When Colleagues Drive You Crazy

Are Colleagues Driving You Crazy


The people you work with just might be killing you. Those were the findings of a recent study. Now don’t get paranoid: Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that work-related stress—especially negative relationships among co-workers—could drastically reduce one’s life expectancy. In fact, middle-aged employees lacking “peer social support” in their places of work were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study.  

Tony Alessandra, a speaker and author who has written about how to use behavioral differences to build effective teams, recognizes the impact co-worker disagreements and friction can have. “One of the biggest reasons for employee turnover is not pay, but it’s the way they get along with either their colleagues or peers or their manager. A negative relationship can lower productivity and create turnover, mistakes and underperformance.”

Understandably, when you work closely with the same people day in and day out, certain individuals—that perpetual slacker, your control-freak boss, that brown-nosing sycophant—are going to push your buttons, sometimes bringing out the worst in you. But there is hope. Understanding why this friction occurs and identifying healthy ways of dealing with it can make your little corner of the world a much more peaceful place. Heck, it could even lengthen your life.

Why the Friction?

It’s a common office scenario: You work hard, you try to be considerate and you get along pretty well with most of your co-workers—with an emphasis on most. There may be one, two, even a handful of people in your workplace who rub you the wrong way; sometimes the reasons for your ire are obvious, and, other times, you’re just not sure why. What’s the source of all this negativity?

Connie Podesta, speaker and author of Life Would Be Easy If It Weren’t for Other Peoplesays there are three main reasons somebody would seriously push your buttons: “Somebody could be exhibiting some form of manipulation, and we get it that we’re being somehow pressured and we feel pressured into doing something the way they want it to be done. So we resist that.”

True, malicious intentions could be behind the discord, but more often than not, people simply aren’t aware that they’re being aggravating. “Some people just don’t behave appropriately,” Podesta says. “They exhibit values that we don’t have. Maybe we’re hard workers and they’re lazy, and maybe we’re organized and they’re messy.”

Her third reason is a bit more surprising. “Maybe they’re too much like you, which is scarier. Some people push your buttons because they’re doing things just like you do them, and you don’t like it,” she says. “For example, if somebody is a very controlling person and they come up against somebody else who is very controlling, neither of them can stand that in one another.” And of course, the fight for control is epic.

Tony Alessandra would likely agree with that assessment. He argues that all workplace relationships—the good, the bad and the ugly—can be analyzed based on the types of workers who are involved and how those types interact. “The four different primary patterns of behavior are The Director, The Thinker, The Relater and The Socializer. Each has their own unique way of interacting with others and can very easily rub other people the wrong way and cause stress.”

He likes to point to two common sayings about how people get along: “Birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract.” “When it comes to personal and social interactions, when we’re having a good time, then birds of a feather flock together; people are drawn to like styles,” he says. “But, when it comes to a task or job-related activities, typically opposites attract because someone else’s strengths may compensate for my weaknesses.”

Say, for example, you’re a Director type, a no-nonsense, domineering, big-picture person. “The Director is always moving ahead so fast that she is not a great listener. The exact opposite of The Director is The Relater; they excel at listening…. When the two of them work together, if each of them understands what the other brings to the relationship and don’t criticize the other for lacking what each one has, then they can work very well together.”

So, while you can delve more deeply into this system of thought—and there are even online assessments available for determining compatibility between two people based on behavioral types—there are some simple lessons to be learned from Alessandra’s model. Every person you work with has unique strengths and weaknesses that may overlap with yours or be completely different. Work to identify what characteristics in others may conflict with yours and be proactive about not letting friction arise because of them. By striving to understand how we are all different—and learning not only to accept but anticipate our differences—we put ourselves on a collective path to collaboration.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

While it may be easy to blame those annoying personalities in your office for making your life miserable, it’s time to face the facts: It takes two to tango. “Most relationships are in somewhat of a dance together, a partnership. We can’t just look at the difficult person and say, ‘Why are they doing that?’ Because usually we play some part in it,” Podesta says.

It all boils down to what kind of reaction you provide to someone else’s behavior. “There are three kinds of attention a human can get: positive, negative and no attention at all, which is exhibited by indifference or ignoring the other person,” she says. A normal, healthy human being craves positive attention in any form, from a pat on the back to a promotion.

