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VOL. 46 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 18, 2022

Is the jerk at work you? Book offers some remedies

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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OK, so let’s face it: Sometimes, you work with a bunch of jerks. Here’s another thing to face: You’re no innocent and you know it. Either way, it makes things so hard, doesn’t it?

Somebody ought to step up and act better. Someone should fix this animosity at work. In the new book, “Bridge the Gap” by Jennifer Edwards and Katie McCleary, why shouldn’t that someone be you?

Like your relatives, you can’t always pick who you work with. It’s inevitable, then, that one or another or multiple of your co-workers might rankle you here or there one day and problems like that can get out of hand. The thing to remember, say the authors, is that “You have a choice about how you respond.”

You can “step up and be the one that bridges the gap.”

Humans are predictable, the authors state. We all want our physical and emotional needs met, and understanding that is the first lesson in this method of getting along. The second is to accept that you aren’t fully in charge of what’s inside your brain.

“Bridge the Gap: Breakthrough Communication Tools to Transform Work Relationships From Challenging to Collaborative”

By Jennifer Edwards and Katie McCleary

c.2022, McGraw Hill

$26

256 pages

Your amygdala (referred to as “AMY” here) needs mindful corralling, your “Inner Narrator” will try to influence any story you conjure for yourself, and it’s easy to slide into a “Drama Triangle” if you’re not careful. These things will trip you up; it’s essential to see how they can be controlled or sidestepped altogether.

“Show up clean,” say the authors, by following the tips they offer to clear your mind and rid yourself of any lingering issues before speaking. “Show up curious” and practice the right kind of openness in order to see a beyond a person’s behavior and his politics and to quietly direct the conversation. Change conversations to include “no buts, only ands.” Learn how to truly listen and avoid the various “hurdles” to doing it well. And finally, seize the power of three little words. “Tell me about” can change everything...

So, you’re experiencing personality clashes at work. And, come to think of it, the same is going on at home. “Bridge the Gap” can help with both.

In ways that might seem like giving your brain a long and satisfying stretch, the authors help readers to be good catalysts in conflict resolution, without feeling weird or fumbly. This is real leadership stuff, actions that you can employ without being labeled a brown-noser.

You can teach yourself to do them to calm yourself and make your own workday better, and you can do them with or without talking to the boss first – but you can rest assured she’ll notice in the long run. And if you simply cannot untangle a thorny issue you’ve been handed, the authors offer some last-ditch efforts to try when all else fails.

Take what you learn to work and see the difference. Take it home and try it at your next big family dinner. Using “Bridge the Gap” is going to take some self-work, but it really could help a bunch.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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