He’s just so defensive all the time. Even when I compliment him, he snaps!”
A friend recently shared some frustrations she encounters with a new teammate. Her expanding department expects her to help with the informal training that occurs when new people come aboard. My friend’s company deals with a shortage of fully qualified candidates. Some recruits face the challenge of acquiring some basic technical skills while simultaneously learning proprietary processes and procedures.
Almost every new job comes with at least one or two skill requirements that are not second nature. How do we navigate a team member during the acquisition of these skills? Whether in a management position or not, we need to think of ourselves as leaders among our colleagues. We especially must be leaders to those who do not have the benefit of our time-tested confidence.
For better or for worse, most new faces at the office are not prepared for the job that lies ahead of them, and they soon realize it. That realization affects the behavior of each individual differently, sometimes with negative results. For my friend’s teammate, this realization creates a defensive posture that impacts his ability to accept advice, correction, and even praise!
What do we do? Avoid these people?
Report their shortcomings to our bosses?
Reprimand or dismiss them?
Dale Carnegie said that before we can motivate and lead people to a higher level of performance, we must build trust and rapport. The first step toward trust is never to criticize, condemn or complain. This is not rocket science! We are much more receptive to people who give us encouragement rather than criticism. The trick is to keep at it, despite the discouraging behavior we may receive in return!
Carnegie tells us to honestly try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Try to imagine the pressure of a new job for which you are not fully qualified. How would that pressure make you respond? What if you didn’t have your current experience, the mentors who guided you along the way, or the blessing of a thorough education in your field?
At times, it may feel like we are being punished for our good deeds: a coworker greets our encouragement with venom, or the seeds of advice we graciously sow fall on infertile ground. Remember that trust and rapport take time to cultivate. When we ultimately succeed, the rewards lavish over us.
Persevere and build trust! Lead your colleagues and you will build a team you will be proud to call your own! Download Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book for access to all of the Human Relations Principles!