It is inevitable that in the workplace you are going to have differing opinions and ideas for doing things. That’s just what happens when you bring people together who have their own personalities, backgrounds and experiences.
Have you come across that one person who pushes your buttons? Doesn’t listen? Takes credit for work you’ve done? Focuses on issues that aren’t important? Thinks he knows everything? Always criticizes?
We’ve all come across ‘challenging’ people. You know the ones I’m talking about—they don’t turn their work in as promised, always show up late for meetings, can’t see another person’s point of view, refuse to be ‘team players’.
It is easy to wonder “Why me?”, but as Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything, says in a Harvard Business Review blog, the problem with being a victim is that you cede the power to influence your circumstances. We have to realize that we can’t change the people who make us so frustrated; we can only change ourselves.
According to an article by Dawn Rosenberg McKay, here are some of types of difficult people you may meet at work and some advice for getting along with each type.
1. The Chatterbox
The chatterbox usually means well. She is friendly and wants to share all her thoughts (every last one of them) with you. She isn’t trying to harm anyone … her incessant talking is just keeping you from concentrating on your work. Here are some things you can do to quiet down your chattering co-worker so you can get your job done. Rather than risk insulting your colleague, put the blame on yourself. Tell your co-worker you have trouble concentrating while you are listening to her very engaging stories. You’d love to hear them at some other time, just not while you’re working. Then, if you truly enjoy her company, have lunch with her once a week.
2. The Complainer
There’s always one person in a group who can never find anything about which to be happy. If she’s not complaining about her health or her family, she’s complaining about her job, the company or your boss. Of course, some of her complaints may be legitimate, but the incessant whining is getting on your nerves. Generally, the complainer isn’t looking for advice so offering it probably won’t do any good. Change the subject whenever the bellyaching begins. Your colleague should get the hint after you do this repeatedly.
3. The Gossiper
The gossiper seems to know everything about everyone and he wants to share it. Should you listen to what your gossiping colleague has to say? Yes, you should listen to it since it is often a good way to hear news that may not make it through more formal information channels. The problem with gossip is that it carries both elements of truth and untruth, so view it with a cynical eye. Listen to your gossipy co-worker quietly. Don’t become a gossip too. However, if the gossip being shared is of a very personal nature, for example he shares with you news of another co-worker’s marital problems, change the subject or say that you don’t feel right discussing someone behind his back.
4. The Delegator
In almost every workplace you’ll find someone who wants to share his work with his colleagues. We’re not talking about those who have a legitimate reason to delegate work to others, for example managers or team leaders. We are speaking of those who either can’t do all the work they have been given or don’t want to do it. If team work is encouraged in your office and you have time to help your colleague, you should. However, if managers are the only ones who have the authority to delegate and you already have your hands full, then you have to turn down the request. Tell your co-worker you have your own work to manage.
5. The Credit Grabber
The credit grabber does not acknowledge any help she receives from others. She accepts all the praise for a project without mentioning that she didn’t do it alone. The first time this happens, consider it a mistake. Mention it to your colleague and ask her to let others know about your participation. If she doesn’t, or if this happens again, make sure you let others know about the role you played in getting a project done. Then, unless you are mandated to work with this person, refuse to help out again.
Every experienced any of these types? Have you applied any of these techniques for dealing with them? Check back next week for more tips to keep the peace (and your sanity) in the office.