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Part I: Trouble brewing working with a colleague

Dear Office-Politics,

It is important to the harmony of the work place in our department to work in collaboration with other assistants within the department. One of my colleagues confided in me that they are having difficulty working with another colleague. How should I handle this situation?


jennifer glueck bezoza

Dear Team-worker,

First things first… It’s a tribute to you and your trustworthiness that your colleague felt comfortable sharing his or her difficulty working with another colleague. Here a few guidelines to keep in mind in supporting your colleague work through this situation.

1.) First, listen to your colleague’s concerns.

2.) Ask questions to seek understanding of events leading up to the current situation

3.) Remain objective and non-judgmental toward the individual with whom your colleague has a problem.

4.) Simultaneously, you also can remain empathetic to your colleague who has confided in you and is obviously troubled by this workplace conflict.

5.) You might ask this colleague to ponder what motivates this colleague to act in the way that has caused problems for him/her. The individual may have good intentions, despite appearances to the contrary.

6.) Encourage your colleague to approach this colleague and work it out directly with him or her.

While it might be tempting to play intermediary between the two individuals, it is not advisable. Encourage and promote a culture whereby colleagues are direct and honest with one another and handle personal conflicts in a mature and respectful manner.

Hope some of these ideas prove helpful. Thank you for writing Office Politics.


Jennifer Glueck Bezoza, MA

Jennifer Glueck Bezoza has an MA in organizational psychology from Columbia University and a BA in psychology and humanities from Stanford University. She currently works in Organizational Development for the largest not-for-profit home health organization in the country where she focuses on succession planning, leadership development and coaching. Previously, she worked for GE Commercial Finance and HR consultant, Towers Perrin.

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