Anyone giving you that nails on a chalk board feeling currently?
With so much going on at the moment people may be getting on your nerves a little more easily. Your defences may be down and your patience a little tried at the moment. Given the world we live in, people we didn’t like at work or previously found annoying are currently even more so. Let me outline some extra tools in your toolkit to help you deal with this.
1. Remind yourself why this relationship is important to you. This may have to do with your job, your reputation or because the relationship is presently a distraction and draining your energy. Once you’ve found your hook, why you need to work on this, now consider how you need to interact to create and maintain the relationship you need so that you can do your work. Remember that your organisation expects you to manage and maintain your workplace relationships. How you do this reflects on you.
2. Let some ‘go through to the keeper’. Choose a random number of little irritations or provocations that you just aren’t even going to allow to register. Perhaps 4, 6 or 9 a day before you even turn any attention to it.
3. Given that you are having an emotional reaction to this person: frustration, annoyance, dislike etc. invite your rational brain to give you some advice. We know that emotions will always trump our rational brain, so you will need to consciously say “Oi. Rational brain. I need you to step up and take control”. Phrases to coach yourself may include “What would you tell your partner/child/sibling/best friend to do in this situation?” and “What would your partner/child/sibling/best friend tell you to do?”. Your rational brain may advise things such as, make your discussions with them more structured, possibly shorter, always greet them and have 1-3 minutes of small talk in the morning (or over zoom) just like you do with other colleagues.
4. Perhaps X has been sent to you as a “challenge” to allow you to develop and stretch you. Perhaps there is opportunity in managing yourself around X. How are you responding to that challenge? Perhaps in the future this is the testing ground you will benefit from.
5. Check your own behaviour. When someone “gets” to us our behaviour tends to slip. Is It them, or is it you? You’re probably saying, “it’s definitely them”. The more realistic answer is: it’s both of you. This can be hard to accept, but it usually does take two.
- For example, you may start talking negatively about them, or sending out negative body language vibes in team meetings. The temptation to gossip about them may be appealing. Ask yourself, what good will this do? Be honest…will it help your relationship with X? Will it help you be viewed positively for a promotion? No. Will it make you or your division more productive? Of course not.
- Sometimes we respond negatively to a colleague because they are criticising us. Perhaps the criticism has some merit? For example, your colleague is just putting it out there when, for example, she asks, “Are you going to get that report done on time?”, is she having a go at you or perhaps your report is sometimes late and that stresses her out? If it’s the latter, you can make things better. Ask yourself if your justification “Well what she does is worse” is an honest response to you getting the report in on time. Fix your relationship by fixing your own behaviour. The behaviour you more easily control is yours and that includes how you react to others. This is good news!
6. Raise it… talk about it. Perhaps there are small things you can ask them to do differently or requests you can make of them. You don’t have to say “You are driving me crazy with your overtalking”. It may just be as easy as saying “Could our daily team meetings be 30 minutes or less”. Or perhaps it’s obvious you both don’t like each other. You could try something like “We’re not getting along that great, what can we do? Let’s try to brainstorm what’s getting in our way.”
Obviously, if you have a colleague who is more than merely annoying you at the moment or getting to you a little more easily, then you may have a significantly more complex issue that requires different strategies or even formal interventions. Inappropriate behaviour or ongoing issues should be resolved as quickly as possible.