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A successful organisation is built on strong working relationships between employees. When an individual’s behaviour is disruptive, annoying or aggressive, managers must address the issue without causing animosity.

To negotiate behaviour change successfully, follow these three steps:

1. Arrange a private meeting: To ensure confidentiality select a quiet and private space. Address your concerns about the behaviour directly, without being intimidating or aggressive. Show genuine concern but do not be patronising and make sure you keep the lines of communication open.

2. Tell the person how their behaviour is being perceived: Sharing your perceptions about the person’s behaviour will take some of the sting out of your critique. Use statements with the word ‘I’ rather than ‘you’. For example, instead of saying “You share jokes that are rude, off-colour and offensive to your colleagues,” try saying, “I understand that your jokes are a means to break the ice with your colleagues, but several people are uncomfortable with your sense of humour.” Remember to get the other side of the story and give your employee/colleague the chance to explain his/her behaviour. You will find that many people will be surprised to know that their behaviour was perceived negatively.

3. If necessary, negotiate: There is a likelihood that your own actions may have triggered your colleague’s negative behaviour. If this is the case, you should accept your fault and negotiate with the person. For example, say, “I will alter my behaviour (or actions), if you alter yours.” This will help resolve the issue.

Following these three simple steps can help work out workplace issues, create a congenial working environment and strengthen relationships between employees in your organisation, all of which are vital to your company’s success.

— Mazhar Lari and Ali Anis
The writers are lead consultants and trainers at Change180. info@change180.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 23, 2011