?
*What’s their part?
*What’s my part?
*What are my options?
Unhook Verbally
Find the words (or sometimes the silence)
to protect yourself and get out of a
workplace trap.
May involve finding ways to say no without
jeopardizing your job, speaking up when
you feel overlooked, or tolerating your
boss’s temporary silence immediately after
you ask for a raise.
Steps to Unhook Verbally:
• Take the verbal “high road”
*contains no judgment, no anger and no
accusations.
*includes taking responsibility for your side
of the situation.
*it’s about communicating effectively, in a
way that enables the listener to hear you
and consider or ideas.
*creates a bridge, not a wedge.
Unhook with a Business Tool
• A business tool is any standard procedure
or written document used in a business
setting. It includes contracts, timesheets,
job descriptions memos, performance
reviews, company policies and
procedures, and other forms of
documentation.
Your Business Toolbox:
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Job Descriptions -- detailed explanations of the responsibilities that any
job entails.
Employee expectations/goals - concrete, measurable benchmarks for
performance.
Performance reviews -- quarterly, semiannual or annual appraisals of an
employee’s overall job performance.
Policies and procedures -- also know an an employee handbook, a
document that delineates the company’s overall code of conduct.
Disciplinary action forms -- written reports that document unsatisfactory
employee behavior and forewarn he employee of possible termination.
Memos emails, letters -- any form of written correspondence.
Meeting agendas -- formal lists of topics to be discussed at meetings.
Documentation -- a written record that provides factual information
regarding and event, including time take and a description of the incident.
Your Personal Unhooking
Assessment
Activity: Pick one person or situation in
your workplace that has you hooked, and
complete the assessment
The Business of Boundaries
Interpersonal Boundaries
• The lines or parameters that define and
protect the physical, emotional and
psychological territory between individuals.
They are far more difficult than geographic
boundaries to discern. They are invisible
and they differ from person to person.
• Because they are imperceptible and
unique to a person, they have to be
communicated.
Common Interpersonal
Boundaries
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Time
Personal space
Keeping your Word
Personal Information
Emotional Expression
Manners/Courtesy
Noise
Smells
Food
Language
E-mail
Cell Phones
Personal Hygiene
Is Someone Busting Your
Boundaries?
• If you are continually angry, upset, or
complaining about someone or something,
you probably need to set a boundary.
• Unhook Physically: Take steps to release
tension and calm down your nervous system.
Boundary Busters tend to generate a good deal
of physical stress.
• Unhook Mentally: Assess your situation and
devise options in terms of setting boundaries.
• Unhook Verbally: Communicate our
interpersonal boundary to the person or people
who need to know.
• Unhook with a Business Tool: Take concrete
business actions to reinforce the boundary
you’ve just set.
Possible Outcomes:
• Life is Beautiful-Receiver understands and agrees to fulfill
your request
• Partial Success-Receiver respects your boundary for a
while but gradually relapses into their old behavior. You will have to
reinforce the border in some way.
• Continued Assault - Receiver doesn’t like or can’t
respect your boundary and continues to invade your physical,
emotional r psychological territory. You’ll have to take stronger
measures.
If the Role Fits….
Common Roles at Work:
• The Hero- The need to be idolized compels them to
outperform/produce.
• The Caretaker - Feels responsible & tries to solve
everyone’s problems.
• The Rebel/Scapegoat - Bends the rules.
• The Martyr - Wants recognition & praise for sacrifice &
suffering.
• The Entertainer - Uses jokes & humor to break the
tension.
• The Peacemaker - Does whatever it takes to keep the
peace.
• The Invisible One - Stays our of trouble by staying out
of the spotlight.
What’s Your Role?
Activity: Look at the roles as defined by the
authors and think about the role you might
play at work…maybe it is one of these
roles or maybe it is something unique to
you…or a “combo-special”. Take some
time and jot some notes about how that
might fit for you.
Fatal Attractions…haven’t we
met before?
The Most Common Brands
• The Exploder - Starts out as Dynamic; turns
into dynamite.
• The Empty Pit - Starts out as very nice; turns
into very needy.
• The Saboteur - Stares out as sweet talk; turns
into sabotage.
• The Pedestal Smasher - Starts out as fawning;
turns into fault-finding.
• The Chip on the Shoulder - Starts out as
appreciative;turns into argumentative.
Life with a Fatal Attraction
The 7 Stages of a Fatal
Attraction at Work
• Magnetism - The early intoxicating stage.
• Consumption - The other person begins to exhibit their
other side.
• Rehearsal & Recovery - A time consuming, energy
draining, attempt to control the relationship.
• Conversion Obsession - You become obsessed with
getting the other person to change.
• Post-Interactive Heartburn - You are showing signs of
emotional battle fatigue.
• Allergic reaction - You develop automatic physical
reactions to the other person.
• Imprisonment - You are resigned to negative treatment
and can’t imagine a better way.
Advanced Unhooking
• Detect - Is your body reacting to a
stressful situation?
• Detach - Separate yourself emotionally
from the relationship.
• Depersonalize - It’s not about YOU.
• Deal - Devise and implement a strategy
for managing the relationship.
Beware
Expect to be tested
Corporate Culture
Is this the right place for you?
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Working with You is Killing Me