Harriette Cole: How can I stand up to my stony co-worker?
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just started a project at work, and one of the project leaders is not friendly.
She barely speaks, and when she does, she is dismissive. Other team members grumble about her behind her back. This makes for an uncomfortable work environment.
It’s almost as if people are afraid of this woman. I don’t want to be like that. I want to find a way to establish a positive relationship with her.
When I observe her, I see that she doesn’t like small talk. She’s all business. I’m OK with that, but it’s hard to read whether or not she thinks the business is going well.
How can I make an impression on her?
DEAR DISTANT LEADER: Request a meeting with this project leader where you can talk about work.
Come with a prepared list of questions that you need clarification on so that you can refer to them. That way, if you get flustered, you can refer to your list and even tell her that you have a certain number of items to cover so she and you can manage your time wisely.
You may want to ask about her expectations of you for this project and how she likes to be kept abreast of progress. Does she like weekly face-to-face check-ins or daily written reports? Incorporate whatever works for her into your schedule.
Since she doesn’t like small talk, don’t try to have any. Instead, make your interaction all business as you begin to learn how best to interact with her.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has always expressed frustration with her immediate family, specifically her parents and her sister. She moved away from them as soon as she turned 18.
As I was growing up, my mother used to tell me how important it was for her to keep her distance from them for her own mental well-being.
Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve started to recognize a similar dynamic with my mother and sister — one that reminds me of my mother’s family.
How can I preserve a sense of balance and connection in our relationship without allowing their behavior to affect me in an undesirable way? I don’t want to push my mom and sister away the way my mother pushed her family away.
Breaking the Cycle
DEAR BREAKING THE CYCLE: Rather than cutting any family out of your life entirely, manage the time you interact with them.
Notice how they behave, what you can stomach and what is simply too much for you to witness or be in the middle of. Determine where the line is so that you know that when anyone crosses it, it’s time for you to exit the scene. Let them know your boundary if you think it will help them to curb their disturbing behavior. Otherwise, just know it for yourself.
All you can control is you. Figure out what that looks like for your self-preservation, and be consistent in following your plan.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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