Have you often found yourself being defensive at work? Maybe instant panic sets in if a client finds a mistake on their financial statements. Or maybe you find yourself rereading your emails again and again just to make sure that your grammar is absolutely perfect, not a single comma out of place.
Often, our past experiences in our personal or professional lives will come to haunt us. From generational traumas to negative work environments, our life experiences can create habits and assumptions we aren’t even aware we have. A recent guest on the Summit Virtual CFO by Anders’ webinar, Amy Vetter, CEO, The B3 Method® Institute, discussed how we can uncover these habits and patterns and how to identify where they came from.
When we take care of ourselves and have a better understanding of what makes us tick, we serve our clients and those around us better. Uncovering the negative habits and patterns we’ve developed over time will only benefit our careers and futures. While still hard to admit where we could improve, it’s work that will help us become the professionals we want to be.
The first step in this journey is identifying the habits and patterns we want to change. You might do this by making a list of the obvious habits you are aware of. Procrastination is a good example. Negative self-talk would be another.
It can also be helpful to ask a trusted mentor or friend what habits they’ve noticed in your professional or even personal life. Be specific and ask about habits that might be getting in the way of your purpose or goals. Here’s an example of a habit that is common for many of us:
You enter a meeting with feelings of anxiety and frustration. The client you are meeting with is difficult. They ask many questions that make you uncomfortable or are difficult to answer, and you end up feeling incompetent or less confident in yourself. The negative talk seeps in and now you feel unprepared for the meeting even though you have all the information and knowledge that you need.
In these moments, take a second and breath. Before you even enter the room, ask yourself why you’re having these reactions. Ask yourself if the negative self-talk is truly a reflection of you. If you’ve conducted these meetings many times, have the experience necessary to answer these questions, and know the client’s account like the back of your hand, odds are, this self-talk is not a reflection of you.
Take a moment to be calm and remind yourself that you are perfectly capable of running this meeting. Also ask yourself how you would conduct yourself if these statements you are making about yourself weren’t true. You’d likely come into the meeting with energy and ready to answer the client’s questions. That’s the “you” that should be entering this meeting.
It can also be helpful to ask yourself why the client may be asking all these questions. Each of us enter situations with our own beliefs and perceptions at the table. This can cause us to misinterpret other’s actions and words. You might think the client is questioning you because they don’t believe that you know what you’re doing. In reality, the client could be asking questions for a variety of reasons.
They might be a new business owner that doesn’t understand the financials behind their business, yet. The client might be considering hiring someone or purchasing equipment, and they might want to determine the impact it may have on their numbers. Or maybe the client was hands-off with their last accountant which led to a mistake, and they want to be sure that they are staying up to date with their numbers.
Be careful to enter a meeting with no expectations or interpretations of your client. This will lead to better meeting experiences and ultimately client relationships.
Identifying the Traumas Behind Our Habits
It can be helpful to reach deep inside ourselves and identify what traumas could be causing negative workplace habits. In our last webinar, Amy Vetter mentioned how generational or childhood trauma can have a lasting impact even into adulthood and create workplace habits. These traumas create beliefs that we didn’t even know we had and these beliefs drive our actions.
The good thing is that we have the power to overcome our traumas and create new thoughts about ourselves leading us to live accomplished and fulfilling lives.
One way to identify the traumas that are creating less than ideal habits is through self-introspection and meditation. Just ask yourself these questions, “Why do I believe this? What in my past could be driving me to think the way I am”? The answers may be obvious. Other times, you may have to dig a little deeper.
If you really can’t come up with an answer, it’s important to know that therapy is an option. Doing the work is undoubtedly hard, but it’s important for our own development and to reach our full potential.
It’s important to have compassion for your clients and coworkers. Each of us bring our past and current experiences into conversations. You never know what someone could be dealing with or working through, so as you go down this journey of self-discovery, make sure you honor that someone else might be doing the same.