How to deal with negative behavior in the workplace

We all get annoyed with our colleagues from time to time. Think of someone who doesn’t keep their appointments or constantly interrupts you. How do you handle this with that person? This article is about how you influence the behavior of others.

For most, that can be quite challenging. 40% of the respondents in our survey report that they do not speak their mind at work. 64% want to do it, but think “I don’t want to seem rude” or “I’m not the right person to do it.” But keeping quiet doesn’t help because you continue to be annoyed. In the long run, this can strain cooperation.

Give your opinion

Giving feedback and confronting others about their behavior are two completely different things. When you confront someone, their behavior bothers you and you have a clear opinion about what they are doing. “It is not neutral, but subjective,” says behavioral expert Linda Kluijtmans. “You engage in this conversation with the goal of changing the behavior. The effect is corrective.” Here is an example:

  • Giving feedback: I see that you are delivering data late. I can feel it annoying me.
  • To confront: I find it unprofessional that you deliver data a day later than agreed. I expect you to honor our agreement.

Short and clear. Remember that the tone of your voice and your body language play a significant role. It determines how the message appears. If you speak softly and look friendly, you make the message seem milder and you put less pressure on the person. If you raise your voice to express how annoying it is, you put more pressure on the person. It’s up to you.

The fear of showing emotions

In our courses, many participants are afraid to show too much emotion when confronting someone. Therefore, they choose not to do it. “It has the opposite effect; you actually become more emotional by not saying anything”, says Linda. “Letting a situation that annoys you escalate is not effective for either party. Speak your mind! It will take the pressure off yourself.”

The reaction of the other

When you confront someone, it affects the other person. There is a real risk that they will become defensive and explain why they are not fulfilling the agreement. It’s normal! You should stick to your position. It is important to be clear in your expectations. If what was agreed is not possible, it is important that your colleague informs you.

In the example, you can see that the outcome of the confrontation is not optional. From the tone of the conversation, your colleague can sense that this is your goal, and next time things must go according to the agreement. That is exactly the intention. Of course, that person may choose to ignore your demand and make other choices, but you have made your position clear.

Everyone can learn to influence the behavior of others

Many organizations strive for a better culture in this regard to address collaboration issues. The good news is that everyone can learn to influence the behavior of others effectively, i.e. so that the goal is achieved and the respectful relationship is maintained. It just takes a little courage and practice. If you want to work on this skill, take a closer look at our courses.

Sources: Carrieretijger,, goc, vilians, ondernemenmetpersoneel

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