Having difficult conversations with a colleague at work.


Do you love your job, but just not your co-workers? If this is how you can describe your feelings about your job, you may want to continue reading on. Unfortunately, when placed in a similar position, one that involves difficult or unruly co-workers, many people assume that their only option is to resign from their current position. Of course, it is more than possible for you to do so, but did you know that you do have other options?

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have complications, problems, or a conflict with a co-worker of yours, there are a number of steps that you can take. If you are looking for a proven technique to deal with one or more difficult co-workers at your workplace, you will want to continue reading on.

Before examining ways in which you can handle or deal with difficult co-workers, it is important to remember that circumstances should be taken into consideration. A small conflict may be one that you can handle on your own; however, more serious problems may call for more serious actions. With that in mind, one of the first things that you should do, when looking to deal with a difficult co-worker, is speaking with them privately. Such conversations are what Kerry Patterson refers to as Crucial Conversations. A crucial conversation has 3 key characteristics

  • Emotions are high
  • Stakes are high
  • Opinions differ

In his book Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Kerry Patterson talks about the importance of “making it safe” before you have a crucial conversation. He goes on to explain how you need to work towards creating a mutual purpose, either by discovering it or inventing it.

Very often our conversations are driven by emotions and ego and not by facts. While your colleague may not be someone you like personally, the point to remember that at work you are 2 people who work towards common goals. So it is absolutely critical that you work on practicing the skills for having that crucial conversation.

Here are my 5 Do’s on having that crucial conversation

  1. Don’t ignore it. The problem does not just go away
  2. Don’t delay it. Time is not the healer in this case
  3. Don’t make it an ego battle. You don’t have to have the last word.
  4. Don’t make it personal. This not about you but more about the problem and the common purpose.
  5. Don’t involve your manager until you have had the crucial conversation. You won’t come across as a professional unless you have tried to resolve it first.

Here are my 5 Don’ts on having that crucial conversation

  1. Do genuinely respect the other person.
  2. Do listen with an open mind.
  3. Do share equal responsibility in improving things. You are part of the problem and must share responsibility of improving it.
  4. Do have face to face conversations. Avoid email, instant chat or phone calls wherever possible. These conversations are best done face to face where you can see the body language of each other.
  5. Do be brave enough to admit that you could be wrong.
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  1. Hi Vipin. Great to see you online and writing about your passion. I have always enjoyed working with you and your experience and skills have been of great help to me.

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