Extreme controller/negotiator types who need to work together as peers.
November 3, 2019 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I am quite happy with my new job. My only issue is with one of my peers. He's very very good at what he does and I think we tend to respect each others' opinion. However, our style as to the how is incredibly different and a source of friction. Any advice? Particularly love to hear from folks more like him.

I'm the first to admit that I'm probably pretty extreme as a manager on the cooperator/negotiator end of the spectrum. If there's an operating issue which is cross function, I'd rather get everyone in the room and sort it out. I don't have a very hierarchical approach with my teams, and I place a very high value on good cross functional governance to resolve issues.

He is also very extreme on the controller/decider end of the spectrum. (I don't know what else to call it-- this may be too negative.) He approaches problem solving from the point of view of assigning responsibility to one person and let them solve it top down. I can see he finds lots of discussion confusing and overwhelming and irritating (English is not his first language-- he's French) and he can get aggressive and cutting if I persist in trying to talk about an issue.

He's not an asshole and I don't think I am either. With people who are more in the middle, we're both fine. But we drive each other nuts, and I'm really trying hard to find a way to negotiate this.

What I have tried: Given him a voice in my department's governance. He's quite happy about that, but flew into a tizzy at the idea of reciprocating. He thinks it will confuse his team if they hear different points of view from more senior leaders.

What I have tried: Prechecking proposals with him before I send them out. This is helping a bit, but sometimes he literally shuts down and refuses to engage because my emails are too long. Seriously. That's the reason he gives. "I don't know why you feel the need to send such extensive emails."

What I have tried: Open discussion. This works in the sense that we often reach agreement, but it escalates very quickly and upsets others in the environment. It also often results in raised voices. He tries to cut me off and shut me down to close the discussion, and I don't let him. And then it gets heated. From his point of view I think he sees it that I argue with him in areas which are none of my business, and when he tries to restore order, it gets heated.

I know about askers vs. guessers, and I've worked with people who were more controlling before, but this is a new one for me.

Any tips?
posted by frumiousb to Work & Money (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
And just to add, I've known him for many years in our general company sphere. This is the first time we've worked directly together. The ironic thing is I think we like each other. Or at least we used to.
posted by frumiousb at 6:10 PM on November 3, 2019


There's a lot here. First things first, I'm going to tell you something I've coached a lot of directs on. When you email me, the very first sentence of your email had better be what you want. Not the first paragraph. The. first. sentence.

Example: "Brandon, I need feedback from you on this proposal for XYZ corp by Thursday at 3PM."

You can put _anything you want_ after that sentence. I'm not going to read it. I will, however, open the attachment, and give you very direct feedback on it. The military calls this "Bottom Line Up Front", or BLUF for short. Do it. Your French peer will appreciate it.

On reciprocating with governance: he's probably just not reciprocating in the way you like. If you've got a suggestion, tell him. Don't sugar coat it. Tell him directly. "I think shifting procedure Y in your department to do X will save my team a few hours." or "Hey, I need your team to deliver more A and B so we aren't holding the bag on C."

Re: open discussion. Seems like he's the sort of guy where you need to be able to agree that you both will go into an office, yell, scream, whatever, but once a decision is made you're both coming out of that office supporting it. I don't support getting loud in the office as a rhetorical tactic, but it's something you occasionally need to deal with.

I'd read through some stuff on interactions between high Is and high Ss (I can't tell exactly which you are based on the ask) and high Ds (your french peer) in the DISC model. It's all about communicating in the way that is your peer's default, not yours.
posted by bfranklin at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


What I have tried: Prechecking proposals with him before I send them out. This is helping a bit, but sometimes he literally shuts down and refuses to engage because my emails are too long. Seriously. That's the reason he gives. "I don't know why you feel the need to send such extensive emails."

I don't know what the Seriously. is indicating here, but personally, if I received this complaint, I would send shorter emails.

(I realize it takes longer to edit long emails down into short ones than to just send the long ones. but it is worth doing.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:30 PM on November 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


My manager and most of my team lean toward your end of the cooperator/negotiator spectrum. We have someone on our team who is similar to your colleague; similarly, some of the issues we're having may be attributable to pragmatic language difficulties but rather than being French, they are from a very collectivist society which is also probably another contributing factor.

