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How to communicate with a defensive colleague…

Dear H2

I work with someone who is mostly very good at their job, but whenever I mention that there could be room for improvement, they become extremely defensive, and accuse me of bullying. I have tried making sure that I broach the subject very gently, but it has got to the point where I am so afraid of the accusations, that I just keep quiet, and keep my thoughts to myself.

What do you think I should do?

N

Dear N

By avoiding communicating your true feelings with this person, you are in danger of becoming resentful towards them. If you can find a way to let them know how you feel, it would help to maintain your working relationship with them. You may find that your own reputation and credibility depend on it, especially if the issues are important and affect how well you do your own job.

You could try a different approach to addressing problems - instead of telling them what's wrong (no matter how gently), try asking them how they see things, and whether they think there are any areas that either of you could improve on in order to get the job done better. This should help to turn it into a more collaborative conversation, rather than you throwing accusations, and them defending themselves.

Good luck!

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