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Submitted by ldk237 on


My question is: Do I address past behavior that I have found objectionable, or let it be water under the bridge? (Why or why not?) 
Background: I'm a high S, high C. I have a colleague that is a high D. I am trying to figure out the best way to correct course in our relationship. 
Over the past couple of months, this colleague has engaged in behavior that I have found unprofessional, or at least it seems to me that way. Examples of behavior include snorting while I've spoken at meetings, catching me off-guard with an email to our boss that could be considered criticizing a project I was leading, and some other things. 
I am totally open to the fact that the behaviors described above could be construed in a different light. But at this point, I'm pretty frustrated with how D has been acting.
I admit that I have not given peer-to-peer feedback, and I would like to implement that in the future. I also admit that I can be too much of a go-along-to-get-along type (that's the high-S talking).
I also recognize that this colleague is talented, knowledgeable and has good qualities (e.g., gives credit where credit is due, often fun to be around).
Any thoughts on how to correct the course would be greatly appreciated.

mrreliable's picture

In my opinion, for issues that occurred within the past couple months, it's not too late to discuss them. Sit down and have a heart-to-heart. Chances are good this other person doesn't want to come across like they are, and they'll be more careful. If it doesn't do any good, then you'll need a more assertive approach.

For moving forward, there's a cast that discusses feedback using the analogy of driving a car. When you drive, you choose your destination, put the car in gear, and make little tiny steering adjustments constantly along the way. If you don't make those adjustments, you'll soon end up in the ditch. Same with feedback. If you let things build up, dealing with them can be much more difficult.

I dealt with a peer for many years that sounds very much like the person you're dealing with. Scoffing at meetings, saying disrespectful things, strategic blindsides, rationalizing that it was acceptable and necessary to behave like that in order to accomplish what's "right." This person was very high intelligence, very competent, very focused, and I'd bet my dog they were on the Asperger's spectrum. My point is that it's possible this person doesn't have the empathy of most people, and doesn't understand the effects of insulting behavior. If a discussion doesn't help the situation, you could be dealing with someone who isn't capable of what most would consider respectful behavior. They might be a kind, generous, compassionate person, they just don't express in the same manner as most. If that's the case, you pretty much need to always expect the blindside, or antagonistic quip, and calmly and respectfully point it out immediately and ask them not to address you like that. That way you can at least reset the conversation if necessary, rather than moving forward on the heels of an insult.