We’ve all worked with that one person. You know, that one guy who always has to have the last word. Or the constant Debbie Downer of the office who consistently dampens the mood in any given situation. Unlike our circle of friends, we don’t always have the privilege of hand-picking the people we work with. The question then is, how can you lead co-workers who are just hard to work with?
Picture this: it’s Monday morning, you’ve just come off of a great weekend, and your company has an important presentation this week that could make or break the future of the company. As if right on cue, your co-worker, Joe, walks into your office spewing frustration that not only have the bathrooms run out of toilet paper again, but the coffee maker is broken, and his girlfriend broke up with him this weekend. To top it off, Joe states that he is just too stressed to focus on his portion of the presentation (which in your mind isn’t even that big of a portion anyways!) and he needs your input in order to finish it before his 10:00 a.m. deadline. Did I mention it’s 9:00 a.m. and that Joe is the Facilities Director?
You’re left facing a crossroads that could turn one of two ways. You can either spew your own frustration at Joe, angrily telling him to go fix his own problems while he fixes the toilet paper situation that is his responsibility anyways. Or you can take a deep breath and decide to pick and choose your battles.
Would you be in the right to brush off Joe, kick him out of your office, and show your annoyance at his negative outlook? Absolutely. Would it be beneficial? Not at all.
The number one secret to leading people that are difficult to work with is in knowing this truth: being right is highly over-rated. When co-workers complain, try to be right, or get the last word in, take a deep breath and decide what kind of leader you want to be. If you react to what your co-workers are displaying and attempt to prove a point, the only thing you really prove is that you are no different than they are.
If it’s not a crucial issue and in the big scheme of things it really doesn’t matter, remember that leading is more about choosing to lead and less about proving you’re right. In the end, your co-workers may not change how they act, but what truly matters is what happens in you, not to you.