“If you can get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you can dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
I dreaded coming to the monthly board meetings. My heart rate would up, my palms got sweaty and my anxiety level elevated. All because of him. I loved everyone else on the team except this one person, and sadly he happened to be my co-chair, so we had to work together.
Up until this point in my life, I thought I was able to get along with pretty much everyone, but for some reason, me and this guy never seemed to click. I wish I could’ve just walked away, but that wasn’t an option for three main reasons:
– I signed up for a 12 month board seat commitment.
– My reputation as someone who does what they say was on the line.
– The position was a stepping stone to becoming president of the board.
Every month he and I came together, butt heads, and pretended to tolerate each other just to keep things moving.
Crappy people are all around us. Some are in our neighborhood. Some are in our family. Some are in our teams. Sometimes we have the option to walk away, other times, as the case with me, you have to interact directly with this crappy person to get something done. If you find yourself in a “stuck-with-the-crappy-person” type of situation, here are four tips I used to help me stay sane for the year:
1) Confide in Others – As soon as I felt the friction between the two of us, I reached out to the president of the board to ask him to evaluate the situation. By getting third-party involved, I was able to see if it was just me, or if there truly was something going on.
2) Get Your Work Done – Despite all the frustration, I knew that if I didn’t show up at the board meeting without my part of the work done, that’s all anyone else on the board would care about.
3) Don’t Loose Your Smile – I’m a positively optimistic person. If I lost that spirit about myself throughout the year, I would’ve lost a big part of what makes me special and why people enjoy having me on their team. So I made it a point to remind myself to keep my smile despite the frustration.
4) Acknowledge the Frustration – At one point I realized I had talked to almost everyone else on the board about my frustration, but hadn’t talked directly with my co-chair. During a call, I brought it up. He acknowledged he felt the same way and we talked about it. While the situation didn’t magically become awesome sauce, it did get better. There was comfort in knowing he felt the same way and now that the problem was placed on the table, it forced us both to acknowledge it and work to fix it.
Communicating with crappy people is tough for one person, but when it’s not dealt with the person’s rottenness can spread to the rest of the team and bring everyone down. If you find yourself in a similar situation as mine, use these four tips to help to manage your relationship with Mr. Crappy.
Editors Note: SAC is partnering with Swift Kick to host an online training on How To Communicate With Crappy People, on Tuesday, November 17 at 1PM EST. Join us!