Having coffee with my friends is an activity I usually do to relax and open up about the stress of the week. Last weekend, was no different. While having our lattes with Jan she confided in me about her difficult situation at work.

“My manager is so nasty,” Jan said, “I’m sure he hates me. I feel cheated out of a promotion. He promoted his relative instead of me. Can you believe that? I always work hard, and complete not only my tasks but also tasks meant for him. I feel he doesn’t appreciate or respect me.”

I could see that she was distressed by her body language. She started tearing up and continued. “I voiced my complaint at work, but my so-called privileged colleagues made sarcastic remarks because I showed my disappointment about the promotion going to the relative. What makes people like my boss so callous, when we should be working more constructively together?”

I tried to provide perceptive by explaining that Jan’s manager might be feeling threatened by the CEO. Many had witnessed him acting underhandedly at the office. Therefore, he was trying to cover up some dealings by acting obnoxiously to stifle the power of his subordinates. I suggested that Jan try to detach from her emotions and see the situation from a different perceptive. I had been doing a lot of reading about dealing with difficult people. I thought it right to support her by helping her to devise a plan of action that she could follow over the next month.

  1. The first step Jan should do was to spend 30 minutes journaling to get all her emotions down on paper. It could be seen as brain-dumping, and it allows her to access her feelings after some time has passed and when she is less emotional. She can go through the journal entries periodically and identify if there are recurring themes.

  2. Jan should choose a trusted friend or a colleague to share her journal entries with. This person can offer support and compassion by saying something like, “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” It is important for Jan to feel seen and heard when she voices her suffering.

  3. Jan should ask the supporter for advice based on her journal entries. They might ask more questions about how her boss interacts with others too.

  4. Jan should then reflect on the events and try to determine whether the situation was her fault, someone else’s fault, or a combination of both. She should also consider unmet needs on both sides. Needs could be anything like feeling appreciated, excited or inspired by her job, or even if she feels engaged doing day to day chores at work.

  5. Jan should become proactive by focusing on the event that hurt her the most, which in this case was the feeling her manager was stifling her career and not showing her appreciation for her hard work. She should have a tough conversation with the CEO, who is a higher authority then her manager, and present how she was affected. Marshall B. Rosenberg uses a method that addresses difficult situations in a non-violent communication way. It is without name-calling or making accusations.

  6. When I see/ hear / imagine ……., Jan described the action...I feel/ am ……… shares feelings...because I need/ want ………. She states her need....would you be willing to …….? What she wants.

  7. Finally, Jan should consider finding a new job if the situation cannot be resolved and she does not feel valued and her current work environment. It’s important for Jan to prioritize her well-being and happiness.

During the following month, Jan saw the CEO. Using the technique aforementioned she was able to express her feelings, unmet needs and what she wanted from the company. Once the CEO became aware of how much work she does they offered her a better promotion than her boss’s relative. Her boss was monitored and even caught slackening off his duties. He did not lose his job, but Jan was now his manager.

Jan says that what has helped her the most was writing in her journal. It relieved her mental health when all her emotions were flooding and too much for her to endure. She has made journaling a daily habit. Would you ever consider writing a journal on a daily basis like Jan?

Also, by using the aforementioned non-violent communication steps Jan has been able to confront diverse relationship issues in her personal life more confidently.

I hope these tips have been helpful. Jan wanted me to share them in this article so that others could benefit from them when facing a difficult situation. It’s important to try to approach the situation objectively and proactively, and seek support from trusted friends and colleagues.