[Transcript] Managing Difficult People at Work

by | May 26, 2021 | Transcript | 0 comments

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Stacy Whitenight 0:04
Welcome back to season two of the bossy bees podcast. Thank you for joining us as we kick off a new season of exploration and learning into new topics, and we’ll be trying out some new creative outlets. So be sure to check out patreon. For exclusive content, including video recordings of our podcasts, you could find a link to support our podcast right on our websites menu. Or you can go directly to patreon.com forward slash the bossy BS. When you become a bossy Bs, Patreon, you not only get a huge dose of our gratitude, but access to exclusive content only for our patrons. Alright, let’s get down to business.

Kim 0:49
Yeah, we’re already recording, I’m sure the dogs will start barking.

Stacy Whitenight 0:56
Everyone just starts flooding into the room at the same time. I had a call this morning. And like, my oldest was so good this week. And I was like, Hey, if you’re you know, like, if you’re on point, you know how to be like on point, right? You know, let’s have a good week. And I get you a video game like this add on to sackboy that he wants or old game. So he’s like he finishes his session with his tutor and he comes running downstairs. I’m in the middle of a meeting with like, the director of like Product Marketing, like, photos, people and he like, comes into the screen. He’s like, get off your call now and combined my video game.

Kim 1:48
Call like Stacy’s been called away.

Stacy Whitenight 1:53
They all I mean, everyone was cracking up and they’re like, I get it. It’s important. Yeah, we all had a pretty good laugh. There were some other parrots on the call. And, you know, one of them was like, well, I forgot my kids mask today going to school.

are all a disaster, no matter where we are in life. No matter. I think that’s like the great equalizer among families, no matter like the economic social status.

Kim 2:33
We have no idea what we’re doing. Oh, yeah. I mean, that was even before COVID to like when I took my little one to school. And I’m like, we get to school. And I’m like, on luck. You have no shoes on. Yeah, this is great. Yeah, I’ve done that where we show up to school and I’m like, Where are your shoes? Don’t be like, that’s your responsibility.

I’m putting them on. Right? And then the teachers are like, ah, let’s see if we have any last. desperate enough. I’m like, Yes. Let’s look at Lost and Found. Okay, take 20 minutes to go back home another 20 minutes to come back. The walk of shame looks very different these days. Oh, ha, that’s funny. I don’t know what walk of shame you’d speak of. I don’t know that experience. I’m sorry. Can you explain that concept to me? Oh, on the other end here, fair enough. Fair enough. I’ve already admitted I’ve already admitted here admitted too much.

Stacy Whitenight 4:02
Too much already.

Kim 4:05
So how how’s your week been going?

Stacy Whitenight 4:09
Pretty good. I it’s been one of those like really busy, productive weeks, you know, I’m sort of transitioning this one of my programs into this next phase. And by that I mean out of off my plate into on someone else’s. So trying to close that out and make sure you know, making sure that all of everything is being caught is always on the other side is always tricky. You forget how much I was telling my manager. I know. I forget how much I do. Like, and I think that’s really important. You know, and I don’t mind that like I you know, sometimes I’m like, I don’t really know what my value is or I forget and that’s because I put you know I’m doing a lot of work, but I only pay attention to what other people are doing. And I only, I tend to, like, elevate what everyone else is doing. As opposed to the work that I do. You know, I tease often that like, I’m really good cat herder. And I am, you know, like working on these projects and programs, there’s a lot of like, corralling that needs to be done of information and people and, and everything, but I, my focus is always on everyone else and making sure that everyone else is successful. So I tend to forget how much I do until right about here. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, all this. But um, you know, good leadership is really about celebrating and paying attention to everyone else, and not yourself. And so, I’m calling myself a good leader right here in case

Kim 5:58
I think, I think to you, and I work in that very similar way where and this isn’t to call out other people. But it’s to identify things that I know you and I typically do, especially when we’ve worked together. Like when you see something that isn’t either being done or falling through the cracks, or like nobody knew to identify an owner for x, because no one knew that this thing would come up, you and I tend to figure out how to incorporate it into our work stream. And we do all these things. And then people don’t realize like we are, we’re balancing an additional thing, or we’ve incorporated an additional task or responsibility or goal or objective. And then that gets lost in in everything else. And so when you take that moment to step back, and you are handing off a diet project, you’re like, and you need this and this and this and this and this Oh, and this thing, I’ve been doing this thing and this thing and this thing. And now you need to go get this because I’ve been pulling from here and helping to support this and, and here you go. And the person’s like, um, this isn’t what, what tevonn toe told me it was going to be called x all of it.

