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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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Get Out of MY Parking Spot! What to do when you get triggered?

Photo provided by Lou Gieszl

12615575_10153440751018562_1398132397776142577_oIt has been over a week since we experienced record-breaking snowfalls. Blizzard Jonas left a lasting mark as clean-up crews continue to plow and remove over 20 inches of snow from the streets of Baltimore City where I reside. Even as an adult, I still get excited when I hear snow is in the forecast. But that excitement is short-lived because once the snow has finished falling, I along with everyone else, have to deal with the aftermath of shoveling out and potentially hazardous roadways and sidewalks from melted ice. The potential for conflict to arise is everywhere.

An interesting conflict the occurs during snowfalls in Baltimore City is over parking spots. Thursday night before the storm commenced, residents began placing folding chairs and other miscellaneous furniture outside to reserve the spaces in front of their houses. I belong to my community’s Facebook group and people quickly began posting pictures, ranting and debating about whether this is acceptable or unacceptable behavior. What I found intriguing about these discussions is how fast they escalated into aggressive responses like, ” I will slash your tires if I see you removed my chairs and took my spot.” Those angered by these comments countered with, “The street is public property, you don’t own the space.” Many of these discussions became so heated that the administrators of the group deleted posts and called for a ceasefire.

Last week on our Conflict Chat program Pattie Porter, Zena Zumeta and I discussed how incidents such as disputing over a parking space or becoming irritated in traffic can trigger us into a protective mode. Pattie then posed the question, “What are we protecting when we get defensive?”

We spoke on-air about how those who have shoveled themselves out may feel protective of that parking space because of all the hard-work, time, and energy they used. When someone swoops in and takes something of value to you, such as a parking space, it could trigger you to become defensive because you want to protect what you see as yours. We challenged listeners to be more self-aware in these situations. You can do this by asking yourself when you’re feeling defensive, what is triggering me to feel this way? What am I protecting? What is of value to me in this situation?

Luckily, I was not one of those people fighting for a parking space. However, I did find myself in morning traffic leaving the city last week, and I was running late to work. I was getting antsy as the first car in the lane I was in appeared not to be paying attention when the light turned green and after a few short moments other cars and myself were pressing our car horns. It was as if the car horns woke me up and I recalled the conflict chat with Pattie and Zena. I then decided to put talk into practice.

I asked myself three questions, and by answering them, I became more self-aware of my emotions, and I was able to gain a better understanding of myself and the situation.

  1. What is triggering me to feel this way? I was running late, and I was nervous I wouldn’t make it on time to work. I was also angry with myself for leaving later than I should have.
  2. What am I protecting? When I beeped my car horn at the car in front of me, I was protecting the rules of the road.

3. What is value or need in this situation? My time, reputation, and professionalism were of value to me                 in this situation. I did not want to show up late to work and risk being unprofessional and perhaps damaging             my reputation.

Next time you find yourself triggered by anger or becoming defensive ask yourself these three questions which can assist you in becoming more self-aware.

Be sure to check out our Conflict Chat program here:

 

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

Apprentice

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