Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

Lis­ten and ask ques­tions — Lis­ten for and try to in­ter­pret the un­der­ly­ing rea­sons be­hind a per­son’s com­ments. Look for ev­i­dence of hurt or fear. Gen­tly ask ques­tions for clar­i­fi­ca­tion in such a way that won’t cause de­fen­sive­ness. Demon­strate un­der­stand­ing, even if you don’t agree with them. Ac­knowl­edge their com­ments but let them know your own thoughts on the is­sue. Speak in an ob­jec­tive, calm voice with a quiet low tone.

As­sess the true con­se­quences — Some­times peo­ple make a “moun­tain out of a mole­hill” by be­com­ing overly emo­tional, which in turn changes the is­sue from an oc­cur­rence to a cri­sis. Ask your­self if the be­hav­iour re­ally in­ter­feres with your work, whether the be­hav­iour will ruin your pro­mo­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties and/or cre­ate such a ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion you’ll be ter­mi­nated. If not, then maybe you are blow­ing the is­sue out of pro­por­tion. Bring it back into per­spec­tive.

State your own needs — Let the per­son know where you are com­ing from and what your own per­sonal needs are. For in­stance, if you find your col­league plays the ra­dio too loudly and is dis­tract­ing, then pro­pose a win/win so­lu­tion that will en­able the in­di­vid­ual to lis­ten while your per­ceived “noise” is re­duced. Help the col­league to un­der­stand your po­si­tion with­out mak­ing them de­fen­sive.

Re­spond­ing to an at­tack — One of the most chal­leng­ing work­place sce­nar­ios is re­spond­ing to a ver­bal at­tack. While a first re­sponse might be shock or re­buke, the best strat­egy is to hold back on any re­sponse and take a breath so you can take ac­tion rather than sim­ply re­act. Be silent for awhile… let the other per­son speak. Con­sciously sep­a­rate the per­son from the prob­lem, pay at­ten­tion to what might be the real is­sue and then care­fully re­frame the is­sue in re­sponse. If you have time, write down your strat­egy and prac­tise prior to re­spond­ing.

Make an ef­fort to know the col­league — In my view, good work­place re­la­tion­ships re­quire just as much ef­fort as a per­sonal fam­ily re­la­tion­ship. Get to know your col­league, iden­tify strengths you ad­mire and be sure to praise them for this. Build rap­port by learn­ing what makes them tick, what they like, how they spend their free time and their av­enues of pride. When peo­ple show re­spect by mak­ing an ef­fort to con­nect, it’s ap­pre­ci­ated and cre­ates a bet­ter foun­da­tion for a work­ing re­la­tion­ships. Re­mem­ber, no one wants to co-op­er­ate with some­one who ap­pears to be against them.

No mat­ter where you work, no mat­ter what job you hold, there will al­ways be a col­league who presents a re­la­tion­ship chal­lenge. The so­lu­tion is to de­velop a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship as quickly as you can, be­cause when you have trust, prob­lems can be re­solved. When there is dis­trust, fear or dis­re­spect, col­le­gial re­la­tion­ships go by the way­side and con­flict re­sults. How­ever, no mat­ter what your role, my ad­vice is to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to build a har­monis­tic work­place. Af­ter all, this is what lead­ers do!

Source: Sloppy Work Most An­noy­ing Be­hav­iour, Cana­dian HR Re­porter, June 20, 2011. Man­ag­ing As­sertively, How to Im­prove Your Peo­ple skills: A Self Teach­ing Guide, Made­lyn Bur­ley-Allen, 1995, John Wi­ley and Sons.

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