By the middle of the week, one of my clients realised that he had been in a bad mood since the weekend. He only became aware of the fact that he was being grumpy for no obvious reason, because a fellow colleague took him to task. She asked him
“Why haven’t you spoken to me in three days? Did I do something wrong? Or is there something you need to tell me?”
He reported that this was the moment when it became clear to him, that he indeed had withdrawn from any social contact in the office over the last few days, but that he also had been short and snappy with his girlfriend and even short-tempered on the phone with his mom. This lead to feelings of guilt and disappointment in himself.
On the other hand, part of him clung on to the belief that it all had more to do with the other people around him and their “bad” behaviour. Basically he felt that ALL the people around him were at fault. This was true of people in the office, but also at the bakery store on Monday, in the restaurant on Tuesday and then there was this ugly argument with his house keeper on Wednesday.
I asked him what else happened during this terrible week and he told me that he had just received his half yearly performance review on the day we spoke. He received great feedback.
His performance was above and beyond expectations. His boss was his biggest fan. She told him that he had been on the positive radar of the upper management for a while now and that she was proud of having him in her team.
Lotion for his soul. I could see the relief in his eyes while he told me about it. I asked him “Did you expect this? Did you see this positive review coming?”. He said “No”. After a short pause he continued “The review meeting with my boss was postponed from Wednesday to Friday. Not knowing the outcome for two more days turned me into a nervous wreck. I was sure they wanted to fire me. I was also convinced that they planned on doing it nicely on a Friday late afternoon, after the others in the team had left the office.”
“That must have been stressful for you. No wonder you became an unpleasant colleague all week” I replied. After a while he said: “Seb, I think I want to work on this. Is this paranoia?”