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DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a contentious relationship with the other most senior leader in my company. I know that the two of us need to get along in order for us to have harmony at work, but something about this guy rubs me the wrong way. His tone is abrasive. He is way too playful, and his timing is terrible. I am sensitive and somewhat serious. I like to focus on the work, and he likes to crack jokes. It’s almost like he’s stuck in high school or at the frat party. I know that I have to figure out a way to work with him because management likes him. It’s not working so well right now. — Cringeworthy
DEAR CRINGEWORTHY: Decide that you can and will find a way to connect with this fellow leader. Talk directly with him about your different work styles, and admit that sometimes it is hard for you to get into a rhythm with him when he’s constantly joking around. Ask him if you two can establish regular meetings where you talk strategy for work. Request that you both allocate time together to discover a comfortable way to do your work and present a united front to the team. Then, whenever you do meet with him, approach the moment with a positive attitude.
Think about this person. What are his attributes? Why do you think he was hired for this job? What value does he bring to your company? What is good about him? I was taught to look at people and “See God in each other.” Apply that loving gaze to this man, and begin to notice ways to engage with him productively.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have taken on a lot more work so that I can pay for my son’s college. I am grateful for the opportunities, but I am getting exhausted — and that has led to stupid mistakes. I am a detail-oriented person normally, but I have missed a few key responsibilities. I know that this is making the people I report to a bit skittish. On one hand, they know me and trust that I will do a good job. On the other, they see me slipping. How can I get into better alignment and keep up the new work schedule? — Overworked
DEAR OVERWORKED: If you absolutely must juggle all of the work that you have added to your load, it’s time to step back, evaluate all of your responsibilities, and assign deadlines to each task. Write those deadlines on your calendar. Color code them if that will help you visualize the deadlines. Apply alarms, if necessary, so you don’t miss anything. Do this weekly, and check off your list every day to make sure you are updated properly. If you ever notice that you will not be able to meet a deadline, speak up immediately and let your supervisor know. It’s much better to sound an alarm before the disaster. That way, you will not expose the project to your vulnerability.
Also, build in time to exercise and eat well. It won’t work if you are just working around the clock. You have to take care of yourself, too.