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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Minnikin

When you realise that you're the nightmare colleague

Rumour has it that there is some tension between two of the presenters of the TV Show Countdown. So I was asked to go and speak on BBC Radio Scotland about how you can deal with difficult colleagues. During our pre-recording chat, the producer asked a really interesting question… “What if you’re the difficult colleague?”

What a great question. I’m sure all of us have worked with someone we could consider to be a massive pain in the bum. We swap our ‘difficult colleague’ stories with our friends and loved ones. But what if we are the pain in the bum? The nightmare colleague?

I was able to cobble together an answer around doing some self-reflection and asking for and being open to feedback.

But it got me thinking…

When I mentioned to a former colleague that I was going for an assessment for ADHD, she laughed and said she wasn’t surprised. Oops. I was probably a nightmare to sit next to at work. Constant talking and high levels of enthusiasm for everything. Completely distracting for everyone.

Generally we don’t reflect enough on our own behaviour. I don’t mean that we should beat ourselves up for our part in any conflict, just having an awareness of our impact on other people. Questioning what we could have done differently in a given situation. Whether we could have handled something in a different way and got a different result. Words matter. Could you have responded with more kindness and compassion? Could you have asked more questions to understand the other person’s perspective? Could you have given clearer instructions?

Approach a trusted person (someone you would go to for advice and expect they’ll be honest with you) and ask for specific feedback - what should I stop doing / what should I start doing / what should I continue doing? You could ask a few people to build up a wider picture.

When you get the feedback, try not to take it personally. Some of the stuff you get back might sting a bit because it’s true. And that’s ok. This is learning. Some of it you may completely disagree with and that’s ok too. Feedback only tells you about the other person’s opinions and preferences. But do consider if it’s true before discarding it.

If you do get the feedback that you are that nightmare colleague, then you have the power in your hands to change. Take the hit to your ego, sprinkle on a little bit of self-compassion, then listen to your colleagues and do something about it. Get some help. Find a coach.

Get in touch :-)

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