Cold turkey and a black Russian

“So who are you saving today that you need my help?” the Mentalist hasn’t forgotten.

“Well my colleague Alexander,” I start out racking my brain how to best describe the situation. “He… oh how can I explain? I like him, but he can be so annoying. Like he goes on and on until he gets his point across which is generally when people have given up. He misunderstands the point of every conversation. He never accepts anything you tell him. Everything is challenged and then some. He makes mistakes, but don’t we all?”

I sketch the context before diving into the real problem: “In short, a stakeholder complained to me, so I passed it on to the boss. And apparently others on the team have already complained about him. And he turns to me often for advice. And now he is on a very sharp edge, in or out. Was wondering if there is a way to help him, coach him. He is from Russian origin by the way.”

I pause a moment to let out a deep sigh: “Yes I feel guilty too.”

“Tell him he has Asperger’s syndrome,” the Mentalist concludes. “Also tell him silence can be a very powerful weapon. Actions speak louder than words and sometimes it’s best to let people do things and see what happens. If he does this he might understand to pick his fights. There is no need to keep proving himself. The method he uses will not get him promoted. He should only talk when he is absolutely certain he is right based on experience and not on irrational, emotional logic that makes little or no sense just to prove he is a big deal. Like I said actions speak louder than words.

“Thanks,” I smile relieved at having found a workable solution. “That is exactly what he needs to hear.”

The idea of going to work either elicits genuine cheer, slow-growing dread, or any of the myriad emotions in between. Maybe this is how it’s always been with your colleagues, or maybe there’s a fresh wound and tension you’re not sure how to heal. Or as the Mentalist puts it, maybe your colleagues make Vladimir Putin look like Paddington Bear. (Humour is useful here.)

You know what else is useful? The advice of trained professionals. I asked the recluse, Mordecai the Mentalist to come to the office for an intimate chat about how we can all be more kind, polite and more present with our colleagues despite the fact that, occasionally, that can be really, really hard. The hope is that through compassion and self-awareness, not only can we survive spending time with our colleagues; we can find moments of genuine joy in there as well.

In good health,

Fiona

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