Handling coworker complaints

Jul 26, 2023
Image by Antoni Shkraba

You’re a leader. I’m sure that some people on your team complain to you about other team members.

Don’t let them.

You may think you’re being nice, it puts you in the middle. It’s called triangulation, and it’s a bad place to be.

You’re a boss, not a mediator. Shuttle diplomacy won’t work.

You can handle this the Western Way, or the Eastern Way.

The Western Approach

Simply ask the complainer: Have you spoken to the other person about this?

Usually, the answer is no.

Tell the complainer: This is something you need to work out directly with the other person. I’m here to support you. If you can’t work it out with them, I’ll sit down with the three of us. And if that doesn’t work, then we’ll go to HR.

The Eastern Approach

When a student of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi complained about his co-workers, the Zen Master listened intently, then finally said, “If you want to see virtue, you must calm your mind.”


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