Don’t Let a Co-Worker Turn Your Life Upside Down
When your co-worker’s behavior hurts you, you have to deal with it. You have to say something. But what do you say?
I want to talk to your friend as my friend. I would like to invite her to have dinner with me. But there’s a problem: She’s a co-worker.
That’s okay. In my culture, you have to do the following to get someone from another workplace to make an unsolicited dinner invitation to you:
• Show up in public to make the initial overtures • Follow through • Avoid conflict with the other person, but still talk about how you felt • Act interested when you meet the co-worker for the first time • Talk in an indirect, non-committal way • Say something negative, without naming names • Don’t bring up the fact that there was a conflict • Try to make the co-worker feel worse than you, in an attempt to win her approval
When I worked for a large corporation, I met a lot of co-workers who had similar patterns of behavior to what I described below. These patterns were so common, we created a policy to prevent them.
We called this policy the “Worst Person in the World” policy, because once we met someone who displayed these behaviors, we immediately tried to avoid that person in all circumstances. When dealing with other people, we learned to be as direct and non-confrontational as possible with them. We didn’t try to avoid them, we just avoided them.
But this wasn’t completely effective. Sometimes, they kept showing up. Some of these were people with whom we shared a common boss. They got what they deserved. Some, who had a higher rank than us, were the real jerks. No matter what we did, they kept showing up! We created a second policy:
We had a policy where anyone who showed up at my work could not have