A lot of the things we hear from this person when we use open discussion as a way of making decisions is along the lines of "Oh, that's for [senior governing body] to decide" or "Well, whatever, [senior governing body] does what it does and we don't have control over that". I'm sure they don't intend to be dismissive, but they're expressing sentiments are honestly kind of out of step in an organization that privileges cross-functional decision-making.

Something to consider is that some people like this - especially if the issue is they get bent out of shape when they can't defer to authority - are often hardcore Cs rather than Ds in DiSC parlance. They thrive on (and are obsessive about) structure rather than dominance, and get massively bent out of shape when a process doesn't feel clear and linear to them. They just come across as domineering because of poor soft skills.

Given my druthers I would banish this person to a role that is purely transactional, but knowing that that is impossible, one of the strategies we've found to work is to either (1) have people senior to them hand down directives or (2) when they have to work cross-functionally with peers, position them in an informal leadership role. What this comes down to is dealing with the fact that they can't really trust and interact with processes that don't have a built-in veneer of authority, so we play to that because they have some skills and organizational knowledge we value.
posted by blerghamot at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've worked with a lot of people like your coworker and here's my suggestions:
  • Try to come up with fixed rules about who has responsibility over different areas of your shared work. This doesn't need to cover 100% of cases but the rules dividing responsibility should be as simple as possible. If you generally stick to these rules, the exceptions will be rare and won't annoy them as much because you can resolve them inside this framework
  • Before you "get everyone in a room to sort it out" make sure that it isn't already on it's way to working itself out. Try to spend a bit more time filtering your invite list to people who actually will be useful and have interest, don't include people who aren't necessary just because they might want to be there
  • Use bullet or numbered lists in your emails. Unstructured or paragraph style emails often look very long and overwhelming. From your writing style on this post I can guess why they think your emails are long
You probably get my point, unless the structure or hierarchy are actually causing practical or personal problems, leave it alone. For people who like structure it is mentally and emotionally draining to go through the social reasoning needed to deal with the cooperator/negotiator style, so they're going to get angry at you when force them to do it more than necessary. This is especially true if there's a language or cultural barrier
posted by JZig at 7:16 PM on November 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


Part one- Your question suggests that your emails are indeed too long.

If English is his second language, then you are forcing him to do a lot of extra work translating what you are saying, and he is probably worried that he might lose something in the translation, and therefore wasting a ton of time trying to diligently process your emails and catch every word. This is unfair to him because your communication could easily have been shorter and clearer in the first place.

For instance, your question above the fold is long but vague and has unnecessary details and compliments about the job and the person- but the actual question isn’t laid out. It could have been phrased as “I’m a manager with a collaborative style. How best to work with a peer who manages his team with a more authoritative style?”

Part two, yelling at work is NOT ok.

I would set a hard boundary on that. “You know what, this conversation is getting a bit intense... can we take a five-minute break, and then can you and I meet in the boardroom at 3:15.?”

“Hi Pierre, I really enjoy working with you and would like to improve our workflow. One thing that is been happening lately is that sometimes our voices get raised when we discuss issues. I know I do this too, I’m not blaming you. But I have received feedback * that this it is stressful for the team. I’m wondering if we can work on this. Would it work if we agree to have our conversations in private, so that any raised voices or intense conversations happen only between us, but not in view of the teams. I am open to other ideas too. Let me know what you think!”

* personally I would be a bit vague about the feedback, because employees’ body language telegraphing discomfort counts as feedback!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:47 PM on November 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


It sounds like he thinks you are wasting his time, primarily by wanting to rehash and "make decisions" on things he and his team have already taken care of or do not feel need further discussion. You're not letting things go, which makes it hard to finish anything. He's pretty much saying this to you over and over.

I manage projects. Once the project parameters are set I draw VERY firm lines on how much time I'm willing to spend debating details with people who arent involved at the same level, especially technically. Because basically, they are wasting my time. I dont need everyone in the room involved, I know what I'm doing, that's why they hired me. I expect other people to also largely take care of their own tasks. While we do have some folks who want to make everything uber-collaborative, I keep a lid on that as it rapidly becomes an obstacle to effective work.

I'd suggest you listen more closely to what this guy is telling you and not make assumptions.

