Co-Worker Sabotaging Her Over Control

Dear Vicki: For the past three years I’ve worked really hard to build my interior design company. We have had some pretty lean years but finally, during the last six months, the orders have started flying in. We have gone from not enough work to too much work seemingly overnight. And while that’s a great problem, my assistant has suddenly changed. Geri has been wonderful at keeping the office streamlined and tidy, paying bills (not always easy in bleaker times), and researching successful ways to promote our company. We used to joke back and forth in the office and even enjoyed occasional lunches together. Lately, however, her sense of humor is non-existent and she has taken an almost adversarial position with me. If I ask her to order something, she either ignores me or suggests something else that looks cheap to me. I’m really trying to ramp up my work as we grow and take on more clients, but I feel like she’s sabotaging me. I hate the thought of firing her, but what choice do I have? Signed: Frustrated in Franklin

 

Dear Frustrated: First, congratulations on the success of your business venture. These can be difficult times for start-up companies. It takes vision, determination, and hard work to create something out of seemingly nothing, traits that describe the Wood element perfectly. You don’t mention what element you think you are, but you have to have a good amount of Wood to do what you are doing. A key attribute of a primary Wood element is the need to succeed. And while that’s part of what kept you going during the hard times, you will probably not be satisfied with the success you have now. Your comment about “ramping up” your work suggests that you are hoping to keep things growing. A “bigger, better, more” approach to work is a very common Wood perspective.

On the other hand, Geri sounds like she could be a primary Metal element. “Streamlined and tidy” absolutely describes Metal people, as does the ability to research better ways of doing things. Metals are generally kind and supportive people who enjoy intellectual repartee as long as they feel things are under control. And therein lies what I think is your problem: the incredible growth of your company has probably created a work environment that feels a bit out of control for Geri. Metals need to feel in control, so they tend to clamp down to create the control they desire. And while this works well for Geri, it won’t feel good to you because of the dynamic between you.

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How Metal is Reflected in Others

Dear Vicki: I really appreciated your response to Problem Fire, but it brought up a question for me. She asked if having trouble with an elemental expression in someone else means that we need to work on our own expression of that element. Her example was Fire in her brother-in-law, but I’m having trouble with a Metal co-worker (Grant). I’m a Metal, too, so I should understand him, right? Yet everything he does seems to rub me the wrong way. I find him controlling, haughty, and arrogant, but I don’t think I’m any of those things. At least I didn’t used to be. Lately, my family has suggested that Grant might be rubbing off on me. He was hired a year ago to help me with the books in a small construction firm, so we are around each other all day every week. We’re both Metals, so shouldn’t we get along? Or does the fact that I’m having trouble with Grant’s Metal energy mean I need to work on my own? Signed: Problem with Metal

Dear Problem with Metal: The short answer is yes, if your Metal energy is out of balance, you need to work on it. But the longer answer is to address why a fellow Metal can throw off your energies. We have spent a lot of time in this blog discussing how the elements affect each other via the Nurturing and Controlling Cycles. If you are a regular reader, you probably have a good understanding that, as a Metal, your relationships with Water and Earth people will carry a nurturing or building tone (Earth feeds Metal, Metal feeds Water). Conversely, your relationships with Wood and Fire people will carry a controlling or balancing tone (Fire controls Metal, Metal controls Wood). These are the basic patterns that sit at the core of the Five Elements model.

However, we also have relationships with people who have the same primary element as we do. These relationships are usually less dynamic than Nurturing or Controlling Cycle relationships because there isn’t the movement of energy through the cycles to keep things fresh. But, as we have said, no one will understand you better than someone with the same primary element as you. What we haven’t discussed as much is how people with the same element can affect us. And just like with the other elemental relationships, it comes down to whether the people we’re interacting with, in your case another Metal, have balanced or out of balance energies themselves. Metals with balanced energies will help you stay balanced. Metals with out of balanced energies will bring you down. Let’s look at why.

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Wood/Earth/Metal: Can it Work at Work?

Dear Five Faces: I’m writing for my brother, Ted, who “sort of” understands how the elements interact, but said he doesn’t know enough to write in himself. Anyway, he’s having trouble with a co-worker who appears very hostile toward him. They work with a group of people in an accounting firm, and no one has private offices – they all have cubicles, so sound carries. Ted is a Metal/Earth, and while he’s very good at his job, he also likes to socialize with his co-workers. But whenever he does, this particular co-worker (we’ll call her Ann) gets furious that he’s making any noise at all. It appears Ann wants the whole office to be deathly quiet so she can concentrate. It’s bringing the whole place down. How can he handle this? Signed, My Brother’s Helper

Dear Brother’s Helper: Bravo to you for stepping up to help Ted. Office dynamics are always interesting because, within reason, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way for co-workers to interact. Some offices have company events and encourage socializing, others much less so. But outside of the tone set by the company, how people get along at work really will depend on their elements. After all, a relationship is a relationship!

You know that Ted is a Metal/Earth, which means he will be great at precision (thus his success as an accountant). But his Earth, if a strong secondary, will influence his desire to connect with his fellow co-workers. That means standing around the proverbial water cooler chatting, or laughing at jokes with others, will be important to him. It sounds like Ann is a primary Wood; the fact that her reaction to socializing and noise is to become “furious” indicates this. We can assume that her secondary isn’t Earth or Fire, because either of those would make socializing important to her, too. So she is either a secondary Water or Metal. A Wood/Water would probably not last long in an accounting firm, so I’m guessing Ann is a Wood/Metal. This would make her very structured and fits well with her apparent approach that work is for work, not any kind of play.

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