Qualifying as a member and going into the workforce as a fully qualified Chartered Accountant is exciting, but some onerous co-workers can put a damper on that excitement. Orla Brosnan has some suggestions for dealing with a difficult coworker. Starting your first “real” contract outside of training can be a very anxious time. While you feel excited that you have been successful in getting the job, you may also feel nervous about meeting new colleagues, learning office etiquette and making the transition from being a trainee to your new, post-qualification environment.  Difficult co-workers All work situations have difficult co-workers. It may be the office gossip, the one who never seems to be able to get the job done without help, the serial dodger who never seems to take responsibility and blames everyone else for his or her shortcomings or the nasty co-worker who never has anything nice to say about anyone, no matter what.  Whether this co-worker is someone you dislike or someone who is going around spreading negativity and gossip, you have the power to rise above it. Don’t compromise your own work ethic by stooping to their level. Try and keep your mindset positive and professional.  Negative and toxic people have trouble taking responsibility for their own actions, and are prone to never taking ownership of their problems. You are not the cause, so try not to take it to heart. If you work with someone who constantly complains or who mistreats fellow employees, you may dread coming to work,  even if you like your job. Employees have a profound impact on their co-workers’ job performance and job satisfaction, and a poor work ethic and attitude can drive colleagues to look for alternative employment. Managing a toxic coworker Confrontation With a difficult co-worker who isn’t pulling their weight, is bullying colleagues or is just plain unpleasant, it may be necessary to confront the person instead of letting their behaviour continue. Having a calm discussion about the problem may have a surprising result. Some people do not realise the adverse impact their statements and actions have on others and can be genuinely surprised. Try to talk reasonably and keep calm. Talk to a friend A little unbiased opinion is never harmful, so talking over your co-worker situation with a friend can be a good idea. It not only lets you vent your frustrations but can give you an unbiased opinion of what may be going on and how to handle the situation. Use humour While this type of tactic can work for some people, not everyone is able to make a humorous comment to defuse a situation spontaneously. A bit of light and office-appropriate humour might be the tactic for you if you have a funny side. Be the bigger person It is much easier to get what you want in life by being polite rather than rude and insolent. This applies to co-workers, as well. It doesn’t mean you have to come in every day with a new joke or be the office entertainer. However, just being pleasant, polite and smiling can improve another person’s attitude. Have an exit strategy Having an excuse to get away from a difficult co-worker can help, so spend as little time with the toxic person as possible. When people realise they aren’t being listened to, they give up. Avoid office politics and gossip This one can be tough. The workplace can be full of rumours and gossip. Your mission should be to stay away from it. Avoid the office gossips and don’t get involved in any office trash-talk or politics, especially on your first day at work. Repeating gossip will do nothing to help you make a good first impression at a new job. Listen In my experience, sometimes if you get to know the onerous person, ask  open questions about their life, it can sometimes shed light on the reasons for their behaviour. Perhaps a broken marriage, the death of a child, or a disappointment of one sort or another. You can come to understand that negative behaviours often come from personal life experiences. They can appreciate the time you took to listen. In my experience, this can build mutual respect and improved relations, but always keep their story private. It is for them to tell. Last resort The expectation in a professional environment is that you should be well able to manage your relationships with your co-workers without the intervention of a supervisor. Sometimes, though, this situation is too difficult for one to handle on their own without authority behind them. If you do decide to take the matter up with your manager, go armed with the information you need to make your case. Take detailed notes on how this person’s actions are affecting your work and productivity on projects, and write down exactly what that person is doing to adversely affect your work.  Orla Brosnan is the Founder and Director of the Etiquette School of Ireland.

Jan 03, 2019
Personal Development

Bullying behaviour is unacceptable, yet many people suffer in silence. In this article, we give you the skills you need to stay calm and come out on top using examples from the US presidential election campaign. While the recent presidential debates in the United States (US) have become a source of great amusement for many, they also serve to remind us that bullying doesn’t stop at the school gate. The Democratic campaign has capitalised on Donald Trump’s alleged bullying antics and whatever your political leanings, it’s hard to attribute Trump’s behaviour − denigrating and criticising others, name calling, interrupting, attributing blame and getting personal − to anything other than textbook bullying. As Trump’s campaign rolled on, his behaviour took a more sinister turn. In particular, the second presidential debate highlighted a different type of bullying by Trump − a more insidious kind − which created a very real sense of discomfort among viewers. The Saturday Night Live sketch, while poking fun at both candidates, illustrates these behaviours. Behaviours include the non-verbal running commentary on what Clinton says (pursed lips, rolling eyes etc.), hovering, lurking, and following her around the stage in an attempt to create a power imbalance. Non-verbal behaviours are among the most difficult behaviours to address as they can be almost imperceptible and impossible to describe. Imagine trying to explain these behaviours in a work scenario: “He repeatedly sniffed while I was talking, he rocked back and forward on the balls of his feet and stood close to me.” Because of its subtlety, it’s a very powerful way to maintain a constant level of intimidation or threat. While employers should have processes in place to deal with bullying, this type of behaviour isn’t limited to the workplace. It can be encountered in many other situations where there’s no recourse to such action, such as volunteer committees or social groups. So how should you respond to bullying behaviours? 1. Don’t take it personally The bullying is not about you. Every bully I’ve encountered has had significant insecurity issues, but you shouldn’t ignore the behaviour. While it’s tempting to do so, it implies that you tolerate being treated in a particular way. Over time, we teach people how to treat us. It’s why bullies prey on those who are unlikely to stand up for themselves. In the end, we get what we tolerate. Clinton recited Trump’s unacceptable behaviours and beliefs, and even released a video on the topic. However, don’t respond emotionally, as this will only inflame the situation. Most bullies just want to rise you so they feel they have control − deny them the satisfaction. If you don’t feel equipped to speak out, however, focus on not giving the bully the reaction they want. 2. Play them at their own game By the second debate, Clinton had learned to respond with her own non-verbal gestures. She occasionally grimaced before answering, smiled tightly and tilted her head back. 3. Maintain self-control Most importantly of all, Clinton held her head high no matter what the provocation. At times, she must have been disturbed by Trump’s aggression, though she appeared remarkably unflappable. The message was clear; she was the more statesman-like of the two candidates. 4. Display confidence Clinton’s demeanour was measured and unrushed. She radiated cool confidence. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, believes that it’s possible to “fake it till you make it” arguing that “it’s not about what your body language says to others, it’s about what your body language is communicating to you: your body language is changing your mind, which changes your behaviour, which changes your outcomes”. Of course, sometimes situations are more complex and at times there can be a very real danger to your physical and mental wellbeing. In such circumstances, it’s important to access the appropriate supports. If you would like to read more about the supports available, click on the following links or contact Chartered Accountants Support:

Nov 01, 2016