“A happy life requires that you receive positive attention,” Podesta says. “So, if we do a certain behavior and get positive attention, the brain files that away and says, ‘That was great, do that again.’ If we do something that gets negative attention, it says, ‘Don’t do that again.’ ”

Above all, nobody wants an indifferent reaction. “Indifference is about the worst, because most of us would rather have negative attention than none at all. And that’s what makes somebody a difficult person. If you see somebody and go, ‘I can’t believe they act that way,’ or ‘Why do they keep doing that?’… this is why.”

So let’s go back to that perpetual slacker in your office (and believe us, every office has one): She comes in late, takes a long lunch and leaves early. And nobody says or does a thing, not even her boss. By allowing that person to keep her job and go about her daily routine like nothing is wrong, her bosses and co-workers are giving her positive reinforcement for her behavior, and she’ll keep doing it.

Podesta says we have three choices of how to respond: “You give them positive, you give them negative or you don’t respond at all. In any type of situation anywhere, anytime, with any type of person, those are the only choices you have.”

If someone is pushing our buttons and really making our lives difficult, we need to give them a negative response to stop the behavior. But there are two types of negative responses: aggressive and assertive. We’ve all seen the former. It involves screaming and temper tantrums and doesn’t do much to solve the problem. But the latter is much less common.

“Assertive is respectfully letting someone know that the way they acted isn’t acceptable or appropriate. That’s the only response that will give you any chance of creating a better relationship,” Podesta says. “You try to keep the relationship win-win.… It comes down to having crucial, important conversations with people.”

Some people think workplace harmony can be achieved simply by practicing the Golden Rule, but Alessandra says that thinking is flawed. “In today’s world of increasing diversity, we have the obvious gender divide, generational, ethnic and regional differences—I learned that firsthand.”

Born and raised in New York and New Jersey, Alessandra moved to Southern California and realized that the Golden Rule doesn’t always work. “I treated people in San Diego the way I wanted to be treated. In other words, I treated them like a New Yorker. I came off too strong, too fast, too aggressive. I created interpersonal stress.”

Instead, he preaches the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. Treat others as they want to be treated. It’s nothing more than the age-old saying: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Again, it comes back to understanding the differences among us and trying to accommodate the dynamics that occur among personality types. Alessandra calls it adaptability: “It’s your ability to change your approach or strategy depending on the person you’re dealing with.”

When Tempers Rise

Despite our best efforts to be patient and understanding, sometimes a team member irks us so much that we need a sort of release valve for the pressure, especially in a heated situation. Let’s say you’re in the middle of an important meeting, and your saboteur team member throws you under the bus. How can you shift mental gears so you don’t lose it?

Alessandra suggests an oldie but goodie: Count to 10. “When someone is pushing your button—and you can feel it inside—and you want to blurt something out, start counting to 10. Once you get to 10, odds are that, whatever you were going to do, you’re either not going to do it or you’ll have toned it down.” He says the same approach can be helpful for handling nasty email or voicemail. You may instinctively want to fire off an equally heated response. “Just save it for one day; just sleep on it overnight,” he says. “I guarantee that, when you read it the next day, you’re going to tone it down.”

But then how do you deal with that saboteur who was so blatantly in the wrong? “The ideal is never to call out a person in front of others because all it will do is prompt the person to defend rather than truly listen and hear things from your point of view,” Alessandra says. “If at all possible, get them aside and use this technique called an empathy statement.”

An empathy statement has three steps: 1. Make a tentative statement. 2. Define the feeling that you think the other person is feeling or conveying. 3. And then put that feeling into some context. Alessandra gives this example: It appears to me—that’s a tentative statement, not definitive—that you are very frustrated because—that’s defining the feeling—the project isn’t progressing the way you’d like—that’s putting the feeling into context. Then conclude by reaching out: Perhaps we could sit down and you could share some of your ideas about how things might work better.

Essentially, you’re demonstrating to the person that you identify with how they’re feeling and offering a bridge to discussion and reconciliation. It’s a verbal olive branch that could make all of our lives easier if we reached out and extended it once in a while.

Printed from other source: http://www.success.com/articles/1604-when-colleagues-drive-you-crazy

Communicate Effectively Through Your Wardrobe

Make your wardrobe work for you

Often we acquire our clothes haphazardly—a sale item or an impulse buy here, a Christmas gift there—without much thought as to how they fit our image, or even if they match each other. In fact, you’ve probably seen folks who’ve expanded their wardrobe only to hobble themselves by wearing a plaid shirt with a striped tie, or to go overboard with jewelry that clatters and clangs when they walk. In other words, unless you know how to put it all together, you can improve your wardrobe but still project a poor image and not be able to communicate effectively who you are. So make sure your colors, patterns, and accessories are complementary, not clashing.

