In all of my management roles, I have been “the bad guy” more often than not. I’ve said “no” more times than I can count and I have made hundreds of unpopular choices. I’ve also been responsible for initiating and supporting dozens of corrective action conversations and terminations. In short, I’m not people’s favorite person at work. But you know what? That’s okay. I take pride in taking a difficult stance as long as it’s for the greater good of the company.
When I started out in my career, being “the bad guy” didn’t come as easy to me. I would get nauseous before I had to have a difficult conversation and the idea of someone not liking me would make me cringe.
To help you handle the pressure associated with being looked at as “the villain,” I suggest you start conducting a self-check-in daily. What I mean by this is pause and pay attention to yourself and feelings by meditating and asking yourself reflective questions. The goal of a self-check-in is to reconnect with yourself and to look at a situation and your emotions more clearly. I started doing this a few years ago and it has worked wonders for me. The practice of conducting a self-check-in can help you put things into perspective, reduce stress and improve your self-esteem.
To effectively check in with yourself, find a quiet place where you can comfortably meditate for a few minutes. Close your eyes and breathe gently in and out for a minute or two to help clear your mind and relax your body. Then, acknowledge how you’re feeling (be it alone, sad or frustrated) and then ask yourself some probing questions about the situation you are upset about.
When I am feeling down about making an unpopular choice, I ask myself these four important questions:
- Was I honest, fair, respectful and ethical?
- Did I show empathy?
- Did I keep the company’s best interest in mind?
- What could I have done differently?
Reflecting on the decision I made and reminding myself that I did the right thing (even though those around me may not have liked the action I took) helps me to stay emotionally strong and confident. I also end up feeling good knowing I took the situation seriously and invested time in trying to better myself and approach in the future.
What techniques do you use to cope with being “the bad guy?”
Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.