My workplace is dominated by a loud, opinionated person who keeps interpreting for me what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know what to say without making things worse.
Thanks for writing. I’m sorry you’ve been dealt this dilemma. Let’s try to make it a timely opportunity for you to grow.
Loud, opinionated people in workplaces: may we not be them, may we not know them. That is, until someone has the guts to say what needs to be said when others won’t, and then we’re glad they’re around. It’s never all bad to work beside bold communicators, but lay down some ground rules to avoid being trampled.
Over 50,000 U.S. employees have completed a robust personality assessment used by GC. We’ve learned a lot in the past decade about what makes people tick. It may be helpful to consider that this person isn’t necessarily targeting you. Rather, it’s likely he or she is behaving naturally (while suffering some reputation and relationship costs) based on genetics and life experiences. The hammer your co-worker carries when communicating is coded in DNA and is also a product of his or her life experiences. Behavior patterns become second nature quickly. Many of us never realize we have old habits we need to break.
Talking with your co-worker or boss isn’t highly likely to change your co-worker’s loudness or strength of convictions. Instead, talk to influence what affects you most negatively: his/her desire to direct your work. I recommend a one-on-one approach before escalating the issue to management. Stand your ground, diplomatically. Eleanor Roosevelt warned, “When you adopt the standards and values of someone else, you surrender your own integrity and become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”
Try to catch him/her in the act of bossing you around then speak your truth. If it were me: “I want to own my successes and failures. If you tell me how to do my job, I’m not using my creativity, which is important to me. It prevents burnout and I hope to be on this team for a long time. I’ve got this.” If I was being diplomatic, I might add: “I know your heart’s in the right place. You’re trying to help, but it’s not working for me.”
Perseverance wins when dealing with others’ behaviors. The most memorable public speakers repeat their most important points. You’re likely to need to revisit your message to help the co-worker see that you mean business. To make what seems like a communication chore a little more fun, practice varying the wording, timing, and medium. Update me so I can cheer for you.
When dealing with a “hammer” (assertive, confident, task-driven individual), put some hammer in your style or you’re seen as a wallflower, sidelined by more outspoken counterparts. I’ll send you and any reader who asks more information about human personality types and how to communicate best with drivers, expressives, amiables and analysts. Best wishes!
Are you (or is “a friend”) dealing with a career or communication challenge? If you’ve got a question, write to Michelle@GladieuxConsulting.com for publication consideration. (Questions remain confidential and anonymous.)