Your co-worker is driving you nuts. You’ve tried subtle hints, but those haven’t worked. You know venting to coworkers is bad and makes you part of the problem. (Don’t you remember that from our post last week?) How do you constructively address the issue?

First explore internal resources. Find out what organizational policies may apply and how/if your human resources department can help to resolve the issue.

Consult a trusted adviser if necessary. You can seek feedback about how best to move forward. That’s not venting. It only becomes venting when you complain to someone else with no intention to resolve the issue. So get advice if you need it, and then talk directly with the person involved.

Here are some tips for “the talk.”

Schedule a time. Don’t prolong the agony by asking to meet next week. Try, Do you have some time today (tomorrow)? I’d like to discuss the PDQ Project.

Find a good location. Go to a quiet location where you can speak in privacy. No cubicle conversations, restaurants, lobbies or other areas where you may be interrupted or overheard.

Align on mutual goals. We both want the PDQ project to succeed or We both value worker safety. Near the end of the conversation, What steps can we each take to achieve our goals?

Stay focused on behaviors and facts. Use recent examples and connect the dots between the person’s action (or lack thereof) and results. Share the impact on others and on the organization.

Listen well. Don’t just passively hear what the other person is saying. Restate it in your own words to make sure you’re getting it right.

Be balanced. Talk about strengths, too, and how those might be applied to correct the situation.

What if “the talk” doesn’t seem to work?

Bring in help if you’re stuck. A neutral third party is sometimes necessary to peel back the layers of issues and help you address the root cause of the conflict. (Your Human Resources department may be able to help you out.)

Know when to involve the boss. Talk to the boss if you’ve taken these steps , there’s no resolution AND the situation has a negative impact on success.  Keep the focus on how the person’s actions are impacting the organization and what productive steps should be taken.

At the end of the day, you may not fix the problem. After all, you can’t make anyone change their behavior. What you can do is make choices about your behavior. Choose to be honest and sensitive when confronting thorny issues. You’ll not only have a better chance at resolution, you’ll face the mirror with greater comfort too.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!