A colleague slips into your office like Maxwell Smart. He looks around, shuts the door behind him and begins to complain about the new boss.
Your stomach drops as he tells you that she has “done it again!” After all, you know where this conversation is going – you’ve had it many times before.
The truth is, you appreciate being seen as a good sounding board by your colleague. And, you know exactly how he feels because you too have experienced difficulty working with the new boss and her seeming inability to “play nice” with others.
But you also know intuitively that this kind of chat is a waste of time.
How can you change the conversation so that you and your colleague feel empowered instead of dis-satisfied?
The two of you are engaging in a particular dance that is all too familiar.
If you don’t dance along, you risk losing your colleagues friendship. If you keep dancing, the two of you will end up slumped in the corner nursing four sore feet and two migraines.
And your colleague is not the only one who wants to dance with you! There are office politics all around you.
A trip to the kitchen for a cup of coffee can feel more dangerous than the first day of Kindergarten. And at the end of each day, you get the feeling that you and your colleagues have simply marched around the same circle playing “Ring around the Rosie.”
When all is said and done there is just one choice; to “all fall down.” But what if that is not the only choice?
Coach Me Quick Tips for Changing the Conversation:
If you simply listen to your colleagues with empathy but without offering your own stories and embellishments, he will most likely run out of steam and leave feeling that he has been heard by you.
2. Be proactive.
Spend more time thinking about how you would like things to be at the office than you do being frustrated by how they are currently. Focus on what you want and watch the solutions emerge!
3. Separate yourself from the emotion of the issue.
Treat the colleague who is upset or complaining as you would a child who is upset about something that happened at school. Support him in finding his own solutions.
4. Address your issues to people who can solve them.
Be direct, honest, kind and collaborative.
Remember that you have more power than you think – especially when you leave your emotions out of the mix. Notice what the humans in your sphere of influence are doing and accept them for who and where they are. Then help them move forward without judgment.