Q: I don’t lead a team but one of my co-workers is really disruptive to the team. He talks over people in meetings. He rolls his eyes when other team members speak. The behavior has continued for a long time on the team. Is there anything I can do about it?
A: Whew – sounds like this is really weighing on you. Have you tried discussing it with him? If you are going to do that – I recommend sharing feedback one on one (not in a group) and as soon after one of these meetings as possible – see if you can pull him aside. You want to share the behavior you observe and how it makes you feel. For example, Dave – when you rolled your eyes in the meeting just now after Mike spoke, it made me feel like you were disrespecting Mike’s idea. If you don’t feel comfortable talking directing the conversation to your co-worker – perhaps you can have that same conversation with your leader about Dave’s behavior.
In either case, stay focused on the behavior you are observing and the impact of that behavior on you. When you are giving someone this kind of feedback, it works best if you don’t assume motivation or intention of the behavior. Also, focus on how it makes YOU feel. No one can argue with your feelings, they are yours. Stating your feelings helps you take ownership over your response to a behavior and also opens up the chance for someone else to learn about the impact of the behavior. It could be that he is unaware of the behavior because it has become a habit for him. Also, focusing on your feelings also invites less resistance because you aren’t claiming to know the motivation behind the behavior, when you tell someone why they are behaving a certain way, you invite them to resist your definition.