Interpersonal Effectiveness: DBT Skills at Work

I'm feeling really good inside right now.  It has to do with my behavior at work today in response to some upsetting interactions with a coworker.  I decided to apply Interpersonal Effectiveness DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills, and it was a success!

A little bit of background:

Earlier this year, the company hired a new person, and this person is directly involved in generating revenue for the company. Evidently (and this is my judgmental story), he seems to think this is a license to do whatever he likes, even if it violates company policy or is even in direct opposition to what our boss says, and he makes fun of almost everyone on staff. In short: he's a bully.

At first, I thought he may be trying to fit in by being funny, but his behavior has really gotten old.   


I'm not that innocent:

I have to admit, I got caught up in it more than once when he was talking about our coworkers - especially if I happened to be upset over the same situation, but I would later experience guilt and regret for my behavior. I knew I wanted to change my behavior to be more in alignment with the person I want to be, but I lacked the courage and worried about what might happen if I spoke up.

The breaking point:
Recently, my coworker's choice to speak in a very nasty way about our boss in almost every conversation we have had has troubled me.  I was stuck in the dialectic of wanting to be liked at all costs (even by him!) and wanting to be in integrity at work. It was quite a conflict. 

Today was the final straw.

DBT Skill Used: "Resolve problems before they get overwhelming." (Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder, Linehan, p. 115)

He asked me to help him with a project and specifically asked that I keep it secret from my boss. I told him I wouldn't. I also asked him how he thought our boss might feel when he finds out. His response, "It'll be too late." (How rude!) He then went on to talk about our boss' huge ego, lack of taste, and other things he doesn't like about him. 

I calmly, professionally, and in a very composed manner, said, "I'm not doing anything behind our boss' back. I understand you don't agree with him, but I will not be doing anything in opposition to what he says."

DBT Skills Used: "Say no to unwanted requests," "interact in a way that makes you feel competent and effective, not helpless and overly dependent," and "Stand up for yourself, your beliefs, and opinions; follow your own wise mind." (Linehan, p.115)

"Fine, forget it then -- I'll do it myself" was his response.  I tried to reason with him once more that we could just run everything by our boss and do it the right way. He didn't want to.

I said, "Ok. Talk to you later," and walked away.

Debating what to do next:

My gut reaction was to run to my boss and tell him what a complete prick this guy was. I could tell I was feeling emotional. I also recognized some black or white/all or nothing thoughts, such as "he's a total ______."  I knew he wasn't. I was just upset, and in recent interactions, he has really disappointed and annoyed me.

Because I have a relationship with my boss where I felt I could bring this up, I ended up doing so.  He was much less upset than I was. He insisted that he would talk to the coworker, even though I was apprehensive.  I then sent an email to my coworker letting him know that I ended up mentioning our discussion to our boss and that I no longer wished to engage in negative discussions about our boss in the future.   I also reminded him that were it not for our boss, we wouldn't be there.

I wanted it to be really clear where I stand. 
DBT Skill used: "Get your opinions taken seriously." (Linehan, p.115)

Interpersonal Effectiveness Module

This module is now up for study again in my DBT group. I will continue to apply the skills that I learn and share with you practical examples that will hopefully encourage you in similar situations.

Is there a relationship (or more than one) in your life where you think applying the DBT skills could be helpful?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

1 comment:

  1. My boyfriend suffering from bpd ive done my research hd is nit aware he uses to take medicine but now he doesnt n im scared im losing this relationship because ive lost myself. How do i turn this arounx i love him dearly amd will do anythong to makw us work



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