It’s not me, it’s you.

So, we have all been there, on the receiving end of unreasonable behaviour from another person; be it lover, relative, friend, customer etc… When I deliver a Coping with Stress session, for PhD researchers, I focus on the fact that we always have ultimate control over our own feelings and responses to the behaviour of others. Essentially, this is the principle that one person can only upset another, if the latter allows it to happen.
As a PhD student, your relationship with your supervisors is key to the management of both your research project and your daily existence. Similarly, when in employment, relationships with colleagues are key to both long term job happiness and daily happiness. If we consider that we spend a significant amount of our week with work colleagues these relationships are of some significance in our lives.
Psychologists talk about the “Theory of Behavioural Consistency”, or in plain English the idea that our past behaviour is the best predictor of our future behaviour. Whilst it is so easy to focus on the behaviour of others, aggression, passive-aggression, irrationality, unreliability; these are all things we cannot control. We can control our own responses to the behaviour of others. We can control our own behaviour at all times.
Some questions we might all consider:
• Do I listen actively to others?
• If I am in a conversation with someone am I: a) really listening to what they are saying? b) thinking what I might say next to make myself appear clever? c) thinking about what I am having for dinner?
• Do I have the confidence to ask a colleague or my supervisor about how my behaviour impacts them.

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Martin Coffey

About Martin Coffey

Postgraduate Career Development Adviser, Doctoral College Team.

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