If both people are having the same problem and followed this advice… who would speak up first?

The environment isn’t safe for either person. When people are afraid to speak, issues remain hidden. Big issues aren’t reported or escalated to the right people or departments. Crucial feedback is withheld from the manager who might be willing and able to address it.

Instead, I recommend approaching co-workers by seeking advice on how to improve the working relationship. Describe what you think is or isn’t working and the impact it is having. Discuss what you want, and the impact on your work, if everything was working well. Focus on exploring ideas and solutions that are in your control.

If you still feel pessimistic about improving your situation, HR teams or coaches can help guide you through this.

If your company doesn’t have HR or coaching support (even if they do), I suggest reading Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. This book has a lot of great advice for having incredibly difficult but important conversations. I also recommend Radical Candor by Kim Scott, but I find it has fewer tools for preparing for difficult and risky conversations.

I help businesses build, lead, and manage design teams.

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