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WORKPLACE COLLABORATION


THE “I’M TOO BUSY TO …” (COULD BE A SUBSET OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE)


As a continuation of the above scenario, mechanic Mike is hoarding his time and suggestions to mechanic Tom, perhaps even taking longer than normal to complete his current task. Even though Mike agreed to help Tom, throughout the day Stan sees they are not working together. When asked, Mike apologizes and gives (seemingly valid) reasons why he cannot help Tom at this time, citing his current activities. He responds with “in an hour I should have this finished and be able to help Tom.”


Supervisor Stan’s options are: 1. Accept mechanic Mike’s explanation and leave him alone. This option sends a message that his behavior is acceptable. As such, he will be encouraged to repeat this behavior — and supervisor Stan is not giving him any reason to change that behavior.


2. Tell mechanic Tom to keep asking mechanic Mike for help until he helps mechanic Tom. After all, Tom needs to learn how to fix this particular problem and he should be responsible learning it. Supervisor Stan is putting Tom in an uncomfortable position that will only serve to discourage any positive relationship between the two. Stan is also asking Tom to do his work — to address the issue. Mike’s reaction could be one of anger, severe frustration or over-


reaction, none of which promotes a healthy safety environment.


3. If mechanic Mike has not helped mechanic Tom after several hours, go to mechanic Mike and demand he stop his own work to help Tom. Demanding that someone do something only raises their defenses and can have the opposite effect. In essence, supervisor Stan is aggressively challenging Mike’s actions and overriding his decisions. In Mike’s state of mind, this can spark stubbornness, embarrassment, over-reacting and other drastic behaviors, to say nothing of resenting Tom’s presence. This has clear safety implications.


4. Ask mechanic Mike to step into his office and ask him why he won’t help mechanic Tom. As Mike is taking that long walk to supervisor Stan’s office, his mind has plenty of time to project the discussion — and in doing so he feeds his defensive reactions. By the time he gets to Stan’s office, it is possible that he has become agitated and ready to defend his lack of cooperativeness vocally. Once again, this puts a damper over the hangar and can leave others wondering how Mike will react when he leaves Stan’s office.


5. Ask mechanic Mike to have a cup of coffee (or tea, or water) and approach him from the “How are things going?” perspective. This approach carries a concerned voice, not an accusatory one. It presents a non-


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