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What To Do When Your Co-Worker is Driving You Nuts December 11, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success.
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I’ve been coaching people in the workplace for 14 years now. And as a workplace coach I get the opportunity to listen to a lot of stories of frustration and woe. Invariably these stories are about conflict that my client is having with another person they work with. And of course, it’s always the fault of the other insensitive, inconsiderate, incompetent—or any other in-word that you’d prefer. Of course as a good coach should do, I always listen carefully to the story. And then comes the expectant pause in which I am expected to utter pearls of wisdom. And I do—naturally.

You have a style difference

The pearl that often escapes my lips is this: You and your nemesis have a style difference. You’re not wrong and he’s not wrong—you just have a different style based on your personality type.

Most of my clients are conversant with the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and I go on to explain my comment in those terms. But even if you’re not familiar with the MBTI, you can probably benefit from taking a look at this idea. So here goes…

We each have our own particular set of preferences based on our personality. And because of our personality we have a preferred style of action.

An example of a style difference

Let’s look at an example. You are a very organized person. You place a lot of value on timetables and schedules. You like to map out project steps before you begin the project. You also like to make a decision and get on with it, preferring not to go back and re-visit it once it’s made. Surprises tend to upset your plans.

Your co-worker (the one that’s driving you crazy) likes to leave room in the schedule for late-breaking changes. She doesn’t want to map out each step, knowing that there will always be a need for changing based on the situations that come up. She likes to search for all the options before making a decision and likes to maintain flexibility throughout the project—so nothing is ever ‘cast in stone.’

As you can tell, the two of you have a style difference. You like to work a project in different ways. You may both come up with the same finished project but you get there using different paths. But her methods drive you crazy and vice versa.

So what can you do about that?

First of all remember that she is not trying to drive you crazy (even though she may be), she is simply working from her view of the world. She probably spends time wondering why you do the things that you do too. If you can appreciate that there may be something valuable in the way she works and actively look for that, you’ll probably have an easier time of it—and so will your co-worker.

Here are some things to try:

· Share your perspective about a new project and how you’d like to proceed. Then ask for her perspective. Have an open discussion about where you feel uncomfortable with her approach and get that same information from your co-worker.

· Understand that these are style differences—there’s no real right or wrong. If you can remember that more than likely there is no malice intended, it will probably be easier to work successfully together.

· Try adopting your co-worker’s style for a day and, if your relationship is close enough, ask her to adopt yours.

· When a conflict arises, explain why you are taking the course of action that you are.

· Be sincerely open to the idea that your way may not be the best way in all circumstances. Give the other method a try once in a while.

· Think about this: Behaviors that annoy you in others may be a clue to areas that you need to pay attention to for your own self-development. So if you are annoyed that your co-worker can’t seem to make a decision, maybe you are jumping to a decision too soon and need to practice more information-gathering before finalizing your decisions.

It’s been my experience that these small (or large) style differences lead to a lot of conflict in the workplace. And while conflict is inevitable, why not stop sweating the small stuff?

Know Thyself February 17, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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About two years ago a friend of mine who, like me, is a coach introduced me to the enneagram. In case you’re not familiar with the enneagram, it’s a personality indicator which defines nine different personality types. It’s like the Myers-Briggs on steroids.

A great tool for coaching

I have become very interested in the enneagram interpretations of personality and have been using it with a number of my coaching clients. And of course I have spent a lot of time analyzing my own personality type.If you’re interested in knowing more about the enneagram, this link will give you a lot of information and a test that you can take: www.enneagraminstitute.com.

What the heck is a wing?

So to get back to my story, I found that my personality type is 2-The Helper with a 1 wing which is The Reformer. A wing is another personality type that  significantly colors your main type. It’s not your main type but it’s a close second. And it’s my ‘wing’ that makes my life, shall we say, interesting.

The Reformer type believes that things in the world need to operate correctly and it is her/his job to make sure that happens. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration—but just a bit. Anyhoo, the 1 type is very concerned with being good and with doing the right thing. And ever since I have learned about the enneagram, I have become painfully aware of how much energy I put into being good and perfect. And I’ve been able to notice my actions and motivations daily (if not hourly) since learning the system. Amazing….