Do you communicate who you are by the way you dress?

Most of us have at least one or two outfits that make us feel especially good when we’re wearing them. We tend to save those for special occasions. But why not try to increase that number to three, four, or more such outfits and, thus, try to make a particularly good impression every day? Communicate who you are!

If you’re vague about what you look best in, consult a friend or co-worker whose taste you admire, or go to a wardrobe consultant. They often spot things that you’d look good in but probably wouldn’t consider trying on.

A wardrobe consultant may sound like a costly luxury. But many times their advice is free if you buy clothes from them, and some will even shop for you at an hourly rate, which can save a lot of time. Combine that time savings with greater selection and the likelihood of a superb fit, and it all may add up to a terrific value.

Communicate effectively by dressing for success and you will stand out!

Knowledge-Should Never End


Depth of knowledge refers to how well you know your products and services–your particular area of expertise. How well do you know your company, your industry, your competition, and your customers? You should make every effort to learn as much as possible about your particular area of expertise. Take advantage of any training programs that your company or industry may offer.  By increasing your depth of knowledge, you will command respect from your customers, co‑workers, and competition by projecting an image of intelligence and credibility.

Breadth of knowledge deals with your ability to converse with others in fields outside of your own particular area of expertise.  Read at least one newspaper a day and a minimum of one book a month.  If you can’t find the time to read, get books on audio and listen to them in your car.  Make it a goal to learn something new each week.

When you are willing and able to talk with people about topics that are of interest and importance to them, those people will feel much more comfortable being in your presence. In fact, people will go out of their way to talk with you. By increasing your breadth of knowledge, you will increase your circle of influence with people of varying backgrounds and education.


We have a forum which can be found at  www.assessmentforum.com which can help provide a wealth of ongoing information to you in helping with your business and your own personal life. Join-It’s FREE and start talking with others, asking questions, giving your own input and if you need Dr. Tony to answer your direct question, that will happen, too!

See you at the new Forum!


The Platinum Rule

We have all heard of the Golden Rule-and many people aspire to live by it. The Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated. The alternative to the Golden Rule is the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Ah hah! What a difference. The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.”

A Modern Model for Chemistry

The goal of The Platinum Rule is personal chemistry and productive relationships. You do not have to change your personality. You do not have to roll over and submit to others. You simply have to understand what drives people and recognize your options for dealing with them. The Platinum Rule divides behavioral preferences into four basic styles: The Director, Socializer, Relater, and Thinker. Everyone possesses the qualities of each style to various degrees and everyone has a dominant style. For the sake of simplicity, this article will focus only on dominant styles.


Directors are driven by two governing needs: to control and achieve. Directors are goal-oriented go-getters who are most comfortable when they are in charge of people and situations. They want to accomplish many things-now-so they focus on no- nonsense approaches to bottom-line results. Directors seek expedience and are not afraid to bend the rules. They figure it is easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Directors accept challenges, take authority, and plunge headfirst into solving problems. They are fast-paced, task-oriented, and work quickly and impressively by themselves, which means they become annoyed with delays. Directors are driven and dominating, which can make them stubborn, impatient, and insensitive to others. Directors are so focused that they forget to take the time to smell the roses.


The Socializer’s primary strengths are enthusiasm, charm, persuasiveness, and warmth. They are friendly and enthusiastic and like to be where the action is. They thrive on the admiration, acknowledgment, and compliments. They are idea-people who excel at getting others excited about their vision. They are eternal optimists with an abundance of charisma; qualities that help them influence people and build alliances to accomplish their goals. Socializers care less about winning or losing than how they look while playing the game. As wonderful as Socializers may sound, they do have their weaknesses: impatience, an aversion to being alone, and a short attention span—they become bored easily. Socializers are risk-takers who base many of their decisions on intuition, which is not inherently bad. When given only a little data, however, Socializers tend to make sweeping generalizations. Some of them are, therefore, exaggerators. Socializers are not inclined to do their homework or check out information. They are more likely to assume someone else will do it.

Thinkers are analytical, persistent, systematic people who enjoy problem solving. Thinkers are detail-oriented, which makes them more concerned with content than style. Thinkers are task- oriented people who enjoy perfecting processes and working toward tangible results. They’re always in control of their emotions and may become uncomfortable around people who very out-going, e.g., Socializers. Thinkers have high expectations of themselves and others, which can make them over-critical. Their tendency toward perfectionism–taken to an extreme–can cause “paralysis by over- analysis.” Thinkers are slow and deliberate decision-makers. They do research, make comparisons, determine risks, calculate margins of error, and then take action. Thinkers become irritated by surprises and glitches, hence their cautious decision-making. Thinkers are also skeptical, so they like to see promises in writing.


