Category Archives: insecure co-workers

The Pontificator

We’re just about to end the meeting, but I can’t help myself. I have to ask questions that have nothing to do with what we’ve been talking about just to hear myself talk. How I love the sound of my voice. You’ve all had your coffee right? So I can go on for hours. I must ask meaningless questions and keep you all here because I need my audience!

Survival Strategy

Take one for the team! It doesn’t matter when you speak up, as long as you do:

  • In the moment, tell the group you have another meeting. Get yourself out of there. Interrupt the flow — immediately! You know to expect the endless pointless questioning, so stop it! Watch how many of your co-workers join you out the door! Only listen if you want to waste time, have a good laugh or share something fun with your co-workers as you commiserate about it later. 
  • Plan ahead. Warn the person running the meeting so that he/she knows to expect The Pontificator and can stop it. 

My Co-Workers Don’t Respect Me

This is another post in response to a reader’s search. This person typed, “how do I get my co-workers to respect me?” You may not like my answer because it sounds cliche. At the risk of sounding like a “shrink”, pop-psychologist, or even Tony Robbins (Remember him? The motivational speaker?!), you won’t get respect until you give it for yourself first.
The way you treat yourself, carry yourself, and regard yourself (basically, your self-esteem), will be reflected in those around you. In other words, the way you treat yourself is the way others will treat you. So learn how to be better to yourself. Most of us do a crappy job at this.  So how do you give yourself some love?
It’s not easy. Improving self-esteem is a tough road. There is no pill, no miracle cure, and no advice I can give in three easy steps. You have to take the scary route. Look inside, try to determine why you feel badly about certain things about yourself, and work on them. I know that sounds vague and overwhelming, so let’s start with some basic stuff; almost Self-Esteem 101.
Simple Solutions
  • Posture. Check yourself in the mirror, or elevator doors, anything reflective, while you’re walking. Are your shoulders hunched? Head down? Posture is a huge non-verbal communicator — it tells the world how you feel about yourself. Hunched shoulders indicate you feel you’re carrying the weight of the world around; you feel beaten down and lifeless.
  • Facial expressions. What face are you showing the world? Worried? Stressed? Smiling? Same thing as your posture — a loud and clear message to everyone on how you’re feeling.
  • Clothes. Think about your current favorite outfit. The one you wear the most or feel the most comfortable in. What color is it? What is the style? Baggy or fitted? Getting the pattern here? Your current “level of style” indicates how much you actually care about your appearance. Dark, baggy clothes may indicate hiding or a bit beaten down, whereas brighter and fitted clothes indicate happier times.
I know this all sounds a little trite, but I’m not making fun. The three points above are areas you can easily focus on every day to try to make a difference in how you feel. Do it now, push your shoulders back and get rid of the hunchback. Feel more powerful? Confident? Now check it at least once a day.
Serious Solutions
For more serious information, check out the National Association for Self Esteem’s website. For great articles, or books on the subject do a Google or search for “Self-Esteem and the Workplace”. I strongly suggest you do some research and find some tips that speak to you on what you want to change about yourself. Trust me, you change your perception of you, and those around you will follow. You’ll be amazed!!!

How to Tell Someone They’re Insecure

No, it’s not a mistake. In recognition of Earth Day, I’m recycling. Funny huh? Welcome to part 2.
I wanted to offer some tips on how to make coping with an insecure person a little easier. Again, insecure people are maddening. Their behavior is not rational because they are racked with fear.  So the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with an insecure person include:
  1. Step back and recognize their behavior for what it is. It’s not you, but it’s affecting you. So it may be difficult to not take this person’s actions personally, or feel attacked or targeted. Try to understand why this person is behaving in certain ways; explain it to yourself so you can adapt around it. The behavior is a reaction to something about you that he/she is jealous of.
  2. See their behavior as a powerful compliment. Okay, so it’s kind of a backwards compliment, but let it give you a boost. You’ll need it, because this person’s actions are probably bringing you down. Smile, you’ve got it all over this person!
  3. Out strategize. This person is most likely already trying to sabotage you. The good thing is their actions are usually pretty transparent, making it easy for you to out maneuver them. Learn to manipulate them back!
  4. Treat yourself. Sometimes the best way to diffuse the stress you’re feeling as a result of others’ ridiculous behavior is to go shopping, go out for drinks, get a manicure/pedicure, exercise, meet friends at a bar to watch a game. Whatever your interest, indulge! Take your mind off of it.
    Good luck!

How to Tell Someone They’re Insecure

Today’s headline is actually one of the searches that brought a reader to Cubicle Confessions. I grabbed it because it’s so challenging. Regardless of your relationship with this person, you’ll see the best results if you handle the situation with gentleness and subtlety. No matter how much you want to tell this person off — and trust me I know how annoying their actions can be — take the higher road and use patience and a little guidance. There are a few ways this can play out. If the person is:   

  • a close co-worker then you may feel comfortable using the word “insecure” and being direct with this person. If not, you can still use gentler suggestions on how this person can stand up and not let others take advantage. Maybe this close co-worker tends to take everything personally. Try to talk him/her down; reinforce the fact that not everything initiated by others at work is meant as a personal attack.
  • a colleague or work acquaintence, you still may feel comfortable counseling this person because essentially you are trying to make him/her feel better. Provide gentle suggestions on how this person can change his/her perspective about a situation to try to turn it around.
  • someone senior to you like a manager, department head, VP (or higher), then mum’s the word. You cannot say anything directly to this person. You can however, change your behavior which will force their behavior to change. When you change the way you react, the other person instinctively picks up the change and you will start to see different reactions. 

Survival Strategy

Insecurity tends to make people very ugly because they feel vulnerable. I know this next advice sounds vague, but try to determine what sets this person off and work to diffuse those situations. Only by understanding the behavior can you learn to work around it. Here’s an example:

I once worked for a senior vice president who expressed her insecurity by bullying others. She would manage by fear and even drop the F-bomb to try to shock you. My best defense was to learn her patterns and strategize around them. When presenting a new project I made sure I included details I knew she’d focus on, but then I went that extra step and consulted a group of internal folks who not only worked closely with this senior vice president, but worked with her for years. Use others to help you build defenses.

What types of insecure people have you encountered? Share your stories! 


Knowledge is Power

There are those who feel they can rule the world with the contents in their brain. My cube world has two of them right now. What’s really frustrating is that both of them are really smart; it’s almost justified. They’re both great at what they do.
Unfortunately, their need to constantly remind you about their intelligence overshadows all of the positive aspects about them. Their need to be center stage with their brain is tiring.
As you know, it’s refreshing to run into certifiably intelligent people in the cube world. Most of the time those who dominate the airwaves are spewing junk; they just want to hear the sound of their voice resonate throughout the room. Again, it saddens me that these two feel the need to throw their intelligence around as a defense mechanism against some greater insecurity. I know more about them personally than I care to admit. 


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