The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 13, 2014

To grease wheels with co-worker, learn more about her

QUESTION: I have a colleague who is very hard to deal with. She seems like a decent person but we can’t get on the same page on matters that concern us both. How can I get her to work more effectively with me?

ANSWER: You likely will not be able to change her, so focus on gaining more shared understanding.

THE INNER GAME: Much of your attention on this issue will be inward, focusing on gaining an understanding of her motivators and temperament and building empathy. First, get into a receptive frame of mind. If you feel antagonistic toward her, or even just frustrated, spend some time letting that go, focusing on your breath until you feel calm and ready to engage in this effort.

Now think about everything you know about her, using even the smallest clues. If you don’t know anything, that’s an indicator of an issue in itself.

Do some fact finding. If you’ve been to her desk, think about what you’ve seen. Does family seem important? Any particular activities? You aren’t looking for items to “bond“ about; this is about deepening your understanding of her. Think about her personality, her demeanor in meetings, anything that would help you understand her better.

Check out her LinkedIn page, looking at it not with a lens of just acquiring facts; consider what it may tell you about her. Can you tell if she’s had to have great determination to overcome certain challenges, for example?

With information at hand, it’s now time for deeper reflection. Try to imagine her day. Is it hectic or calm? Does she have a lot to juggle at work, at home or both? Next, still from her perspective, imagine what interactions with you might be like. Taking your personal identities out of the picture, how do your communication styles match? Is one of you “cut to the chase“ while the other wants details?

Finally, set a goal. Where on the relationship spectrum would you like to get? Consider both the tone and substance of your interactions.

THE OUTER GAME: Often, simply increasing your own sensitivity will help you improve the situation without taking any other action. So, the next couple of times you’re having discussions, see if they go better. You may find that you are better able to manage the conversation and the outcomes just based on the reflection you’ve done.

If the interactions still aren’t successful, look at the points at which the breakdowns occur. Then slow down the process a bit. For example, if you aren’t in agreement on your goal, don’t move on to your action plan for achieving it.

Set up time for an informal conversation, letting her know that you’d like to chat about ways to work together more effectively. If the steps you’ve taken on your own haven’t helped, she’s likely also experiencing some frustration.

Check your progress against your goal, and don’t give up. Notice areas that are still rough and focus on them, and also celebrate successes, such as a productive meeting.

THE LAST WORD: It may be incremental, and even take steps back, but successful working relationships can be developed even when you don’t see eye-to-eye.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes. Submit questions or comments about this column at or email her at


Text Only
  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

Business Video