Don’t Let Colleagues Push Your Buttons

Problem: A co-worker’s behavior is haunting you. The person has manipulated you time after time into performing additional tasks from his or her to-do list. Your resentment toward the person makes you dread working together and has damaged your work relationship.

Scenario: You want to be a team player, but taking on extra projects distracts you from your goals and adds stress. Most people have “hot buttons”—sensitive areas that others can exploit. Your co-worker is doing just that to you, manipulating you to do more than your share of the workload.

Solution: When someone is pushing your buttons, you feel uncomfortable, anxious or pushed around without knowing the exact reason why. Once you have identified that cause, you can protect yourself. Follow these strategies to resist manipulation:

  • Remember these four magic words: “I need more time.” Don’t succumb to a manipulator’s pressure and hastily agree to do something. Stall to gain time to reflect on the decision you should make.
  • Agree. Acknowledge the truth of what the manipulator says, but don’t give in. Example: Another team leader tries to pressure you into accepting a project by saying you are the only one who can handle it.Respond: “Yes, I probably would be the best choice for the job. But I can’t do it right now.”
  • Deflect with humor. Example: “If I am that indispensable, maybe I should be asking for a raise.”
  • Let manipulators know that you’re on to them. Help when you can do so without hindering your own work, regardless of how you’re asked. But don’t encourage the manipulator’s behavior by letting that person think the ploy worked. Example: “OK, I will do as you ask. But don’t think I fell for your hard-luck story.”

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Delivered each month, Bud to Boss Take 5 offers you advice for resolving your most perplexing management problems. Even better: You need only 5 minutes to read each issue of the e-letter and find workable solutions that you can put to use immediately!

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