He tries to cut me off and shut me down to close the discussion, and I don't let him

Unless you're this guys direct manager you are waaaaaayyy out of line. At this point I think management needs to step in and tell you what you do and don't have ultimate control over and you need to respect that.
posted by fshgrl at 10:49 PM on November 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


I received a clarification question via pm, and I'm not sure if it's okay to answer it here as well. But since it seems some clarification is needed, I'm risking the appearance of back and forth.

Relevant context: We have many areas of shared responsibility. Discussions happen in the context of this shared responsibility. I was brought in because critical projects were failing due to the siloed way of working.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the answers so far, but you can assume we're all senior-- the things we're discussing are well within my remit, and management has my back on this.
posted by frumiousb at 12:16 AM on November 4, 2019


So you were brought in as a troubleshooter specifically to deal with this guy's team? Or more generally to deal with department culture? Or were you hired to analyze and re make processes?

If its the first two, that wasn't clear even though you wrote a very long post with many words, which is the same feedback you are getting at work. Something to consider. I'd also really hope my hired gun had resources to deal with stubborn incumbents other than strangers on the internet.

If its the third and you are there to re make processes I'd suggest just doing it and not worrying so much about making the work of that collaborative. In this scenario- that's your job to do, no?

There is a 4th alternative, dark and terrible, where you were hired to make things better but given no clear goals, no authority and have no resources other than your sparkling personality. In which case I'd keep an eye out for another job as that rarely works out.

If it's at the point you are shouting at each other in the office on a regular basis then you need to bring your boss into the loop and split some of the shared responsibilities or better define roles. Your coworkers are correct, that's not ok.
posted by fshgrl at 1:00 AM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I am not a manager and have no experience in management so take this for what it's worth. Sometimes when dealing with someone who operates in a very different way than me I get frustrated partly because I don't understand why they're operating that way. I can't see the underlying logic. You know this person - possibly it would help to have a discussion where you lay out the reasons and perceived benefits of your approach, if you haven't done that. What about having collaborative meetings justifies the time they take? Everyone hates meetings - what makes these worth that? Being able to point to specific good outcomes that wouldn't have happened without your approach would help.
posted by trig at 1:57 AM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I was in a similar situation when I took my second level project management course. The teacher suggested I find another job, ASAP. I didn't but he was right.
posted by mumimor at 3:54 AM on November 4, 2019


Geez, Louise. Remind me not to work with some of you. I mean, if anyone I work with or work for told me that they refused to read beyond the first sentence of an email, I would immediately and regularly work around, through, or over that person, because they're clearly either incompetent, illiterate, power-mad, or some combination thereof.

It seems there are some macho elements of corporate culture that mistake rudeness and intractability for 'directness' and 'decisiveness' . In your question (which, by the way, is in no way too long or too wordy), I'm seeing multiple examples of where you have sought cooperation and cohesion and your colleague has just sought... his own way. I honestly can't see the benefit in continuing to try to placate or cooperate with him. Work around him. When you can't work around him, Tell him what you're going to do instead of asking for his input about what you're going to do. If he doesn't like what you're going to do, tell him he can either cooperate with you in finding an alternative or just hand the task (and the deadline) over to him to do it in the way he sees best, instead, and then move on to the next thing. Don't argue, don't raise your voice, don't respond in kind when he raises his voice. I've worked with men like him before and when they start winding themselves up, I find that a quizzical head tilt combined with silence until they find their inside voices again works wonders.

The only thing I'd agree with other posters about is that editing down emails to the important points is good, because it helps focus your own mind, but don't fool yourself into thinking that your colleague will be more likely to read or put the work in to comprehend them. I literally only ever use email to document the points I've discussed with someone in person so that when they come back and say 'I never agreed/said/heard (whatever)' I can say 'yes you did, we discussed it on 5th October and I emailed you to confirm afterwards'. I know that with a few (competent, cooperative, delightful) exceptions, no one reads emails, whether they are long, short, or in esperanto.
posted by shamesock at 5:44 AM on November 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


I honestly can't see the benefit in continuing to try to placate or cooperate with him. Work around him. When you can't work around him, Tell him what you're going to do instead of asking for his input about what you're going to do.

this is exactly what the guy has been demanding/begging for, no? if framing it as somehow spiting him rather than giving him his preferred style of co-management helps, great.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:04 AM on November 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


I am a high DI and it sounds like you are a high S... are you bringing solutions or just problems? I have a lot of trouble when people bring me long-winded problem descriptions/data without any solutions, forcing me to (in my mind) do their work for them. (This is totally my failing and I don’t use disc types as a crutch, just saying). Try being briefer, bringing solutions, and limiting pre-amble and long discussion. If you want a working-session collaboration partner to work through the options beforehand, find someone else (a peer or someone on your team), not this guy.

