How to address negative behavior in someone?

We all get annoyed with colleagues at times. Think about someone who doesn’t keep their commitments or interrupts you constantly. How do you approach a conversation with that person? In our previous blog post, you can learn all about giving feedback. Here, you’ll discover how to address the behavior of others.

For most people, it can be quite challenging. 40% of respondents in our survey say they don’t speak their mind at work. 64% would like to do so but think, “I don’t want to come across as rude” or “I’m not the right person to do it.” However, staying silent doesn’t help because you continue to feel annoyed. In the long run, this can strain your working relationship.

Expressing Your Opinion

We see giving feedback and addressing someone’s behavior as two different things. When you address someone, their behavior bothers you, and you have a clear opinion about what they’re doing. “That is not neutral, but normative,” says Influence Expert Linda Kluijtmans. “You engage in this conversation with the intention of changing the behavior. The effect is corrective.”

Here’s an example:

• Giving feedback: I see that you delivered the data late. I notice that it makes me feel anxious.
• Addressing someone: I find it unprofessional that you delivered the data one day later than agreed upon. I expect you to adhere to our agreement.

Short and clear. Remember that the tone of your voice and your body language play a significant role. It determines how the message comes across. Speaking softly and looking friendly makes the message appear milder and puts less pressure on the person. If you raise your voice to express how annoying it is, you exert more pressure. That’s up to you.

Fear of Emotion

During our training sessions, many participants are afraid of showing too much emotion when addressing someone. Therefore, they choose not to confront that person. “It works the other way around; you actually get more emotion by not speaking up,” says Linda. “Allowing a situation that annoys you to escalate is not effective for either party. Speak up! It will relieve the pressure for yourself.”

The Other Person’s Reaction

When you address someone, it has an impact on the other person. There’s a good chance they’ll become defensive and provide reasons for not fulfilling the agreement. That’s normal! You stick to your point. It’s important to be clear about your expectations. If the agreed-upon commitment is not feasible, you want your colleague to inform you.

In the example, you can see that addressing someone is not optional. From the tone of the conversation, your colleague can sense that it’s your standard, and the next time, things should go according to the agreement. That’s exactly the intention. Of course, they can choose to ignore your standard and make different choices, but you have made your point.

Everyone Can Learn It

Many organizations strive for a better culture of addressing issues. The good news is that everyone can learn to address effectively! It just takes some courage and practice. Take a look at our PPI® Programme to actively work on this skill.

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