Office Psychology — What is your Kryptonite?

Most of us have things that set us off, buttons others shouldn’t press.

Do you?

The things that set us off are usually minor thing, but they typically link to situations we experienced during childhood. Deep-rooted feelings of injustice, not feeling included or strong views regarding what is or isn’t fair. We each have our own.


Psychologists call this a ‘subconscious mind trigger’


For example a highly successful lawyer I know cannot stand underdogs being treated badly. He cannot help but take a stand against anyone (multi-billion pound corporations included) who abuses a position of authority and power to, for example , screw customers. When that happens, he turns into an unstoppable corporate vigilante, who will only stop when fairness prevails again.


” [angrily] Nobody calls me ‘chicken’, Needles. Nobody!” – Marty McFly, Back to the Future


Someone I used to work for couldn’t stand intellectual laziness.

She always pushed for better ideas, more innovative slides or new approaches to deliver exceptional experiences for clients. If someone dared to re-use something, or hadn’t brainstormed enough ‘proper’ ideas, she would effectively lose it. Turning up to a meeting without something exciting wasn’t an option, if one wanted to avoid getting fired.

One day, she found out that one of the graduates on the team had actually copied and pasted something off Google … that was the end of him. No second chances. I even witnessed her mobile phone soaring through the air at the speed of light towards someone’s head once.. she didn’t miss.

I personally have a problem with people who take credit for other people’s work. It makes me very, very angry.

In fact when people try to do this with my work, it can trigger a wide range of destructive feelings – from mad rage to a burning need to teach the individual a lesson they won’t forget.


Of course we are civilised beings. You can of course learn to control these feelings, ‘channel’ them (management speak for ‘take it out on something else’) or even detach yourself.

 But the bottom line is we all have our own Kryptonite.

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Ways you can manage your subconscious nuclear tendencies


Observe yourself – not just in the office

Be honest: how do you act when you are with certain types of people? What are the patterns that seem to happen again and again in similar situations? Observe your emotions, reactions and behaviour.

A fantastic test is family gatherings. For example do you get into the same type of argument with a family member every year at Christmas, Thanksgiving, Diwali etc.? What situations make you feel uneasy, angry or sad? How do you respond to confrontation, indifference or praise? Observe it. Think about it.


If in doubt ask your partner or close friends for feedback

It is amazing how who we are outside work can tell us a lot about how we behave around the office. Also observe the key people around you at work – especially your boss.. what can you learn about them? Who do they work well with? Who do they like or dislike?

What is the common denominator? It’s all about patterns.


Once you’ve spoken the pattern, do something about it

If it’s a person that triggers a negative response for you, find out why they have such an effect on you. Follow it to the source. And use NLP tools or coaching to let it go. Try techniques like hypnotherapy if needed. Have a go at different things, be curious, but don’t be passive.

For if you are not the master of your own emotions, it is only a matter of time before someone worse it out and uses them to manipulate you.

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