HOW TO DEAL WITH THE CO-WORKER YOU HATE

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 7, 2013

Co-workers are like family: you can’t choose them and you can’t shoot them.

Excuse us if we’re being a bit grim here, but you know what we’re talking about: some co-workers are like that one creepy relative you can’t stand. Thankfully, you only have to see that relative once a year on Thanksgiving. But the co-worker who buzzes around making your life miserable, always getting on your nerves—yep, they’re around every day.

Here’s the cold water: you have to work it out. A bad work relationship will bleed over to other parts of your life. The same argument you have with your co-worker, you’re having with your wife, your husband, your child, your lover. And the negativity that is produced by the tension between you two casts a dark shroud over the office, which holds the company back from focusing on growth. Worker conflict equals stagnancy, for both co-workers and company.

Are you ready for some extra cold water? Close your eyes: you love it when the co-worker you hate is responsible for your misery, because you get off the hook (learn more on how to deal with scapegoating in the office). When they go crazy and start arguing with you, or when they do something that distracts you from your job, you suddenly get “permission” to turn a blind eye to that email you didn’t answer, that copy machine you didn’t fix, that client you were supposed to call back; in your mind, it’s their fault that you can’t do your job right.

That all has to end now. And the killer here is that you can’t go to your supervisor for help: it’s between the two of you, and no external party can help fix this. Here are a few steps to help you become the better co-worker and start the mending process:

1)    Realize that there is a difference of personalities: Whether they’re a millennial and you’re a baby boomer, or they were raised in a completely different background, realizing that you and you co-worker have totally different personalities is the first step to getting to the heart of the problem.

2)    Understand that external forces may be at play: There may be other factors at play here—forces such as stress, busyness and family conflict—that may be contributing to the tension on either side. Your co-worker has a life outside the office, and his external problems may be just as bad as yours.

3)    Confront them formally: Tell your co-worker that you want to fix the situation, but do so formally. Don’t blindside them with a, “Hey, we have to talk, now.” Set up an appointment, and when you’re both comfortable, describe the issue at hand instead of freaking out and getting emotional. Instead of calling them an ass, tell them how they make you feel. And don’t make this meeting about yourself…

4)    Let them speak: This is the hardest part of all. You have to let the co-worker speak. Even if all they do is dump on you, it just exacerbates the situation if you cut them off and don’t let them spill their guts. Be prepared to be dumped on during your appointment with them. Remember, you’re killing the company by not resolving this—take it for the team and listen.

5)    Make a request: Make a formal request. If they’re on Twitter and Facebook all the time and it’s distracting you, make a request for them to at least curb their usage: “Can you please spend a little less time on social networking sites? It distracts me and makes it hard for me to focus on work.” Be prepared to get your request denied. If this happens, ask them, “What’s a way this can happen?” If they’re still not budging, see if you can propose another request, or offer a different solution for the same request. As long as you operate in a loving way, you can keep proposing until you work something out. Also, avoid being a hypocrite: be prepared to accept a request yourself in order to have yours fulfilled.

6)    Stop trying to be right—start being powerful: You like being right. Who doesn’t? But do you care more about being right, or having a great team? You can either focus on being right and keep battling with your coworker, or work it out and focus on having a great, kick-ass business that makes a lot of money and makes a difference on the planet. A lot of the times, the conflict stems from both you and your coworker wanting to prove the other wrong. Instead, be powerful—think about the company before you think about your ego.

We get it. At the end of the day, you want to be acknowledged for what you do, you want to be loved for all the hard work you put in. Start by being nice to your coworker (read our tips on how to turn your office enemy into a frenemy). Here’s some homework: find one thing you think your co-worker does well and then compliment them for it. They’ll be stunned: after all, this attitude is not your usual modus operandi, and their perspective of you will change. Subsequently, don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers what they like about what you do. Having a functional relationship with your team is the key to your company’s success.

IS DRINKING ON THE JOB OKAY?

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SHOW DATE: JULY 10, 2013

The beer keg is the new water cooler—and your boss has decided this. Bringing alcohol into the office is becoming more and more prevalent these days, especially in Silicon Valley firms. It’s certainly not at Mad Men proportions, where keeping a flask in your desk was mandatory, but it’s on the level where the presence of alcohol in the office is no longer a test of willpower and a measure of self-restraint. When your boss brings alcohol, he wants you to drink—at least a little.

This isn’t a free pass to get plastered and use the office plant as a urinal, however. Alcohol in the office has its strategic value: it keeps employees on the premises and let’s them unwind and feel more at home while on the job. What it is not is an excuse to drown out your workplace miseries. So relax, swig a beer or two—just be sure to limit your intake.

