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This time of year, it’s easy to get sucked into candies and valentines. But, what about those of us who appreciate love and friendship yet still need to get our work done?

How do we appear friendly and sociable while meeting our deadlines? Further, how do we encourage those who do the socializing to get their work done, too?

Socializers put off work while they hand out valentines, chat with colleagues, and post on social media. Of course, there is room for socializing at set points throughout the day. But, socializer colleagues take this a bit further. They are so dedicated to having fun that they don’t seem to take anything else seriously. In pursuit of their happiness, they overstep the line between friendliness and responsibility, accenting the former and ignoring the latter.

Socializer colleagues are outgoing and truly want to count everyone as a friend. They are happy, friendly people and you enjoy their company. But, they interrupt everyone else’s routine and cause serious delays. You find yourself becoming increasingly agitated by their antics.

What You’re Thinking

Molly is a great person, with a big heart, and lots of fun. But she reminds me of the kid who won’t stop playing long enough to do her homework. It’s not my place to lecture her. I just wish I had a magic wand that could get her to settle down and do her work. I can’t move on this project until Molly gives me her estimates. But, today, it seems her only priority is to chat with every single colleague in the office while handing out hearts and candies.

A Socializer’s Thoughts

I really enjoy working here. This is such a pleasant office, and I’ve made a lot of good friends. It brings me such happiness to see them smile when I do nice things for them. I think that candy and card made Joe’s day!

Strategy

Although you have no authority over them, your goal is to persuade the Socializers to cooperate and finish their assignments.

  1. Spell out the importance of the task and the roles they play. Let Socializers know the benefits to the company, department, and workers if the assignment is done well—and the consequences if it is not. Impress upon them that they control an essential factor in making it happen. Be sincere; no phony lines.
  2. Limit your request to your immediate concern. Don’t ask for anything except the exact piece of work you need from them at this moment. Keep the focus and the discussion on that one item. Build grace periods into your original planning (for example, setting deadlines for their work the week before you actually need it) to allow for their delaying tactics.
  3. Push politely without revealing panic. Control your temper and hide your annoyance. Be pleasant about asking for what you have to have, but don’t apologize for interrupting them. Act friendly and self-assured to win their confidence.
  4. Ask them for their opinions. Help them to feel more involved, so that they are truly a part of the project or task. You may hear ideas for changes that could unblock a logjam or even improve results.

Tactical Talk

You: Molly, thanks so much for the candy! I know that you want to do your part on this project. I’m stuck right now because you are the only one who knows how to figure these estimates. What we need now is just that one number. I’d greatly appreciate it if you could get that to me by 10. Thanks so much!

Or: This will call for a celebration when we finish, and you’re our resident expert in how to have fun.

Tip: Socializers missed their calling. They’d be great recreation directors. To win their cooperation, first win their trust by leveling with them. Don’t plead for yourself, but press for them to do what is important for themselves and for the company. Then, link that effort to whatever it is they hanker for.

Want to learn more about handling difficult people in today’s workplace? Friend me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter and on LinkedIn. And, read Working with Difficult People.

Copyright© 2017 Amy Cooper Hakim

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