Sneaky Sara in Purchasing, that salesguy who thinks T&E rules don’t apply to him … even your co-worker in Finance who eats those smelly lunches at his desk every day. There’s probably (at least) one person in your office who really gets under your skin.
This is the year to put an end to it … for good.
No one’s suggesting you toss those putrid lunches or hit the sales guy over the head with your T&E policy manual (no matter how badly you’re tempted to). But there are some other steps you can take to minimize the impact that person has on your workday.
Check out the six steps to sanity, even with the most trying co-workers:
- Don’t wait another day. You may think you’ll eventually become desensitized to that person, but that probably won’t happen. Instead, more like the opposite will play out. You’ll become more and more aggravated by the person (and situation) that you eventually lose your patience or your temper and react in a less-than-professional manner. That’s why experts recommend you address co-worker problems as early as possible, while cooler heads prevail.
- Take one step back. Before you attempt to address a problem with a coworker, think for a moment about why this person irks you so much. Does the T&E challenged salesperson irritate you because he doesn’t follow the rules or because you feel he doesn’t respect your authority? No matter what you uncover, it doesn’t mean that person is any less to blame; it simply helps you figure out how to approach him or her.
- Talk to the person. Because approaching your nemesis is your next step. Your best bet is probably to approach the other person in private to minimize any scene, if that person doesn’t see it coming. There’s another, admittedly, more risky tack: Confront your difficult co-worker in public. But you’ll have to do it with humor. Saying to that problem sales person: “Hey, James, see that big book over there? It’s our T&E policy manual. I’d be happy to introduce you.” Is a way to defuse the situation.
- Take a self-centered approach. You often hear that to avoid turning off your audience, you shouldn’t use the words “I” or “me” too frequently when you speak. Unless, of course, you’re offering. By putting the onus on yourself, you can actually keep the other person from becoming defensive. So saying to your Finance co-worker in the next cubicle, “I have trouble concentrating when you speak so loudly on the phone” is better than “You need to be more quiet on the phone.”
- Call in reinforcements if needed. Running immediately to a supervisor, either yours or the other person’s will probably cause more bad blood. But if you haven’t seen any behavior change after your own attempts to resolve the issue, it’s probably time to enlist the help of others. Be careful about bringing other co-workers in on this … you don’t want to appear like you’re ganging up on the other person.
- Still no justice? Keep contact to a minimum. Not everything can be resolved. And while you can’t let it disrupt your job or your company’s workflow, try what you can to minimize your interaction with your nemesis. Maybe someone else in your department can audit those expense reports or matches the P.O.s Sara originates.