Is your colleague pure evil?

 

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Crazy colleague
 

If you have ever wondered how to handle conflicts with co-workers – which I am pretty sure you have – this one is for YOU!

A Reading task to help you be a more efficient reader in English (B1/B2 and above). Most of the time when we read a text, we do not read every single word, but rather we predict what comes next based on what we read before. As you read the article, try to predict the words that are missing from the text. To give you a hint, here are the missing words:

surface – time –  respond – hard – varies – right – shifting – know – expecting – battle – information – eggshells

Is your colleague pure evil?

Obstruction, silent treatment and underhandedness. Is your colleague just evil or is there something more?

Picture these three work scenarios:

  • You ask a colleague for documents needed to take the project to the next level. No response.

  • You then ask your colleague a question at the copy machine. She pretends not to hear you.

  • During a meeting, your colleague jokes sarcastically about sensitive matters in front of others to embarrass you.

Chances are you may be dealing with passive-aggressive behaviour, where a person tries to act appropriately on the (1) ………………………….., but has a negative and obstructive attitude behind that façade, explained  Preston Ni, a communications professor and the author of How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People. He points to a Chinese proverb to sum it up nicely: “Behind the smile there’s a hidden knife.”

More than meets the eye

As with anything, the severity of the behaviour (2)………………………….. from individual to individual. “Most everybody engages in mild passive-aggressive behaviour from time to (3)…………………,” said Ni. “If I’m arguing with my friend and I don’t call her back (4)…………………. away, I’m not clinically or pathologically passive aggressive. However, pathological passive-aggressives tend to use their behaviour as a regular tool for survival, relationships, and interaction with people.”

Communication gone dark

When a German consumer-goods executive negotiated a more interesting role for herself at work, she suddenly found several of her colleagues (5)…………………….. back and forth between being cold and friendly.”Generally, we’re a really talkative department,” said the 35 year old, who wished to remain unnamed because the situation at work is ongoing. But then there was weirdness.She sent an email to them to ask if everything was OK. Her colleagues didn’t (6)……………………… Not a peep.

Rather than telling her they thought the move was unfair or letting her (7)………………………. that accepting those responsibilities without additional pay or a better title would, in turn, make it harder for the rest of them to get compensated after a promotion, they simply gave her the cold shoulder.

“They didn’t deny it, and they didn’t confirm it,” she said.

Befuddled by the mixed signals, the woman realised her own performance would decline if she didn’t act. “My boss was (8)……………………… things from me, so I had to force my colleagues to talk to me.”

She stayed professional and pursued task-related discussions, abandoning what was once a more personal and social work friendship. “I’m not really interested in rebuilding the personal relationship if somebody can switch on you like that,” she said.

The advice:

1) Turn the tables, play it positive

Rather than getting sucked into a (9)……………………… with passive-aggressive colleagues, kill them with kindness.

2) The power trip

Townsend, a clinical psychologist, leadership and development consultant, and author of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, once worked with a US company stuck in a culture of fear. People felt they couldn’t make mistakes without setting off one person in the organisation who was highly critical and judgmental — but also highly valued. Townsend said, “He was a shaming kind of guy, and people were walking on (10)……………………. around him.”

Townsend had coaching sessions with the man and gave him the feedback, which the man promptly denied. “He said, “I’m not that way. I’ve got high standards. They just don’t appreciate my standards and aren’t willing to work (11)…………………….. He described those complaining about him as ‘a bunch of complainers’.”

3) A cry for help

In another case, where a manufacturer was losing customers, Townsend discovered an employee was causing bottlenecks in the flow of (12)…………………………, keeping sales data from being delivered on time for reports. The man always had lots of excuses, “My kid was sick, or I had bad traffic or someone else is not helping,”  he would say.

When he didn’t receive a desired promotion, the man began to unconsciously sabotage the business. “He had come from a family where he couldn’t be honest and tell the truth, or mom and dad would get upset. He learned to be this indirect person,” said Townsend.

“The man was afraid of reprisal, afraid that people would look down on him or punish him in some way.” Townsend actually scripted conversations and role-played them out with the employee.

”He needed to say: ‘Hey, I’m having a hard time with this. I want to have a talk with you. I want to solve this problem’,” Townsend said.

In the end, the magic medicine was building courage so he “could say when he’s satisfied about something or irritated or overwhelmed,” Townsend said. ”When he became more direct, all of a sudden the traffic jam at work went away.”

Read the full article on BBC

 

ANSWERS: 1 surface / 2 varies / 3 time / 4 right / 5 shifting / 6 respond / 7 know / 8 expecting / 9 battle /10 eggshells / 11 hard / 12 information

 

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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  1. Our Latest Newsletter Is Out! | EU English says:

    May 25, 2015 at 11:06

    […] How to handle evil colleagues? […]

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