Joy Ignites Success

Incompetent Coworkers?

By - Thursday, September 24, 2015


How to stay calm in the face of incompetence.

In the workplace, we don’t always have a say about who we work with. Sometimes, the person we are working with, or reporting to, is incompetent. Or at least it seems that way.
And while I’m sure you wish they would be different, that is not often in your control. Imperturbability, calm and unruffled self-assurance or equanimity, is however, within reach. Here are 5 things you can do in this situation to restore well-being.
Therapeutic Interventions:
1.    Breathe. Deeply inhale and fully exhale several times.
2.    Pause for a moment and ask yourself how their incompetence impacts you.
If it really doesn’t affect you, just let it go. Notice that you don’t have to react to them. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to spend my energy on this?” or “Do I want to let this control me?” With another deep breath, you can imagine dropping the upset you’ve been carrying.
If it does affect you in terms of having to correct their mistakes or redo something, allow yourself to think about doing so and notice what feelings arise.

If it brings up overwhelm, click here and follow the suggested activities.
If it brings up anger, feel the sensations in your body and check to see if there is some action you need to take (such as alerting a supervisor). If there is no action to be taken, see what’s driving the anger. Under the anger there could be a desire to control them or want them to be different than the way they are, a desire for approval, a desire for job security, a desire for everyone to get along, or a desire to get away from the situation. As you notice what underlies the anger, you can now acknowledge the feeling at a deeper level and then choose whether or not you need to stay angry.
3.    Physically remove yourself from the situation when possible. If you hate the way Sue answers the phone, move to where you can’t hear her. If Joe comes in every day after lunch smelling of tobacco and you hate that smell, plan on doing a task that takes you out of the area for a few minutes.
4.    Imagine the offending person(s) as a five-year-old who was never taught how to be in the world. Try to get in touch with the part of yourself that is a natural teacher or parent and gently teach them what you know.
5.    Check the projection! Is there something you see in them that you can’t tolerate in yourself? If so, acknowledge it and as best you can, love yourself even with your alleged shortcomings.

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Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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