Understanding Strong, Sometimes Irrational Reactions to Co-Workers and Business Partners

This has been a theme in my practice over the years.  Sometimes a client will come in with what feels like an allergy to their co-worker or business partner.  Sure, their co-worker may display some annoying behaviors, but why are they reacting so intensely? Reactions can include increased stress or anxiety, physical symptoms, anger outbursts, or depression.  What's going on?  

The first step is to assess the current relationship.  Ask yourself questions like:  "Am I reacting to something in the present?"  "Am I being treated respectfully and fairly?" "Does my coworker appear to have a negative, hidden agenda that I'm picking up on?  "Is this environment a good fit for me?"  Now you have a choice to make.  Do the answers to these questions give you more of a sense of clarity, as well as some ideas about how to proceed, or not.  If not, read on.

Step two involves self-assessment.  Good questions to ask yourself are:  "Have you ever felt this way before?"  "Does this person remind you of someone who has strongly influenced you?"  "Does this person remind you of some aspects of yourself that you strongly dislike?"   When reflecting on these questions, try to recall a specific memory or time that feels similar.  Talk to a trusted friend or journal about that experience, person, or unacceptable part of yourself.  Let yourself stew about it for a couple of days and see where it takes you emotionally.  Making sense out of your reactions allows you to take control of your behavior and allows you to make good decisions about how to negotiate future encounters.