How to handle uncommunicative colleage?
July 30, 2011 10:12 AM Subscribe
How to handle a colleague who has raised an interpersonal issue with me via email?
posted by Franny26 to work & money (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A workplace dynamics question. A colleague sent me an email saying that she felt I was inappropriately trying to manage her and was on her back too much, and could I please stop interfering in her area of work. She then asked me an unrelated work question in the rest of the email.
I responded by asking her for a quiet word face to face, which she agreed to, and once we were alone I asked her (as constructively as possible) to explain what I'd done and how it had felt to her. It turns out that she had interpreted me asking her certain questions as critical. I explained that in fact I ask because I trust her as a source of information and I need to know what is going on in order to do my job, not because I am checking up on her. She seemed to understand that, and I think I also got a better sense of who she is and how she reacts to things, and I recognised there are some things I can do differently based on her criticism. She seemed happier after the conversation. However, I'm left wondering how to handle her in future.
Based on the way she raised the issue with me, by email and with a very firm "you do this, stop it" tone (I had to prompt her to actually discuss it with me and find out more) it seems she feels she can tell me what to do without debate. However, she's not my manager or senior to me in any way, which raises a concern for me. I would also really rather she didn't raise this type of thing by email, because it's quite unpleasant to have something like that pop up in your inbox and then have to decide what to do about it.
I told my own manager what had happened, but requested that he not approach her about it unless it happens again, as I feel it would do more harm than good at this point.
I wonder whether I should try to schedule a chat with her in a week or two to see if she feels better about how we are working together. I would also like to ask her not to email me like that again, and talk to me instead, but I'm worried about making an issue out of nothing. I very much want to know if I'm making life difficult for her and try to resolve it, but I'm not sure the best way to handle this.
Can anyone advise?