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Bookworm: Living in harmony with co-workers

Bookworm: Living in harmony with co-workers

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The lady in the next cubicle over is making you almost speechless.

She talks too loud, first of all, and you constantly hear every word she says — most of it incessant and inconsequential, which makes you want to scream. She’s a whiner and a gossip, too, and you wonder what she says about you. Someday, you’re sure to find out since she’s also on your team.

You’d like to talk to her about it but you’re not sure you could, at least not calmly. But after you’ve read “Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People,” by Renée Evenson, you’ll know exactly what to say.

You know who your friends are. You know because you chose them, but you’re not that lucky at work. Yes, your co-workers “can test your mettle, tick you off, and sour your attitude.” Dealing with them can be a challenge because you know how quickly things can go bad, and you don’t want that to happen. So how do you create harmony, work out problems, and still keep your dignity and your sanity?

First of all, says Evenson, think before you speak and don’t let your temper take over. Plan what you intend to say and how you hope it will go. Consider what the other person may think, and expect to communicate “in a constructive manner.” Then practice before you gently pounce.

Remember to start the conversation with an “I-phrase” to disarm the situation. In confrontation, never say never or always because few things ever are. Know that an apology — something women are often accused of overusing — “doesn’t necessarily mean saying you’re wrong.” Get used to assertiveness, which is not aggressiveness; learn the difference. Watch your body language, as well as that of your coworker. Learn a few useful “phrases of compromise” that can be used to defuse the situation and tie up its resolution.

But what if the guy at the top is being difficult, or what if you’re to blame? This book takes a look at those scenarios, and other ways to deal with personalities that make your teeth grind. First, though, remember this: “Not confronting any sort of conflict will not make the problem go away. Rather, it makes the problem fester and grow.”

Can’t we all just get along? With “Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People,” you’ve got a chance of it.

I loved the way the author reminds readers in every possible way to “think first,” a key to not overreacting. I also appreciated how each problem in this book is broken into bite-size, specific sections for maximum help. And yet, despite the careful literary role-playing and example-stories for envisioning scenarios, it’s easy to be lulled into forgetting two things.

You can’t control a co-worker and, let’s face it: sometimes people are jerks.

Still, isn’t workplace harmony worth a try? Wouldn’t you rather have truce than trouble? If the answer to those questions is affirmative, then grab this book. “Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People” will make you say “Yes!”

‘Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People’

By Renée Evenson

Amacom $10.95 225 pages

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