Fighting Office Dragons

I have been speaking about office dragons for years and how to professionally deal with the dragons. Dragons were huge, dominating, fictitious creatures. Medieval writers had vivid imaginations for big, scary things. For many people, work is like a dragon. It can be overwhelming and certainly dominates well over half of our waking hours. Sometimes the people we work with can be pretty “fiery” creatures to deal with, too.

There are many dragon species at work. Three of the most common perceived species are leaders, co-workers, and self. We are going to look at:

  1. The behaviors of each species that makes them appear to be like a dragon. Notice, I said the word appear.
  2. How to professionally deal with your dragons.

Leaders can appear to be Office dragons when they:

  • do not communicate on the employee’s level
  • give poor direction
  • show favoritism
  • do not follow through on what they say
  • do not resolve conflicts

Co-workers can appear to be dragons when they:

  • gossip
  • convey a bad mood at the office
  • do not perform their part of a job
  • are not a team player
  • do not share necessary information

You can be a dragon to yourself when you:

  • do not focus on the job
  • let others damage your attitude
  • do not see your own potential
  • lack confidence
  • take criticism personally

You can do more harm to yourself with negative thinking than any outside dragon. It is your thought process and attitude that controls your internal dragon. You have the power at any time to tame your dragon and put out the fire of any dragon-like qualities.

Here are 5 strategies you can use with any of the dragons:

  1. Act … Don’t React. Reaction cycles never end. Only when you decide to think and act independently will you progress toward your goal. Reacting is responding to your immediate feeling. It puts you at the mercy of the dragon.
  2. Stop the Mind Reading! Face it, we all move so fast that we seldom take the initiative to clarify things with others. Instead, we ponder a scenario, rolling it over and over in our minds. We “determine” i.e., mind read, what that person was thinking/motivated by/perceiving, without simply asking them to clarify.
  3. Focus on Self-change vs. Changing Others. A good first step is communicating with the dragon. Informing someone and offering suggestions can sometimes be helpful because people don’t always see their negative attitude or behavior. In the final analysis, however, every adult does as he or she chooses. When you can’t change a situation or a person’s behavior, look at changing your view about this person. You can still control your attitude.
  4. Take Independent Steps Toward Your Goals. Determine what your goals are and write them down. List the one thing you can do toward achieving those goals each day. Doing this combines the winning strategies of independent action and self-change. Setting and achieving goals gives you a sense of accomplishment. This is a positive feeling. When you feel good about who you are and what you do, it naturally flows over to others.
  5. Make Friends. You spend more time with co-workers than you do with your family or friends. People at work must become allies instead of dragons. The work relationship requires respect, honesty, confidentiality, appreciation, communication, and energy.
  6. I personally have used all these strategies and know they work. I wish you the best in dragon-fighting this week. The most important thing I want you to remember is that most of the time, the dragon is in our mind.

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6 thoughts on “Fighting Office Dragons”

  1. Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

    I understand the Dragon behavior and you are so right. You can’t change people. You have to change. And I most certainly did change. I made a complete exit and ran out of the place. I have been so happy to been freed from the Dragon. That Dragon is totally by themself. Just the Dragon Lady dragging on her cigarettes and thinking she has all the power and all the control. I watched 13 hairdressers, 4 nail techs , 4 massage therapists and myself plus at least 4 or 5 more after my escape leave on bad terms. You tell me who was the fiery creature?

    1. Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants


      It seems that the answer is obvious in this situation. It also appears that you certainly tried everything you could to stay but sometimes you just need to remove yourself from the situation. Thank you so much for reading! Good luck in the future!

  2. Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

    So, I come in to the office today, and my manager asks me to put a book back her shelf that she was using. The book was called “Difficult People at Work”, then I opened my email and saw this email from Office Dynamics about ‘dragons’. And now I am wondering, are office dragons the same as difficult people and vice versa, or are there very distinct differences between the two? (Any and all responses are welcome.)

    1. Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants


      Great question! Simply put, yes they can be one and the same. Dragons can come in all different shapes and sizes. Please refer to the previous blog post: “Positively Slay Office Dragons”

      We will also be hosting a Live elearning course on Thursday 3/1/2018 if you would like to participate. Please visit: Live eLearning Course to register for “Fighting Office Dragons” taught by Joan Burge.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

    Can you address the best way to go forward when you have a supervisor (or head of department) who’s nearing retiring age and feels the need to keep information to herself? Sharing the knowledge is common sense for us all to do the job well, but when you work with someone who wants to make themselves indispensable (and they’re in charge), what’s the best way to handle the lack of information?

    1. Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants


      This is a tough question. It’s obvious you want to respect the individual and the position but it’s also obvious that you need certain information to perform. Have you tried addressing this individual? Has any other supervisor been made aware of this? Some dragons don’t even know they are dragons. Think about how, when, and where you can approach the dragon to talk about his or her behaviors. Try to help the dragon see the negative impact of these behaviors, and provide positive techniques the dragon can use to combat them.

      I hope this helps and good luck!

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