Stacy Whitenight 7:34
Yeah, that’s all of it. I’ve really been trying to say no, especially in this project. And I’m really glad that I have because there’s a little monsters that have been trying to creep in and like increase the scope of this. And I’ve had a lot I it’s been very clear made very clear to me that this needs to end. And I need to move on at a certain like at this certain rain date range. And I’ve been very, like, I’ve been setting really clear boundaries with not only like myself, but I realized that when I do set those boundaries with myself, I’m protecting everyone else around me too, on these that’s doing this work with me. And so putting it back on the person that doesn’t actually want to do like, there are people that come in and they’re like, Oh, well, we have all this work. And we need project management or program management oversight and structure and processes in place. And it sounds like you’re really good at that. And that kind of touches what you’re doing. So we think you should do it. And I’m like, I have been pretty explicit in saying no, this is does does not fall under my work. And it’s actually your job. So you go do that. And I’ll keep tabs on where like the strings are attached. But that’s it. And thank God because there have been some little monsters creeping around and, and one of them is kind of big. And and I see it like rounding the corner trying to find me and

Kim 9:20
I’m like so let me ask you a question about that. Are people at your work receptive to you drawing boundaries?

Stacy Whitenight 9:33
Um, when the to the person that I usually say no to it, they you know, it usually ruffles feathers. But before I say no, I’ve learned to get support on that. No. And I don’t even have to give a reason why sometimes I’m just like, we’re not we’re saying no to this because it does not fall within Our scope of work and this is literally your job.

Kim 10:04
Can you be that direct? In your meeting? Like with those exact words? Or do you have to? After how differently?

Stacy Whitenight 10:14
Yeah, after building some rapport, and it’s kind of funny, I think I’ve built up a reputation now at, at my work to do this, because it came around to me the other day, I was having lunch with somebody, and they said, Your name came up in this meeting that I was in. And he’s like, you’ve earned quite the reputation for the person that can move things and get things done. And I think it’s because I’m being more direct and not, you know, I’ve learned to not say yes, and I’ve learned to say no, in a different way. That’s, that’s, um, does it always provide a solution, but it makes it clear, like, where it does not belong? And so it kind of it’s like a doctor prescribing, you know, trying to figure out what’s wrong with you? It’s like, Well, I know, it’s not this, this headache is not a tumor. You know, and, and so I’m kind of playing that. And I’m like, Well, I know it doesn’t belong here. But you should look out these other places. So being direct, I think, yes, I do. I have now afforded the respect and reputation of being direct in a way that is candid, but kind. I don’t know if that makes sense. That you’re successful, but I don’t care enough to do your work.

Kim 11:55
Right. I so what I find fascinating is like, it’s it’s a two way street. Right? When that when that comes up, because there are times I’ve noticed where, like, in the past, I could say something like, you know that that’s a really important point, but it falls outside of the scope of this project. So we’ll have to figure out, you know, how that should be managed. But it I can’t contain it in this project? Because I was like, that’s not the scope. And we don’t have the additional resources nor the additional hours to invest in that. But when I say that, it’s not always met with. Okay, you make a good point. It’s met with, she’s pushing back on me and I don’t like that.

Yeah, forget that.

Stacy Whitenight 13:04
Like I said, I have learned to get the buy in. It’s sometimes at first I felt like it was tattletaling. Like, like, at work, where I would go to my manager and say, Hey, do you agree? Don’t you agree with me?

Kim 13:26
Don’t you agree with me? on this? manipulation, right? Oh, absolutely.

Stacy Whitenight 13:30
She’s gonna if she ever listens to this, she’s gonna be like,

Kim 13:35
Oh, I mean, it’s manipulation, because you’re keeping people in the loop and keeping them informed. And I did at the same time, you’re like positioning yourself,

Stacy Whitenight 13:48
but here’s not a bad outcome, right? I’m positioning myself. And I, you know, I’ll go to other people and say, you know, don’t you agree with me? Don’t you agree with me? How would you say this? And so I already know how I’m gonna say it, but when they when, you know, like stakeholders, or executives feel like they weigh in and they’re like, I’m helping her.

You know, how I do that?

