Are you feeling frustrated by negativity at work? It is normal to have ups and downs at work especially during this unique time, so it’s important to try to be understanding if a co-worker is simply having a bad day. Working from home can be tough and make even a normally cheery person more irritable. But what can you do if a co-worker is incessantly negative and creating a difficult virtual environment?
Going to your boss about the issue may seem like an easy and fast solution, but it can be helpful to the person and to your professional development to take steps to work out the issue with them first. We want to help you more effectively manage your professional relationships. Here are three tips to get you started.
Establish boundaries. This is a coaching technique that involves establishing guidelines and boundaries for communication, meetings, and how to handle conflict. This can be enormously helpful because there are clear rules on what you both deem as acceptable for many different circumstances. Ask the difficult person if they would be willing to work with you on further defining your professional relationship to work together more effectively. Keep in mind that you don’t want to come across as superior, but that you truly want to take steps to have a better working relationship. Discuss how you will handle situations such as:
Your tasks and objectives
What roles you will each play based on your strengths
How you will handle challenges
Listen. This may seem more difficult since many professionals are working virtually, but it can be done. Take the initiative to schedule some time to speak over the phone or over WhatsApp with your coworkers during a “coffee break” to foment your relationships. This is an important skill, especially if you have to deal with a touchy subject. Ask the person for permission to discuss a delicate matter, ask how they are doing and then truly listen to them. Ask questions instead of giving advice. This in itself will help diffuse the situation and get to the root of the problem.
Be curious. Be curious instead of judgmental. We recommend using powerful questions, which are open-ended questions that allow someone to explain or vent. For example, how can we improve our working relationship? What’s the best way to accomplish this goal without conflicts?