Childhood trauma could potentially have long-lasting consequences in our lives, especially if we don't realize that we've experienced it. Our childhood is our "normal," so it can be difficult to recognize when things are happening that shouldn't be. And even when we do realize that bad things have happened to us, we may not see that we've been traumatized, or that this trauma has affected different aspects of our personal or professional lives.
One of the ways the consequences of childhood trauma can be seen is in how people interact with each other in the workplace.
In the workplace, there are different types of relationships that we enter into. There's the relationship between boss and employee, or the relationship between two or more colleagues. If you're someone who constantly finds yourself in conflict with your supervisors, your employees and/or your colleagues, you might want to consider the possibility that you have childhood trauma.
This trauma can take many forms, including mistreatment, exploitation, abuse, or a lack of approval or love — and it can adversely affect how individuals interact with other people at work.
Some can be overly helpful people-pleasers, or doormats who are too tolerant of disrespect. Others can be self-sacrificing workaholics who end up burnt out or, if severely traumatized, can be filled with so much old rage toward their abusers that they take out this anger on their supervisors and/or colleagues today.
The more they try to please, the more these people are disrespected, and even held in contempt by the other people at their workplace.
Lack of love or approval
Some people with childhood trauma are people-pleasers, constantly care-taking and doing too much for others. They please and care-take in the hopes of finally obtaining the love and approval they were lacking in their childhood. They don't realize that being a pleaser won't bring them positive regard or heal their emotional wounds.
Whether as a boss or a colleague, these people avoid conflict and try to curry favour with everyone around them. Interestingly, the more they try to please, the more these people are disrespected, and even held in contempt by the other people at their workplace. These are the individuals in the workplace who are taken for granted, taken advantage of and sometimes even bullied.
If you have a history of being disrespected or bullied in one workplace after another, you may be a people-pleaser. If so, you'll need to see that the bullying won't stop until you give up this bad habit.
Some people with childhood trauma have grown up being mistreated, so they assume that this is all that they "deserve" or all that they can expect of their colleagues and supervisors.
If you're constantly being mistreated by the other people at work, you may need to examine your past for signs of mistreatment, and for obvious or subtle messaging that you "should" tolerate it.
Some people with childhood trauma were exploited by their care-givers and believe, as adults, that the only way to fit in at work is to do too much.
These individuals will take on the projects that no one else wants to tackle; they'll do other people's work and they'll overwork until they burn out, believing incorrectly that this is what they're "meant" to do.
If you recognize yourself in this behaviour, it might be time to explore your past for the possibility of childhood trauma in the form of exploitation.
They're so deeply wounded that they end up just like their "role models" — the abusive adults who hurt them as children.
Some individuals with childhood trauma end up behaving like the people who abused them in the past. They're so deeply wounded that they end up just like their "role models" — the abusive adults who hurt them as children — becoming nasty, disruptive, even toxic adults in their workplaces.
If you recognize a boss or a colleague who's behaving in an abusive or disruptive manner in the workplace, it's quite possible that they experienced childhood trauma in the form of abuse. Unfortunately, they're unlikely to be open to your help or advice on this matter.
People who are abusive for any reason have the potential for being tremendously destructive to your personal life or your career, so they must be approached with great caution. If possible, they should be avoided altogether.
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If you recognize someone like this at your workplace, you might be better off looking for a job somewhere else.
It's clear that childhood trauma can manifest in a variety of ways in the workplace. If you see yourself in any of these behaviours, it might be time to speak to a therapist about your past, so that you can finally find healing and begin to improve the quality of your interactions at work.
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