This past Monday (a day that will hence forth be known here at SuccessCREEations as Black Monday because of our server crash) I posted about Business Fighting Styles. In the discussion that followed a couple of cool things happened.

First Grigor Ćorić suggested someone I’d left off my list, the Fight Promoter. Go check out what he said about that one. Good stuff.

Then Andrew Wee (after helping me out with a little spelling challenge I had) asked a very good question.

Any specific techniques on dealing with these various warriors?

Well I was taught that you should always bring a potential solution with you when you point out a problem. That’s always the challenging end, isn’t it? I mean any schmoe can point out a problem. But coming up with a solution… Now that’s bringing value to the equation.

So in my effort to bring value rather than just poke holes, here are my suggestions for how to deal with some of those difficult people at work.

Fight Back

The obvious first way to deal with one of the fighters is to fight back. When you recognize someone who seems overly combative you can pick a style of your own and jump into the fray.

I suspect this is how most folks deal with conflict in the work place. Unfortunately it probably doesn’t go very far towards improving the situation. By choosing to simply fight back you are really contributing further to the problem more than becoming part of the solution.

Confront the Fighter

A better approach would be to confront the person you see taking on one of the fighting styles. The best way to do this is to first talk to them in private. You can share with them what you see going on, the effects of their behavior, and possible better approaches.

If the person you are confronting thinks you are off your nut, perhaps you can enlist a mutually respected third party to help out. The two of you can go back to the fighter, again in private. Maybe the fighter will see it with two of you each saying the same thing.

Generally speaking confronting someone in public is probably not such a good idea if it can be at all avoided. You will be less likely to affect any positive change if the offending person is made to look bad in front of others.

Kill Them with Kindness

This can be a hard one to pull off successfully. Basically what you do is be especially nice to the fighter, particularly when they come at you. Smile a lot. Don’t raise your voice. Do helpful things for the person expecting nothing but grief in return. Over time that person will probably get the message.

The trick here is maintaining sincerity, which can be very difficult. Your eyes will give you away if you smile on the outside but inside are thinking “Man do I hate you, you stupid jerk!”

Oh, but if you pull it off successfully what a sweet victory it will be. Talk about making a jerk feel small!

Remove Yourself From the Situation

My last suggestion is one that I had to use myself once when I was working for a Carpet Bomber. There are some folks who simply refuse to change no matter what you try to do.

In my case the guy was so difficult and I was getting so stressed out working for him that I ultimately chose to go work somewhere else. That is one of the beautiful things about living here in America. If you don’t like your job you can go find another one. Unfortunately that isn’t the case in many other parts of the world.

You may not have to take the drastic action of changing employers to remove yourself from the situation. Maybe you can simply change some of your habits to achieve the same effect. For example if the center of the nastiness takes place in the break room, perhaps you could take your breaks somewhere else.

The Choice is Yours

The bottom line is we are all wired to become a little more like the people we associate with. Because we spend so many hours at work, it is very likely we will take on some characteristics of those people we work with.

If you look around and do like what you see in the people near you, maybe a change of scenery would help.

I’ve changed jobs several times and one of the things I do everywhere I go is look at the people who’ve been with the company or the department the longest. Then I ask myself, “Do I want to be like that in ‘x’ number of years?”

If the answer is a resounding “NO!” then it gives me something to think about.

What are some other ways to deal with the fighters you have where you work?


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