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. 

The Control Freak

The need to dominate is overwhelming. This personality can’t back off and let you work. When it’s your boss, this person can also be referred to as The Micromanager. When it’s your co-worker or colleague, he or she is The Control Freak. I have one colleague who has to be the expert and the go-to person at all costs on all facets of a project, even when it’s not her expertise or her team!
She used to lead a particular department, but during a merger was moved to a different area. However, she can’t stop trying to direct her old team, or participate in meetings as if she is still in charge. Just today, after a two-hour meeting, I bumped into The Control Freak’s replacement who asked me to verify the meeting attendees. When I mentioned The Control Freak’s name, this new person grimaced.  I then learned that The Control Freak’s latest tactic was to call the replacement and innocently ask for information, “for her own knowledge”. 
The replacement, a secure and competent person, didn’t think twice about sharing the information. And less than 24 hours later, The Control Freak was backstabbing the replacement by being the “spokesperson” for the old department. Of course our meeting had many senior leaders in attendance.
Survival Strategy
Listen to your gut; it has most likely already warned you about this person. Once confirmed, you need to start to strategize around this person, and figure out how to take he or she down. Align yourself with other team members and trusted colleagues and get their advice and help in reclaiming what’s rightfully yours.

The Indecisive

I once worked for a company where everyone — yes everyone — was so afraid to make a decision, that we spent months and months having the same discussions. Every project would drag on for so long that six months into it, we started repeating points made during the first month. I started with frustration, quickly moved onto anger and finally (thank God) I was exhausted. I knew I had to update my resume and start networking. When you are faced with a situation without momentum, progress or accomplishment, it quickly becomes very difficult to be motivated to come to work.
Survival Strategy
Here are two possible scenarios:

  • Culture. If indecision is the company culture and you don’t enjoy having the same endless conversation, then you need to get out. No magical solution here. However, you should stay put if your goal is to coast through your cube life. This is the ideal “safe” environment because no one can ever be wrong or blamed. 
  • Individuals. If you’re dealing with an individual who is incapable of making a decision and standing his/her ground, simply go somewhere else or make your own decision. Empower yourself. You don’t always need to consult someone else; take the initiative, make a move and move on. If it is the wrong approach, someone with the applicable knowledge will eventually see it and bring it to your attention (hopefully in a nice way!). But have the confidence in yourself to make that initial move.  


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