Until you are aware you are unable to change

You may wonder why I’d be interested in a personality system that points out my foibles (also my good traits). My wonderful enneagram teacher, Michael Naylor, has a good insight into this. Michael says that until you become aware of your behaviors and motivations, you are unable to change the things about yourself that are not serving you. Awareness is the key to change. And unawareness of ourselves can get us into hot water at times.


I have a term that I use with my coaching students: background of obviousness or BOO. We all have ideas, motivations, ways of doing things that are so present for us that they’re not even there. It’s like the chair that you’re sitting on right now. Were you even thinking about it until I mentioned it? Probably not. But now you are aware of it and if it’s not comfortable, you can change chairs.

So your BOO resides with you, usually unexamined, for better or for worse. Most of the time we just think that everyone thinks or acts the way we do. The problem with our background of obviousness is that it is—guess where—in the background which makes it hard for us to change it. So that’s where the enneagram really shines. It brings that stuff right up there for us to look at. Oh joy…

Change or not to change

So what are you prepared to do to bring your BOO to the foreground? Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living” and I guess my chosen profession of coaching is all about this examination.

If you’re not about growth, then maybe you’re not interested in the enneagram or anything else that expands your consciousness. Up to you.  As for me, I intend to keep working on myself as long as I’m in Earth School.


To Compare is To Despair April 27, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations.
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(This is me..wasn’t I cute?)This is me at a dude ranch--not comparing anything.

So hi everyone. I have received tens of emails wondering where my posts have been for the last three weeks. I can only say that it’s been a combination of being a bit overwhelmed with stuff and my internet connection failing for two weeks in a row. But after spending much time with my computer, my router, and my modem,I am one with my electronics  and am back in business.

Were you intrigued by the title of today’s post? To compare is to despair. I learned that phrase from a friend of mine who has been successfully working a 12-step program for many years. One of the major goals of 12-step programs(as I understand it) is to give people the tools to handle their emotional/spiritual pain in a healthy way. And the tendency to compare ourselves (usually unfavorably) to others can cause a whole shit-load of pain.

How’d we start this anyway?

How do we come to this comparing stuff anyway? Experience and observation says that we hear these messages that we’re not quite measuring up to other people from the time we can understand language. “Look how well Susie cleans her plate,” “Tommy is a better batter than you are—you need to try harder,” “Sarah is a straight A student…if you would only apply yourself you could be like her.”

So we get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others as little whippersnappers and we just keep on going. But just because we become “adults” we aren’t suddenly immune to that habit. I recently had someone compare me to another person and find me wanting and didn’t I just buy into it?

Assessments are not true

But when I returned to sanity (a relative construct, to be sure) I realized that when someone compares me to another and finds me lacking he (or she) is simply offering an assessment of me. And my often-repeated mantra about assessments is that none of them are true. So if none are true and I am getting cozy with one that makes me feel like crap, well, maybe, just maybe, I should go with another one that makes me feel good.

If someone offers me the lovely assessment that I am negative and judgmental and acting out of alignment with my spiritual beliefs and thus comparing me with some mythical ‘saint,’ I can swallow it hook, line and sinker and feel awful about myself or I choose to look at it differently. I could instead say that I am doing the very best I can with the tools that I have and the actions I know to do. And that when I can be more loving and less judging I will.

What makes you unique and very cool?

Comparing ourselves to others is appropriate if we’re trying to set a new world record in some endeavor. But most of the time it’s not a productive enterprise. Instead why not try to focus on what it is about you that makes you a unique part of the world? Why not tell yourself that you don’t have to be like everyone else because truly you are not the same as anyone else.

Gifts Differing

Isabel Briggs Myers wrote a book which she called Gifts Differing in which she explored the 16 personality types that she identified as part of her life work—better known as the MBTI. She did not entitle the book Strengths Lacking. I love the point she made by choosing that title. We are all uniquely positioned to make an impact on the world based on the strengths we innately have.

Try this…

List 10 things you love about yourself. Yes, right here, right now.You can do it! And when you’ve finished it, slap those puppies up everywhere and focus on them daily. Revel in the fact you are pretty damn good. No compare, no despair.

‘Nuff said…