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The Stressed Out Office – Managing Co-Workers Who Lash Out

co-workers-294266_1280I work at a mortgage office in the compliance department. My role is to review changes the Loan Officer’s make to a loan and ensure that what they are doing is compliant with the law. I spend a lot of my day speaking with Loan Officers on the phone and through email. Our office has been very busy recently, and so everyone has been under a lot of stress. Therefore, some of the conversations I have had with Loan Officers are asking them to remove a fee that was out of compliance or to redisclose to correct an error. These requests I am making can be frustrating to some Loan Officers as it adds onto their workload; however, I want to note I am not exactly happy about it because it adds onto mine as well.

Some Loan Officers can become very irritated and short-tempered when discussing these necessary changes and often resort to taking their feelings out on me. So I decided I would write about dealing with difficult people in the workplace for my post this week.

The first thing to keep in mind is that people handle stress differently. I will admit that I do not manage stress well. I get testy, overwhelmed and reactionary. When a Loan Officer is lashing out at me, I struggle not to react the same way. So keep in mind that the person losing their cool may be responding this way because they are under stress. Just keeping that in mind can help put things into perspective.

The second thing to do is to look at yourself. Are you frustrated? Or angry? Perhaps you are conveying a tone or are responding in such a way that is triggering something in the other person. It is important to be self-aware of your own, feelings, moods, and reactions to better address the situation.

The third thing to do is speak and convey your message calmly and if a break is necessary to take one. If the person continues to be difficult or nasty- ask them if you could take a break and pick up the conversation later. Recognize when a conversation is escalating and try to put the breaks on before it goes too far.

The final thing to do is bring others in if needed. When Loan Officers continue to be snippy with me, I approach my boss about the matter. If you require involving upper management to help resolve the issue you are facing then, by all means, include them. Upper Management tends to have more experience dealing with troublesome people; especially if the individual is a repeat offender and can provide tips and strategies on how to approach that person in a way that won’t escalate the matter.

At work, difficult people are bound to cross your path, and it is important that you learn constructive ways to manage those situations so that the workplace can remain a safe and productive place.

 

Have a good week,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Maintaining Friendships in Adulthood – The Ups and Downs of Growing up

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Muhammad Ali said, ” Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything“.

It took me a long time to truly understand the meaning of friendship. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens/ early twenties that I found a great group of friends that I could lean on and that had my back no matter what. A group of people that accepted me for who I was and never judged me. After a while, the lines between friends and family blurred, and they became one in the same.

When you are younger, your entire world seems to revolve around your buddies. But as we get older life happens, our responsibilities change, we grow up. Hanging out and interacting with our friends is no longer the top priority in our lives.

Recently, I have been feeling a little down about this realization. I have found myself feeling frustrated by my group of friends diminished time together. Though I continuously remind myself that this is how it goes, it doesn’t make it any less painful. I also have found myself becoming resentful because every time I attempt to make plans, I get a thousand reasons why they can’t get together and no solutions.

I recognize my feelings of frustration and resentment. I also acknowledge the vengeful part of me that wants to respond with a thousand reasons why I can’t get together next time they make a suggestion. However, that will not make things better.

So what I can I do to address this potential conflict in my life?

  1. Recognize my emotions, feelings, and shortcomings. The only way to grow and change is to be more self-aware. By looking inwards and holding myself accountable to even the negative emotions I am feeling is the first step to actually making changes.
  2. Manage expectations. I think part of my feelings stems from high expectations. I think I expected us to continue hanging out like we always had. I didn’t account for life happening. I have to remind myself that as we get older things will change, we may not be able to see each other all the time, and that is okay! It makes the time we do get to see each other that more special.
  3. Speak Up. My friends won’t know I am upset unless I speak up and voice my concerns. I have a rule that if you don’t communicate it you can’t be upset about it and carry it around. Approaching them in a non-aggressive way and use “I” statements instead of “You” statements can assist in alleviating the frustration I feel. Instead of saying, “You never answer your phone when I text you to hang out.” I could say, “I feel frustrated that every time I try to make plans to hang out I don’t get a response from you.”

Friendships are hard work and like any relationship they take time and energy to maintain, but if you know the meaning of friendship you know how important they are to your life.

Have a Good Weekend,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Watch Those Assumptions! Strategies to Step Up Your Clear Communication

assume1Communication I believe is most important thing in all human interactions, whether it is at home, in school, out in social settings with friends, or in the workplace. People have told me throughout my life that I have high expectations; sometimes too high because I often want perfection. I will admit this can be true. I recently planned my wedding and like most brides, I wanted the day to be perfect, and for the most part it was. I credit my spectacular wedding day to outstanding communication. I gave a very detailed description of exactly what I wanted to every vendor I met. I left no room for interpretation. One vendor mentioned how she preferred all the details because many brides don’t communicate their expectations and needs and then, get upset when things are not exactly how they wanted.

Merriam-Webster defines communication as, “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.” When people don’t communicate what they want, using a lot of details, it leaves room for incorrect assumptions and interpretations.

Workplace settings is an environment that needs clear and consistent communication in order to be successful. CEO’s and upper management need to provide clear and concise expectations of what they need and want from their employees. When employees get hired, they need to be given a detailed description of what exactly their job entails and what will be expected of them while working there. If, for some reason, their job requirements are changed, they need to be communicated so that there is not any confusion. Teams within an organization need to talk with their fellow teammates about project expectations, work issues, and who will handle which parts. The goal of every organization, CEO, manager, employee, should be to communicate as much as possible so that no one will have the excuse that they didn’t know.

Conflict arises when negative or false assumptions occur leading people to react negatively. One of my first jobs was doing clerical work. My immediate supervisor asked me to go through the mounds of unfiled papers and remove any documents that were over ten years old and stack them in a pile while keeping the most current documents in another pile. My supervisor only gave me this instruction. I spent most of the day doing what she asked. When she came to check on me around lunch, she became frustrated because I was not organizing the files alphabetically in the piles. She assumed I knew I was supposed to do this, but I was only following her basic instructions. I ended up organizing the piles alphabetically which took up more of my time and prevented me from completing other tasks. If my supervisor had not assumed and clearly communicated what she wanted, this issue would not have arisen.

The art of communicating well is something we can all practice. Here are strategies to step up your communication:

  1. Check your assumptions. Ask yourself, what are you assuming everyone knows? If you say to yourself, “Everyone should know that.” Then you are making an assumption.
  2. Think before you speak. Take some time before any conversation to lay out the message you want to convey. Think how to say what you want and anticipate what could potentially get misunderstood.
  3. Give details, details, details. You want to be clear and concise when relaying the message, but it is also important to give as much detail as possible. The more information provided, the less chance someone can say they didn’t know this information. If possible, type out what you want to say and distribute it to all parties involved.
  4. Listen to other’s questions. There is a chance you missed an important point. Let others ask clarifying questions that could reduce miscommunication and misinterpretations.

Keep in mind that if you were not explicit in your instructions or message, you risk being misunderstood. Be patient and keep those emotions in check!

Check out some of our previous programs on effective communication here:

The New Trend in Listening: How to Improve Your Communication Skills and Enrich Relationships

How to Have Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High

 

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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