managers to implement what they learned. After the first session, Larry, one of the managers, forwarded me an e-mail he had received from a peer. It included a copy of an e-mail Larry had sent this colleague with comments from her typed in red capital letters. Most of her comments started with the word, “WRONG.”
Larry was clearly upset. He wanted me to agree with him that his colleague was rude and out to get him. Fortunately, before he sent back a scathing e-mail proving she was the one who was wrong, he called me.
I asked him, “Are you absolutely sure her only purpose in writing the e-mail was to prove you are an idiot?”
He reluctantly answered that there could be a possibility of something else on her mind.
I said, “If you didn’t feel like she were trying to take away your credibility, what other reasons do you see for her behavior?”
He said he wasn’t sure.
“Be creative,” I suggested. “What do you think this letter is really telling you about her?”
Larry said, “Obviously, she is mad, either at me or at someone else. I guess we have to talk about what she is upset about, not about when the report is due.”
I was then able to coach Larry on how he could best approach this conversation with his colleague, starting with asking her if she was willing to find another way to handle disagreements with him as he wasn’t comfortable with the e-mail approach.
After a difficult start, Larry told me that after he had expressed how he was feeling, his colleague laid her cards on the table as well. Larry found out that she thought she was responsible for choosing the deadline dates, not him. She felt Larry was trying to undermine her authority. After convincing her that he wanted to work with her and not against her, they attempted to define their roles and responsibilities. They agreed in some areas and negotiated others. Working together, they found a better way of solving their problems.Download Article 1K Club