No one discusses the psychology of work and the enormous role it plays in your everyday life. I have researched and watched this issue for more than twenty years, from discrimination bias to contract negotiation. I comb through client fact patterns looking for every psychological angle emanating from all the cast of characters in order to position the client to achieve success or to resolve a dispute.
Why aren’t you doing this?
The Psychology of Your Manager
I know you think you know your manager, but I doubt you really know how your manager thinks and what motivates them. Psychology plays a direct and important role in such things as how your manager makes decisions regarding what jobs or tasks to assign employees and your career advancement. Managers evaluate employee strengths and weaknesses, i.e. perceived psychology, and selectively assign tasks. Employees are also chosen to advance based on their perceived psychology about whether they will be effective in handling the responsibilities of the new position.
If you are blind to the role of psychological analysis, get your head out of the sand and in the game!
Think of your job like a chess or strategy game, you need to consider every conceivable variable that will impact your chosen goals, both positively and negatively. If you are not evaluating your opponent, i.e. your boss or coworker, you will not advance in your current position or your career. I am not asking you to confront your boss with your new found psychological intelligence, keep it to yourself and use it to guide you when making critical decisions to your benefit. Successful employees and executives do this every day.
Here is what to look for when evaluating your boss’s psychology in order to gain an advantage:
(1) Evaluate facial and body cues that may show a degree of nervousness or over aggressive micromanaging (polar opposites), facial and body cues are one of the most important signals to read when assessing your opponent.
(2) Examine the person’s prior work conduct toward yourself and other employees and the reaction those individuals had in relation to the decision being made. Was there a consistent logic flow or arbitrary selection decision making process without basis?
(3) Go beyond the email language and check if the person really intended what was stated, email can be misleading.
(4) Examine the individuals the person promotes and if they are a logical fit or the result of office favoritism and worse, discrimination.
(5) Examine the potential for personal issues being brought to the office and determine if they are playing a role in the person’s work life.
This list is by no means exhaustive of the possible variables impacting your opponent’s decision making.
The Psychology of Your Coworkers and Yourself
When you arrive at work, you walk into an office workspace filled with a multitude of personal psychologies. There is no control other than the corporate mind speak dished out by the company or what you believe the proper protocol to acting professional is. There is no discussion about how to manage yourself or others while at work. Sure, there are rules regarding behavior, but in reality, employees are thrown into the workplace and are just expected to know how to act and react moment by moment.
Short of being fired for poor misconduct, how do you navigate the psychological warfare of the office?
The solution is to become aware or mindful of your interactions with co-workers, including supervisors, especially when you are having a bad day. Take a week and just observe the behaviors of others but don’t be reactive, just observe. While you’re observing various office behavior, listen to your inner voice, you know the voice that is talking inside your head right now as you read this. The more you become aware of this inner voice, the more self-control you will have during moments you need it most. That inner voice is the reactive brain and not your conscious brain, it just keeps on talking at you over and over all day long. Listen to your conscious brain, the one you make decisions with and the one you use to learn new information. Notice that the conscious brain does not ramble on at you, it is more concise and logical, not dramatic and overblown.
Another method of handling the office psychology is to observe the expectations you set for yourself and others. Stop working from those expectations and focus on the current issue you are experiencing. Your own expectations may be causing the problem you may be experiencing but you just don’t know it. We pre-imagine how events in our work life should result, but we never really think about how we created those expectations in the first place. When the crap hits the fan and our expectations are dashed, we tend to blame ourselves or others in a knee-jerk reaction. We never stop to think about our own thought processes, we just accepted what our mind (inner voice vs. conscious mind) said to us.
As employment attorneys, we confront the end product of psychology in the workplace and are requested to find solutions.
For more information, please contact Mark Carey.