We have all met dragons at work. They are the ones who seem to emit raging, sulfurous emotions. They blast us with the fire of their drama, disdain, or discontent. They make things rather miserable. We try to avoid them and often end up singed anyway.
As with real dragons, work dragons can be contained and even tamed. Let us arm you, the dragon tamer, with what you will need.
First, replace your own defensiveness with confidence. This is your armor. You can survive unlimited dragon attacks when, no matter what the dragon says or does, you know that you belong and that you add value. You also should know that you need not be perfect. Just be able to respond and fix anything that needs fixing. The dragon’s words and deeds can’t harm you if you don’t let them.
Second, learn to name the truth. This is your weapon. In particular, get good at stating–in one simple sentence–what you notice the dragon doing. Start your truth-naming sentences with any of these magic words: “It seems,” “It looks like,” or “I notice.” For example, if the dragon blasts you because he or she is angry at someone else, you can say, “It seems like you’re taking your frustrations out on me.” If the dragon is complaining and getting everyone else down, you can say, “I notice your complaining is badly affecting the others.” It is vitally important that you go silent after you deliver your truth-naming sentence. Do not justify or explain. If the dragon responds with more vitriol, just state that truth and go silent again. A simple statement of the truth as you see it, even if you are not 100% correct, is like a mirror to the dragon. It stops them in their tracks and forces them to look where they normally do not. The silence after the sentence is the most powerful part of this weapon.
Third, offer to help the dragon. This is your wisdom. It may take a while. It may never happen on your watch. But after enough naming of the truth, the dragon’s curiosity will overpower its fury. “Who is this person who seems immune to my mighty force?” it will wonder. At that point, it will drop its defenses a bit, show its heart a bit. When this happens, offer to help in some small way. You will be teaching the dragon how to play win-win.
In your corner,
PS: Wait, did he say real dragons??! Wha..?