Reyer: Let go of annoyance to seek solutions
- Article by: LIZ REYER
- Special to the Star Tribune
- July 22, 2012 - 6:50 PM
QI work closely with one teammate, and we get along great except for one thing. I like to plan things in advance, and she is one of those last-minute types (but she always comes through in the end). How can I get her to work a plan instead?
AIt's fruitless to try to change someone else; focus on successfully collaborating with her and benefiting from both styles.
The inner game
Relax, take some deep breaths and ease any judgment about her approach to work. Let go of annoyance and frustration, and prepare to seek solutions.
Start by listing all your colleague's strengths. Focus on ways in which she is different from you, and the benefits this brings. If you're drawing a blank, look at her perceived weaknesses from the opposite perspective, turning "flighty" to "flexible."
Then look at yourself with her eyes. Rigid? Stuck in your ways? What you consider to be organized and on-track may seem very different to her -- and just as frustrating as her style is to you.
To help understand this more deeply, study up on Myers-Briggs personality types. The differences you're describing are aligned with the Judging-Perceiving dichotomy, which relates to how you deal with your external environment. For example:
•Judging types like plans, like to be done before the deadline and get stressed if things are not buttoned down.
•Perceiving types reserve the right to change their plans, get their work done at the deadline and are stressed if they get boxed in.
Sound familiar? There's no right or wrong here; it's two different approaches driven by personality style differences.
Now imagine a rich mix that combines both approaches. Your structure wed to her spontaneity. Your planning skills matched with her adaptability. This exemplifies the benefits of having diverse skills and styles on a team.
The outer game
In taking action, build on the good working relationship you have with this coworker. Open a discussion about your different styles, and ways that you can honor them both and get good outcomes. If your company has done any Myers-Briggs typing, you can bring that up, or else just mention the reading you've done. Try an opening such as, "we have such different styles -- I'm a planner and you go with the flow. Both have advantages; how can we make that work best for us?"
Now, often people who "get along great" don't have much experience with discussing the tricky spots, so this might make you uncomfortable. Don't let your nerves get the best of you; that might lead you to use language that seems to be criticizing her style.
Recognize the possibility that, in having this discussion, you may hear about ways that you get under her skin. Be ready to just listen nondefensively. Her willingness to share her reactions is a good move forward on getting these differences to work for you.
You may want some help with this. If so, your company may have an organizational development person or internal coach who can assist, or perhaps your boss can guide the conversation to ensure that it stays constructive.
The last word
Building on differences can lead to a stronger and more productive whole.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at email@example.com.
© 2013 Star Tribune