 

By Aleksandr Smechov

FIRE OF THE WEEK: ROUNDPEGG.COM’S FOUNDER BRENT DAILY

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next.

SHOW DATE: JULY 10, 2013

When you offer a forward-thinking policy at your company, you can’t just peddle backwards by sticking to tradition.

Roundpegg.com’s founder Brent Daily gives his employees one-month paternity leave. Yet, when his first baby was born, Daily took only a week off, and when his second baby was born, that number dwindled to only a few days. When asked why he took so little time off, he responded that he didn’t want to let his team down and that it would be unfair if he didn’t carry his share of the burden.

People like Daily are the reason why men in America are afraid to take time off to be with their newborns. By framing paternity leave in terms of what people will think of you, you limit yourself to a set persona that you must follow—stay on the job and work through your child’s first weeks, or risk being a bad employee and not looking like a “real” man.

Men: stop following the pack. Take as long as they give you, or we’ll all remain stuck in the past century.

 

By Aleksandr Smechov

CELEBRATE THE WORKING MOM

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SHOW DATE: JULY 3, 2013

It’s not the 1900s anymore. Yet, according to a new study, 51% of people believe that working moms are ruining the country and destroying the new generation by not staying at home with their kids. At the same time, 79% of people in the same study said that they understand why moms need to work in this economy and that it takes two people to earn a living. Are you part of this group of backwards traditionalists?

Moms are great multitaskers—after all, being a mom is the best job training one can get. So the next time you decide to get on your high horse and judge the mom sitting in the next cubicle over for not being at home with her kids, thank your lucky stars that she is on your side, and start thinking how you can learn from her. Because that’s what leaders do—they stop judging and find solutions.

 

By Aleksandr Smechov

Manage co-worker conflict the RIGHT way

If a co-worker has done something to really upset you, you need to talk to him about it–holding a silent grudge doesn’t help anyone. But confronting your co-workers in public is going to do more harm than good. There’s a better way to approach this tricky situation, and Auntie Evan tells you how in this video.

DEALING WITH THE PAULA DEEN IN YOUR OFFICE

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SHOW DATE: JUNE 26, 2013

Do you have a Paula Dean in your office? Someone who constantly whines about others’ problems, crying “poor me, poor me,” while never even considering others’ feelings? Worse yet, is it possible that someone is you?

You’ve worked and lived with “victims” your whole life—and at some point you may have even played the part and been the Paula Deen. The Food Network star, who was recently ousted from her show after the exposure of racial slurs she made years ago, made a vital misstep that greatly impacted her chances at rebuilding her reputation: she let her apology breathe. She allowed herself to fall back on an old apology and then proceeded to complain about her problems.

What Paula didn’t take into account was that it’s the injured party that gets to decide how much apologizing is enough. It’s the same in the office—you don’t get to apologize and say, “I’ve done it, it’s over.” Glazing over the problem will only put the injured party into a higher state of agitation and halt their productivity even further. To avoid this, there are two important factors you need to always watch out for in your office: how to avoid being a victim and how to deal with one.

So how do you avoid being a big, thumb-sucking victim at work? Stop with excuses! Whatever your trump card—a grave illness, hard times at home, working too hard—by making it about yourself, you’re putting your troubles and feelings above everybody else’s. If you are responsible, take responsibility; don’t pen it down to personal issues or others’ insensitivity.

It’s easy to just tell yourself to take responsibility, but the actual process requires several necessary actions that not everybody is clear on. Here are three steps to get you started:

1)    Don’t be stubborn, apologize: the first step to avoiding victimizing yourself when you’ve done something wrong is saying two magic words (well, not really magic): “I’m sorry.” And once may not be enough. You may have to apologize multiple times before the injured party will feel understood. Paula Deen neglected the fact that her apology was not enough. This only further corroded her career and reputation. Neglect the injured party at work and you may end up the same.

2)    Don’t let your ego get in the way: Does pride get in your way? Are you the higher-up or fellow co-worker who never stoops so low as to say a simple “I’m sorry” to your lowly underlings? News flash: this mentality is a flaccid ego trip. It will only result in unsatisfied, frustrated co-workers, and make you look incompetent because you can’t take responsibility. In the words of Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction: “F**k pride.” (You can fill in the blanks.) Pride is just another deflection, another facet of the “victim” mentality. Pride is one of the reasons Paula Deen is still in a hot mess for comments she made years ago. Who can respect someone who can’t even own up to their mistakes? Learn from Paula everybody.

