What is the best way to motivate someone who has a difficult behavior at work to change his or her ways?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In instances when a co-worker's behavior impedes the natural dynamics of the work place to take place, the best two solutions are either a) avoiding interaction with that person as much as possible, or b) learning to tolerate the behavior of the person by analyzing it and by not taking it personal. More assertiveness, cooperation, and less personal connections are often the best solution to an issue of human dynamics.

For example: Let's suppose that there is an employee who enjoys boasting and bragging about their life. Let's say that this employee talks consistently about having a housekeeper, about how big their house is, about the car they just purchased, or even about huge shopping trips. It is clear that this person will aggravate the average individual, especially when the latter is not as fortunate as the boisterous employee claims to be. Hence, the only four choices are to get angry, to try and compete, to avoid speaking to the person, or two consider some details.

The first three options are futile because they will only bring on to the average co-worker a sense of hostility and unnecessary antagonism (notice that I said "unnecessary", and not "avoidable"). You do not want to "burn bridges" at work by severing ties with people that could potentially help you in the future. Moreover, you want to be able to let people approach you. Hence, the best solution is to analyze why this person feels the need to tell everybody how much they have or how much they spend. Ask yourself

  • Did this person have a strike of luck and, after much struggling, is finally making it financially? If so, feel happy for that person. It is good to build appreciative energy.
  • Does this person consider themselves fortunate even when they are really not? If so, appreciate that person's desire to want more from his life.
  • Is there any reason why this person would want to brag in front of you particularly? If this boisterous person brags in front of everybody then there is no reason to take their words personal: they are not directed to you, but to "the world". And the world is quite large for you to be the one who has to give importance to someone else's words.
  • Is this person maliciously lying? If so, what is the intention? There is intention to every action and it is the intention what makes or breaks it. If this person's intentions are not pathological, then there is a sense of pathos in their words; they may only be speaking out what they wish to be their realities, or their "truths".

Nobody changes for someone else; at least not completely nor internally as a whole. Therefore, understanding people may require a lot of patience and tolerance, yet, the efforts pay off. The best way is to avoid the person and, if trapped, learn to put your best face forward and get used to saying the words "congratulations", "I am happy for you", "Those are awesome news for you". Shift the energy back to the talker, and do not carry other people's "baggage" when they try to bring it out during conversations.