Improve Your Conversations with Customers.

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If you want to improve your conversations with customers, lose the jargon. The next time someone asks you what you do (or what your company does), watch to see how many insider industry terms you drop. Corporate-speak is generally more confusing than helpful to someone who’s asked you a straightforward question. Plus, jargon limits your reach to folks who already understand those phrases and terms. What about the people who could use your solution or service but don’t know it yet?

Being a Leader

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Step Nine: Proposal Writing
Step Ten: Performing the Project
Step Eleven: Comply to Legal Obligations
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Coaching for Excellence

Dealing With Minor but Persistent Annoying Behavior

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The Case Study

Greg grits his teeth and takes a deep breath. “Be calm,” he tells himself. “Don’t let it get to you. It’s just Carl being Carl.”

But Greg has been gritting his teeth for months now, and he’s finding Carl’s irritating behavior increasingly disruptive and distracting. There’s the frequent cursing, the “reply all” to emails, the smelly sandwiches, and the black hole of scattered papers that is his desk.

Greg doesn’t know what to do. Should he continue to ignore it and pretend everything’s fine? Confront Carl? Talk to his supervisor? Go to HR? Or maybe even look for a job in another department?

In this article, we look at the damaging impact that persistent, irritating behaviors like Carl’s can have on workplace relationships, team morale, and performance. We’ll also explore strategies that you can use to tackle them.

The Impact of Irritating Behavior

Irritating behavior can be defined as a person’s annoying habits that bother you often and, eventually, drain your energy and morale. Examples might include:

Journal of Health and Social Behavior

Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Talking loudly on the phone.
  • Always interrupting people.
  • Being disruptive during group sessions.
  • Leaving it to others to clear away after a meeting.
  • Failing to file documents correctly.
  • Being persistently late.
  • Eating loudly.
  • Taking frequent cigarette breaks.
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing.
  • Cutting or chewing fingernails.
  • Referring to people inOften, these behaviors are perceived to be unimportant and so go unchallenged. You might feel that you’ll come across as a “killjoy” if you ask a colleague to change what they’re doing, particularly if it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else and it isn’t affecting his or her ability to work.
  •  terms they don’t like.

But failing to address such issues can leave you feeling helpless, deflated and miserable. Eventually, that niggling little habit can become a major distraction, and it may cause resentment and anger to build up. This can threaten personal and team relationships, and impact your productivity.

Dealing With Irritating Behavior in the Workplace

In this section, we look at seven tips for tackling a co-worker’s irritating behavior in a tactful but assertive way.

  1. Avoid Gossip

It can be easy to vent your frustration about your irritating colleague by complaining about him to another co-worker. But spreading rumors in this way can be divisive and destructive. Not only that, but you might find that it backfires on you, and you could end up looking like the “bad guy.”


Gossiping can also lead to much more serious behavioral issues, such as exclusion, harassment, bullying, or discrimination. These can result in formal disciplinary action, and even dismissal.

  1. Assess the Impact

What we find irritating can be very subjective. So, before you decide how to approach the problem, take a step back and look at it objectively. How much does your colleague’s behavior really affect you? Do other people on your team seem bothered by it? Do you feel able to cope with it on your own? Or, do you need to refer it to your manager?

The level of action that you take should correspond to how serious you feel his behavior to be. If he persistently talks loudly on the phone, for instance, perhaps you could just wear earplugs or politely ask him to “keep it down.” But, if you think his behavior is aggressive or damaging, then you’ll likely need to refer the matter to your manager or HR department.

  1. Be Tactful!

It can be hard to keep your emotions in check when you’re faced with persistent, irritating behavior, and “bottling them up” can often make things worse. But, remember that it’s the behavior that’s the issue, not the person. Your colleague is likely unaware of the impact her annoying habit is having on you.

Keep your emotions under control when you confront her. Be tactful, and make the conversation as work-focused as possible. Assert how you feel, but avoid making it personal, as this may cause her to become defensive or angry.

For example, you could say: “Hey, Dina, I love your taste in music but I’m on a tight deadline today and really need to focus. Any chance you could turn it down, just for a while, please?”

