The Caring Nudge

You’ve got a coworker whom you love dearly—or not—and that person has one personal trait that simply drives everybody UP THE WALL. It’s probably not intentional, but that doesn’t matter. It’s gone beyond annoying and is now affecting the mood of the whole place. You don’t want to poke a finger in her eye or make her feel attacked. That won’t help a thing. But leaving it alone just isn’t an option anymore.

So what on Earth do you do? You take the courageous step of being a peer.

Peer is just another word for “caring person.” That’s why we have juries of our peers: you’ll get the fairest possible trial if those deciding your fate can see themselves in you. They will care enough to be fair and impartial.

That’s the key to any communication—seeing yourself in the other person, and making them feel that connection. Dealing with an issue of this kind directly suddenly becomes possible. In fact, it’s uncaring to NOT say something.

Approach it like this: “Jenny, I want to make you aware about something that may help you have an easier time at work. I really don’t want you to feel bad about this or think that I’m trying to hurt you. I’d want someone to do the same for me in this situation to help me out. Is it okay if I share?”

You’ve framed it entirely in terms of Jenny’s welfare. Now you can share what you’ve observed.

There is one major no-no in this: NEVER say “everyone thinks” or “everybody says.” That can only make him or her feel defensive and besieged, and all communication will instantly shut down.

Most important of all, invite the same in return. You said you’d want that, so make good on the spot by asking if there’s anything YOU should know. And be sure to accept it with all the grace and humility you had hoped for.

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