staying focused in the face of interpersonal adversity

There are certainly a lot of posts, articles, tweets, almost anything that deals with how to stay focused when there is some kind of adversity around.Hopefully you find something useful in what I”m providing.

I’ve been dealing with some interpersonal stuff at work lately. It’s a professional relationship, but the adversity is purely interpersonal. I don’t want to go into details, but I personally feel there have been some inaccurate portrayals, that we (the department) have been thrown under the bus a bit, and that all in all we’ve gotten a seriously short end of the stick. Maybe the nub. I’m not saying we are not without fault in this – it’s not a baseless set of comments. But it’s not a collaborative one, either.

My point is not to complain nor to vent. My point is about how and upon what to stay focused in such a situation. At least for me.

Own up to mistakes

Without a doubt, we’ve fallen flat on a few things. We missed one deadline several months ago by a few weeks, and it was a doozy of a deadline. There was miscommunication, work done in the wrong direction, a huge shift in direction and too much time taken to get something done. I’ve owned up to this. It is critical to accept blame where it is due. And of course I don’t mean in a way that generates a defensive stance, nor in a combative way. Just accept that things went wrong. No excuses (not because there aren’t good reasons, but because no one wants to hear them).

Don’t blanket accept blame, either

The first point doesn’t mean that you should just accept any negative comment that comes your way. Again, no reason to make it a confrontational situation. That’s counter productive. But accept fault for what is truly something you let fall through, but don’t just waffle under pressure on other points. But don’t get angry, either, in defending yourself. Keep it calm.

Write lots and lots of drafts. Then don’t send them and just see someone in person.

If a lot of the conversation (and misrepresentation) is done over email, don’t get sucked into that. This is a serious bad habit of mine, I admit. But whatever you do, write lots and lots of drafts of a reply before you even consider sending. Tone it down each time. Then, when you think you’re ready to send, don’t do it. Don’t send it. Just get up and walk over to that person’s office and have a face to face. Heed points 1 & 2- do’t go in there and just agree to whatever the other person says. Lay out your case, address, in a calm manner, what you agree with and don’t agree with. And then get out of there with your head held high.

You’re there for to provide solutions to users. Always remember that.

What matters, in the end, is that we are solution provision groups. Ideally, our relationships are collaborative and we’re about working together to find solutions that will help the institution in general. But at the very least we’re here to help. And never, ever, let interpersonal matters distract from this. Maybe a specific email on one topic is a bit heated, but all others are balanced and even, as they should be. All other interactions are about getting things done. Stay focused, and you’ll remember your real purpose.

Short and sweet. Well, short anyway. I leave it to you to decide if it has any sugar (worth).


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