Even when our grandmothers say the wrong thing, criticize us unknowingly, and don’t seem to “get it,” we sigh a big sigh, and then we muster up the patience and understanding needed to help them. We don’t let our anger or frustration take over.
WE NEED TO DO THE SAME WITH OUR DIFFICULT COLLEAGUES.
I know that you are probably cringing right now, but I encourage you to hear me out.
Why do our grandmother’s act the way they do? Because they have been conditioned to do so, they don’t always realize what they are doing, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care because they are grandmas.
It’s the exact same thing with your difficult colleague.
All of our difficult colleagues are acting the way that they are because they have been conditioned to do so. They are acting within their values, and it just happens that what they value and what we value don’t align.
And if they aren’t acting within their value system, they are most likely acting from their defense mechanisms, which kick in unknowingly in times of stress and insecurity. When our defense mechanisms takes over, it is only the most self-aware of us that even notice. It’s like some other person temporarily takes over, and we lose sight of what really matters.
Finally, your difficult colleague could just be an ass, plain and simple. They know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and they don’t give a shit who gets hurt in the process. (We love to believe that this is behind all of our difficult colleagues, but it isn’t--it’s usually the first two.)
If you really want to turn things around with your difficult colleague, I urge you to start treating them like your grandma. We cannot influence people to change if we do not value them.
- You will have to let them think they are right, while also giving them an alternative perspective.
- You will have to practice patience and kindness, even in the face of absurdity and criticism.
- You will have to ask lots of questions, and help them to understand for themselves how their actions have repercussions.
If you start to value your colleague, like you value your grandma, I promise that your work environment will start turning around.