Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, where she writes about workplace dynamics. She is the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict and co-hosts HBR’s Women at Work podcast. As a speaker and workshop facilitator, Gallo has helped thousands of leaders deal with conflict more effectively and navigate complicated workplace dynamics. She is a graduate of Yale University and has a master’s in public policy from Brown University. In this episode of Love in Action, Amy discusses a few of the archetypes from her book Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and some solutions for co-existing in the workplace.
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Clean Up Your Side of the Street
When it comes to workplace relationships, Amy shares foundational tips that will apply to working with all of the archetypes. Raise your self-awareness, get the big picture, and ask yourself, “How can I make sure my thoughts, actions, and behaviors are aligned with my values and goals in my relationships” [15:12] Be cognizant of how you can be inviting or triggering behavior of the “difficult people” you may face at work.
In this episode, Amy and Marcel cover three archetypes:
The Passive Aggressive Peer
When working with a co-worker demonstrating passive-aggressive behavior, consider “What is the underlying message?”. [21:36] Oftentimes passive aggressive behaviors come from a place of fear, insecurity, or desire to avoid conflict. Frame conversations and interactions in a way that may open up their true thoughts or message and invite a safe place.
Working with a pessimist co-worker can create a negative fog in the workplace. It’s important to validate their feelings, find a place for their “risk assessment”, and especially set forth a practice that invites positivity and support. “If you set boundaries against extreme pessimists, that dark cloud over their head might change.” [30:35] They might not become ultra-positive with these practices but their self-awareness might rise and they can heavily affect future interactions and the environment.
When it comes to the American workplace, “we tend to value confidence over competence”. [35:00] This is how incompetent, narcissistic individuals often come into leadership positions. Hold your ground and pocket some phrases to protect your voice and knowledge when it comes to meetings. Invite in peer support if your own voice isn’t doing the trick.
“Sometimes we put in our best effort, and the behavior just doesn’t change, then it’s a matter of protecting yourself.” [41:27] Amy has some great tips for keeping yourself and your position safe: Document everything so that should you need to escalate the situation you have the details. Don’t dwell, make sure these difficult people aren’t all you’re thinking about. Limit interactions; you don’t have to spend too much work time with these people outside of direct work. Keep some phrases handy so you can keep the conversations moving peacefully.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Women at Work
- Amy E. Gallo
- Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)
- Amy Gallo on Twitter
- Amy Gallo on LinkedIn
- Amy Gallo on Instagram
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