As promised, this week I am connecting with you in a “Dear-Abby-Style.” The below is an *actual* question from a reader about a client she views is treating her passive-aggressively…and it’s annoying!
I answered her question through the lens of what I believe can help create better professional relationships–one relationship at a time. If you’d like me to address a professional relationship question of yours (anonymously), simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are welcome!
My passive-aggressive client who I visit at 1:00 PM got a security alarm installed and now gets a notification on her phone of the exact moment I open the door. Today when I hadn’t opened the door yet at 12:58 she texted to remind me to turn off the alarm when I arrived. Ugh. I started a business so that I wouldn’t be micro-managed like this. I wish I could quit but I can’t afford to lose a client right now. What should I do?!?!
I always suggest that, when you get triggered like this, ask yourself: why is this irritating me so much? Take a moment to write down a few thoughts/journal around specifically why you are annoyed by this. Sometimes that simple awareness and being able to name the irritant can release some of the emotional tension you’re feeling (I know you say it’s micromanagement…but what about micromanagement gets under your skin so much)?
Once the emotional charge is reduced or removed, you can begin to consider how you want to respond. You control that piece, thank goodness! For me, it’s helpful to think about other possible reasons for the behavior before I go flying off the handle and making assumptions about others’ behavior (I’m impulsive, so I’m guilty of this).
For example, if she’s a high-i behavioral style, she may have very likely wanted to send you a reminder earlier about the new alarm but forgot (because she needs and appreciates these kinds of reminder herself!). Or, if she’s a high S, she may have been waiting until just before you got to her house to say something, as she didn’t want to bother you/burden you with this direction earlier in the day (she’s actually trying to be nice!). If she’s a high C, she may be simply reminding you of the “new rules” now that there’s an alarm system (C’s are our naturally compliant brothers and sisters–it’s simply their default to be this way, and they don’t mean to micromanage you by acting this way).
In short, I try and find a perspective that nourishes and serves me in the relationship, instead of causing me stress. Is it possible to view the situation in another way, one that serves you better and doesn’t make you so annoyed? What would it be like to hold this situation in a different light so you can continue working with her without feeling so micromanaged? How might your experience of the working relationship change? How do you want to feel in the relationship?
If you continue to feel micro-managed, I would suggest gaining some clarity with her around agreements vs. expectations for how you work together. Sometimes, just a reminder that you don’t expect or need her to tell you things several times is enough to stop the unwanted behavior. No one likes to be micro-managed, so gently letting her know that that’s how you’re feeling may be all it takes to get her to agree to not do it anymore…and it might change everything.