Have you turned a negative situation with a coworker to a positive one?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Gretchen Eslami 6 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #139121

    Dale S. Brown
    Participant

    Hi, I am writing an article about getting along with coworkers. It’s for NARFE magazine- a column called The Civil Service Coach. I am interested in any pointers or stories of people who turn relations with coworkers around- are able to change a negative situation to positive. I will not quote you- but if you want to be quoted, give permission! Thanks

    Also, if you have general tips (which are specific), I’d love to hear them.

  • #139137

    Gretchen Eslami
    Participant

    I don’t have any specific stories, but Ragan had a pretty interesting story about a 20 year study conducted by professor Arie Shirom at Tel Aviv University. In short, he found that low social support in the workplace correlated with higher mortality rates. His findings may be of interest to you. Good luck!

  • #139135

    Anne R. Urbanski
    Participant

    I’m a native of New Orleans, LA, and six years ago, when Hurricane Katrina struck my home town, I probably got a bit too wrapped up in what was going on down there (numerous members of my family had to evacuate hundreds of miles away for a month or more). One women in our office, D, apparently got upset by how often I mentioned Katrina (to people in general, not here in particular), and at one point told me, “If I hear another word about that d*** hurricane I’m going to scream.” After that I avoided her and vice versa, until about 2 years ago, when one of the people who cleans our building discovered a wallet that had been left out. The wallet belonged to D. I took it for safekeeping, gave it to D the next day– and after that D was sweet as pie to me. So I guess if you can do someone a favor, maybe their attitude will change.

  • #139133

    Anonymous

    Ms. Brown, I worked on a topic similar to this earlier. Please send me a message and I would be happy to share some of my findings. Hope this helps!

  • #139131

    Dale S. Brown
    Participant

    Can you send me the info? I just became your friend- apparently that’s how I write you. Also, why not write a message about your point so that everyone on this thread can learn from it?

    Dale Brown

  • #139129

    Dale S. Brown
    Participant

    Wow! I had a similar experience- a conflict with a coworker. We were really at odds. Then, I decided to take him out for his birthday- and he apologized for his behavior and we became well-connected.

  • #139127

    Anonymous

    Oh sure! One way to turn a negative situation into a positive situation with a coworker, which I have seen work is finding a common ground. Normally, when people are having an altercation with another person they can only see negative things about this person. Instead of focusing on adding up the negative characteristics of this person, why not concentrate on discovering some positive ones. Look around at their cubicle. Do they have pictures up of their children like you do? Are they a fan of the same sports team as you? What about vacation pictures, inspirational quotes, or the way they’ve organized their workspace? Do any of these catch your eye? Did they have a good idea at the last meeting, which you agreed with? Do they normally volunteer for projects like you do? If you can find something positive to connect on, you will soon find out that your coworker is not so bad, and it will be easier for you to take a more positive attitude with this coworker. Most people are sensitive to how others treat them, so hopefully your coworker will pick up on the fact that you are making an effort and the situation will improve.

    Give them a compliment! For most people it is difficult to stay upset and difficult to work with after you give them a compliment. It might be enough to change their attitude and get the ball rolling toward a better relationship between you and your coworker.

    See the situation through their eyes. See if you can step into their shoes and see why they might be upset. Did you not acknowledge their contributions in front of the boss at the last meeting? Did you not ask their opinion on how to respond to a customer? Did you ignore them at the last holiday party? Yes, it may not have been something you did, but perhaps one of these actions added up to create the negative situation. Be aware of your actions and how your coworker may interpret and react to them.

    One way to look at a problem is to see it as a learning process. Even if you have an extremely difficult coworker whom you can’t seem to get through to and who will not graciously return your efforts to improve the relationship, you don’t have to lose the lesson. What could you do differently next time to not arrive at this situation? How can you interact with a difficult coworker in the future which might not lead to such a difficult situation? How can you change your tone, interactions, and reactions in future? Yes, this situation might not have gone the way you would have liked, but you can learn from it to avoid similar problems in the future.

  • #139125

    Dale S. Brown
    Participant

    That was a great study, Thanks for telling me about it.

  • #139123

    Dale S. Brown
    Participant

    What a great group of ideas. I really appreciated your thoughts- and the specific comments you made to support your point. I particularly like what you said about seeing the situation through their eyes. It is so easy to ignore people, hurt their feelings, but not even notice what you did.

    I worked for years at walking with awareness. That meant that if I was walking around the office, I would consciously try to not think about my work. But instead to wbe aware of people greeting me or trying to catch my eye. I tried to think about my work at my desk- and be aware of people when I was around the office. Now that it is a habit, I rarely get into trouble for ignoring people.

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