Relaters are warm and nurturing individuals. They are the most people-oriented of the four styles. Relaters are excellent listeners, devoted friends, and loyal employees. Their relaxed disposition makes them approachable and warm. They develop strong networks of people who are willing to be mutually supportive and reliable. Relaters are excellent team players. Relaters are risk-averse. In fact, Relaters may tolerate unpleasant environments rather than risk change. They like the status quo and become distressed when disruptions are severe. When faced with change, they think it through, plan, and accept it into their world. Relaters–more than the other types–strive to maintain personal composure, stability, and balance. In the office, Relaters are courteous, friendly, and willing to share responsibilities. They are good planners, persistent workers, and good with follow-through. Relaters go along with other seven when they do not agree because they do not want to rock the boat. Relaters are slow decision-makers for several reasons: 1) their need for security; 2) their need to avoid risk; 3) their desire to include others in the decision-making process.

The Platinum Rule provides powerful life-skills that will serve you well in all your relationships: business, friends, family, spouse, and children.

Find out how The Platinum Rule can work for you!


Assessment Business Center Starts a Forum-Understanding People is the Key!

    A Forum is Now Ready for YOU

Tony posts on this blog site about many different subjects and now he wants to hear from you! He has now created a new forum where you can go to get the help you need for your business!

Go to www.assessmentforum.com and sign up to become a member. There are a variety of groups to join and you can ask the administrator to create a new one, if you have a new subject you would like discussed.

You can share you ideas, ask questions of Tony you always wanted to ask, get tips on what to do with your business concerns and through all this, you will gain a valuable understanding of people which will certainly aid in your future success!

Talking = Understanding = More Success for You!

Tony is ready to help you assess your business, your future and your current path to achieve your dreams. We will be waiting for you at the Forum!

See you at the Forum!


Customer Service Equals The Five Cs

The Five C’s of Effective Execution

The Five C’s of Effective Execution Pay a Key Role in Superior Customer Service. To have mastered these five measures means that you have mastered the way to superior Customer Service which will produce results for your company!

1. Commitment – Across the entire span of people who will be responsible to accomplish any portion of Customer Service Plan. Commitment starts with writing down the goal and the plans necessary to stay on the path to success. Each member of the team must agree on the goal and take ownership of their roles and responsibilities, and get it all in writing!

2. Communication – On a constant basis, communication processes are necessary in order to inform one another what has sales meetings, reporting processes, public charting, etc., and should be designed before the process of execution starts, so everyone knows how to quickly and effectively get the information they need. Communication with your customer, finding out what they want, what they need, is vital to the success of the sale.

3. Collaboration – Several heads are always better than one. Having a collaboration methodology in place that allows team members to make decisions, run meetings, understand responsibilities, etc. is critical to success. Share tips on Customer Service. Decision-making is one of the key differences makers in successful organizations and it makes sense to have a methodology for decision-making that is consistent, time-efficient, and leads to action.

4. Consistency – Having a predictable way of operating together.  People are more successful who have a clearly established set of behavioral guidelines, and making them consistent ensures constant forward motion. Good Customer Service needs a plan and the tools to stick with what works!

5. Constant Awareness (Knowledge) – Making decisions requires knowing exactly where we are with respect to where we said we would be. In today’s competitive world, this is becoming more and more critical to organizations that are trying to integrate a goal-oriented culture. Effective use of technology is how successful companies and teams are creating a real-time knowledge base that allows quick allocation of resources, course correction, and decision-making. Someone needs to be responsible for making a report on a weekly basis on what is working and what is not working in reaching the customer. Knowledge is power and is needed to be passed to each employee who deals with the customers. Superior Customer Service comes from knowledge, teamwork, consistency, communication and commitment!

Teamwork = Superior Customer Service

How Do You Minimize Distractions?

Minimizing Distractions


You must eliminate noise and distractions in order to be an effective listener and communicator. These barriers may be in the environment, like noises in the room, other people talking, poor acoustics, bad odors, extreme temperatures, an uncomfortable chair, or visual distractions. Or they could be physical disruptions such as telephone calls or visitors.

Another kind of barrier is something distracting about the speaker. Maybe he or she dresses oddly, shows poor grooming, and has disturbing mannerisms, confusing facial expressions or body language. Or perhaps he or she has a thick accent or an unappealing presentation style.

