This week I had a short between-session call with a young adult client of mine. She called because she felt she required support around an issue she was having a very difficult time with – her boss.
She said that she was feeling very angry and stressed around her boss and had gotten into a pattern where she went out of her way to avoid her boss altogether. She realized, however, that this was not the best way for her to deal with this uncomfortable situation and was feeling very stressed and stuck.
It was clear to me from listening to my client that she had formed very negative beliefs around her boss and around her working relationship with her. She stated that “[this boss] just doesn’t know what is going on!” Nor did she believe that her boss was capable.
I pointed out to my client that these thoughts and beliefs were forming a ‘wall’ between herself and her boss. When I asked my client what her goal was, she responded that she did, in fact,want to have a relationship with her boss.
Once my client’s goal was clear, I responded that in order to build a functional, healthy relationship with her boss, she would have to be willing to implement the first, and most important key tool to building healthy relationships: respect.
It was clear from my client’s beliefs that she had lost respect for her boss and I pointed out that if anything was to move forward here, she would be required to approach her boss from a place of respect.
How does one do that in a situation like this?
One of the most effective ways to build respect for another person is to look for, what I call, ‘the humanness’ in that person. A person’s ‘humanness’ is what makes them who they are. These include the person’s qualities, or the person’s strengths.
I asked my client to tell me one quality she sees in her boss that she admires or respects. She quickly came up with a few answers.
Through this process, my client started to shift her belief of her boss from someone who is ‘incapable’ to someone who is kind and caring. Slowly the bricks in the ‘wall’ between my client and her boss started to crumble, and the lines of connection started to open.
Applying this tool to our relationships.
Often we are very critical of the one’s we love. We tend to focus on what they are doing wrong and notice and point out their faults. This approach creates negative beliefs in us about the person, which also creates a wall of disconnection between us and them. In order to break down those walls of disconnection, we have to look for the humanness in that person. The way we view each other has a strong impact on how we relate to one another.
Parenting Teens / Young Adults
This approach is especially important when parenting/teaching/mentoring/or working with teens and young adults, who require our belief in them and in who they are more than anything else. See this article to find out why.