Tips on Managing Difficult People

Three Ways to Deal with a Passive-Aggressive Colleague   It can be incredibly frustrating when a co-worker agrees with a plan of action, only to go off and do his own thing. This type of sabotage is all too common and can make it difficult to achieve your goals. When you have a co-worker who says one thing and does another, try this:

•Give feedback. Explain to yo…ur co-worker what you’re seeing and experiencing. Describe the impact of his behavior on you and provide suggestions for how he might change.

•Focus on work, not the person. You need to get the work done despite your peer’s style, so don’t waste time wishing he would change. Concentrate on completing the work instead.

•Ask for commitment. At the end of a meeting ask everyone (not just the troublemaker) to reiterate what they are going to do and by when. Sometimes peer pressure can keep even the most passive-aggressive person on task.
Adapted from “How to Deal With a Passive-Aggressive Peer” by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins. Keep Your Composure, or Walk Away   With offices becoming more physically and metaphorically open, the privacy of a room with a closed door can be difficult to find. More often, everyone from the CEO to the receptionist is visible to everyone else. This level of exposure can encourage transparency but can also put you on display in fragile moments when you are stressed or upset. Next time you feel like you might lose your cool (and who hasn’t had these moments?), take note of where you are. If you might be observed by others, take a deep breath or a drink of water. If that doesn’t do the trick, get outside. In these new open work spaces, it’s critical to maintain professionalism by being calm and supportive of others, and by doing your venting somewhere private. Adapted from “The No-Drama Rule of Management” by Peter Bregman. Three Tips for Resolving a Conflict with Your Coworker   Differences of opinion between coworkers can be useful and even productive. But when clashes turn ugly, conflict can be harmful to working relationships. Here are three tips for handling the next disagreement you have with a colleague:

•Identify common ground. Point out what you both agree on at the beginning of the conversation. This may be a shared goal or a set of operating rules.

•Hear your coworker out. Allow your colleague to share his opinion and explain his point of view. Don’t disagree with individual points he makes; listen to the whole story.

•Propose a solution. Use the information you gathered in the conversation to offer a resolution. This should incorporate his perspective and be different from what you originally thought. Adapted from “The Right Way to Fight” by Amy Gallo. Turn Your Competitors into Allies When a colleague’s agenda is seemingly opposed to your own, it can be tempting to demonize him. Distorting other people is a common response to conflict, but not a particularly productive one. In fact, doing so undermines your ability to exert influence. Instead of deciding that everything about a colleague you don’t get along with is hateful, get to know him better. Sit down and talk about what he cares and is concerned about. You may find that the source of your conflict is actually an area of mutual interest and rather than being enemies, you are natural allies

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