How do I stop my colleagues driving me crazy?

By Julie Kay

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • My colleague repeatedly misses deadlines which puts my work schedule under enormous pressure?
  • My boss delegates and then constantly hovers over my shoulder and just cant seem to let go
  • One of my direct reports continues to make the same fundamental errors even though I’ve shown them what to do many times?
  • I have a peer who puts the damper on every idea single idea I have ever come up with?
  • A particular person just has to walk into the room and my hackles start to rise?

Relationships are complex and problems can be entrenched, but there are simple steps you can try before calling in external support (coach, counsellor, firing squad!)

  • Establish the impact of the problem
  • Stop things that don’t work
  • Try things that may work

1. Establish the impact/importance

Ask yourself:

How is this behaviour impacting me?
The other person?
Those around us?
The performance of our team and/or business?
Our customers?

Then establish how much time and energy you and others have spent discussing this person.
What has this achieved?
How has this affected my relationship with others?
How else could I have used this time?

Based on the above, decide to address it or ignore the problem.

2. What doesn’t work

Labelling people in terms such as “difficult” or “stupid” or “control freak”.
This can become a self fulfilling prophecy. We spend our time looking for evidence that supports our label.

Having unrealistic expectations.
Make sure you are not expecting everyone to be the same as you or that you have to like everyone. As the saying goes “if everyone thinks the same, no-one thinks very much”.

Believing the other person is making you feel this way.
Our emotions are largely the result of how we think and what we believe about an event or person. We can change our thinking and beliefs. We can’t change the other person. (Look out for the next newsletter on managing emotions.)

Trying to control the other person’s behaviour.
The most common reason for people feeling negatively towards others is not being able to change them and make them behave the way we think they should. Ensure you are not wasting valuable energy on this pointless exercise.

3. Top tips to try

Tell them. Give them direct feedback about the behaviour you are seeing and how it impacts you

Share your vision and goals and listen to theirs

Clarify and communicate what you want from the relationship and ask them in return

Identify everything positive about this person and how they can contribute to you. Remind yourself often.

Put yourself in their shoes. Is it possible that the other person is experiencing you just as negatively? What other actions can you take to improve your relationship?

Confront the possibility that you may be getting some pay off by making and maintaining this as a difficult relationship. How is it serving you?

Adapted from “The Learner Within” – IBM Corporation

To sum up, you need to:

Stop wasting energy on things and people outside your control and start focussing on what you can do to accept, avoid or change the relationship. You can only do that bychanging something in your own thinking or behaviour. This will take hard work, commitment and persistence but the pay-off is potentially huge. Just think of all the hard work and negative energy you’ve probably been putting in until now!

Happy learning!

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