by Marlene Chism,


I’m known to say, “It’s not about the person, circumstance or situation, it’s about the pattern.” That’s why when I speak I share so many personal examples. I can guarantee that any workplace issue has at the root, a pattern in place, and that pattern is of the non-physical type. In other words, it’s the mindset, attitudes, and beliefs that contribute to the expression of the problem at hand. In this particular post, I’m talking about problems between peers. What are the attitudes, mindsets, and beliefs that cause problems between equals? Ideas like, “It’s not my job,” and “That’s not Fair” or “I’ll just show you how it feels because you did it to me first.” The same patterns that exist with workplace relationships also are alive and well in marriages and friendships. Read more to see what I mean.

Situation #1 It’s Not My Job

Take for example the mindset of “It’s not my job.” How does this show up in the workplace? I had a restaurant owner tell me that he has competent chefs that argue on whose turn it is to take the rolls out of the oven. In the process of talking about who has seniority they are both willing to let the rolls burn rather than doing the task at hand.

Situation #2 I’m Too Busy

I’ve been at the grocery store and noticed as the last tomato rolls down the belt, the sacker rushes off and gets busy so he doesn’t have to ask if I need help with groceries. (Or at least that’s my perception.)

Situation #3 I Didn’t Even Notice

This one is a personal example: A friend of mine said that the trash can be piled up and in need of taking to the garbage, yet her husband will throw away a napkin and balance the napkin on the pile rather than picking up the bag and taking it out to the trash.

If you look a little deeper you will find that it’s always the attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets that contribute to the problems or make the current problems even bigger than they have to be. Here are some tips to help you make a shift.

1. Get clear on the final result.

Whether the final result is serving delicious rolls, keeping a clean house or staying married, when you consider the bigger picture the little problems seem to dissolve no matter what your position.

2. Get clear on who you are

Don’t let your choices be based on what everyone else does. Make your choices congruent with who you are and how you want to express in the workplace and beyond.

3. Ask for what you want

You may not get what you want, but at least you aren’t resorting to game-playing, blame or passive aggressiveness.

4. Seek understanding

Before blowing up, or using passive aggressive tactics to “pay them back” seek understanding. A simple question will do: “Is there some reason you won’t take out the trash?” or “Why do you wait for me to pick up the hairball when you saw it first?”

5. Get creative

If you can stay out of resentment, you can get creative. “I’ll get the rolls if you will put the turkey in the oven.” Or, “I’ll take out the trash if you’ll clear the dinner table.” Learning to delegate instead of debate can be a useful skill.

But I Shouldn’t Have to. . .and That’s Not Fair. . .

I can just hear you. You are reading this saying, “I shouldn’t have to ask….” or “That’s not fair, I always do…” Well, now we’re back to where we started. All problems, whether they are personal or professional, have a non-physical component or a pattern if you will. It’s not really about the other person, the situation or the circumstances. The same patterns that keep us stirred up at work are alive and well in our personal lives.