  1. Consider Any Underlying Causes

Give your colleague the benefit of the doubt. A messy desk, for example, could be a sign that he is struggling to organize his work. Noisy phone calls could be the result of hearing loss. And poor asset management could be due to a lack of training.

His behavior might be down to something you haven’t considered, such as cultural differences. If so, you’ll need to tread carefully. You don’t want to come across as insensitive or discriminatory.

  1. Be Open and Honest

Start a “savvy” conversation with your colleague. Be open and honest with her about how you feel, but also show respect, and listen to her reply with empathy and without judgment. Savvy conversations are designed to enable people to talk freely with each other in a way that avoids conflict or distrust.


If tensions do run high, try asking an impartial colleague to mediate the discussion. Mediation is an informal conflict-resolution tool that can help to improve trust and team relationships.

  1. Seek Support

If behavior shifts from being irritating to serious – in cases of persistent lateness or bullying, for example – it becomes a performance or disciplinary issue. In these circumstances, it’s best that you let your manager or HR take the lead.

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  1. Develop Coping Mechanisms

If you think that a colleague’s irritating behavior is unlikely to change, or you choose to ignore it, make sure that you have adequate coping strategies.

Try deep breathing exercises or mindfulness to help to keep calm and focused. Or, if it’s a “noisy neighbor” that’s the problem, you could try using earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Perhaps you could change desks, or adjust your workstation to make his irritating behavior less visible or distracting.

Managing Irritating Behavior in Your Team

It’s important that you take seriously any team member’s complaint about a colleague’s irritating behavior. You may have observed the problem yourself, or perhaps other people have raised similar complaints. But you need to be seen to be fair, and not to leap to conclusions.

If the person’s performance is otherwise exemplary, the accusations could actually be the result of jealousy. Talk to her about her working relationships and listen empathically to her response. Reassure her that you will not accept bullying behavior and that you are committed to resolving the situation.

However, if her irritating habit does need to be addressed, be frank with her and make clear what your organization considers to be acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Share and discuss any code of conduct with all of your team to show that the individual is not being singled out or victimized.

Be sure to review the situation, in case she continues the irritating behavior and its impact grows. Then, you might consider using more formal conflict resolution, such as the Interest-Based Relational Approach. And if matters still don’t improve, refer your concerns to HR.

Managing Your Own Irritating Behavior

Chances are, you have quirks or habits that really bug one of your co-workers! It can come as an unpleasant surprise to learn this, and you may feel a range of emotions, from embarrassment and shock to anger and shame. But try to avoid reacting negatively, and use the following approaches to deal with the issue calmly and rationally:

  • Empathize. Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and ask him to clarify what has annoyed him. For example, you might think you’re being helpful by offering your advice to two colleagues mid-conversation, but if do this regularly you might get a reputation for “butting in.”
  • Be aware of body language. Do you ever get the feeling that someone just isn’t happy with you? She’s not specifically said anything, but there’s that nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. Nonverbal actions like tone of voice, sighs, eye-rolls, shrugs, or folded arms can signal that a person is reacting negatively to something you’re doing or saying. If this happens, try using open body language and tone of voice to show that you are willing to discuss the problem.
  • Think positively. Recognize that working to adjust your behavior could improve your wider performance and team relationships. This will likely have a positive impact on your reputation and career progression.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this fair?” Complaints needn’t be personal attacks. So, be assertive if you feel that a co-worker’s criticisms are unreasonable, or if you think that his manner is aggressive. If you feel uncomfortable challenging him, especially if he is your boss, seek advice from HR or, if appropriate, a trusted peer.
  • Use self-reflection. Evaluating your own conduct objectively can help you to judge whether you are acting in a way that’s respectful and appropriate to your workplace. You might have unwittingly fallen into negative, complacent or lazy behaviors that are having a poor effect on those around you. If this is the case, set a good example and adapt your working style.

Key Points

Irritating behavior is persistent, annoying, but apparently minor. Ignoring it, or tackling it carelessly, can negatively affect your and your team’s morale, relationships and performance. So, follow these seven tips to improve the situation:

  1. Avoid Gossip.
  2. Assess the Impact.
  3. Be Tactful.
  4. Consider Any Underlying Causes.
  5. Be Honest and Open.
  6. Seek Support.
  7. Develop Coping Mechanisms.

