By Leslie Boomer
It’s one of those things that can happen to just about anyone. Unknowingly you do something to tick someone off. You’re not even aware you’ve done anything but you start getting the silent treatment and that’s when you realize it, someone is holding a grudge.
Recently I had one of those awkward conversations with someone I’d suspected had some issue with me. Truthfully, I was clueless as to what it might have been, but this much was for certain – I was getting the cold shoulder. Because he’d never chosen to address me directly, I had no way of knowing what was bothering him. Rather than having an open conversation with me in a timely manner, he just started stonewalling and ignoring me whenever we’d meet. I made efforts to speak to the guy, but no deal. Eventually I just chalked it up to his quirky personality and moved on. As a result, when he called to “clear the air” I was just a little stunned to find out that not only was there a grudge being carried, it was because of something I’d said two years previous – two years! Oh for Pete’s sake, who has that kind of energy to waste when life is so short?
Well it got me thinking about how insidious carrying a grudge can be, especially on the job. Think about it. The longer you carry something, the heavier it gets, right? When you imagine the days, weeks, months and then years that grudge was carried around, you can feel how excruciatingly heavy it must have become. So I had to wonder, how does that negative effort not bleed over into other areas of your life? I know in this situation, others in our family suffered fallout from the bitterness. Then it’s a simple connecting of the dots to see how holding a grudge can impact a workplace culture too – particularly if it’s a boss who’s carrying that type of heavy load.
Looking at this through the lens of emotional and social intelligence, we know that when one person is feeling resentment toward a member of the team, at some level everyone is feeling it and reacting to it. Ultimately, this will impede the performance of the team as a whole. It’s a fact – emotions are contagious! Negative emotions hamper the success of a team. Positive emotions enhance team success. Knowing this, it only makes sense to be aware of how to manage things should you find someone is holding a grudge because of a breakdown in communication.
How will you handle it if you’re faced with a scenario like this? Safe, direct and respectful communication is the antidote for the tendency to hold on to a grudge. Invite the conversation into the light. Come on now, life is too short! Carry a tune, not a grudge.
Leslie Boomer - Pro-Motion Consulting is a Certified Executive Coach & trained by GALLUP® to coach with the Clifton StrengthsFinder® - find her at firstname.lastname@example.org