Getting to Yes, And

Amy Gallo: Getting Along


Amy Gallo

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Kelly talks to Amy Gallo, a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review; the author of the “HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict” and co-host of the HBR ‘Women at Work” podcast. Her new book is called “Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)."

One of the things you talk about is the need for self-care at work, which, honestly, is a fairly new notion – the idea that work shouldn’t ignore an employee’s personal pain.

“Yeah exactly, and you know Esther Perel talks about this too, and she was very generous and giving a blurb for the book. You know, we all show up with emotional baggage at work and this idea that you can't is still so hard for me to conceive of. I did start working at a time when this was still the thought: which is that we show up at work and magically shed every hang-up or issue unconcerned about our relationships and desire to connect with people - like that just all disappears. As if it just falls off you when you walk into an office or in this case, you know, log onto a zoom call, I still can't believe we actually thought that was a possibility.”

One thing I appreciate is that you note that it takes two to tango when you’re dealing with a difficult co-worker.

“As I was working on the idea for the book, I was talking to a friend who's a psychiatrist who teaches a course about love at NYU. And we would go on these long walks, and we would talk on the phone and what she was thinking about what I was thinking about in writing a book and what I was hoping to do with this book, and she said, ‘Your book is a Trojan Horse.”  I didn’t know what she meant, and she said, ‘You're attracting people who want to deal with a difficult coworker, but you're helping people realize they're often the difficult coworker.”

You write about how important a pause is before we respond to behavior that is upsetting to us.

“Yes, well, because our brains are meaning-making machines. First, of course, they're designed to protect us.  We sense a threat, whether that's a snarky email or someone telling you you’re going to get you fired - it doesn't matter if it’s minor or major, our brain has the same reaction to go into protective mode. And our brains are meaning making machines. We start to tell ourselves a story, so we protect ourselves, then we tell ourselves a story that usually goes something like: ‘I'm perfect, they're awful, how do I fix them?  Because I don't need to change at all.’”

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