Dealing with the Office Shark

Dealing with the Office Shark

The hardest thing for me to do when I’m upsetDealing with the office shark. with someone is to admit the ways I’m wrong. I’ve got this stubborn streak in me that is a byproduct of my determination. This trait in me has been both a blessing and a curse in all areas of my life. Because of my disposition, I have been able to push into problems, allowing me to make meaningful changes. But when it comes to conflict, my tendency to cling to my end goal definitely becomes a roadblock.

As one of my 2017 goals, I have really been trying to develop an approach that works for me that will inspire others to work with me to resolve disagreements. Here are some of the tactics that I’ve been doing lately when I recognize that a peer and I are not on the same page.

1. Journaling
It sounds nerdy, but it works for me every time. For me, it helps to filter out my feelings and frustrations, and focus in on which of my values are triggering my frustration.

I set my timer for twenty minutes, pick a topic, and just write. There is only one rule: focus on feelings, not events. I don’t worry about grammar or political correctness, I just throw it all on the page. The result is raw ugliness and beauty at the same time. Once the timer sounds, I read my entry and I can immediately identify the personal values that are underlying my feelings. Being armed with this self awareness, I am able to more easily control my communication and lead a tactical approach to dealing with problems.

2. Embracing the uncomfortable
I say this all the time, at work and in life, you will stand out if you learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Diversity of opinions and values in the workplace is a beautiful thing. Taking a passive approach to those who are opposing you will accomplish nothing, and ultimately lead you to more frustration. Speak up respectfully.

3.  Follow up is so important
Recently, I was on the phone with a business leader who was being very disrespectful. She was talking over me, putting me on mute and not listening to me, and doing more complaining (dare I say whining) than identifying problems.

This behavior is not the makings of a productive partnership. Recognizing that I was not going to be able to turn this particular call around, I scheduled a follow up call for the next day. During the follow up call, the business leader was much more focused on our conversation. I led the conversation to identify business topics and issues and how to tackle them. I also discussed expectations on how our partnership will work going forward. We immediately had a great path to follow going forward.

4. Waiting 24 hours
We live in a world of email, social media, and an expectation of immediate fulfillment. The result is the temptation to shoot off an emotionally charged reaction to a frustrating communication.

Don’t. Take the time to sort out your feelings from your values and create a thoughtful and meaningful response. Avoid an emotional and shallow reaction at all costs.

5.  Knowing when to escalate
This is another area that I struggle with. For me, there is a voice in the back of my head that whispers that I’ve failed at communicating if I reach the point that I’m passing on communication to someone’s boss.

But it’s not true. Bosses need to know what is going on with their staff , they are the stakeholders in their departments success. If you hesitate like I do, just remember that bosses have a direct line to the person your dealing with. They can address any mis-steps with their staff or reinforce department values that have been communicated to you. It is not a bad idea to have an extra set of eyes on any situation.

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