“She just needs to stop being such an asshole,”

as paraphrased to me by my client about her boss, when asked what needed to happen for things to change for the positive at the organization.

“Then everything would work better and more seamlessly. She just needs to be less of a jerk!”

Uh oh.

Guess what I don’t have in my coaching toolbox? A magic wand. I WISH! The power to magically make everyone play nice, use their kind communication, engage in thoughtful listening, and deliver productive feedback? I imagine I’d be the most sought after coach on the planet. (Not there yet, someday : ) ). This desire, the one for the other person to — Just.Change.Already! — is a common one and comes up all the time in my work with clients.

I wish I could tell you that people would receive feedback, or otherwise have their consciousness raised about their tendency to yell or critique non-constructively, and that this would be enough for them to make strides towards being kinder, more steady, less reactive. But people don’t change because *we* want them to. Not your boss, not your co-worker, not your mom, not your dad, not your brother, not your sister, not your dog walker, not your mail delivery person, nor your friend from high school, not anyone, and not ever ever ever ever. NEVER ever.

This is a real sticking point for people, a loop we can all so easily get caught in, thinking things would be easier if the “jerk” would just stop being, well, a JERK. And while I agree people should work on managing their meanness and strive to be kind in all things, the likelihood is they won’t unless they want to. This is because people don’t change unless they choose to do so. This can be annoying, especially if you’re the type of person who is always striving to improve, and you’re thinking about how your reactions land for others, how your feedback may be received, what your facial expressions may convey, and on.

The upshot: You Can’t Change Any One but Yourself.  You simply can not. The key to remember here, however, is that you CAN change yourself, and there is a lot of power in this fact. You see, when we’re in situations that frustrate us, especially when they involve other humans (which, is many situations), our annoyance with the interactions and circumstances can color our ability to see the power we still have and the moves we can actually make to affect change. Although dealing with difficult people aka *jerks* can make us feel powerless, we’re actually not.

Our power lies in managing our own reactivity, finding a different language to respond, taking alternative courses of action, setting different limits, and sticking with them with others, and managing our mind around it all. I’ve got some future articles in the works for you on how to better do all this, so stay tuned.

As ever, if you are needing support on these topics (or others) right now – please email me so we can chat. I’m always happy to help.

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