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Confronting an annoying colleague at work

Your colleague is not your family member…

Yes I said it! So fighting really dirty and making up on a clean slate so easily as you do with family may not apply here but you can still face the challenge of confronting an annoying colleague you have to work with in a tactical manner.

Here are a few tactics to make it worth the push.

Find Out the Root Cause

The thing that annoys you about your colleague is two-fold, maybe you haven’t thought about it this way.

Could it be based on attitude? A passive-aggressive nature when you disagree on issues?, manipulative towards you or management? or is it based on work-related problems? sloppy work passed unto you? missed deadlines caused by them and you both had to take the blame?

I guess you are thinking now where the problem lies. Which is good, and could help you to be more precise about what annoys you with this colleague or colleagues- Yikes, I hope its not the latter because that would be a long battle with so many people at once.


Be ready For the Worst

When tempers are flying high, it is easy to “loose your cool” and within the next minute be sorry for the things you said and did in such a short second. Trust me, you don’t want to be at that end of the fuse but you can always prepare for how things might play out when you decide to confront this person because it is best to be prepared than disappointed when things escalate very quickly or if you don’t get the response you’re aiming for.

A response could be the person acknowledging their behavior with a plan to work on it or it could take a turn and the person lashes out and calls you out on your own shortcomings.

people sitting near table with laptop computer-Unsplash @campaign_creators

Stick to the Issue Not the Person

Even if your colleague has an attitude, your focus should be on how their attitude affects the quality of work you produce as a team.

Maybe they are always negative and it brings a low morale to everyone else. And if it is based on their work, oh then you can also clearly articulate why the whole team keeps getting a lower score compared to other teams due to missed deadlines.

Remove the Focus from You

If you notice i kept mentioning “the team”. This is deliberate. Confrontation does not necessarily have to be about just you and the other person involved in the discussion but how it affects everything and everyone. Also, it keeps the focus off you and more to the organization.

Like i said in the beginning, your colleague is not your family member, however, you are both there to accomplish the strategic goals of the organization you work for and your differences shouldn’t affect that.  To add to this, I’ve seen instances where a narcissistic person is confronted about how their behavior affects everything and they take it a top notch saying that “Oh well, they are known to always have an effect on everyone” Like seriously? What did I say, what did you hear? Don’t let that get to you, remain focused on the issue and the organization, not the person.

Have a Resolution Plan

Your plans about what you intend to achieve after confronting this colleague should be laid out, and if possible, documented. That way, everyone on the team can always refer to it. That is of course, if it is an intervention kind of confrontation.

For example Robert is always late and you tell him ” hey Robert, your lateness [confront the issue] is causing the team to mix up schedules and exceed deadline we need to work on together [mention the consequence]. By next month[date & type of resolution], you’ll need to come in at the designated time, if you can’t, then let the manager know at least 48 hours before and update the team on the group slack/chat so we don’t have to wait for you. If not, then i will have to send in the report without you”.

If Robert tries to shut you up by whinnying or shouting, maintain your professional tone of voice, keep your cool,  if you weren’t smiling before, don’t smile. If you were smiling when you started talking, keep smiling but repeat your statement- the issue+consequence of his attitude on the team & organization=your resolution.

Emphasize the resolution and end the conversation.

In communication, you are communicating the idea. At this point, you can walk away. Why?

Because the day you have the confrontation and disclose your resolution plan is not the same time to casually add it to another conversation. That way, your emphasis is on the issue and it is not compressed into other pending things at work.

I’d love to hear you tackle this. But if you are still not sure on how to tackle this, then join my mailing list to get more tips on communication.


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