How to Have Pleasant, Cooperative Colleagues

Call me cynical. Call me manipulative. Call it greasing the wheels.

I am always frankly amazed by the amount and variety of crap my colleagues try to sell me: frozen Maple Lodge chicken to pay for a new church roof, chocolate to pay for hockey team expenses, Magic Chef, Pampered Chef, Partylite candles, Avon, magazine subscriptions for the Grade Six field trip to Ottawa, Tupperware (God help me), boxed candy, cookie and muffin dough for the holiday season, Girl Guide cookies (0f course), jewellery, and raffle tickets for all manner of projects and causes I care not a whit about and for ugly useless prizes I will consign to the regifting closet upon receipt.

The nurses flogging these wares* are sometimes the ones with difficult personalities. They aren’t bad nurses necessarily. I don’t even really dislike them. They’re just — Difficult. Argumentative. Uncooperative. The ones who question your every move when you’re in charge and moan and bite and complain when you bring them a patient from triage. The ones who are always convinced what you’re doing and how you’re doing it is wrong, wrong, wrong and their way is the only possible correct way. Difficult.

I figured out a while ago the cure for this behaviour, which is probably contrary to everything I have ever learnt about conflict resolution.

I buy things from them — rarely. Just enough to make it known I will buy. I ostentatiously ask for catalogues and clearly show interest in things I have no intention ever of buying.

Suddenly I am transformed from a mistrusted, lowly, wrong, insufferable colleague to something much more exalted.

A customer.

Who needs to be spoken nicely to, all the time.

It always works. And it beats the hell out of having tiresome, stress-filled conversations about unacceptable behaviour.


*Why nurses are selling this crap is an interesting question of itself, and maybe a question for another post.


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  1. #1 by atyourcervix on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 0921

    The school related items/sales are because our rugrats (I say that with the utmost love) keep bringing home these fundraisers from school. Every month it seems like there is another fundraiser. I honestly rarely, if ever, do the school fundraisers. Selling or buying.

  2. #2 by A. on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1004

    Intermittent reward is a powerful motivator.

  3. #3 by Eric on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1012

    Maybe I should try your appoach. I’m unfortunate in that I like my money better than the pleasantness of my colleagues. Unfortunate, because my money doesn’t seem to want to stay with me for long anyways. ;-)

  4. #4 by SallyK on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1125

    Ummm, do they read your blog? Your “behavior control” plan has just flown out the window if they do. North Coast Muse @

    • #5 by torontoemerg on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1133

      Not that I know… and as you can see, I am carefully Anon.

  5. #6 by My Social Relevance on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1335

    I seem to always cave in to buying things when it involves kids and chocolate. haha.

  6. #7 by paedsnurse on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1540

    I like this approach! I need to try this out.

  7. #8 by jingle on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1603

    honest, smart, and entertaining! It is tricky to handle colleagues sometimes, but you survived, so do others!

  8. #9 by Slamdunk on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 1730

    Innovative approach. I’ll have to try that out.

  9. #10 by owen59 on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 2007

    Communication is a most interesting thing. What you do and don’t say and how you do it. Seems you’ve chosen the open visage, receptive, thoughtful approach and show by a combination of constraint and reward, which nonethless creates a fairly comfortable exchange with your colleagues. I once said to a psychologist that I don’t feel particularly ‘bonded’ to most people I interact. Which response was, ” well do you need to, do you want to?” a certain detachment often leads to better relationships. It’s when we invest, when we want friendship up front, that it all becomes difficult. “All the world’s a stage etc etc.”

  10. #11 by Angry Nurse on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 2013

    So; I’ve got some stuff for sale………..

  11. #12 by Maha on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 2201

    There’s a nurse at work trying to sell me some makeup stuff that I have no intention of buying. I’ve told her that I’m not interested but the 12 hours sales pitch is grating my last nerve. Maybe I’ll cave in just to shut her up. I hate being accosted by sales people when I shop at a mall and its even more annoying at work!

  12. #13 by roddick909 on Thursday 17 December 2009 - 0259

    nice article here. nice advice. thanks for sharing.

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