We have all been there. Someone wrongs us in the workplace – and we want them to know.
Not only do we want them to know – we want them to realize they wronged the WRONG person!!!
To strangle or not to strangle: That is the question
We all know strangling will not end well. So what should you do? What should you say? How can you get your point across – without losing it?
1) Keep the end in mind. It’s easy to scream and yell – or design ways to sabotage the wrong-doer. But is that really going to help your cause in the future?
It’s much healthier to think about things from a forward-looking approach. How do you want things to work in the future? Do you want Jill to address issues with you before she goes to your boss? Do you want Bob to be more solution-focused? Do you want Carl to stop talking to your people without your permission? Whatever it is, think about the most successful outcome for your team – and work towards that.
2) Give specific examples. “You need to be more accountable.” “Stop annoying others on the team.” “You should be less controlling.” This type of feedback is not helpful if you are looking to see a change in behavior. Statements like the ones above are emotional ones that may make you feel better but do not address the issue. Instead, say things like
- You recently missed your deadline for the project. When you miss the deadline, it negatively impacts others on the team – as it puts others behind. Can I count on you to hit your deadlines on the future?
- When you play your music so loud in the workplace, it distracts others from doing their job. Can you lower the volume of your music?
- The project was recently slowed down because all parts have to go through you. Do you have suggestions on how we can get others on your team involved?
Two things to notice about the statements above are that they give specific examples of the behavior and then engage the other person with a question. It is important to get feedback from the other person to ensure that you are aligned.
3) Breathe. There are no laws against uncomfortable silences. Conversations like these can become emotional and many times a good pause is what is needed. Breathe and count to 10. This is a strategy that can protect you from putting your foot in your mouth and escalating the conflict. At first, the silences could be awkward for you. But eventually you will see that it is helpful to getting to the positive outcome that you want.
4) Keep your ego in check. Many conflicts in the workplace are caused by ego. Our desire for respect and recognition from others – causes us to act and think in ways that we would not normally act. We think/say things like “I can’t believe he went to my boss like that!?!” “Why would he challenge me in public?!?”
The key to keeping our egos in check – is to separate what we want and how we feel. It’s ok to feel slighted, but how we react to that slight will determine how productive our conversations will be. Determine what you want the outcome of the conversation to be – and constantly redirect it that way.