I remember a woman I worked with years ago who drove me crazy. She came to meetings and dominated them with her constant talking. She joked around when she should have been serious.
I made her my number one topic, determined to get her to change these annoying behaviors by talking about her to others.
Then something happened . While I focused on her flaws, she started adding value to coworkers and leaders by providing good work. People began to respect her and the contributions she was making.
Meanwhile, I continued my obsession. I am sure I looked like the crazy lady on the street corner with uncombed hair, a big coat and flailing arms, ranting about my coworker while others just tried to get their job done.
After a few friends shared their concern about my obsession, I stepped back and took a more objective look at the situation. During that time of reflection, I realized why my co-worker drove me crazy. She dominated by talking . . . just like me. She joked around too much . . . just like me. The things that drove me craziest about her where the things that I didn’t really like much about myself.
Author and behaviorist Martha Beck says the following:
Everyone makes comments about other people from time to time, but those who focus on one topic continually, irrationally, and inexplicably are often describing themselves. When someone seems unduly preoccupied with a certain flaw in others, it’s time to do a once-over to see if it’s taken root in Mr. or Ms. Obsessed.
And the Mirror Replies . . .
If you have become fixated on someone else’s flaws, remember this:
Each time something in a coworker or leader or family member makes you a little crazy, take a look in the mirror. Bravely ask that mirror . . .
Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who’s the most obsessed of all?
The answer might just be, “YOU.”
Once I identified my issues with this coworker, I focused on changing those behaviors in myself. Amazingly, when I became happier with myself, I was no longer frustrated by her.
And changing me was a lot easier than trying to change her.