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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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Striving for Change in an Imperfect World Starts with Yourself – An Honest Reflection

perfect-948197_1920-1Our society is obsessed with perfection, and though it is something to strive for, it has proven time and time again to be an unattainable goal. I decided two years ago that I would stop putting pressure on myself to be “perfect.” Instead, I focus on my shortcomings and try little by little to improve those traits. I think it is important to keep yourself in check, own up to your flaws and actively try to improve upon them to grow as a human being.

I often debate with others about the human capacity for change. Can people change their ways? The resounding response to that question is usually “no.” I have asked that question several times, and most people believe that once someone’s behaviors are set they will remain that way. I disagree with this response as I optimistically believe in a human’s capacity for change. I also think that if more people took the time to evaluate their shortcomings and actively try to improve them rather than pointing the finger at others for their issues, our society would be in a much better place.

I began journaling recently about my inadequacies with a narrowed focus on my ineffective conflict reactions. I write down day-by-day where I fell short and what I could do better the next day. I believe if I am more self-aware of my triggers, my reactions, my behaviors I can actively adjust these traits so that they will cease to be an issue in the future. If I am completely honest, I will tell you that that the thought of passing on some of my more negative flaws on to my future children terrifies me, and so, I use that too as a driving force to actively change my ways.

So where do we begin? Make a list, an honest list about all your shortcomings in general, or narrow your focus to where you are flawed when engaging and addressing conflict. My common flaws are listed below:

* Patience – While this is a trait I have improved on immensely, I still struggle with remaining patient. I noticed my lack of patience showing particularly at work when someone is struggling to understand something that I have explained several times.

Solution: Take deep breaths. Use my breaths to calm myself and look at the situation from the other person’s perspective.  While I might type out very detailed instructions, someone might need me to walk them verbally through it for them to understand.

* Defensive – I take a lot of things personally, which I believe is because I overthink everything. I also tend to feel that everyone is out to get me, which is simply not true. So when someone critiques me, I first response is to jump into defensive mode.

Solution: I need to be mindful when I feel myself becoming defensive. My body has a physical response; I cross my arms; I feel my muscles tighten. When this happens I need to ask myself, why am I becoming defensive? Is it justified?

* Outspoken/ Loud – I have a tendency to say the first thing that pops into my head without giving it much thought. Again, I have improved on this a lot, but I still have ways to go. I also raise my voice when I get upset which can cause others not to listen to me.

Solution: Bite my tongue and think before I speak. I currently will take deep breaths, and think to myself, “What am I trying to say here? Could this be offensive?” If it is something I want/need to say I will evaluate how I say it before I do which allows me to deliver a message in the best way possible.

* Clarification – I assume things way more than I can to admit. I assume things based on expectations that I have and don’t ask for clarification. When situations don’t pan out the way I assumed they would, I find myself frustrated and a lot of times in conflict.

Solution: Ask more clarifying questions and know all the details that way expectations can be managed.

Abigail R. C. McManus

Apprentice

 

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