Remember that the shorthand for high D is “be brief, be bright, be gone”..
posted by some chick at 6:06 AM on November 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


No comment on the larger interpersonal issues, but I am also surprised at your reaction to being asked to send shorter email.

If your question is any indication, you clearly have a discursive style. It flows well and paints a vivid picture, but it demands effort of the reader who wishes to find the structure:

What is the main point? Which sentences are the caveats, which the examples, which the meaningless social niceties?

This seems like a place where it is entirely within your power to make his life a lot easier. Instead you are literally scoffing at the idea.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:33 AM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Since people are throwing DiSC language in, you may also want to look at the Perceiving/Judging spectrum of MBTI. As a very-hard "J," I agree with others saying that if the wording of your question here in any way resembles your work emails, you would drive me to distraction, too. I need intentions to be clearly stated so that I know if you're asking me something or just updating me on something. I also haaate it when people leave discussions open on general principle as opposed to needing a particular person's/team's input. I'm working on both those tendencies, because I know they're not necessarily fair to others, but it's taken yeeeears of concentrated effort to get to a point where I can even just acknowledge that the "other" way of doing things has value.
posted by lazuli at 7:02 AM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


he's French) and he can get aggressive and cutting if I persist in trying to talk about an issue.

Perhaps this is something you already know, but my observation after having worked with French (and many other) folks for several years while living in a non-France francophone country: Americans (though perhaps that is not your nationality) tend to greatly value being nice over observing rules of politeness. French folks tend to greatly value strictly observing rules of politeness over being nice. So being aggressive and cutting (while always using appropriate titles, vous forms, etc) is not an uncommon way to argue, and may not actually mean that the person is upset - it's just not outside the norms like Americans think it is, so it is not always a signal of intensity. Not all French people! Just thinking it might be relevant to know that's a dynamic this random stranger has seen happen (and has had corroborated by both other Americans and French folks).
posted by solotoro at 8:45 AM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


1. Can you say a bit more about "it gets heated"? I'm having a hard time understanding how it gets to the point of being heated (who loses their cool? are there patterns and trigger points?), what sorts of issues you are arguing about (ARE you overstepping? do RACI charts not work on this guy? do other people have the same issues with him?), and what the heatedness involves in real terms (is there yelling? is there retaliation - overt or subtle? has nobody else noticed?). As a general rule, things should not get heated at work. Something is very wrong here.

2. You sound like you are prioritizing getting along over doing your job. I say this because you gave this guy a voice in your department's governance (!!!), and you're upset he won't reciprocate (duh, who would?). He never asked for control over your dept, right? It sounds like lacking a say in your department was not even a problem he had identified - rather YOU wanted more of a say in HIS department, and you thought this was the way to get it. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" might work with kids, but not in a workplace. In a workplace, you say, "Please show me yours in order to prevent an information silo."

3. I was brought in because critical projects were failing due to the siloed way of working.

This, IMO, is your magic phrase.

"We don't want another silo, so let's loop in A, B, and C."
or
"In order to prevent silos, A, B, and C need to be actively involved from the ground up."
or
"Because we are moving away from silos, we can't handle it the way you're suggesting."
etc.

When "preventing silos" becomes a task/aim/goal explicitly in this (and every) project, he's more likely to be on board with collaboration.

4. Also nthing everyone who says BE BRIEF when speaking to (or emailing) this guy. Part of being a good team player is adapting to varying communication styles. By insisting that he should communicate with you in ways that he patently cannot (given his language issues), you are sounding just as inflexible as he apparently is.
posted by MiraK at 1:45 PM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


1. Can you say a bit more about "it gets heated"? I'm having a hard time understanding how it gets to the point of being heated (who loses their cool? are there patterns and trigger points?), what sorts of issues you are arguing about (ARE you overstepping? do RACI charts not work on this guy? do other people have the same issues with him?), and what the heatedness involves in real terms (is there yelling? is there retaliation - overt or subtle? has nobody else noticed?). As a general rule, things should not get heated at work. Something is very wrong here.

