I enjoyed a good rapport with my previous boss. I don't see eye-to-eye with the new one. She asks me more questions than I am used to. Whatever I do seems not enough. I have lost sleep because of that. ~ Senior Leader, Tech
Our perceptions can be clouded several times due to
Collaborating with people different from us.
Our own mind space.
Due to this, we may be have a propensity to create problems where none exists or blow them out of proportion. Wisdom lies in becoming aware of it before losing sleep.
So if you are becoming overly hassled with a stakeholder at work, below are a few possible counter-checks on your perception.
Separate behaviour from inference:
There is a certain set of behaviour from the stakeholder you are finding difficulty with. Separate the behaviour from the conclusion you are arriving at.
Behaviour can be verified with experience, however conclusion is subjective.
Eg: My boss shot down my idea, so (s)he does not think I am capable. Here the behaviour is 'not accepting an idea', Inference is 'I am not capable'. The preceding behaviour is not enough to conclude the inference. The boss may be playing devil's advocate, may be prodding you to come up with a better one or (s)he may be testing how you handle disagreements. Also there is a certain responsibility/risk that (s)he may be enduring at their level that you know nothing about. We don't know for sure.
2. Look for counter examples for the inference
Once you separate the behaviour from the inference, consciously look for counter examples for your inference.
In the above example, look for the ideas that were accepted, the times your boss appreciated you for your capability, the times they consulted with you etc.
The search for counter examples will force your mind to look for things that has been overlooked before.
It will also help to expand your perceptions and help it be complete.
3. Direct communication
Once your perception is clarified, have a connect with the stakeholder to check for expectations.
Ask for what you are doing well that works for both of you, ask what can change to make it better.
Also gently place your non-negotiable as well. This will remove the mystery surrounding the connection. Collaboration would flow better.
Guessing intentions from behaviour may lead to a lot of confusion. So do not wait too long in that state. Cross verify your inference and communicate to make it better.