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No way to talk

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

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

I’m one of five regional managers. We each control our own fiefdom. But sometimes we need to work together.

Three of the other managers are great. But the fourth guy, Ron, is totally inaccessible. He works 1,000 miles away, so we rely on phone and e-mail to connect. Unfortunately, Ron refuses to answer his phone and rarely replies to e-mail.

Normally, that isn’t a huge problem: I just work around him.

Recently, however, he made me look bad in the CEO’s eyes. I dropped the ball on a big project because I assumed Ron got my message and contributed some data to a report I was charged with preparing.

It turns out Ron didn’t do a thing. The CEO blamed me for not following up with Ron, even though I tried. Ron’s the one who makes it impossible to follow up.

I’ve been trying to talk this out with Ron. Because he doesn’t answer his phone, I’ve left voice mails for him to contact me. Two weeks have gone by with only minimal e-mail contact and a few rushed calls.

Yesterday, I happened to be in a meeting with the CEO and Ron (and a few other executives). Fed up, I explained to the group that Ron “isn’t exactly easy to get on the phone.”

This infuriated Ron. After the meeting, he confronted me.

“Why don’t you come to me like a man rather than blindside me in front of the CEO,” he seethed.

I was so angry I didn’t know what to say. Now there’s bad blood and I’m not sure what to do and how it became my problem.

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