The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

May 16, 2013

The Flip Side of Quirks

By Steve Motenko

“Can’t we all get along?”

Ironically, Rodney King may ultimately be remembered more for publicly uttering that prophetic question than for getting the crap beaten out of him by LA cops – which is what got him in front of the microphones to ask the question.

And in a way, if we took the question seriously, we could resolve countless workplace dilemmas.

Here’s why:  Most of what we find objectionable in the workplace can be framed as what Jim & I discussed in this week’s show:  personality quirks.  We deny them in ourselves, and we don’t tolerate them in others.

Maybe the end of denial would signal the beginning of tolerance.  I dare you not to recognize yourself in at least one of the 10 Personality Quirks That Drive Coworkers Nuts from this week’s The Boss Show.  If you don’t recognize yourself in any of them, you’re lying to yourself …

We try to offer a few tips for dealing with these quirks – whether they describe you or that horrible other person.

Starting here: we can accept coworkers’ (and our own!) quirks better if we can do one relatively simple thing:  understand the motivation that underlies them.

Very few people are intentionally malicious.  Most bad behavior can be attributed to good (or at least self-protective) motivations … overused.  The Perfectionist craves quality and fears embarrassment.  The Social Butterfly craves connection and fears isolation.  The Multitasker craves accomplishment and contribution, and fears boredom and criticism.

Here’s my challenge for you, for your next day at work:  Every time you feel challenged by a coworker’s “personality quirk,” ask yourself “What is the flip side of that trait?  Where’s the positive motivation – or understandable anxiety – at the source of it?”

That question might net you some tolerance, and help you answer, in the affirmative, Rodney King’s famous question.


About the Author

Steve Motenko is an executive coach, leadership trainer, and co-host of The Boss Show, a weekly podcast on workplace dynamics. Steve and his Boss Show co-host, Jim Hessler, are co-authors of Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guide to Building Your Leadership Platform. Steve lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, with his wife and dog, whom he loves, and a cat he tolerates usually pretty well.

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