After an argument, people usually describe their own behavior as calm and reasonable, while portraying their opponent as angry or immature.
Q: Last week, a colleague called me to complain about a new program that I started. “Joanne” talked at great length about her own ideas for making the program more effective. When I pointed out the flaws in her thinking, she said “You’ve upset me so much that I have to get off the phone.” Then she hung up. She actually sounded like she was about to cry.
After this conversation, Joanne told her boss I had been rude and insulting, so now he thinks I’m a trouble-maker. I believe Joanne is trying to damage my reputation because she resents the fact that my program has been well-received. My first inclination is to never talk with her again for fear that she will twist everything I say. What do you think about this?
A: If you stop speaking to Joanne, you will simply be countering one juvenile behavior with another. So instead of getting all sulky and passive-aggressive, you need to come up with a more adult strategy. As a first step, take a moment to consider your recent interaction more objectively.
After an argument, people usually describe their own behavior as calm and reasonable, while portraying their opponent as angry or immature. It is therefore not surprising that you see Joanne as childish and emotional, while she views you as disrespectful and impolite. In reality, there is probably some truth on both sides.
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Because you and Joanne have to work together, you must make an effort to repair this relationship. Instead of focusing on your differences, find a way to involve her in your project or at least solicit her input. If you demonstrate an interest in her opinions, she may be more supportive of your new venture.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.