I was sitting at my computer, working. The windows were open and I could hear the neighbors outside. Suddenly, a man's voice started to get louder and louder. I got up angrily to investigate. How inconsiderate could this guy be? It became clear that it was a television, and that made me more annoyed. Have some respect for other people, I thought.
Then I noticed that the loud noise was coming from my television and my one year old had managed to find the remote control and turn the volume all the way up. It wasn't my neighbors who were being obnoxious and rude. It was me. (Because, of course, it is my responsibility to monitor the toddler with the remote.) Oops.
When people write me with their questions, they often want me to fix the loud noise that someone else is making. They often forget that sometimes they're not only contributing the problem, but causing it.
Is your coworker rude to you? Doesn't say good morning to you? Well, stop and ask yourself, do you say good morning? When you go out to lunch, is she invited? Do you talk over her in meetings, or insult her work?
What about a boss that micromanages your work? Did he always do this, or did he just start? If he just started, can you identify when it began? Was it when you totally forgot about an important report and he got reamed out by his boss? Was it when you started taking longer and longer coffee breaks?
It's true that sometimes coworkers are obnoxious and bosses are jerks. (Or the other way around.) It's also true that you are the only person you can control. Change your behavior and see if your boss changes her tune, or at least turns down her volume.
Suzanne Lucas has nine years of human resources experience, most of which has been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.