Ever find yourself getting “hooked?” I’m not talking hockey. And I’m not talking the oldest profession on earth. I’m talking about when someone has a way of sending your blood pressure through the roof, and of “making you” do things you don’t want to do, say things you don’t want to say, and feel things you don’t want to feel. They may snag you because they are confrontive or sarcastic, power-grabbing or passive aggressive, but they hook you! And then you may argue, lash out, or perhaps just seethe. I know this well, especially from a daughter who was born to litigate, and when she contests something miniscule or of great magnitude, when she dangles the hook . . . I bite. But sometimes it happens at work too. Someone’s overreaching, aggressive, or inappropriate behavior hooks you.
I’ve been reading a fun and useful book all about getting hooked, and more importantly, getting unhooked. Kathi Elster and Katherine Crowley offer a simple but effective four-step method to deal with being hooked, in their book Working With You Is Killing Me: Freeing Your Self from Emotional Traps at Work. The first step is to free yourself physically; they suggest the simplest method is to do some deep breathing when you know somebody has really got you hooked. A few quick breaths and you think more clearly. Next, they recommend that you free yourself mentally by identifying what it is the other person has done, but also and importantly, what it is in your thinking that has you so upset.
The third and fourth steps are action steps. In the third, you find language to halt the attack; for instance, if someone publicly takes credit for others’ work, you might say, “Tom has helped, but it’s been a fantastic team effort.” And lastly, they suggest that you use “business tools” to manage the other’s crazy-making behavior. Team meetings, memos, personnel reviews are all examples of tools you might employ.
One thing I like about Kathi and Katherine’s work is the inside-out quality of it. They take seriously the internal mental work, yet they offer usable tools for grappling with the genuinely bad behavior we sometimes face. If you find yourself getting “hooked,” you might want to pick up their book. And if you’re in my listening area — our radio stations are listed below — you can often hear her Kathi and Katherine on Saturday mornings from 7 to 9 a.m., on my show, Everyday Leadership: Making Work Work. And I’ve also put together an audio CD called Getting Unhooked in which Kathi and Katherine explain the four critical steps to “getting unhooked.”
Getting unhooked is a really smart thing to do if you want to
Lead with your best self.
Everyday Leadership with Dan Mulhern on the Michigan Talk Network.
Greenville 1380 AM WSCG
Hastings 1220 AM WBCH
Lansing 1240 AM WJIM
Mount Pleasant 830 AM WMMI
Muskegon 1490 AM WODJ
Petoskey 1110 AM WJML
St Joseph-Benton Harbor 1400 AM WSJM
Traverse City 1210 AM WJNL