Four Tips for “Putting the Smack Down” on a Coworker Without Actually Fighting

Congratulations! Your boss finally gave you the added responsibility that you had been requesting for over six months: to lead the team for the company’s new and largest account. The problem is one of the team members is the most annoying guy you have ever met. Not only is he a “Mr. Know-it-all”, but he also is a complainer. And he is always strolling around the office grumbling about how much work he has to do but never really gets it done without assistance. If you had your way, he would be fired. But your boss doesn’t seem to have an issue with him, so what can you do?

Well you cannot complain to the boss. And you cannot risk your big break by letting “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all” get to you. What you can do is follow the next four tips for successfully “putting the smack down” on a co-worker, without actually fighting.

Sidestepping Your Opponent

You are not going to love or even like everyone you work with; but it’s important that you get along with them - most of the time anyway. While it’s natural to disagree with coworkers, there are some who will simply constantly push your buttons, on purpose, making the workplace somewhat uncomfortable. But you cannot succeed if you are always feeling this way, especially in the workplace. And you cannot avoid or ignore the issue.

Regardless of our reluctance to confront tough issues or challenging people, we need to,” said Career Coach and Forbes’ Contributor, Kathy Caprino. “We can’t advance, succeed, or grow without confrontation and by engaging in productive confrontation paves the way for diversity of thought, developing healthy boundaries, arriving at new, innovative approaches, better decision-making, and challenging the status quo, all of which are essential if we want to thrive in our lives and work.”

Caprino, who is a trained therapist, added that we tend to evade conflict and avoid tackling it head on because of our past experiences. In addition, we often fear that our emotions will get the best of us leading to an unwanted heated debate. But you are a professional, right? In order to successfully manage your team and the company’s account, you should have a conversation with “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all”.

All Brain and No Brawl

Before you approach “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all”, develop a strategy, which includes determining what makes him tick. Then take a moment to think about an effective way to come to an understanding with him. According to the Association for Psychological Science, successful negotiations require understanding one’s opponent, it also “involves understanding and anticipating an opponent’s interests, thoughts, and likely behaviors, whereas empathy focuses mostly on sympathy and compassion for another.”

In other words, you should prepare for your conversation with “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all” by thinking about what you know about him, which includes everything from his personal life and work history to his habits and behavior. Most importantly, try to figure out why he is always complaining and require assistance to complete his work. Lastly, you should think about effective ways to comprise with him so that you can successful work on the new account together.

Getting Into the Ring

After you have taken some time to think about what you will say, you need to decide where you are going to have the conversation with “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all”. In a blog about clashing with coworkers, the Harvard Business Review said that being prepared means carefully considering the logistics.

“Schedule your meeting so you will have enough time to reach a conclusion,” said the Harvard Business Review. “Be sure the conversation can happen face to face in a private setting.”

A few suggestions include an office or conference room. The goal is to have your conversation with “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all” in an isolated place without spectators. Give the meeting at least 30 minutes.

Ready to Rumble

Now that you are fully prepared to discuss your issues with “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all”, make sure that it’s a productive conversation and it doesn’t turn into a heated debate by following these four tips:

job search
job search

Tip One: Be very clear about the reason you called the meeting. Start with something like this: “Since we will be working very closely on the new account, I wanted to have a conversation with you about how important it is to the success of the company.”

Tip Two: Acknowledge his past successes. That is if you can think of any. If not, focus on his overall contributions to the company.

Tip Three: Speak in a calm tone. If you don’t, it can and probably will turn into a heated debate, which is not what you want.

Tip Four: Listen. If you are doing all of the talking, you will not be able to get to the bottom of the issue. And the meeting will become pointless.

The point is to give “Mr. Annoying, Know-it-all” a chance to redeem himself. You never know, maybe he’s having issues at home that are seeping into the workplace or maybe he is just, well, a natural jerk.

Either way, your goal is not to love him. It’s just to find a way to successfully work with him.




5 Critical Steps To Fearless Confrontation

3 Questions to Defuse Office Arguments

It Pays to Know Your Opponent: Success in Negotiations Improved by Perspective-Taking, But Limited by Empathy

The Right Way to Fight


Image Source: Annoying Coworker