Kim 14:16
You see idea. It’s weird, because like, there’s a part of me that is, that’s how I build release. Like, I know it. It’s all politics, right? People want to feel important and they want to feel value add and they want to feel like their words are being listened to and they have an impact at at the same time. There’s like this very practical and logical side of me that’s like, I’m not a damsel in distress. So why do I have to play the part and that like, gets me like, her

Stacy Whitenight 14:55
breasts, you know? And, and sometimes, you know, not all the time, but A lot, a lot of the time I say when I allow people to weigh in, I do incorporate that advice, you know, especially when I don’t know the other person very well. Um, and it’s, especially on this program where I may have communicated in one way, I have been steered in a different direction. I have been, it’s been, you know, I’ve taken recommendations, like, I would be cautious about doing that, you know, I’ve been told like, be, beware, if you do it this way, this could be an outcome for you. And so I’m like, oh, okay, I’ll do it the way you’re suggesting. Right, you know, so and I think that’s, and I think that’s good. It’s not a damsel in distress type of thing. When you’re, you know, that kind of color when you’re

Kim 15:54
not when you’re soliciting advice, but when, when you already know the the outcome. I think where I probably lack a lot of strength at work is in that political savviness. So I, I struggle there. And I I struggle, because it feels very disingenuous to me. A lot of times, it’s politics, it’s disingenuous. And that’s really hard for me, because like, this face, doesn’t hide it very well, where I’m like, huh, yeah.

Stacy Whitenight 16:59
Yeah, but you can build fun, you know, you can build good relationships out of playing those politics, um, where everyone benefits, that’s good politics, when you can play it in a way where everyone benefits. And, you know, I’ve made some, I’ve made friends and, you know, work friends out of these, some of this work that I’ve been doing, especially as of late like people that I know, I could call in on a late at a later time and say, anything from like, Hey, I’m in like Portland, let’s meet up for like a drink? Or, hey, I’m working on this different product program. You know, what’s your thought on this? Or could you reach out to so and so could you connect me to this person? And that’s, um, you know, those are good relationships to build? Sure. I

Kim 17:57
think there’s a vast difference, though, between like politicking and relationship building,

Stacy Whitenight 18:02
I think they’re very similar. Especially at work.

Kim 18:07
Yeah. I don’t know. I. I think that’s where I, the bridge doesn’t I don’t, I’m like the bridge does not connect for me on that point. Mainly, because like, what would you do if you are in a meeting with someone and they are trying to expand the scope of your project? Like, what are the words you use to either be evasive? Or say, like, oh, let’s let me double check. To make sure that’s within scope or like, get more guidance, like how do you pause the conversation? kindly, without the without it can being considered pushback.

Stacy Whitenight 18:58
Depends? Are you asking me to show up as the United States or

Kim 19:02
no, no, just meeting in a project meeting? I like it oftentimes. Because I’m that do-er. And I can figure things out really quickly. And I’m good at taking different resources and connecting different people and asking really good questions. A lot of times, a lot of project scope begins to expand. And so people will say like, oh, here’s an instance, I was on a call today. And someone said, Well, what other usability features can we do in this platform? That would make this product more usable? And I was like, Huh, I think that’s a good question. Do you have like a goal or an objective In terms of like a project charter that I could take a look at. So I can understand like how I can contribute. And in some instances, when I say it like that, people are like, Oh, she, she’s being evasive. She doesn’t want to contribute. And I’m like, No, I just don’t want to expand the narrow scope that I’m here for, to then become on a usability project where people are like, Ken said, this would be a great usability feature. And now she needs to be partially responsible for it.

The child looking for pencils in my room? So how would you manage that?

Stacy Whitenight 20:57
Think being very clear and explicit. If you feel if you believe that you’re coming across as evasive, just be honest, and say, not avoiding doing this work, I really need to understand what your ask is, if you’re adding a requirement, let’s be really clear about what that is to make sure we can actually do it. And, you know, it may fall within this, or this may be something, we’ll have to find a different place for it to live in a different time, let’s make sure it’s documented correctly. And clearly, and that way we can put it on a roadmap, or put it in the project, you know, whatever it may be. Um, but I think, you know, if you’ve, you know, with your directness, you’ve always felt like, people receive it that way. And so maybe getting ahead of it by saying, I’m not trying to drop this somewhere else, or put it into my trash can called consideration. I need to I’m trying to understand what the ask is. And if someone cannot articulate that, then it’s not a legitimate ask.

Kim 22:22
Right.

Stacy Whitenight 22:23
And that’s, you know, they need to support work.You know, and that’s not your work to do. And I’m always pretty clear, I’m like, this is not my work to do come back to me when you have this. Right? Don’t like you’re wasting your and I’m always like, you know, it’s one thing. This really gets people like they they’re like, Oh, yeah, like, I’m like, we’re in a room with 30 people. And you’re asking this question here. Like, you can’t articulate what it is. And someone has said this to me before, and it doesn’t feel great on the receiving end. But I realized, like, when you when you set this boundary, especially in a larger group and a larger project, then people are going to come with you like later to do this work, right? Because I say, don’t come to this group with this non vetted problem. asking everyone here to do some sort of work. When you don’t understand that requirement. You’re wasting everyone’s time. Now, if you have a question and want us to help you figure it out, that’s something different in the next five minutes, but you better be really like I don’t, I’m very clear with people like my time is just as valuable as the VPS. Don’t waste it.

