Have you ever seen a jealous person snipe in meetings or spread gossip against their seniors?
In business you may see this from
- the egoist passed over for promotion,
- the chauvinist working for a female,
- elders who don’t want to answer to a “young upstart” or
- the team member passed over for an important project,
In relationships you may see the same behavior from
- the girl friend who was in love with the guy her best friend married,
- the mother who’s advice on the best person to marry was ignored,
- the father whose daughter married someone who was not got enough for her, or
- the classmate who was jealous of the new students success.
To avoid retaliation, they hide behind devious techniques such as rude comments, sarcastic humor, biting tones of the voice and rolling of the eyes. They may even say some confusing or irrelevant things to throw you off track.
It is the worst bad behavior you can have within a company.
If not dealt with swiftly it will become a critical infection that derails your business. Loose lips sink ships.
Here’s an example of one way to handle it.
Step 1: Expose the behaviour
“So I heard you say that I have “nothing to say, but you have to wait a long time to hear it”
Step 2: Probe
“What are you really trying to say?”
With your first probe expect them either to
- Deflect, such as “Nothing, it’s just a joke, that’s all, can’t you take a joke?” so you keep probing.
- Back off, in that case carry on with whatever you will doing earlier, you’ve exposed the inappropriate behaviour.
- They keep sniping, in that case you keep probing. After few more failed attempts they will stop
- They get aggressive and try to make you the problem. Great! You’re on the way to finding the problem is. Hold your ground, interrupt their attack, backtrack to their main accusation, and aim at the business task you supposed up both be working on before asking for peace offering at a time and place of your choosing.
Step 3: find the real grievance
“I am guessing here, but …”
Once you’ve guessed correctly, you’ll see it in their face. They are likely to acknowledge it and fill the blanks. Acknowledge that you fully understand their grievance and thank them for their candid response.
If it’s your bad, admit it.
“You’re taking too long, we don’t need all the details” = “You’re right I’ll finish this up”
If you’re in a private setting and they won’t talk (an introvert), this one is going to take a while. One tactic they will use is to push you up against your deadline, hoping you’ll give in. Plan multiple 15 minute conversations with them. Once they get the message you won’t give in, they may open up just to stop you showing up. Ask open-ended questions expectantly “can you tell me…” It’s all about your expectant look at this point. Bring some humor in. If they say they don’t know, ask them to make something up. This is a judgment call. Careful theta you don’t make light of a serious situation though. Ask them to show the future if they keep being silent.
Step 4: outline a better future
“In the future, if you have a problem, come talk with me one-on-one. I promise to hear you out”
It’s important you let them know that your preference in the future is open and honest communication.
Here’s an example of handling a gossiper over looked for promotion
“Hi Darren, I need your help with something, Can I talk to you in my office for a moment?”
“Darren it must be tough on you to have been passed over for promotion for someone that has not been here as long as you have, especially when you deserved it.”
“I know it doesn’t matter that I didn’t ask for it or wanted this promotion. If I was in your situation I’d feel a bit underappreciated by this company. I think you’re very capable and have learned a lot from you in the time we have worked together.
We’re here to make a high quality project that will in turn make our clients lives easier. To do that we need to be a team. I want you on that team, Darren. I think you have a lot to offer. What are we going to do?”
At this point expect Darren to vent. Once vented it is most likely he’ll revert back to the rational person you first knew. If not you MUST make a hard decision and move him on.
“If there is a problem between us in the future, can I count on you to come to me rather than talk about me?”
Most likely you’ll have a laugh about it at this point.