Crucial Skills Logo The Official VitalSmarts Blog

Communicating with the Unresponsive

This column will be Al Switzler’s last. He is transitioning to a more advisory role and will be supporting some of our non-profit efforts. We will be introducing new thought leaders in coming issues of Crucial Skills. Dear Crucial Skills, What do I do about a supervisor who doesn’t respond […]

READ MORE >

The Silent Spouse

During the month of July, we publish “best of” content. The following article was first published on February 2, 2005. Dear Crucial Skills, Whenever my husband and I get into a conversation that he doesn’t want to continue, he will resort to a comment like, “You always have to have things […]

READ MORE >

Q&A: Family Vacations—Putting R&R Back on the Agenda

A group of my family and friends is flying to a wonderful resort for a family wedding. Everyone usually gets along, but when we travel together, one family member can be the deal breaker! She can be demanding and outspoken. Because I am a retired psychiatric nurse, I am usually called upon to help settle situations with her. I’m happy to help, but this is my holiday too. What can I do so that I can also relax?

READ MORE >

Q&A: Above and Beyond? How to Deal with a Strong-willed Employee

Dear Crucial Skills,

I manage a small technical team. One particular member of my team is a seasoned high performer who is very strong-willed. This person enjoys being the “hero” in the customer’s eyes by sometimes intentionally making commitments that lead to unnecessary and excessive overtime. Because of exempt status, this person is not eligible for overtime compensation and the company has no comp time policy. The employee has expressed an opinion of entitlement to compensation for this overtime, especially since the work brings in significant revenue directly to the company. This has put me, as his manager, in an uncomfortable and awkward position when I have had to address the issue. Despite repeated requests to stop this behavior, the employee persists in making commitments “for the good of the customer” even though we have told the employee we cannot provide compensation for overtime work. How should I deal with this?

READ MORE >

How to Work With a Chatty Cathy

Several of my coworkers sit and face each other in the cubicles next door to me. They’re good friends and it seems, especially lately during our slow season, that they spend the majority of the day chatting about anything and everything. Most mornings, the first hours are nothing but chatter. It’s terribly distracting. I’ve tried to plug in my earphones and listen to music to help me focus but it doesn’t drown out the noise. Any tips on asking the “chattaholics” to turn it down and minimize the disruptive discussion without seeming rude or snobby?

READ MORE >