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Submitted by ldk237 on


I have a colleague who has a pattern of behavior that is, from my perspective, neither conducive to good working relationships nor professional and I want to know how to address these behaviors and set proper boundaries.

Example 1: I made a mistake on something. She raised her voice and demanded an answer why. (She is not my boss, so from my perspective, I didn't owe her an answer and it was inappropriate to raise her voice.)

Example 2: On at least 2 occasions, she's snorted at things I've said in meetings.

Example 3: She falsely accused me of talking about her behind her back.


With the exception of number 3, I have not called her out on these behaviors, and these are definitely not the only ones. I would like to use the peer feedback model to point out to her the strains they introduce into our working relationship. But I'm not entirely sure how to describe the effect that they have on our relationship. For instance, would it be within the feedback model to say "When you snort while I'm speaking in a meeting, it is insulting and harms our working relationship"?

Or "When you raise your voice and demand answers you aren't entitled to, I get angry and it harms our working relationship"?

I know one of the focuses in MT is that another person's actions can't determine your emotional reactions. At the same time, it's absurd to think that how someone else treats us doesn't affect our mood and relationships. So I think I'm justifiably frustrated with her behavior and am not sure how to address it...

jrb3's picture
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There's a 'cast for that. (TM) :-)

Actually, two.  Click on the "Map of the Universe" logo on the webpage, or use the menu-bar above under "Podcasts".  Search for 'peer feedback' to find them both.

As I recall, one of them does talk a bit more about how the 'peer' variant differs from the 'manager' variant, and which addresses your question.  I don't remember which of the two it is -- been a few years since I listened to them.  Perhaps this suffices?

Chris Zeller's picture
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Hi 237,

You could turn it around by embracing the presumed deficiency and asking her to give you feedback. It's non-confrontational, professionally unassailable, proactive, and disarming. And it might sound something like this:

"Hey Peer, do you have a second? Thanks. Listen, it's really important to me to have good working relationships with my peers and to make sure that things are professional and productive. When you snort at my suggestions in meetings and raise your voice, it makes me think that, from your perspective, I'm not giving you what you need.

What can I do differently going forward to show you that I'm just as committed to success and making sure that we all achieve our objectives?"

She's unlikely to accuse you of being unprofessional and, if you're lucky, you'll get some rational, behavioral feedback that gives you some insight into where she's coming from. 

Ultimately, you're under no obligation to conform to whatever requests she might make. And any dialogue is an opportunity to suggest a regular check-in with each other before you both head into more "public" meetings. Hello, Peer O3s!

Example: "I've been thinking on what you said last week. Do you have time on Thursday afternoon for a quick pull-up to discuss it further?" And then use that time to share your perspective and hold the line that she's a peer, not your boss.

If you're able to give her a "win," in terms of what she's asking you for, then you're in a position to ask for reciprocity at a later date. And you're hopefully on the way to a productive, professional relationship.

If she has nothing concrete to offer, tries treating you like a subordinate, or refuses to engage in a productive conversation, you may have to do a little CYA and double down on other strategic relationships to make sure that you're protected if she starts talking trash about you to other people.