Negotiating With Uncooperative Co-Worker

Q: How do you negotiate with someone who isn't willing to negotiate? I've been working with a co-worker for the past five years and have tried everything, but he won't change. Any ideas?

A: Start by ceasing to try to get your co-worker to change. Most of us make two mistakes when we don't like what someone else is doing.

1. We wish other people would shape up so our lives would be easier. Unfortunately, we are then in a position where all the power is in the hands of other people.

2. We focus on what we want and don't understand why the other person is so dense or stubborn that they won't do what we want.

Ironically, if you want to learn how to powerfully influence other people, you need to focus on what they want in great detail and find ways for them to get what they want. The other person usually will then be willing for you to get what you want. You will be seen as an ally. People tend to cooperate with those they see as powerful in helping them get needs met.

For example, if your co-worker refuses to provide you with information to help you do your job, find out why your co-worker thinks this is helpful to him.

This process will involve asking him questions in a neutral, curious way so you can get information.

Maybe he thinks he is protecting his territory, making sure his job is secure and increasing his chances for promotion. If you can help him find other ways of doing this, he probably won't feel the need to guard information like a Doberman.Q: I've enjoyed your column and wonder if you have ideas about intelligence, skills, personality assessments that are commonly used in business. Are these tests just pop psychology or can they be useful? Where would I find a lay person's overview of the subject?A: All tests that assess personality and skills have built-in strengths and weakness. Most tests are not just pop psychology, but most do have built-in limits to their usefulness.

If the tests are used with an understanding of their limits, many people can benefit from the information they provide.

Employees can be matched with jobs that fit their interests and strengths, students can be steered into careers that they will love, and people can understand how personality differences make it difficult to get along with each other at work.

For instance, an employee who likes closure and wants to make decisions quickly may be driven crazy by another employee who gets nervous after a decision is made and wants to keep things open-ended.

If people with different styles understand what each wants and needs, both sides can get what they want rather than building a long-term power struggle.

The tests also have a down side. If we test an employee for intelligence and screen employees based on that information, we may miss an excellent employee. There are so many factors that contribute to effectiveness on the job that can't be measured statistically.

Tests can make rough guesses about the inner workings of a human being but, in the end, other people remain one of the most fascinating mysteries that we each will ever encounter.

I am not aware of a lay person's guide to psychological testing, but the University of Washington graduate school library has a wealth of information on this topic.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is a local speaker, communication consultant and psychotherapist. Readers can write to Skube in care of No. 2845, 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Issaquah, WA 98027-7001. Fax: 382-8879. Include a daytime phone number.