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5 Things That May Surprise You About a Co-Worker

by Vivian Scott
April 2011

From Vivian Scott's Conflicts Of InterestBlog

Vivian Scott

Whether it’s the guy who interrupts every meeting with his never-ending complaints or the gal who stomps around the office for no apparent reason, it’s no fun dealing with a crabby co-worker. In fact even the calmest employee has been known to lose his cool once in a while when having to contend with the antics of a sourpuss in the workplace. The easy assumption is that the Grumpy Gus you’re up against is purposefully wreaking havoc just to needle you. That may be true in some instances, but such an explanation is more the exception than the rule. Considering these surprising things about your coworker will help you deal more effectively with his irritability.

1) He’s not out to get you. It sure feels like he’s campaigning to get you fired, publically embarrass you, or wants to take credit for your hard work, but the truth is you shouldn’t take his nit-picking personally. He’s not interested in taking anything away from you, per se; he’s really just interested in gaining something for himself. Use open-ended questions to figure out what it is he’s trying to achieve so you can help him redirect his poor attitude in a way that will help him accomplish his goals.

2) Other people like him. Yes, someone out there loves him. He happily participates in interests and hobbies with family and friends where he’s actually kind to other people. Try seeing the whole person instead of the small slice of negativity he shows you on a daily basis. Doing so will make it easier to show him a little compassion, which can make even the iciest amongst us melt. A well-placed greeting or question about his family will have him looking at you as an ally rather than an enemy.

3) He could add value to your career goals. It may be hard to fathom, but it’s quite possible that he could actually have an idea or two about how you might take the next step in your career or how you might complete your current project with an ingenious twist that’ll get you noticed. Only looking to your buddies for feedback and advice could be a mistake. The office grouch may have a shorter fuse when you propose new ideas simply because he’s “been there, done that.” You won’t know unless you ask, and you just might learn a thing or two in the process.

4) He has bad days, too. Assuming that he never gets up on the wrong side of the bed, doesn’t know what it’s like to have a bad hair day, or never becomes frustrated with a weight loss program puts your cranky co-worker into a superhuman category. No one is super human, so cut him a little slack. Perhaps there are bigger issues like healthcare, family problems and financial worries that have him seeing the problems at work as minor. His poor behavior may be temporary, so it’s okay to treat it as such.

5) He may be surprised at how his actions impact you. Taking a few minutes to have a well-intentioned conversation with Mr. Crabapple could change everything. Privately asking if you’ve done something to offend him is a great way to open a discussion about his tone, body language, or approach. He could believe that he’s coming across as someone who takes his job seriously when, in fact, you’re interpreting his lack of a smile as a personal slight. He’ll appreciate a gentle and sincere approach to what otherwise could be a contentious and defensive debate.

Biography


Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies.  She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success.  Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.     

Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways.  “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity.   Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.   

Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington.  She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes.  Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm.  Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.   

Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on www.amazon.com, www.dummies.com, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.    



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Website: www.vivianscottmediation.com

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