If you manage a team in which a complaint has been raised, avoid leaping to conclusions and be seen to treat everyone fairly.

Finally, if someone criticizes you for being irritating, try to adjust your behavior in a positive way. But, if you think the complaint is unfair, say so!

The Striking Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Workaholics

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“The Striking Difference Between Healthy And Unhealthy Workaholics.” Knowledge@Wharton. N. p., 2017. Web. 5 Dec. 2017.

Most people will agree that being a workaholic is a bad thing. The word itself, adapted from “alcoholic,” implies a compulsive behavior that could eventually kill you. It has even been referred to as an addiction by some researchers, albeit one that’s socially acceptable — even rewarded — in American business.

We think of the workaholic as someone hunched in a cramped office in rumpled clothing, sweating over a hot computer while the hours’ crawl by and everyone else has gone home. Or someone obsessively on email and the phone while they’re supposed to be relaxing on vacation. We say they are “working themselves to death.” But are they, actually?

Recently, Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard put this long-held belief to the test, teaming up with Lieke ten Brummelhuis, a professor of management and organization studies at Simon Fraser University, and Benjamin Uhrich, a consultant in learning and organizational development at the Carolinas HealthCare System. “There are so few studies … that really look at the implications of our working life on our health,” says Rothbard. Their paper is titled, “Beyond Nine to Five: Is Working to Excess Bad for Health?”

Surveying 763 employees at a large international financial consulting firm, the team investigated whether employees who worked long hours and those who reported having a workaholic mindset had a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol and excess waistline fat that is known to increase one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The researchers gained access to individuals’ company health screenings and personnel records in addition to the surveys.

Rothbard says that while there has been some research on workaholics’ self-reported physical and psychological symptoms — things like headaches, insomnia and stress — this study was one of the first to look also at objective health outcomes: actual changes in the body measured by doctors.

“There are so few studies … that really look at the implications of our working life on our health.”–Nancy Rothbard

Intriguingly, while work hours and workaholism often go hand in hand, not all people who work long hours are workaholics, and not all workaholics work long hours. What’s more, the researchers found that simply working long hours alone didn’t lead to poor health. In fact, employees who worked long hours but were able to mentally “recharge” overnight were not putting their health at risk. But those who worked long hours and also had a compulsive work mentality significantly increased their risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Knowledge@Wharton High School

Ten Brummelhuis commented in an Academy of Management Discoveries interview, “If you’re working long hours and you are compulsive — so you’re preoccupied with work all the time, you can’t switch off, you go to bed but you can’t sleep because you’re ruminating about your job, that’s the unhealthy version of working excessive hours.”

Happy vs. Unhappy Workaholics

There was a second finding, one even more intriguing to the researchers. Within the group of true workaholics — those who worked long hours and also couldn’t switch off from work – – a striking distinction emerged.

Workaholics who were not engaged with their jobs did show signs of increasingly poor health in terms of metabolic syndrome. However, workaholics who reported being highly engaged and fulfilled in their jobs stayed healthy. It didn’t matter that they put in long hours, drove themselves to work very hard, and thought about their job all the time. In fact, they showed no more risk of developing metabolic syndrome than the average non-workaholic employee.

“We just assumed that all workaholics were going to have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome,” says Rothbard. “It turns out that only some of them do: the ones that don’t have that passion and positive energy around their job.”

Another advantage the engaged workaholics had were more personal resources. Ten Brummelhuis explained in the AMD interview, “So they have, for instance, a supportive spouse, or they are more likely to ask for help at work. And maybe that’s why they’re just better at dealing with their work stress.” Rothbard adds: “Interestingly, they report that they have more time management skills, more intrinsic motivation [to do their job], and better communication skills.” Another self-reported advantage was co-worker and supervisor support.

Engaged workaholics’ pleasure in their work — along with these personal resources — seems to act as a buffering mechanism from developing the precursors to disease. What really excites Rothbard about the study’s findings is “how your outlook and your mindset can affect your body… that mind-body connection.”

“We were able to look at a psychological process … and find that there were effects on our physiological health. I can’t underscore [enough] how important I think that is,” she says. The team had ruled out other potential risk factors such as heredity and health history, and had gotten the same results. “I was just blown away by that,” says Rothbard.

