Truth be told, conflicts with coworkers can be some of the trickiest interpersonal issues to resolve.
To make matters even tougher, author Bob Burg says that most people aren’t skilled in the art of persuasion—an important ingredient to putting issues with colleagues at bay.
And that’s precisely why he wrote his latest book, “Adversaries Into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion”, which dishes out advice on what it takes to be an effective workplace influencer.
“That means you’re someone who consistently gets the results you want from others in such a way that you’ve made them feel genuinely good about themselves, the situation and you,” Burg explains.
Turns out that’s a profitable skill to possess.
Are you ready to begin your transformation into the ultimate office influencer?
Check out these common workplace problems and the Burg-approved strategies for handling them like a clever persuasive pro.
- YOU’VE GOT THE CUBE-MATE WHO LACKS BOUNDARIES:
Your inconsiderate coworker uses speakerphone to discuss everything from meeting recaps with clients to dinner plans with her husband; reads your computer screen over your shoulder; and readily jumps into your conversations without invitation.
So before approaching your cube-mate, take a deep breath and promise yourself to keep the stinging comments at bay.
Burg stresses the importance of using a friendly, non-accusatory tone, saying something like, “Hey, Rita, I’d love to discuss something with you that might make it a bit easier to enjoy our work environment. I really like being your cube-mate, but I’ve found myself a bit distracted lately with this big project, particularly when you take calls on speakerphone.”
This language is key because it’s friendly–you like her!–and cleverly utilizes an “I” message to describe your distractions and stress, as opposed to her bad habits. And, to keep her from feeling defensive, you’ve focused on just one affront.
Then, follow up with, “When I find myself getting distracted like that, is there a polite way to let you know that something is getting in the way of my work? I just don’t want either of us to feel bad about it if it happens again.”
This way, explains Burg, you’re getting her permission and buy-in to correct the problem in the future. Over the course of time, through continued self-control and kindness, you’re reteaching Rita to do what you want: be a good office mate.
READ ALSO: 7 Best tips for handling debt no matter how much you are owing
- YOU’RE STUCK MANAGING THE OFFICE SOREHEAD:
As a new project manager, you’ve just been assigned a team that includes a testy employee who’s notorious for picking apart everything from team-building exercises to the office snack selection.
The “Respect Different Belief Systems” Influencer Strategy: Burg says this problem is a classic example of conflicting perspectives.
You may never be able to fully understand your employee’s attitude because your belief system–a combination of your upbringing, culture, and experiences–is different. But you can work toward an arrangement that satisfies both of you.
Follow this up with, “Yet, sometimes, I feel as though your thoughts are communicated in a negative way–which is okay, because things aren’t always rosy. But the next time you have a concern, I’d love for you to also offer a solution.”
By framing the situation in this way, you’re showing your colleague that you value his perspective, which can lead to more cooperation and collaboration in the future.
“This builds something that’s very important in business and leadership: trust,” Burg says. “That’s crucial because people will do business, refer business, and allow themselves to be influenced by people they know they can trust.”
- YOUR BOSS TAKES CREDIT FOR YOUR WORK:
You’ve got great ideas, and your supervisor loves them so much so that you suspect she’s been playing them up as her own in high-level meetings.
So kick off the conversation with a little old-fashioned flattery, making sure your gratitude is clear before segueing to your concerns. Consider saying, “Tolu, I really enjoy working with you. I hope you feel the same way–and that my work and suggestions are important to the team.”
Hopefully, she’ll quickly agree, and you can move on to your next sentence: “And I’m always very happy to know that you present some of my best ideas to others.”
Now that you’ve made known your appreciation for what she does for you, gently bring up your concern with something like, “I sometimes wonder if I’m getting all the proper credit that I should, given my level of participation. What do you think?”
“Without saying, ‘Hey, I think you’re stealing my ideas,’ you’ve asked your boss in a polite and nonthreatening way what the deal is. And she can’t let her ego get to her because there wasn’t a real accusation in there,” Burg says.
- YOU WANT A RAISE FROM YOUR STINGY MANAGER:
You heard that your company’s revenue flatlined this year–but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re long overdue for a promotion, and you want to bring up the topic with your boss.
The “Set the Proper Framework” Influencer Strategy: As a persuader, Burg says it’s your responsibility to reduce potentially difficult transactions by framing them in a way that’s beneficial for everyone.
“The framework is the foundation from which everything else emanates,” he says. So if you approach someone as your ally, the situation is likely to play out that way.
Burg suggests language like, “I know budgets are tight this year, but I’d like to talk to you about how we still can work within that to justify a raise.”
After that, present your manager with a quantifiable list detailing your outstanding accomplishments over the past few years.
“Be prepared to show him when, where, and how what you’ve been doing has added to the bottom line, not taken from it,” Burg says, adding that this “I” message framework creates a realistic–not self-indulgent–tone that will endear your manager to your cause.
- YOU NEED TO REIN IN AN ENTITLED NEWBIE AT THE WORK PLACE:
Your fresh-out-of-college assistant wants to skip the less glamorous, everyday tasks she was hired to do–like processing contracts–to jump into high-profile projects above her skill set.
So start by showing your assistant that we’ve all been there, with something along the lines of, “Rachel, you know you have so much potential, and you’re going to do great things at this company. I can see how anxious you are to jump in, and that reminds me of myself when I was your age.”
Acknowledging her eagerness & interest will put her at ease–as will the empathy that you’ve been in the same spot yourself.
Then continue with, “Right now, we really need you to focus on the duties for your current position so that you can learn all you need to in order to be an even greater asset both at this company and later in your career.”
Now you’re tying in her own career and future, and phrasing it in a way that provides increased value to her, a tactic that supports one of Burg’s universal rules for influencers.
One thought on “How To Handle The Most Difficult Problems At Work”
Comments are closed.