How to not throw pens at people’s heads…

I used to work for a large and incredibly busy organisation where I got on well with my colleagues. Well, except for one. Whenever I was in a meeting with this person, they were rude and angry and always keen to pick holes in others for the most trivial things, and I’d find myself feeling irritated and negative and annoyed with an overwhelming urge to throw pens at their head.


It got to the stage where I’d try to avoid them at all costs. When I knew there was a necessity to communicate, such as when a meeting with this person was inevitable, I’d feel a huge sense of anxiety leading up to it.

Each time I’d find myself trying to make them understand how unreasonable they were being whilst explaining my own point of view in the hope it would have some kind of impact and would change their behaviour; and yet, all I achieved was to walk away feeling exasperated.

What I’ve learned since, is that we have so many different ways of learning and communicating, of filtering information, such diverse experiences of life that contribute to our own personal beliefs and values, that it’s only to be expected that we have such unique (and sometimes opposing) views, opinions and ideas of the world around us. What’s important and what mattered to me, was entirely different to what was important and mattered to my colleague and trying to drag them over to my way of thinking would be like trying to force the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

If I’d known then how to step back and recognise all of those things, if I’d known how to adapt my own communication to match that of my colleague, if I’d understood how to alter my body language to gently influence them, and if I’d been able to step into their shoes and gain insight from another perspective… well then perhaps I would’ve seen the ‘picking holes in people’ were actually an incredibly important justification of self worth, how the ‘trivial things’ were in fact of great magnitude – to them, and how the ‘rudeness and anger’ were an essential layer of protective clothing.

If I’d known what I know now there are things I’d do differently. Here are a few of them:-

  • Listening to understand instead of listening to disagree

I’d gotten into the habit of walking into a meeting with this person and already deciding that everything they were going to say I would disagree with. Entering communication with an open mind and listening to really try and understand would have been so much more productive. This isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing, it’s about understanding.

  • Noticing their preferred representational system

If I’d known about our different ways of communicating, learning, and processing information, I’d have taken notice and adapted my communication to ensure I was really connecting, understanding and being understood. Negotiation is far easier when you actually understand each other!

  • Focus on what they DO want

Conversations were often about what this person didn’t want and what they weren’t happy with and what such and such a person had done. Now I’d steer the conversation to what they DID want, what they WERE happy with and what people could do MORE of.

  • Self reflection

On reflection, I have to think about what my colleague saw from me. If my reactions were consistently of irritation, annoyance and exasperation then that is probably how they saw me. So, I could choose to react differently, in a way that would create a more positive outcome.

  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle

This famous quote (source unknown but often attributed to Ian Maclaren and Plato) speaks for itself. We don’t know what people are going through, what challenges they face and what has led them to this very moment in time. If we did, we’d probably be much more compassionate, so… be kind.

They are just a handful of the things I’d change and there are plenty more. I’ve no regrets and I’m entirely grateful for this uncomfortable experience because if it hadn’t happened, how would I have ever learned such valuable lessons?

In summary, conflict is just feedback that something isn’t working; so don’t throw pens at people’s heads! Instead, learn from the experience.

Feedback is the most powerful way to develop.


Anna x



6 thoughts on “How to not throw pens at people’s heads…

  1. Great post and experiential truth I can relate to. I myself went straight to being vegan for my first three months and felt something I can’t really describe in myself on a holistic level. (Probably just from animal products pushing through my system and the shock that my body wasn’t used to).

    After that, I became vegetarian because there were hardly any good satisfying vegan alternatives where I work because we aren’t allowed out for the while shift, therefore we have food provided for us, as well as discounted items on our menu, which was lacking on vegan options *unless I go for chips everyday and veggie burgers and quorn which still has egg whites in them.

    Also for the first three months of being vegan I was really into cooking and I just eat whatever our grandmother cooks and she’s not vegan, so the best I could do was eat the veggie bits she does cook, which unfortunately is mixed in with meat and broth. To me psychologically I can’t dig my teeth into an animal’s body part and make do with what’s available unless I starve to death, which would technically place me in the proverbial desert island 🙂

    Also I bring in my milk alternatives to work but I can’t do it all the time. Perhaps comforting laziness got the best of me but I am definitely considering following a live off work that will promote this lifestyle and start writing about my experiences to elevate our human potential and raise our consciousness, which to me is a life lived with meaning. Looking forward to more of your blogs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry for a couple of typos. Also what I meant was that I was vegan for three months and then veggie after that due to my circumstance at work and at home (and convenience) over all I’ve been okay based going on two years this 5th November 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha!! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment – even if it was on the wrong post! If you want any help with vegan food ideas (I also have to take lunch with me to work everyday) – I’d be more than happy to help. Just drop me a message through the contact page on this blog and I’ll email you directly. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks 🙂 much appreciated! If ever there were criteria for food, it will generally have to be easy to make, readily available and fresh as possible. We know well enough that most vegan staples are excellent value so I guess price is not so much an issue. I’ll drop you a message soon and maybe put ideas together for more blogs 🙂 as this is my first time blogging. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

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