If intimidators make you quake in your boots you may be forgetting some essential truths.
One of my clients recently told me that his motivation for starting his entrepreneurial journey now is that he has recently acquired a boss who believes in “leading by intimidation.” When this boss says “I need to talk to you,” everyone knows it might be a casual conversation about whether you’re having pizza or barbecue brought in for a team meeting or it might be a demeaning chew out session. My client has decided he never wants to work for someone else again.
Starting your own business is one way to avoid the boss from hell (unless you ARE the boss from hell, and that’s another topic.) But, as I explained to him, unless you learn to take back your power from people who lead, negotiate, or simply socialize from a place of intimidation you’re just setting yourself up for the client from hell, the networking group member from hell, and so on.
So what do you need to remember in order to take back your power when the other person is subconsciously (or even intentionally) working to take it away from you?
IT’S YOUR LIFE
Sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever worked for or with someone who is skilled at manipulation by intimidation you know how easy it is to forget. Reminding yourself that you own your life and only you can decide what is best, appropriate, or right for you is the first step to standing firm.
IF YOU DIDN’T AGREE TO IT YOU DON’T OWE IT
Intimidators are transactional. Everything is about keeping score and making you feel that you are always in the red with them. So you have to be clear with them about the expectations you agree to meet, and not let yourself get guilted out when you aren’t meeting some vague expectation you didn’t know existed.
YOUR VALUE IS YOUR GREATEST ARMOR
The more value you can add, the more likely that the intimidator will use their tactics to try to get more and more from you for less and less compensation or credit. But the more value you can add, the less power they truly have in the relationship. Be objective with yourself about how much value you add to the relationship and, if you feel threatened because you’re not confident about being truly valuable, examine how you can increase your value or move to a position or role where you know you can add more value.
YOU ALWAYS HAVE CHOICES
While intimidators are good at making you believe that pleasing them is the only good choice available to you, that’s far from true. Even if staying in your job, or in that position in your job, requires pleasing that person you have the choice to leave. If you’re under contract, that choice may have unattractive consequences, but it is still a choice. Knowing that you are making a choice gives you a mental edge even when no other choice is something you really want to do.
INTIMIDATORS ARE UNHAPPY PEOPLE
Finally, remember to have a little compassion. No matter how much pleasure your boss, client, or colleague from hell seems to take in making you feel small, remember that what they’re really trying to do is make YOU feel smaller than they feel. Which means they feel really, really small indeed.
So create a little mantra, a chant, a rallying cry, a pick-me-up you can recite to yourself when you feel your stomach tightening up and your knees starting to quake,
“I own my life, I only owe what I agreed to do or pay, I have tremendous value and the intelligence and ability to increase my value every day, being here is my choice and if I decide it is not my best choice I can always leave, and finally, this poor person is more unhappy than they can ever cause me to be so I can be a big enough person to offer them a little compassion even as I refuse to let them steal my power.”
Let that run through your thoughts often enough and you will find that, even though your situation may not change immediately, your attitude will change, and that will change your situation when nothing else can.
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