Sam was sitting in the cafeteria at work, drinking a cup of coffee, and wondering why she had not gotten the promotion she had applied for. She was disappointed and surprised because she had been so convinced that, by next month, she would be a manager in her department. She had already planned on moving to a new apartment because the increase in wages would have covered the higher rent. When John sat down next to her, she mumbled a greeting and hardly smiled at him. In response to his question about what was bothering her, she started telling him about the interview with the management committee.
When she had finished, John said: “You know, I’m a friend as well as work mate, and that is why I’m going to tread on your toes and possibly sound unkind. But maybe you should think again about how you come across – how other people see you.”
“What do you mean? I made sure that I answered all their questions confidently and emphasised my abilities and strong points – I even told them about the changes I would apply immediately.”
“Yes, but maybe they thought you were just too dominating.”
“Dominating! I’m not dominating. Anyway, how can you be a manager unless you can show that you are in charge of every situation?”
“Being in control does not mean that you have to always get your own way. I’ve seen you badger people until they agree with you – and they often do not like it.” Seeing the look of amazement on Sam’s face, John quickly said: “Don’t get me wrong. I like you. But you actually tend to overwhelm people who do not go along with how you want to do things. You do not give them the opportunity to put across their own ideas. You even have to be in charge of our entertainment committee. What I’m trying to tell you is that employers might have turned you down if that is how you came across at the interview.”
Sam was silent for a while and then said, “Funny, is not? I do not see myself like that at all. I thought I was always helpful and constructive – actually a fair type of person. I know that I’m not as pretty as most of the other girls in our department, and I do not have a fantastic shape either, so I thought that coming across as strong and helpful would make other people like me. Strange how wrong you can be about yourself.”
“I’m not saying you are wrong,” said John. “I’m only saying that other people do not see you quite the way you do.”
Suggest how Sam might improve her relationships with her colleagues and superiors.
According to the scenario, Sam has a couple different ways in which she could improve her relationships with her colleagues and superiors.
Looking-Glass Theory would work if Sam could improve the way others saw her. If others saw her as a warm and friendly person, Sam would be more likely to act warm and friendly. As it is now, others see her as badgering and controlling.
Self-Prophecy Theory would help Sam change how others see her based upon her "pre-decision" to be liked by her colleagues and superiors. If she believes that her colleagues and superiors like her, she is more likely to act warm and friendly.
Outside of any psychological or social theories, Sam could perform some "damage control." Since her previous behaviors have "proven" her to be controlling and overwhelming, she would need to begin again with her colleagues and coworkers. She could begin by apologizing for her behavior and stating that she will change.