How do I repair relationships at work after being combative in my job?

 I’ve struggled building relationships at work and some honest feedback from a friend made me realize how I’m the problem.

I grew up in an abusive family and it’s made me afraid of people. A consistent theme I’ve had at work is when I feel threatened (running into someone envious, less competent, more ambitious, not wanting to take responsibility…) I start out ready to fight. I go from 0-100 when I encounter less-than-nice traits in others.

This is a product of my nervous system always being on high alert (C-PTSD). I instantly go to maximum defenses (something I had to do to survive as a child). I’m also afraid of people so I don’t stay in touch or reach out and socialize because I’m terrified of them.

I can completely see how this is offputting, makes me hard to trust, and creates problems with my coworkers.

Honestly, I feel a ton of embarrassment and shame having realized this and will obviously never do it again. I feel awful that I’ve been a hard person to deal with.

My question is, what would you suggest to start repairing relationships at work? If you worked with someone like that, what would help you trust me again?

Edit: I’ve been working with a great counselor for a while now. I don’t need the suggestion to find a therapist, but thanks to anyone who has brought that forward.


General tips:

  • Never call someone out by name

    • "I can't start the closeout because Bob hasn't sent me the invoice"

      • Problem-focused

      • Blaming someone else (even if it is their fault)

      • Makes you look less like a team player

    • "I'm still waiting on the invoice, but I'll shoot a follow-up!"

      • solution focused

      • the response focuses on how you are helping

      • For your follow up:

      • bad - "Bob, I can't do the closeout until you send the invoice, can you send it asap?"

      • ok - "Bob, I'm trying to do the closeout, do you mind shooting me the invoice when you have a chance? Anyway hope all is well!"

  • Getting into an argument with a coworker is not a good look, even if you are in the right

    • Management only ever sees the bottom line, which is you and your coworker can't get along with people.

      • Trying to explain why to your boss why it's their fault and not yours (even if you are right) often makes you look manipulative and like you're willing to throw others under the bus to get ahead.

      • You're gonna look a lot better if you just apologize and move on.

    • No matter where you go you'll work with assholes, you can't change that and you can't change them.

  • I would apologize and more importantly attempt to change your behavior

    • "Hey Sue, I'm sorry I snapped at you the other day, that's not the way I want to treat people and I'm trying to work on that. I appreciate and respect you as a coworker and I wanted to say I'm sorry about that."

      • If you do the same shit next week after saying that you're gonna look like an ass so if you apologize don't keep doing the same shit.

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