Yet another barrier has to do with you, the listener, and can be either physical or psychological. Maybe it’s close to lunch or quitting time, and you’re preoccupied with how you feel. You’re hungry or tired, or angry, or maybe have a cold or a toothache. If so, you’re not going to be listening fully.

Another physical barrier could be your proximity to the speaker. If he or she’s either too close or too far away from you, you may feel uncomfortable and have a hard time concentrating.

A second sort of internal barrier is psychological. Perhaps you’re closed-minded to new ideas or resistant to information that runs contrary to your beliefs and values. Or maybe you’re bored, or daydreaming, or jumping to conclusions.

There are lots of potential distractions. If you can’t avoid them, minimize them. You do that by focusing totally on the speaker and paying attention. Here are four specific techniques that will help you concentrate while listening:

1.  Take a deep breath. This will prevent you from interrupting, and will provide your brain with invigorating oxygen. Try it now, and as you’re doing it, try to speak. It doesn’t work very well, does it?

2.  Consciously decide to listen. No matter who’s speaking, pay attention and listen for information that’s particularly interesting or useful. You never know what you might learn. As show-biz wit Wilson Mizner once said, “A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.”

3.  Mentally paraphrase what the speaker is saying. This will prevent you from daydreaming about irrelevant and superfluous topics. You’ll concentrate on the speaker instead of yourself.

4.  Maintain eye contact. Where your eyes focus, your ears follow. You’re most likely to listen to what you are looking at.

So, if you can’t eliminate a distraction, use one or more of these techniques to help you handle the distractions.

Want To Do A Memory Exercise?

Visualization and Memory Exercise


It’s important to exercise your ability to create mental images to help improve your memory. Visualization is a primary technique for storing information in your memory.  So here’s a fun exercise with some mental image gymnastics.



Get a mental picture of a two-inch cube.

Paint the top of the cube red.

Paint the bottom blue.

Paint the remaining sides white.

Now slice the cube vertically in half.

Then slice it vertically in half again at a right angle to the first cut.

Now, cut the cube in half horizontally, like a layer cake.

You now have divided the two-inch cube into a number of one-inch cubes.

Memory Test


Can you answer the following questions (answers at the end)?

A: How many sides does each one-inch cube have?

B: How many one-inch cubes are there?

C: How many one-inch cubes have at least one white side?

D: How many cubes have at least one red side and at least one white side?

E: How many unpainted sides does each one-inch cube have?


How did you do?

This exercise tested your ability to construct and manipulate mental images. Even though this was a relatively easy exercise in terms of complexity, it required a high level of concentration in listening to the directions. I recommend that you practice similar visualization exercises to keep your mental imaging muscles in good shape.


Answers: A=6; B=8; C=8; D=4; E=3

Well, how did you do? Let us know in your comments!

Do You Have Street Smarts?




I. Heightened Awareness

  1. Trust your intuition
  2. Develop perceptiveness and ability to anticipate
  3. Size up people quickly and accurately
  4. See the big picture


  1. Fake it till you make it
  2. Use chutzpa when necessary
  3. Believe in yourself-Be confident


  1. Don’t believe everything you see and hear
  2. Be hard to take advantage of
  3. Use your “mental categories” and generalizations to keep you on guard
  4. Give people the time and rope to either hang themselves or prove their integrity/sincerity


  1. Think quickly on your feet
  2. Be persistent
  3. Be prepared
  4. Be flexible
  5. Change your surroundings or adapt
  6. Surround yourself with experts & contacts


  1. Be willing to take risks
  2. Minimize the possible down side
  3. Cut your losses and get out if you’re wrong
  4. Learn by your mistakes Use your STREET SMARTS and you will be a winner in whatever path you take! Please comment in this blog on how you feel STREET SMARTS have helped you in your life!




Adaptability is your willingness and ability to behave in ways that are not necessarily characteristic of your style in order to deal effectively with the requirements of a situation or relationship.   Adaptable people make the choice to go beyond their own comfort zones so others feel more comfortable. 


With adaptability, you can treat people the way they want to be treated. You practice adaptability every time you slow down with another person who does not feel as comfortable moving as fast as you do. You also practice adaptability when you take time to listen to a personal story from another person, rather than getting right down to the task at hand.

Adaptability is important because people are different and need to be treated differently. You develop open and honest relationships with others by being tactful, reasonable, and understanding.

Do you have a story to share about what you have had to do to show adaptability in your work area? Let me know in a comment what has happened to you! Let’s share and help each other.