It happens mostly when it comes to principle discussions. Here is an example:

We are tasked to align on the key goals and measurements for a new logistics flow. Call it newFramistatFlow.

By key goals and measurements think what are we trying to drive by setting up NewFramistatFlow-- cost efficiency, better service levels, faster expansion. What?

We must do this together because the technical experts report to him, but my department is the key stakeholder in the success of the new flow.

I try to discuss the high points before the meeting, but he wants to take it in the meeting. Fine.

When I arrive at the meeting, I'm met with a wall of OldFramistatFlow specialists who present me with a worked out costing model which implies a number of key principles, but does not address them directly. From the point of view of being the business stakeholder, this model will not support the agreed strategic direction for Framistats.

I realise they think that in this meeting we will spend 15 minutes signing off this costing model, and there is no intention of discussion the success criteria for NewFramistatFlow. To my mind, we are skipping the subject of the meeting.
  • Me: I'm sorry, but I think we need to go back to the principles. I don't think this costing will drive the right outcome.
  • Him: But this is based on Principle B.
  • Me: Yes, but I think we need to discuss A versus B. Can we reframe?
  • Him: Why do you have to make this difficult? It's a very simple discussion.
  • Me: It's not, because I don't agree with Principle B.
  • Him: Why not???
  • Me: In my experience with Framistats...
  • Him: Stop talking about your experience with Framistats!!!
  • Me: You do that all the time!! Why am I not allowed to refer to experience?
Once he realises I'm not going to give in, we finally get our discussion about A vs. B and make adjustments to the costing model. The general agreement is that the solution is better than the original proposal, but the interaction leaves a very bad taste for me. The heatedness ends up with both of us sounding like children. I'm frustrated with myself that I have not found a better way to manage this.

Regarding the lengthy emails, maybe that is why I appear heartless. I consider it rude to refuse to discuss a point with someone which you raised because you don't like their communication style. Most of the time I'm sending emails in response to his detailed questions. I have the impression he doesn't want to my answer, but is using questions performatively to imply I don't know what I am talking about. I know he thinks I'm overcomplicating everything.
posted by frumiousb at 5:54 PM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Wow. That's.... massively messed up.

Him: Why do you have to make this difficult? It's a very simple discussion.

That's not acceptable at all, and it only gets worse from there. I applaud your patience and professionalism in dealing with this guy civilly but you shouldn't have to. This rates a conversation with your boss at the very least. You're being asked to perform a great deal of personality management in addition to your job.

You deserve a pay bump - and commensurate increase in clout to help you put this guy firmly in his place! I know that's pie in the sky and the specific dynamic of your workplace may preclude any such ask. But I'm telling you this truly and sincerely in hope that you can walk into the conversation with THIS as your frame of reference for what you are entitled to - not that bizarro world where divas get free rein and you have babysitting duties!
posted by MiraK at 6:40 PM on November 4, 2019


Him: Stop talking about your experience with Framistats!!!
Me: You do that all the time!! Why am I not allowed to refer to experience?


there's a huge tone change here. the "why am I not allowed to" is out of step with everything else on both sides. suddenly it is super personalized and intimate and directly about personalities, not about the content of the disagreement at all.

and he isn't your boss!! asking him why he is not allowing you to do something is talking to him like he is your boss. it says You won the fight, and I'm mad about it, but hey, you're in charge.

what I would suggest in this hypothetical argument, instead of surrender, is

Him: Stop talking about your experience with Framistats!!!
Me: No. Framistats are the subject of this meeting.


likewise, if in your experience Framistats need thingums, don't say I'm sorry, but in my experience Framistats have nearly always benefited from the presence of thingums. I don't see where thingums fit into this model. Can you help me see if there's something I'm missing?

Say Framistats need thingums. This model doesn't secure the thingums. Fix the thingums so we can sign off on it.

