Your emotions on the job are easy. 😉
When you have friends, that is.
Your friends are your allies. These are people you are ego-syntonic with.
This simply means you resonate with them. You’re in harmony with them. You appeal to them and they appeal to you.
No problems there.
But what about your adversaries? People you don’t see eye-to-eye with? The ones that you’re in conflict with?
When the thoughts and feelings are dissonant it’s ego-dystonic?
How Do We Manage Being Ego-Dystonic?
Most of us don’t like to be in ego-dystonic situations. You may have to say negative things when you’re not in harmony, like “I don’t wish to be spoken to this way,” or “I disagree with you,”
or “Can I present a different perspective?” or “I need you to be on time.”
For most people, not only is this hard, but it’s also not fun.
What’s Required To Succeed At Being Dystonic
To succeed at being dystonic, you have to enjoy using your anger and aggression. Period.
Because it feeds your integrity, dignity, and self-worth.
Are you syntonic with your own feelings?
When you’re comfortable with your own emotions and understand the unconscious objections your mind has set up to having them, using them, enjoying them, you can find the right words. Words that have clarity, that have direction.and help you with your goals to either get along with this adversary or to get rid of them.
How to Work With Ego-Syntonic And Ego-Dystonic Ways Of Communicating With Adversaries
Learning exactly when to be either ego-dystonic or ego-syntonic is the key to gaining respect and influence at work.
In the model of becoming syntonic, we exercise compassion, listen, understand, and shoulder the blame. We do this so that the other person can have their ego preserved, save face, and decide to cooperate. We often do this with bosses, upper management, anyone we need to bolster to get ahead.
In a dystonic model, we have to get tough: set boundaries, and promote our own ideas with composure and grace. We need to let the other person know what is acceptable and not acceptable so that destructive behaviors or uninformed and incorrect attitudes get nipped in the bud or course-corrected. We do this with people we manage, colleagues, competitors.
There’s No Right Or Wrong Model: Only The Right Or Wrong Application
No matter how much we theorize and lay forth groundwork for when to apply either a syntonic or dystonic approach, the bottom line is that either plan can fail if you misjudge the situation.
For example, you may believe you have to be ego-syntonic with an adversary, and listen to them more, and try to make space for them to build a more positive relationship. But this could backfire if they see you as vulnerable, as prey, and escalate their aggressiveness.
Or similarly, if you theorize that you need to be more dystonic and firm with an ally, (like a son or daughter who doesn’t communicate well) you might say, “your behavior towards me has to stop,” and this could only escalate a problem and promote more bad feeling.
But that same dystonic message (“I would like this behavior to stop”) delivered to someone at the office who is railroading or demeaning you, and who may be unaware that they are ranking on you, would have a good effect — increasing respect for you and broadening your influence.
Because everybody has the right to stand up for themselves when they’re mistreated.
How To Choose Which Model To Apply
The challenge, assessing whether to be syntonic or dystonic is that you have to gauge each situation emotionally. Only your feelings can dictate the nature of the hostility; and whether you need to cut the behavior at the knees with a dystonic remark, or be willing to absorb it for a while and be egosyntonic instead.
“To determine your approach, step back from the problem or conflict itself.”
A lot of work has to happen in the background for you to correctly assess what kind of approach, whether dystonic or syntonic, to take.
Because if you feel defensive when someone is criticizing you, or similarly, if you are not sure if someone is mistreating you, it won’t be very easy for you to both assess a situation or be able to choose the right approach.
Shining a light on your attitudes towards being syntonic or dystonic will go a long way towards naturally settling on the right approach. It’s working on the emotions involved – not forcing a plan – that will give you your best result.
Using your emotions as instruments to gauge a situation, and then intervene effectively and in a way that promotes your self-respect and influence, you have to know them well.
Question everything. Is this person trying to undermine me? It is unconscious, or conscious? Do they think of themselves as an ally or an adversary? What makes me uncomfortable? What do I need to work on?
“Genius is coming up with the right questions, so start your list, put your thinking cap on, and experiment. The right solution may take some tries, and the best outcome is always that you will learn.”