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Hitting a wall

by on
in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

Terry, a manager at a financial firm, shares his challenges dealing with an uncommunicative peer:

I’ve given up trying to make amends with my colleague Ron, who is virtually impossible to get on the phone. And he doesn’t reply to e-mail even when the subject line is “urgent.”

I admit I shouldn’t have told the CEO that Ron “isn’t exactly easy to get on the phone.” But it’s true.

The CEO seems to like Ron. My complaints about Ron’s poor communication don’t seem to matter much.

“That’s between you and Ron,” the CEO said. “You need to find a way to work together.”

I’m not sure I buy into a feeble answer such as, “It’s your problem.” I know it’s my problem. But how am I supposed to enact a solution when Ron is my peer, not my employee? I can’t order him to return calls or e-mails.

So I asked the CEO privately, “Any ideas on how I can gain compliance from a peer who doesn’t return calls or e-mails?”

I thought that was a good question—not too accusatory and earnest in tone. But to my surprise, the CEO just chuckled, shook his head and walked off.

Now I’m falling out of favor with the CEO as well as Ron. I’ll need to work closely with Ron on various initiatives throughout the year, and I’m angry the CEO thinks less of me due to Ron’s uncommunicative nature.

I’ve sought advice from a mentor outside the firm. He says, “Let it go. As time passes, the situation will take care of itself.”

I’m not sure how. But that’s about all I can do.

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