How to Address a Not-So-Self-Aware Colleague

We all have that one or two annoying colleagues who just seem to trigger us all the time. Whether it’s the constant disturbance during meetings, or the lack of accountability of their share of work in a team project. These people seem to know the way to trigger you. Whatever their annoying habits, not all of them are self-aware. Logically, if they know that their actions are irritating, they would have stopped doing it.

So now you’re down with two options: be blunt and confront them or keep it to yourself. It’s not easy to be the “bad guy” and be direct in these situations, your actions might even get backfired on you instead. The best scenario is of course everything goes over well and your colleague accepts your feedback with an open mind. But, if you’re dealing with someone who isn’t self-aware, chances are he or she won’t get what you’re trying to say.

Here are a few rules you should follow to ensure your feedback go through your not-so-self-aware colleague.

1. Be as clear as possible

Not everyone can handle the truth well, especially those who aren’t even aware of their problems. Knowing that the person lacks self-awareness, you have to be as honest as possible and explain clearly what his or her problems are. 

It’s not going to be easy. But, trying to be nice and beating around the bush will not only make the person even more confused, but also missing the whole point of the confrontation. Be very clear on the exact incident or action that’ caused the issue and don’t try to sugarcoat your words. It’s important to make the person understand how much his or her behavior affected you.

 Be emphatic and ask if they did that unintentionally or if it’s something that they can change. Don’t jump into conclusion and make false accusation about someone’s behavior, it’ll only make things worse.

2. Be patient and thoughtful

Don’t expect the conversation to go smoothly. It might be a pessimistic approach, but it’s important to be prepared for the worst. With this thought in mind, you tend to be more patience in case your not-so-self-aware colleague refuses to accept your feedback.

Include specific examples with sufficient context to strengthen your concern. Plus, it’s harder for the person to deny it when you tell them exactly how they bothered you in situations that actually happened. However, be thoughtful with your words and tone of voice when you’re bringing this up. The person might be genuinely unaware of how his or her behavior affected you.

3. Pick a right time and place

Don’t just go straight up to the person and start babbling away like a mad man. Plan your approach properly, such as when and where to have the conversation. Set the right tone so that the person won’t let his or her guard up.

Keep it private and casual. You don’t have to create a scene in the office by announcing the person’s issues to the whole world. It’s not only unprofessional, but also insulting to the person who’s on the receiving end. Instead, ask him or her out for coffee to have a chat privately. There is no need to be hostile to a fellow colleague after all.

4. Be understanding

During the conversation, it’s crucial to be a good listener and try to understand the person’s point of view. It’s easy to put all the blame on others and take every explanation from them as an excuse. Put yourself in his or her shoes and imagine yourself being the unaware one, do you think it’s fair to be blamed for something you wasn’t even aware of?

Hence, be understanding and give everyone a chance to be heard. It’s only fair that way.

Find these tips useful? We have more career advice, workplace tips, and job search tips on our blog. Don’t forget to check them out!

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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