What do you do when your sponsor is an A-Hole?

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Face it. You’ve been in that position before. That A-Hole may have even made you decide to move on and get a new job. Are there ways to play this to your favor? Absolutely. Will it make you want to eat crow? Possibly. But it will make you a better person if that’s any consolation.
Step One: Get to know them.
Everyone works off their own agenda. And don’t believe it when they say that they don’t have one. Everyone does. Whether it’s getting promoted, getting noticed, getting that corner office or getting wealthy enough to quit and work on their hobbies…there is always a driver for people’s actions. Figure it out. It means diving into developing a relationship to better understand that individual.
Step Two: Take them to lunch.
Although I am someone that prefers chocolate and desserts to an actual lunch…the concept is still the same. Food is way more powerful than most people give it credit. Case in point, bring donuts to a meeting and see who shows up. The meeting may be no less boring but you have donuts.
I digress…..There is truth in “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Invite your sponsor to lunch. It works. Repeatedly, we’ve used that technique on sponsors, clients, cohorts that weren’t playing nice. “Smother them with kindness” works.
Taking them to lunch gives you a chance to get to know them. It opens up a dialogue. It gives them a chance to tell you if there is something that you are doing that is part of the problem. It may not be fun but it will get better. It is hard to be an a-hole to a friend or someone that you know well. Get to know the a-hole better. They are less inclined to treat you poorly if they know you well. Build that relationship. It isn’t easy at the beginning but it will get easier as you build that relationship.
Step Three: Confront them on their behavior.
Some of the time it is safe to say that people doesn’t always realize the effect of their words. Tell them. Tell them when you are alone with them so that you don’t embarrass them (and if they are truly an a-hole, they won’t embarrass you when they respond back). It shouldn’t be done confrontationally but more like this….”I would assume this wasn’t your intent but when you called me out in front of the team, I was uncomfortable. Your message was accurate but can I ask that you discuss this with me one-on-one in the future?”
It isn’t easy to confront an a-hole regardless of their level. I have a whole support system around me. When I’m being an a-hole (or a jerk or insecure or overbearing)…..my support system will call me out. If the a-hole doesn’t know, they may not ever realize unless someone tells them. So you have a whole year before the next National A-Hole day (February 27th) but it’s never too early to think about what you are going to do next time.

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