Within the group of true workaholics—those who worked long hours and also had an obsessive work mentality — a striking distinction emerged.

Recognizing the Dangers

Both employers and employees should take heed of these findings, say the researchers. Workers’ health problems cost businesses plenty in the form of absenteeism, turnover and health care costs. And employees who don’t like their jobs but work like crazy at them should realize they may be actually putting their health at risk. There could be serious long-term health consequences.

“Make sure you do build in the time for recovery, and that you maintain some balance, and draw on the sources of support that you have,” Rothbard advises.

Conversely, the good news is that if you’re an engaged workaholic, you’re at less risk than you might think given the commonly accepted wisdom. So, if rushing non-stop from meeting to meeting, crunching numbers long into the night, or jotting down a brilliant idea at 3 a.m. is what you love, and you feel recognized and supported for your achievements, don’t let people tell you that workaholism is ruining your health. Instead, it may be what helps keep you going.

Why we fear change!

Album cover of Lost in Space Original Televisi...Loss of control. We may not be able to direct, guide or lead in the manner we are most comfortable with.



Uncertainty. We can’t see the future.


Surprise, surprise! We may not be ready for something unexpected.



Everything seems different. Our environment changes


Loss of face. It feels like other people make the decision that we are at fault or we are not capable. We become embarrassed.


Concerns about competence. Can I do it?


More work. There are only 28 hours a week. Where do I find more time?


Ripple effects. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, change creates ripples, reaching distant spots in ever-widening circles.


Past resentments. We don’t let past behaviors go.


Sometimes the threat is real. Change is resisted because it can hurt, it can sit the team backwards.


As leader work to relieve the discomfort for your team.


5 Questions to Help Your Employees Find Their Inner Purpose – HBR

5 Questions to Help Your Employees Find Their Inner Purpose

How can leaders help employees find meaning at work?

Organizations spend considerable resources on corporate values and mission statements, but even the most inspiring of these — from Volvo’s commitment to safety to Facebook’s desire to connect people — tend to fade into the background during the daily bustle of the work day.

What workers really need, to feel engaged in and satisfied by their jobs, is an inner sense of purpose. As Deloitte found in a 2016 study, people feel loyal to companies that support their own career and life ambitions — in other words, what’s meaningful to them. And, although that research focused on millennials, in the decade I’ve spent coaching seasoned executives, I’ve found that it’s a common attitude across generations. No matter one’s level, industry or career, we all need to find a personal sense of meaning in what we do.

Making Work More Meaningful

Leaders can foster this inner sense of purpose — what matters right now, in each individual’s life and career — with simple conversation. One technique is action identification theory, which posits that there are many levels of description for any action. For example, right now I’m writing this article. At a low level, I’m typing words into a keyboard. At a high level, I’m creating better leaders. When leaders walk employees up this ladder, they can help them find meaning in even the most mundane tasks.

Regular check-ins that use five areas of inquiry are another way to help employees explore and call out their inner purpose. Leaders can ask:

What are you good at doing? Which work activities require less effort? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career? The idea here is to help people identify their strengths and open possibilities from there.

What do you enjoy? In a typical workweek, what do you look forward to doing? What do you see on your calendar that energizes you? If you could design your job with no restrictions, how would you spend your time? These questions help people find or rediscover what they love about work.

What feels most useful? Which work outcomes make you most proud? Which of your tasks are most critical to the team or organization? What are the highest priorities for your life and how does your work fit in? This line of inquiry highlights the inherent value of certain work.

What creates a sense of forward momentum? What are you learning that you’ll use in the future? What do you envision for yourself next? How’s your work today getting you closer to what you want for yourself? The goal here is to show how today’s work helps them advance toward future goals.

How do you relate to others? Which working partnerships are best for you? What would an office of your favorite people look like? How does your work enhance your family and social connections? These questions encourage people to think about and foster relationships that make work more meaningful.

It’s not easy to guide others toward purpose, but these strategies can help.

Kristi Hedges is a senior leadership coach who specializes in executive communications and the author of The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day and The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage OthersShe’s the president of The Hedges Company and a faculty member in Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

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