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Fighting Co-Worker Dragons (2 of 3 part series)

Hopefully, you read part 1, Fighting Manager Dragons, where I introduced and explained the topic of office dragons. In case you did not open that issue, you may want to check it out as I discussed employees’ perceptions of manager dragons and tips to success.

Today, I want to address co-worker dragons. When I teach my Star Achievement Series® classes, I ask participants, “What are some of the things co-workers do that make them “appear” to be dragons?” Here are the common responses I hear:

  • Gossip
  • Convey a bad mood at the office
  • Bring personal problems to the office
  • Don’t perform their part of a job
  • Aren’t a team player
  • Don’t share necessary information
  • Complain
  • Have a “that’s not my job” attitude

As I think back to my days as an employee working in various organizations, I would agree with the above responses. There really were some difficult people. But often, it is just our perception and maybe lack of knowing how to deal with people who are different from us.

On the other side of this, we want to make sure we aren’t being a co-worker dragon. We don’t want to be the very person we don’t like. It’s not that we do the above things on purpose; it sometimes just happens because we had a bad morning at home or something is going on in our personal life or we feel overwhelmed.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you are not a co-worker dragon:

  1. Focus on your job.
  2. Cooperate as a team player.
  3. Avoid complaining.
  4. Show enthusiasm for your job.
  5. Keep confidential information to yourself.
  6. Show respect for co-workers.
  7. Avoid gossiping.
  8. Produce high-quality products.
  9. Assist co-workers when they need it.

Now, what strategies can you use to handle difficult people?

Here are some of my favorite strategies that we teach in our Star Achievement Series® course. Sometimes one strategy will work and other times, you need to use multiple strategies.

Act … Don’t React

Reaction cycles never end. Only when you decide to think and act independently will you progress toward your goal. Reacting is responding to your immediate feeling. It puts you at the mercy of the dragon.

Acting is pro-active. It’s thinking through what is happening and taking positive steps. It seeks a win/win, not a win/lose. This makes you feel good about what could be a negative situation. You probably will respond differently to a situation if you act rather than react.

Stop the Mindreading!

Face it, we all move so fast that we seldom take the initiative to clarify things with others. Instead, we ponder a scenario, rolling it over and over in our minds. We “determine” i.e., mind read, what that person was thinking/motivated by/perceiving, without simply asking them to clarify.

Educate the Dragon

Some dragons don’t even know they are dragons. Think about how, when, and where you can approach the dragon to talk about his or her behaviors. Try to help the dragon see the negative impact of these behaviors, and provide positive techniques the dragon can use to combat them.

Confront the Dragon

There are certain dragon species you have to confront head on. You have to be careful how and when you confront the dragon, and what words you use. You want the person to know you are serious and want the dragon-like behaviors to stop.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Make sure you have all the facts about the situation.
  • Have a plan before confronting the dragon face to face. Decide when and where you will talk to the dragon, how you will do this, and what you will say.
  • Use non-threatening language. You don’t want to lower your standards and be like the dragon. You can make your point by selecting appropriate words and being firm.
  • Let the dragon know by your speech, body language, and facial expression that you mean business.
  • Make eye contact with the dragon.
  • State your expectations for future behavior.
  • If it happens again, confront the dragon again.

Focus on Self-change vs. Changing Others

A good first step is communicating with the dragon. Informing someone and offering suggestions can sometimes be helpful because people don’t always see their negative attitude or behavior. In the final analysis, however, every adult does as he or she chooses. When you can’t change a situation or a person’s behavior, look at changing your view about this person. You can still control your attitude.

Take Independent Steps Toward Your Goals

Determine what your goals are and write them down. List the one thing you can do toward achieving those goals each day. Doing this combines the winning strategies of independent action and self-change. Setting and achieving goals gives you a sense of accomplishment. This is a positive feeling. When you feel good about who are and what you do, it naturally flows over to others.

In closing, I would like to encourage you for this upcoming week to:

  1. Make sure you aren’t being a co-worker dragon.
  2. Professionally manage relationships that have been challenging to you in the past or new situations that might arise during this week.

Best of luck!


Register for the 2017 Conference For Administrative Excellence by March 31, 2017 and be entered to win the Luxury Las Vegas Package.

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