Dealing with crabby colleagues

dealing with crabby colleaguesThere’s one in nearly every work group — that certain someone whose words and/or demeanor gets you all fired up. Perhaps their opinions and values are worlds apart from yours. Maybe they plain don’t like you. Could be a personality clash. Who knows.

But whatever the reason for the conflict, you can’t avoid or ignore them because your job requires you to interact with them.

So what’s a professional gal to do? What all savvy business women do: Take the personal high road and manage yourself.

The personal high road to success requires you taking control of the one thing that you do control — and that’s you.

While the temptation to fire off a snarky retort is alluring after being zinged, it isn’t politically astute. You gotta first manage your attitude.

Even in your rightness about a subject, when you try to push your rightness toward another who disagrees, no matter how right you are, it causes more pushing against. In other words, it isn’t until you stop pushing that any real allowing of what you want can take place. ~Abraham Hicks

3 step plan for handling crabby colleagues

Think first. Don’t immediately react when provoked. Move away from your sense of rightness to avoid a confrontation with those crabby colleagues. Public displays of anger rarely serve anyone well. Now’s the time to be cool, calm and collected, Demonstrate your personal savvy and self-control.

Understand your intentions. Are you operating from a “I win, you lose” position or from a “win-win” standpoint? Astute businesswomen operate from the perspective of seeking win-win outcomes. Always seek to understand the motivation of the other party, e.g., is their intention that you lose so they can win?

Susan Lankton-Rivas, a consultant with Insight Performance Inc., offers this advice: “Try to understand the other person’s point of view and how he or she arrived at it.” Understanding why this person annoys you helps you manage your reaction.

Control and align what you say and how you say it. The National Network for Women’s Employment offers a thorough definition of communication style and message by saying, “Keep in mind it’s not just what you say that matters. It’s also how you say it, how you act and your body language.” Advising a colleague in a sharp tone of voice that there’s a problem you want to discuss with her — and doing so with your arms tightly folded across your chest — sets off his or her internal alarms and doesn’t set a good foundation for the two of you to productively talk through and resolve the issue.

The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.   ~Garth Brooks




4 Responses to Dealing with crabby colleagues

  1. Jane,

    Great article with both insight and perspective. We all encounter many personalities in our career. Some good, bad, annoying and inspirational. Unfortunately, and as you thoughtfully address, some of these personalities can stand in the way of professionals accomplishing great things. The most important thing to do is to take the high road and learn to understand and manage your way forward as you encounter them. This will allow you to grow professionally and become one of those inspirational personalities you are able to draw great lessons from.

    Happy new year Jane and thanks for the thoughtful article.

    • Lisa —

      Your advice to “manage your way forward” is excellent — helping individuals see past the current differences of opinion to a place where those win-win outcomes are possible. Appreciate your kind words…thanks much for stopping by and sharing!