The Workplace Nemesis: Clock Your Cortisol and Stay True to You

Have you ever had a workplace nemesis? Just thinking about one of my old supervisors can send my nervous system into a bit of a tizzy. I can remember it like it was yesterday, sitting stalwart, staring at my laptop, shut down to any motivation for my job, day after day. 

It was like the man had reached into my soul and fundamentally changed who I was as a person. I felt petty; I felt judgemental; I felt angry. I truly let this guy get the best of me. I was acting out of character, always in reaction. How I felt about him was changing how I felt about me. 

Over time, the tension and resentment had built up so much that I was acting in ways that weren’t true to myself. That was tough on me—and it was tough on my career. 

What I didn’t know then, and what I do know now, is that I had complete control over that situation the whole time. I was letting someone else change and impact my daily performance. The key words here are: I was letting them. (To quote one of the great southern poets of our generation, Taylor Swift, “It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.”)

If this story sounds all too familiar, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. 

Nothing gets you to act out of your integrity like a workplace nemesis. Even one interaction can ruin your day and leave you internally rolling your eyes and complaining to other colleagues.

In this episode, let’s talk about something we’re probably all familiar with. This is “how to keep your cool and your integrity in your daily interactions” 101. I hope it helps. 

When you decide to act outside of who you naturally are, in response to someone else, that’s 100% on you. - Jen Thornton

Five Things To Take Away From This Episode 

Recognize how this dynamic has impacted your behavior.
If you’ve been participating in “smack talk,” or are actively wishing this person their comeuppance, or your communication has become toxic, it’s time to get honest with yourself. 

You get to decide how you’re going to be and respond.
Does someone just rub you the wrong way? The way they work, lead, show up, and prioritize, it’s just…different. (That’s definitely not how you would do it.) That’s on them. You do you. 

Get real about their contributions.
If your personality conflict is getting in the way of a harmonious workplace, put down the power struggle and focus on relationship building. Start paying attention to what they contribute, not how they do it. 

Clock your cortisol.
When you are in conflict with someone your nervous system will react. Cortisol, stress hormones, flood the system and they stay with you all day. What’s more, our brain remembers and will start to pre-react accordingly. Change the predictive chemicals by changing your mindset. 

Never stop being the person you are.
Give up your power for that chucklehead? No way, man. Control who you are, how you show up, and how you respond. Let go of your judgy obsession and focus on yourself. Otherwise, you’re denying the rest of us the gift of your authentic self.

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