Frankly Speaking – 3/31/14

Dear Frank,

      There are a couple of people that I work with that no one seems to get along with. One acts like he is above everyone else and the other tries to act overly friendly and gets on almost everyone’s nerves. What is the best way that we can deal with them on a daily basis?

On a previous segment of Frankly Speaking, I touched upon a somewhat related topic regarding making friends in the workplace. In that response I described how oftentimes the job itself is one of just a few things you might have in common with someone else. The truth is you certainly won’t be best friends with everyone you work with. Indeed there will be people toward whom you gravitate more than others.

Depending on your work environment and how much daily contact you must have with these individuals, you may simply choose to spend your time with someone else. Many people simply choose to distance themselves from anyone who has a negative impact on them. Find others whom you enjoy more and spend the majority of your time with them, if possible.

Your other option is to go the complete opposite direction and befriend your coworkers. Get to know them. Both of the people you described – the arrogant one and the overly friendly one – sound to me like individuals who are acting from a place of insecurity.

We are all insecure about different things, and we all handle those insecurities in different ways. You are seeing two of the latter manifested in these two individuals. What you don’t yet know is the “Why?”

If you’re willing and able, get to know these coworkers and eventually (likely without even having to ask directly), you’ll learn where they are coming from. Perhaps they’re nervous about being new to this job, or maybe their last position did not end well. Maybe they’re just following some bad advice about how to act in the workplace. Either way, once you understand where someone is coming from, you’re a little less likely to be as bothered by it.

An additional benefit of befriending these individuals is that you are then in position to offer feedback to them as a friend and a peer. It is obvious that both of these individuals want others’ approval. They are approaching this in a way that is not effective and actually turning others off, however. Telling this to them now, unsolicited, is likely to have a negative impact if any at all.

When genuine feedback comes from a caring person close to us, though, we are more likely to hear it and incorporate it. But remember, it is not your job (nor your right), to change anyone else. Offering feedback is one thing, but only if it comes from a place of concern for THAT person’s well-being, not your own.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only requirement that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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