When should you tolerate poor or confront behavior? Working with or around other people can be challenging, but how often are you tolerating poor behavior rather than calling it out?

The topic of co-workers will be a major topic in this blog. Co-worker issues seem to be a topic of many conversations. Often times these conversations sound more like complaining than conversation.

  • I’m sorry to be late. I had to help Jack on a project.
  • You will not believe what I had to deal with today. Jill could not get it together.
  • I can’t make the game tonight. My just scheduled a meeting for 5 p.m.
  • It is frustrating! We have five people in our department, but the majority of the work is being done by three of us.

Complaining is easy, confrontation is hard. I have never seen a class offered on how to complain more effectively, but there are plenty of classes dealing with managing conflict. Most people make an effort to tolerate poor behavior because it appears to inflict less pain than confrontation. At what point do we become so tolerant that we lose our own identify because we don’t stand up for our interests or the ability to do our work?

Consider why you tolerate poor behavior.

  1. You have experienced lots of poor behavior with co-workers and paid a personal or professional price.
  2. You are afraid to confront high maintenance people, or bullies, who run roughshod over everyone else around you.
  3. You operate in a culture that has not established or enforced appropriate behavioral boundaries.
  4. Your personality type does not lend yourself to be confrontational and it is easier to try and not let it get to you.
  5. Confrontation is above your pay scale and you believe it is the job of management to deal with poor behavior.
  6. It is faster to work around poor behaving co-workers or just do it yourself.
  7. The price of confronting it is far more than enduring it.

The first step to confronting poor behavior is to understand why you tolerate it. Then you can come up with a constructive way to confront it. At some point, everyone has the responsibility (moral, ethical, regulatory, cultural, corporate code of conduct, etc.) to confront poor behavior.

What influences your decision whether or not to tolerate poor behavior or confront it?

Co-Workers: When Should You Tolerate Poor Behavior or Confront It?

4 thoughts on “Co-Workers: When Should You Tolerate Poor Behavior or Confront It?

  • A few things come to mind when I read your ‘Bad Behavior’ entry, Steve. The first was… Oh my gosh… he’s writing about ME! Oooie. Except wait… it would be about my ‘bad’ behavior rather than how I deal with it. I find I’m most likely to confront certain behaviors with humor, but I admit, that has backfired. I’m curious to hear other from you and other folks on what constitutes ‘bad behavior.’ Complaining? Certainly. Talking behind someone’s back? I think so, too. What about what we might classify as ‘TMI?’ Or crass humor? At what point have we slipped from the edge of being someone pleasant to work with, to one exhibiting bad behavior? And how do we deal with those (whether it be ourselves 😉 or others) who are are walking that fine line between funny and poor taste?

    Thanks, Steve, for your blog. I appreciate reading your entries.

    1. Suzanne,

      Such great questions! While you can easily find what constitutes poor behavior and how to deal with it by searching the web, there does not seem to be much information about defining what is poor behavior when it resides in a gray area between right and wrong or outlining a decision criteria to make that determination.

      I will definitely be writing more on this topic as I introduce the topics of personal character and personal identity that I think must be considered when getting beyond a simple behavioral response.

  • Very well put together blog, you could almost have an entire seminar on this topic. Sometimes putting up with bad behavior to keep the peace only works for so long, so knowing your threshold is always beneficial.

    1. Hi Geoff,

      Thanks for your feedback on the blog. I hope to get better over time as I incorporate suggestions.

      Yes, a dedicated workshop would be great (I don’t like to do seminars). Incorporating your comments on knowing our threshold is a great suggestion. Having lived through the Mount St. Helen’s eruption in 1980 (it erupted several times over a couple weeks), I’ve often used it as an analogy to describe the perils of not appropriately handling anger…it’s ugly.

Comments are closed.