I work with someone who always seems to have an answer for everything, especially when it pertains to his always being right and your always being wrong or not mature enough to understand his point of view. We both work in positions of authority, to a degree, in our workplace, and when one of the employees comes to him with a problem or a request, I witness as he begins to spin a tale of how, when he was a lowly employee in the same situation he was able to handle things well enough without needing extra help of any kind; so, the employee should be able to do exactly the same. This individual and I get along pretty well, though we do have differences of opinion every so often. When this happens I get the same treatment – my own experiences and thoughts are seemingly diminished in comparison to his own. It’s getting old – so how do I deal with it?
Sounds like you’ve already started to deal with it in a mature way. You’re recognizing that you both have differences of opinion and, yet, you’re still able to get along with each other more often than not. I’m guessing that your annoyance is more with his self-proclaimed expertise on everything. Yep, that’s annoying and here are a few thoughts on how to deal with it.
First, recognize that you don’t have to do anything about how he deals with his own subordinates. You only have to worry about the people you are supervising. They’ll recognize that he’s full of himself. Don’t worry that they’ll link you to him, as you don’t act that way. Your respectful treatment of your peers and subordinates will be appreciated and will most certainly stand out in contrast to his small-mindedness.
Second, keep a good sense of humor about it. What he’s doing reminds me of the bit standup comedian Brian Regan did called “The Me Monster.” He talked about how you should never tell a “two wisdom tooth” story because someone will always parachute in and tell their “four wisdom tooth” story. His point is that there will always be someone who will try and upstage your story. Let it be that way and allow him to be the fool as he attempts to hijack your contributions. Trust me, people can see this from a mile away. And, when you step back and look at it, you can see the absurdity of it.
I also recommend you continue to just find the areas where you can relate to him and build your relationship from that place. I’m sure there are plenty of redeeming qualities in this co-worker, so focus on enjoying what you can with him and allow the rest to be his quirks. You have quirks too, as do I, and everyone else I’ve ever met. Healthy workplaces make room for individual differences, even the annoying ones.
If his ways of treating others becomes so problematic that it begins to negatively impact the bottom line, I have no doubt that management will be alerted by other co-workers, including you. There is a difference between just being annoying and driving off business. Your workplace is lucky to have you, as I have no doubt you’re respectful to those around you.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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