3)    Hey, LISTEN: the most important step is to listen. Say “I’m sorry” and listen to the affected party. It doesn’t matter if you believe what they have to say is rubbish. Rushing headlong through the problem, burying it in the sand, bulldozing through the truth—these post-apology deflections will only cause more discomfort and will keep people from performing their best around you. An apology is not a one-way street, and thinking this way will lead you into a cul-de-sac. In case Paula Deen hasn’t been made an example of enough in this article, here’s another parable: Paula thought you just had to apologize and poof, all your racist comments would go up in smoke. But Paula neglected to listen—the other, more difficult half of the apology paradigm. Paula didn’t listen to how the people she affected felt about her comments. Thus Paula’s apology never formulized into anything concrete and genuine. The moral is, turn a blind eye to how the injured party feels, and your apologies will be for naught.   

But what if you are the injured party? Is your supervisor letting you and your co-workers take the heat for something he messed up because he is afraid of looking bad in front of the CEO? Is a co-worker not doing the job he’s supposed to because of personal issues he takes with him to the office? Dealing with victims can be a giant exercise in frustration. You confront them about their responsibility and they mark it off to working too hard or family troubles or whatever—as if their problems are worse than anyone else’s in the office.

Relax. There are ways to deal with an office victim other than bludgeoning them to death with a stapler. Here are two steps to start you off:

1)    Mind your setting: will you confront the victim in front of all your co-workers and call them out on their selfish ways, or will you be smart and approach them in private when there is no social pressure that would cause them to raise their defenses? Setting matters. A victim is much more likely to deflect your criticism when others are around. Approach them in a low-stress, quiet environment where the two of you can talk—they’re more likely to listen this way. On a slightly different note regarding setting, keep in mind that when talking to a victim, you don’t have to dismiss their problems—they might be really struggling at home or internally. You can even try and help your co-worker – just do it after work. Part of what makes an office victim a victim is his tendency to bring personal problems into a place of productivity, thus brining others down with him.

2)    Yeah, you’re right—so what… kill them with kindness: this is a big one, get ready. So you approach your office victim and they use their flurry of excuse cards to deflect any criticism you throw at them. This is where you have to stop and consider: “Am I doing this to prove that I’m right?” First off, let’s get something out of the way: You’re right, they’re wrong. It’s true. But so what? Being right won’t help you run an efficient office. This is the part when you take one for the team: kill the victim with kindness (remember what Marcellus Wallace said?). It’s easier for the victim to hear you out when you don’t sound like you’re being confrontational. Tell them how you were affected by their actions and then ask them to apologize. After all, you’re helping them save their reputation. If you’re coming into the fray with the intent to be right and to prove the victim wrong, not only will your argument flail, flounder and fall upon deaf ears, but you will be adopting the mindset of the victim himself—in other words, you’ll only be doing something for your self-benefit.

Remember, you’re in it for the team, not yourself. Paula Deen wasn’t thinking about the “team” when she apologized—she was out to protect her self-interest and retain her pride. And you can see how far that got her.

 

By Aleksandr Smechov

TURN YOUR OFFICE ENEMY INTO A FRENEMY

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SHOW DATE: JUNE 19, 2013

We’ve all had one: that insufferable co-worker who just makes your day a living nightmare – your office enemy. Everything he says seems to go against you. You do most of the work yet he gets most of the credit. He even looks like a weasel. But what if you could turn your enemy into a frenemy by just adapting a new mindset?

Of course, venting about the annoying weasel in your office is therapeutic and even important when practiced in moderation. But when you find yourself start to shut down, become less productive and generally let your emotions get the best of you to the point of not doing your job to the best of your ability, it’s time to reassess the situation from a different point of view – your enemy’s.

Okay, so your office enemy puts you down, contradicts you and never seems to get the blame, even when they are clearly wrong. Yet, buying that voodoo doll and sticking it with your mom’s old sewing needles isn’t going to progress the situation in any positive direction, and your complaining will not only get tiresome, but may even eventually cost you a promotion and create problems at home.

