Mind over Managing: Mirror Image

We all get wound up by people at work. Most of us spend more waking hours during the week in close proximity with our colleagues than we do with our family.

But while the expression ‘you can’t choose your family’ is a relatively common one, it’s even more pertinently true of our fellow workers. It’s no surprise that conflicts arise.

And these arguments are often no longer limited to people in our physical proximity. In the virtual age we live in, it is possible to fall out with people you’ve never even met.

Unease in legalese
We do a lot of work with law firms around the world, and they can be difficult customers.

There’s one senior partner who has always cheesed me off no end. Email responses are always sent within an hour or two of receiving one of my missives, usually containing a critique of some form or other of the contents of my mail. Attention to detail is ferocious. They also have the annoying habit of always seeming to be in the right.

A recent chain of emails between us broke down into a “No, I’m right” – “No I’m right” pantomime stream of tit-for-tat emails, all dressed up, of course, in flowery legalese in an attempt to hide any rudeness. Things actually got to the stage when I felt something resembling a small electric shock in my gut every time I could see a new email was waiting in my inbox.

My own reflection
This led me to think: what on earth is going on here?

The unfortunate conclusion I’ve come to is that, as much as I would like to heap scorn onto the other person, it’s basically all down to me. It’s often said that what we dislike in others is what we don’t like about ourselves, and never had this been truer than here.

Perfectionism, an obsession with timely replies to emails, and being a bit of a smartarse – all habits of my own – were being reflected back at me in glaring technicolour, and I didn’t like it one bit.

This realisation hasn’t made the annoyance dissipate completely, but has made me look at the person concerned in a very different way.

After all, it’s hard to get too angry if all you’re seeing is yourself staring back at you.