Have you ever been insulted?
Has anyone ever upstaged you? Has anyone taken one of your ideas and acted as if it was their own? Did you ever have anybody not invite you to a meeting that you thought you should attend? Was there ever a time when you were passed over for a raise? Did another get promoted when you were trying for the same position? Has your boss ever ignored your input? Was there a time when you felt left out of a group? Did someone ever make a joke at your expense that cut a little too close? Do others make off-handed remarks on a regular basis that demean you or your efforts? Have you missed out on the reward for hard work because no one seems to realize how much you put into the project? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try, your boss never compliments your efforts, knowledge, or initiative?
I could go on and on. Many of these are from personal experience and I am sure that everyone has been down many of these roads. Some of the biggest impacts on career and personal confidence can happen when interacting with others. Words can cut and bite at you. They can steal your momentum and drive. They can rob you of energy and sap you of strength. Words can make you feel unimportant and be demeaning.
While I do not claim any psychological training or superior understanding of why people do what they do, I do have some observations on why I think these kinds of remarks and attitudes are seen in the workplace. Incidents like this happen and often hurt the ones on the receiving end.
I am not talking about the joking and kidding that may go on among friends and coworkers. That may be harmless when all understand the point of the poke. Sometimes it goes a little too far and is not meant to. The person realizes it and a quick apology keeps thing civil. I am not talking about the jabs of a friend, I am talking about the times when it is repeated, appears malicious, and is clearly done on purpose.
Seven Reasons Why Someone May “Insult You” on a Regular Basis:
They don’t like you. This one might seem obvious and it can be the real reason that they just never cut you any slack or seem to attack you all the time. Sometimes people just do not get along. It is not pretty, but it happens. Maybe the simple answer to the question of “why?” is that the person does not like you at all.
They don’t know (or care) how it makes you feel. Some people are just insensitive or ignorant of how words cause pain. Insensitive people really do not care about the feelings of others unless there is an impact on them. They may butter you up one day and cut you down the next. Those who at unaware of the impact of their words are also focused on the impact (or lack of impact) on themselves when they say something to you or about you that is negative.
They don’t know (or care) what you are doing. Some times it is a lack of perception of what you are actually doing or a lack of really caring about what you do. Some people live in their own little worlds and if others do things that do not hold value in their world, then it is as if it does not matter at all.
They think they are in a competition. Some think that everything is a competition and they have to win. The workplace is a competitive arena, but what should be happening is you all compete as a unit to succeed. The company wins and everyone wins. Competitive individuals don’t want to acknowledge your wins because they think it makes them look like they lost or that they came in second. At the bottom of it all, they don’t really want you to succeed. They step forward by acting like everyone else should take a step back. They focus their efforts on reducing your success, especially if it is an area they have struggled to master. They think that if you fail, they succeed. It really does not work that way.
They just don’t really think before speaking. Along with the insensitive are those that just say whatever comes in their head. They do not guard their words or control their tongue. If it pops in their head, they spill it out of their mouth. This often ends with things being said that are not fully formed, ending in hurt feelings by those who bear the brunt of a verbal blow.
They actually enjoy making you upset. This is similar to those who do not like you, but it does not go that deep. They just enjoy making people squirm. They may have been brought up in a hostile environment that was “every man for themselves” and “survival of the fittest,” so they jockey for position by frazzling others. They may also enjoy seeing you stew with anger, fidget with embracement, or whimper under the onslaught.
- They do it to increase their perceived importance or power or position. Putting someone down in front of others gives that person a perceived rise in status. It may not last long, but every time they jab at you, they think they are stepping higher in the minds of others. They may do it flaunt their power or position or to just “keep you in your place,” but it is a power play. They need to feel important and they get that importance from lording it over others.
Bottom Line: They are most likley insecure about something. There is something they feel is not secure in their stature, importance, knowledge, oversight, position or power. They feel threatened. You may not be threatening them, but they feel that way. They think that you might displace them or rise higher than them. They are not solidly confident in their ability, leadership, choices, directions, planning, or capabilities. So they demean others just to make sure that they are not going to slip off their hill.
Again – I am not an expert on this, but have seen it play out so many times, in my own work life and when pointed toward others. Cutting remarks - even when done in jest - can hurt others. I have done it and I am sure you have also when you did not think before speaking or were unaware of someone’s efforts. Hopefully the times you hurt others are few. But you may have to rethink your perspectives and words if you find that you fall into one of the categories above. We all need to watch our words.
More on this next month...