But how do you survive your day if the most annoying person in the office always seems to bring it down? Here are a few steps to get you started on your path to pacification:

1) Acting as if: When somebody in Alcoholics Anonymous wants to confront another member who is in doubt of their drinking problem, they play an old game called “acting as if.” They turn to a new member and say: “let’s just pretend that you are an alcoholic – nobody is saying you are, but you can certainly try and look at the world through one’s eyes, right?” It’s a helpful, gentle way to give someone genuine doubt to the way they think things really are. Try this with yourself the next time you find yourself ripping your hair out. Tell yourself: “let’s just pretend for a second that maybe it’s not only my enemy; maybe I’m a factor in the problem as well.” Acting as if helps put things into perspective, potentially give you new insights and provides a helping stepping-stone into Step #2, which is…

2) Don’t assume you know how the other person will react: You think you got it all figured out. You know what your office enemy will say before he even opens his big yap. The fact is, what you think you know is baloney, and might very well be part of the problem. The next time the weasel says something that ticks you off, stop, drop and think: “Yes, that was really annoying, maybe even downright rude, but what if I am just creating that rudeness in my mind because I expected him to say it?” So when your annoying co-worker pipes up and contradicts you, don’t assume he are out to get you – he might simply be passionate about his idea. You are just creating unnecessary tension and strife by using predisposed notions.

3) Turn a hot war into a cold war: Now that you’ve shifted your mindset and stopped anticipating your office enemy’s next move, actively seek more positive explanations why he acts this way. If he is arguing against the idea you brought up during the company meeting, don’t immediately write it off as personal. What if he really believes his idea will help the company? Take that unrelenting torrent of anger that forms whenever the weasel speaks and convert it into a gentle breeze of assistance. Ask why he is so adamant about his idea and if there is any way you can assist him in making it happen. Cool him down – if you can’t make him into an ally, at least you can upgrade his status to “frenemy.”

You can hear the moaning already: “But I’ve tried all those things already and they are still putting me down.” In that case, you just have to let go. In the end, it’s not worth wasting all your energy. That’s energy you could be putting into yourself and your job. Playing pin the needle on the voodoo doll and sending anonymous nasty emails will only exhaust you and make your job (and life) miserable. Just like with that sad, drunk uncle in your family, you can’t just walk away. The problem will stay there, but you have to be the better man and focus your energy on the job – not the weasel.

 

By Aleksandr Smechov

HIRE OF THE WEEK: FRIENDLY’S SPORTS BAR AND GRILL MANAGER DENNY DOMACHOWSKI

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next.

SHOW DATE: JUNE 12, 2013

It’s Father’s Day, so when Joe Gibson walks into Friendly’s Bar and Grill with his 3-year-old son, Denny Domachowski, the manager, makes an exception and lets the boy eat in. It’s a sweet gesture but the boy is being picky about the food and one of the waitresses decides to relieve some stress with her co-workers and print “F****ing Needy Kids” on the receipt. It’s all fun and games till she accidentally gives the joke receipt to Gibson, who flips out and goes to the St. Louis press, demanding the waitress get fired for insulting his child. Instead of succumbing to media pressure, Domachowski courageously refuses to fire the waitress because of the small mistake and stands up for his employee. Don’t you wish you had a boss like Denny?   

 

By Aleksandr Smechov

INCREASE YOUR SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCE

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SHOW DATE: JUNE 12, 2013

High IQ? Who cares—that’s soooo 20th Century. These days, employers care more about your EQ—your emotional intelligence. And this year, there’s a new factor that hiring managers might be evaluating you for during job interviews: your Spiritual Intelligence.

Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to have passages of Ezekiel memorized (that’s soooo 15th Century). Cindy Wigglesworth, author of SQ21-The 21 Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, defines spiritual intelligence as “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of the situation.” In other words, when work blows up, will you blow up at your boss and co-workers, or will you be able to take it all in stride? Yeah, you can kinda see why hiring managers would want to evaluate you for stuff like that, so we suggest you pick up the book and do some of the exercises.

LUSTING FOR A CO-WORKER? YOU’RE NOT ALONE

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SHOW DATE: MAY 29, 2013

We’re onto you. You’re smitten with one of your co-workers, and you’re terrified someone’s going to find out.  How do we know this?  Simple statistics.  According to a recent study, 83% of Americans have lusted after a co-worker.  And sometimes it doesn’t stop at lust: 15% of all marriages began on the job.  That’s good news for you and the hottie on the 3rd floor–wedding bells could be in your future.  But it could also be bad news after you tie the knot, because half of all affairs begin at work.  Then again, only 10% of people know someone who is having a workplace affair. What does that mean? Well, you can probably rest easy, because it’s unlikely that anyone is on to you.

Finally, just in case you’re lusting after a co-worker or thinking about hooking up, who should you be most diligent to hide it from? Not your boss, but the receptionist. Statistically, she’s the most likely to discover what’s going on. So, if it’s the receptionist you’re lusting after, you’re in good shape: chances are good no one will ever know!