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Posted 02/23/2017

Strategies for Responding to Dysfunctional Colleagues

On television or at the movie theater, workplace dysfunction is always good for a laugh. An entire plot can be built around the antics, quirks, and miss-everything's that go with dysfunction on the job site. But in real life, at your workplace? Well, then it’s not nearly so amusing. Here are some questions to ask yourself when the tension escalates, paired with a couple of strategies for rising above the fray enough to accomplish your assigned tasks and you know, preserve your sanity, too.
  • What’s really going on?
Underlying issues such as illness or family situations may be contributing to your co-worker's behavior as major stress in other areas of a person’s life often bleeds into the work day. It could be that insecurity about his/her ability to do the job is wreaking havoc with his/her confidence, and unfortunately for you and everyone else in the department, this is resulting in some unfavorable behaviors. Digging beneath the surface can offer clues about the why behind the unpleasant behavior which can then point to a resolution OR at least provide a balm.
  • What’s he/she got against me?
Although it feels uber personal, it’s probably not. A closer look is likely to reveal a myriad of folks are in the path of the dysfunctional fallout. Still, when attacks feel personal, the deep sting can throw you off your game. Remind yourself from where the barbs originate and vow not to let his/her issues become your issues. Steer clear should the situation devolve into a division of teams:  the allies and the enemies of the dysfunctional one.
  • Focus on you and your responsibilities
This is one time it’s okay to be selfish and be concerned with you. Don’t take the blame for another’s missteps. Don’t try to cover up or “fix” the dysfunction on your own. Don’t accept the guilt a “blamer” tries to heap on you. While it might be tough to go about business as usual when the king/queen of dysfunction is at it again, concentrating on your job performance can be an effective way of coping. Refuse to be caught up in the drama.
  • Tune it out
Erik Myers, advises people to close themselves off from the situation as much as possible. “I wear headphones all day, every day so that I don't have to listen to the insipid ramblings of my coworkers and how much they ‘love their fat-free salad dressing’ and ‘have you heard about this new diet?” Dysfunction thrives on more dysfunction. But if you refuse to participate in the dysfunction, adds Donna Flagg, “You remain on the ‘functional’ side of the line.”
  • If all else fails, move on
If the situation continues to deteriorate to the point it’s affecting your health—mental, emotional, or physical—or your career goals; then it’s time to consider leaving. Although certainly not a decision to be made in haste or taken lightly, sometimes the only sane choice is to find a different job. Whatever situation sends you on the path to a new job, MPS Technical can help. We specialize in temporary and contract placement, contract-to-hire and direct hire placement for a myriad of positions within the manufacturing sector. Contact us today for all of your job search needs.