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The Power Of Praise

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Praise has power. Praising a co-worker has the power to change both of you. Unless you are totally unable to find something to congratulate or praise a difficult co-worker for, telling her that she is doing a good job can be a true relationship builder. Not only will you receive a positive response, but you may be reminded of your employee’s talents.

Where’s your sense of humor? Laughter can also heal difficult relationships. Do you have a shared funny experience? Laugh about it together. Do you have a good, appropriate joke that the other person might enjoy? Open up and tell it. Even when your co-worker is annoying, try to appreciate their eccentricities, decide to smile about it and keep on going. That is not hypocrisy, by the way; it is self-preservation

Empathize. It isn’t easy, but try to step into that difficult co-worker’s shoes. Is he experiencing a personal or professional challenge? Are these challenges affecting his behavior on the job? Empathy can give you a deeper awareness of an employee or colleague. The reverse is also true. You hope that your co-worker will also have empathy for you.

Forgive. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Remembering that concept as you deal with a difficult co-worker is vital. When you make a mistake, you want forgiveness. What a freeing feeling you get when you forgive that co-worker any wrongs he or she has done to you. Holding a grudge is never productive and serves to build tension. Forgive and try to let it go. You may be pleasantly surprised by the feeling of peace that often follows.

Know when to cut your losses. You hope that you won’t have to give up on improving a difficult relationship with a co-worker, but sometimes there is just no resolution. Short of quitting your job, the solutions may be somewhat limited. You might request a transfer out of the department. You can approach the person’s supervisor about the problem and perhaps gain some insight into the difficult person. You have to leave it in the supervisor’s hands. If the problem is too severe, you can hope that the person will be removed from your immediate vicinity. Or you can simply grin and bear it. In time, you can train yourself not to respond at all to his or her difficult behavior. This is called a healthy state of “detachment.”

One good piece of advice that I have learned through the years is to become “friendly, but not friends” with your co-workers or employees. You may even find that a negative relationship turns into a positive one with enough empathy and forgiveness.


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