Kim 23:50
Right? Oh, my goodness, that see that would never go over. Like those words would be very tough to hear for the people in my organization.

Stacy Whitenight 24:03
Well, then two middle fingers up to them, because my time is as important as yours, like, you’re not better than me. And I’m very rusty, you know, my sister was on a call yesterday, and they went 30 minutes over. And I’m like, that is so disrespectful of everyone’s time. So just I’m, I am respectful of everyone’s time, or I really try to be I end meetings on time, I start them on time. Like it is a human beings most valuable resource. And if you don’t respect my time, I’m not getting you’re not getting it back from me. Or if you think yours is more valuable than mine. And that may be part of the narrative that has to change. You know, like, setting that boundary with yourself. Maybe one of the in your team and maybe Making sure that your team feels like you’re protecting their time and that you value their time, maybe where you start to change that narrative.

Kim 25:09
So for my team, it’s very different. Like my management style isn’t one that I see in my own organization. And so like how I’m able to work with my team and manage them is very different than the, than the comfort I feel within my organization, like outside of the people I manage.

Stacy Whitenight 25:44
That’s tough. You know, organizational culture is not something that can change overnight, but you have full power and control over, you know, how individuals, no matter where they are in the company, work with you Just pretend they’re me.

Kim 26:04
Maybe that’s what gets me into trouble.

Stacy Whitenight 26:09
But I mean, those are your values. And if they, if the organization doesn’t respect, or they don’t align, so much, so that it’s causing you physical and psychological discomfort, it’s not a good fit. And the comp, there needs to be a compromise. And it’s not that you have to completely bend to their will. Right, you know, there’s ways to meet halfway. Unless, of course, it is causing him psychological, physical discomfort.

Kim 26:45
I think it’s one of those things where, like, I noticed, and I don’t know if you noticed this at your work, or even in previous jobs where, like, behavior that comes from senior management is okay, but then, like, at a lower level in the organization, it’s not acceptable, not that I, I go around cursing in meetings, or, like waving my arms. And but I mean, there have been times like, when you and I were working together at our old company, somebody brought me into a conference room. And they wanted to know, like, why something wasn’t in development because of I was on some launch deliverable, but had never been brought into a single launch meeting. And then they were yelling at me that it wasn’t due, like I wasn’t delivering it. And like, literally yelling, and I said, I’m going to excuse myself from this conversation. Because I feel very uncomfortable with your behavior at this moment. And so when you’re ready to have a conversation that doesn’t involve you yelling, I will be at my cue. But I was like, but that was acceptable.

Stacy Whitenight 28:25
I’ve seen I have no, I have not seen, I have been told about people like that, that communicate that way. And lead through fear. And I have never directly worked with this person, although I have to present to them in a couple of weeks. So I’m interested, I’ve never been yelled at at work. You know, my husband’s had a trash can thrown at him. And yeah, like, I’ve never had those type of bite. I mean, that’s violence, that violent experience. I don’t know what I would do. Um, I probably would just hang up.

Kim 29:13
It’s not the first time I have been yelled at. Like, I remember when I was in a really big technology company that didn’t merged or had acquired another one. And through that, that the acquisition in and of itself was very bitter. I had come in to the company like right after the acquisition had been made. And so like I didn’t, I didn’t know pre acquisition. I didn’t know anything, right. So I came in just kind of as a new employee, and I was supposed to develop a course with this acquired company and the gentleman was just screaming at me on the phone how they didn’t need to share the data. They didn’t need to share the information and how dare I start asking about it. And I was like, I am going to hang up now. And we can talk later, when things are a little calmer. And I went down to my manager’s office and I said, I’m not going to talk to this person on the phone anymore, they can email me their information. And two days later, that guy called me back and apologized. But it was because my manager called them and was like, you cannot talk to other employees this way.

Stacy Whitenight 30:39
is it’s bizarre. I mean, we have a, this person’s not HR is not going to call this particular person to reprimand them.

