Not My Problem!

I thought she was going to pound her fist through the wall – she was so angry.  I understood why she was mad and her need to vent, but the problem was not going to get resolved by her telling me, rather than her boss’s colleague.

“I agree,” I said.  “He shouldn’t have asked you to take the meeting notes. Did you ask him why someone from his own staff didn’t take them?”

“No,” she answered. “He said since I’m good with a computer, I’d be a good note taker. It was a complete waste of my day – and now I’m behind on a project. Doesn’t he know it’s not what I’m paid to do?”

Courtney was a co-worker, although we worked in different departments.  She was a talented and creative professional who was hired to work on strategic initiatives.  She’d made highly innovative changes to processes and work flows.  I agreed it was a waste of her time and corporate resources to be taking meeting notes. 

“His comment doesn’t make any sense. Did you say anything to your boss about it?”

“I told Howie right after Jake asked me to take notes, but you know everyone’s afraid to speak up to him because he’s so tight with our vice president. Howie doesn’t want to rock the boat.”

Just then Howie walked in. “Did you ask her yet?” he said.

I turned to him. “Ask me what?” 

They both were looking at me sheepishly. “Well,” said Courtney, “We thought that since Jake listens to you, you could say something – tell him how inappropriate his request was.” 

“I don’t have a stake in this disagreement,” I responded. “One of you needs to talk to him and tell him why he was out of line to ask Courtney and not his own staff member to take the meeting notes.” 

What to do when someone tries to pull you into their conflict? Be flattered because they think you have influence? No.  In this case, Courtney and Howie both needed to learn to confront their own conflicts and find their own words to do it. 

Have you or your team members ever had problems disengaging from someone else’s conflict? Have you ever been reluctant to speak up or unable to find the right words?  We have a resource to help: The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book, which you can find on Amazon at It’s filled with phrases that can help you find your own words. And you may want to share copies with your team. What better time to sharpen your conflict management skills than in April – Workplace Conflict Awareness Month.  After you’ve read it, we’d be grateful and honored if you’d write a review on Amazon.  After all, workplace conflict occurs all year long – not just in April.

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