I don't know that these details are the issue at all, and I realize your dialogue above is just an illustration. but if he's habitually jumping on your phrasing it might be possible that these circuituous niceties are either lost on him as a non-native speaker or are actively enraging to him.
(Why should you cater to his sensibilities instead of he to yours? only because it might help you win.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:49 PM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


What I have tried: Given him a voice in my department's governance. He's quite happy about that, but flew into a tizzy at the idea of reciprocating. He thinks it will confuse his team if they hear different points of view from more senior leaders.

I think this really captures your difference. He doesn't like extra meetings or conversations or matrices in decision making. Your instincts are so strongly veered towards talking things out that you viewed giving him a chance to have you come in and hold meetings with his team as a friendly offer. This is exactly what he hates! Of course he didn't embrace your proposal.

I also feel the other half of the problem is that if you assumed you were doing some implicit deal, and he didn't realize that, the conversation where you expect him to reciprocate is bound to be awkward. You feel cheated, he feels blindsighted.

Overall I'd say he's been pretty open about what he wants (fewer meetings, shorter e-mails) and your "solutions" are basically more e-mail and more meetings. Not saying you're in the wrong by any means. But if your default is to propose meetings until everyone is comfortable, that is obviously going to set up a vicious cycle here.

A couple buzzword approaches:

Have you considered a RACI matrix (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed)? That might help clear up some differences, if he thinks 90% of the people just need to be informed and you think everyone is jointly accountable.

Also Google situational leadership. The quadrants it sets up correspond to the specific problems you're having, and might help you think about the differences in your styles more analytically.
posted by mark k at 11:59 PM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think its bizarre that you show up to a meeting to discuss the scope of a brand new project and your collaborators show up with a fully costed model. There should be about 10 steps between those two events - how is that even happening? If you're caling the meeting why do you not control the agenda?

As a forner technical person I would have lost my mind somewhere around the second time that happened.

I think you both need a third party to step in and monitor process until things get smoothed out.
posted by fshgrl at 12:23 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hi, I am opposite-world Pierre (a young-ish American woman working in a French company.) I realize you have marked this resolved and there's already a lot of interesting, concrete advice on working through this dynamic buuuuuut...

I just wanted to reassure you that the more out-there behaviors you're describing--condescension, raised voices--are NOT just a difference between wishy-washy American "niceness" and dry French sophistication or whatever. That kind of stuff is exceedingly common here, but the French people being yelled at or condescended to in a given situation don't appreciate it any more than I do, and they say so. Furthermore there is at least an official, baseline awareness in every company I've worked for, that while this conflict style is common it is still suboptimal and frequently abusive. If Pierre is implying to you that he needn't change these things because it's just part of being French, you are being taken for a ride. American workplaces encourage other unhealthy habits, and the fact they stem from our culture rather than from conscious choices doesn't make them ok either, and I wouldn't expect Pierre to just put up with them in the name of cultural sensitivity.

That being said, it's hard to tell what you mean by "dry, cutting" remarks...but direct, blunt disagreement IS a thing here and doesn't necessarily mean anything about how the person views you or the quality of your proposals. I'd say that is a niceness/honesty gap which you should probably try to take in stride. Questioning and criticizing absolutely f*cking everything is seen as a way of testing and improving ideas where I work; he may actually feel it's something he owes you as your colleague. Letting someone just prance towards failure when you truly think they're making an error is not considered kind in this culture. (It can also be cover for bitchy, grumpy behavior totally unrelated to work, and sometimes it's hard to know which is which. Ah, the joy of multicultural offices!) 

TL;DR learning not to take his baseline bluntness personally is probably a good idea, but you should feel completely justified in setting boundaries and / or clapping back at outright crappy behavior like shouting, condescension, and pouting. The email thing--meet him halfway but for Christ's sake if he is literally refusing to read emails longer than one sentence you need to escalate because that's insane. He is also responsible for working with you effectively. I would also recommend, yes, going against your nature in interactions with Pierre and his department by being more assertive/asking for less input, because it's likely the current situation makes him see you as ineffectual and weirdly underconfident. NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE but because in my 10 years of experience that's how French businessdudes of a certain age really tend to roll (bonus points if he's from some place like HEC or Mines.)

Bon courage !
posted by peakes at 3:02 AM on November 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


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