So

Kim 30:54
I mean, what do you do? And if he, if that person has that reputation, then you know, somebody has experienced this terrorism, like your that whoever’s being yelled, that is being terrorized. That’s what

Stacy Whitenight 31:09
I’d said to this, you know, this individual that I was talking to us, many, many levels above me, and, and he’s like, I was like, how does someone like this get put in this position? over so many people? Why would this person ever be promoted to lead? And the, you know, and he’s like, I guess, because he gets results. That’s it. The bottom line, money, money. And I’m like, well, there’s a lot of other people that are capable of making this company money that aren’t terrorists. So

Kim 31:52
like I said, aren’t like screaming at their employees? Who wants that kind of reputation? I mean, it’s really fascinating to me just wrote, how much psychological safety has been brought up? And did I’ve been in some interesting meetings where certain sexes can be tough and be very candid and curse? And yeah, ask pointed question and be very determined. And that’s okay. And I’m like,

Ah, really? Are we still here?

Stacy Whitenight 32:38
Yeah, it’s a double standard still. I don’t know. I mean, and I’ve seen it’s, there is a definitely a double standard. And I’ve seen more people, more and more people step up to, to push back on that kind of behavior. But again, when it’s coming from the very, very top, it’s really hard to stop that. So, you know, I don’t know.

Kim 33:17
I know, we can’t solve it. I know, we’re not gonna solve it. But

Stacy Whitenight 33:20
I think that you know, it’s really hard when you’re on the receiving end of being on the act of violence or feeling like you’re psychologically unsafe.

Yeah, I certainly have felt psychologically unsafe, but never received that kind of violent outburst. And that’s scary. Not that I can really recall. I’ve it’s always been microaggressions passive aggressiveness, you know, over to, you know, just things happening over time that have made me feel very uncomfortable at work. So,

Kim 34:13
yeah, it’s, to me, it’s, it’s interesting. There’s, um, there’s that one podcast that I like listening to where they talk about that there was one they did like a four or five part series on Princess Diana. And one of their funniest funniest headlines that come out of it are how they say like Princess Diana was really good about finding the person in the crowd that like, felt like the outcast and so she was able to connect with them. And that’s how like she was really able to like build her life. That persona of being very caring and like, with her outreach because she could connect to somebody that didn’t feel like they belonged. Right, right. And so they talked about this in the podcast, and then the woman.

There’s a phone ringing. Oh my god, that thing’s gonna go on forever now. But but the woman in the podcast, she was like, Yeah, she’s like, that’s like the same skill set that serial killers have? Oh, like, where they could kind of like narrow in. Like the person. Yeah. I was like, I wonder if that’s me were like, there are these like work predators that are like to do to do narrow, honing. And then they’re like, they have me in their sights. And I’m like, but I heard that. I was like, haha, like, sounds it makes you, it makes you realize, like, I mean, they bring up these statistics all the time, like women that have been abused, or sexually assaulted, and the likelihood that it will happen again to them is very high. Oh, that’s so scary. That’s awful. And I’m just like, you know, there’s like a facade or some type of persona, I need to, like, put on where, you know, this type of behavior in the workplace just doesn’t, doesn’t happen, where maybe I show too much vulnerability in certain areas. And so people are like, Okay, if she’s vulnerable here, I can attack.

Stacy Whitenight 36:57
Yeah, and people do that subconsciously, too. And we just humans can be awful.

Kim 37:03
Right? And so, I mean, it’s probably like, you know, an unconscious bias. And, you know, it’s something that a lot of times, I’ve learned that I do, probably, it’s more like a self defense mechanism, because of, you know, some of the things I experienced when I was younger and growing up. But just like how to kind of like become that wallflower or, you know, just be more submissive is a way to escape some of some of that terror. And so I think I that probably comes out at work and and then I get the person that feels as though they can behave that way. I wish we could just make them go away. But it makes me realize as I’ve gotten older, how so much of like, childhood trauma like, carries all the way through your life, not just in your personal life, with your friendships in your marriage, or your relationships, but like, right into the workplace? Oh, this

Stacy Whitenight 38:16
is that is really big to unpack how it’s almost like a self fulfilling prophecy. Yeah, so we have a ton of you know, humans, we have a tendency to keep repeating things, almost, you know, like how we make the same mistakes our moms make, it’s like a generational thing that just keeps happening over and over. Until you, you know, how do you break that cycle? And have generational trauma especially how do you break those cycles? that’s a topic for another day.

Kim 38:49
Yes. for another day. So all right. Well, you have a good weekend. Yeah.

Stacy Whitenight 38:57
Good. Have a great trip. My sister just poked her head and she’s like, oh, why not stop a pregnant for me? I don’t know if you saw the fear on my face. I was like, Yeah. All right.Have a good one. Talk to you later. Okay, bye.

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