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Dealing with colleagues who don't support you

ONE OF my close friends once worked for a company whose CEO was very concerned about the lack of teamwork and support amongst his staff. He was apprehensive about low morale and the manner in which his people often worked at cross-purposes. We often come across such companies, which have been forced to close down productive units because of a section of people who perpetually make things difficult for the management. The real problem lies much deeper. The urge to succeed, the drive for survival and a culture of distrust are most frequently the causes of insubordination and non co-operation.

How does one deal with colleagues or subordinates who refuse to co-operate? One cannot have a quick-fix program to change the attitude of people. The result if at all tangible, will only have a superficial effect. Instead we have to learn to focus on doing things `the better way', rather than `your way' or `my way' or even `our way'!

Be nice. Be tough.

Maturity has been described as achieving the fine balance between courage and consideration. Be clear about what you want. If the other person is unwilling to co-operate, put your point forward clearly. Use proactive rather than reactive language. At the same time, listen patiently to what the other person is saying. Be open, rational and conciliatory without being soft or weak.


If met with resistance the first time, keep trying. The old story of Robert Bruce and the spider might sound clichéd, but it fits the paradigm of perseverance to a `T'. Persevere with the communication process in the same reasonable vein, express your point of view with more conviction and courage till a solution is arrived at.

Temper the tantrum!

Trench it! Anger and impatience are going to get you nowhere. If you find yourself in danger of losing your temper, take a deep breath and count to ten.

If you reach the stage where keeping your temper proves detrimental to health, it is time to do something about it. Excuse yourself for a moment. Seek the privacy of your cabin or room, give vent to your temper, tear that old newspaper to shreds, stamp the carpet, bang your fist on the table, and get it out of your system! Once you are done with it - drink a glass of water, straighten your tie, close the door and return! You're sure to feel infinitely better once you've vented your spleen.

Build trust

Trust is the basis for any relationship. Without trust, relationships are reduced to compromises that lack credibility and reliability. Building a culture of trust is not easy, you can only do that through genuine appreciation, courtesy and respect for other people, and their viewpoints. It is a slow process.

Focus on the problem and not the person

Rather than picking on the troublemaker, try seeing matters from his perspective. Identify key issues involved. Determine what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution and fourthly, try to identify new alternatives to achieving those results.

Analyse the negatives

Make a list of negatives/ obstacles preventing the other person from giving his full co-operation. Try to view the situation from his viewpoint. Is he right? If so, what can be done to alleviate his problems? Once they are settled, is he willing to co-operate? If yes, take sincere initiatives to proscribe the obstacles off your course of action.

If irresistible force meets immovable object...

In today's world, it is not uncommon to find people who say `no', without reason. They may drive you up the wall with their determination to stand in the way of things, no matter what. If it is a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, rather than wasting your time and energy in the hope of getting things right, choose a different alternative!

Co-operation is the founding principle of teamwork. It can only happen where trust is implicit in work-relationships. It can thrive only if we manage to juggle expectations and accomplishments with the same dexterity as a professional performer, and learn to look at life as a co-operative and not competitive arena.


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