When to encourage a colleague not to say everything they think


We are struggling with a co-worker who is very enthusiastic, motivated and very good at his job, but who is also very emotional, critical and seems to lack the common sense of when to say what.

For example, at a recent project meeting there were many external stakeholders in attendance who voiced critical comments and made ambitious commitments to the entire team. While the warmth and candor is commendable, they really shouldn’t have made these statements, which made the rest of the team feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Many of us, myself included, have had discussions with this person about changing their behavior, but so far, it hasn’t had the desired effect.

I worry that if they continue like this, they will eventually be asked to leave the program. I value their skills and commitment to the project, but this somewhat crude approach has misunderstood a lot of people. what can we do?

illustration by john shakespeare

illustration by john shakespeareCredit:


I have invited Dr Andrew Wang, Lecturer in Management and Organizational Behavior at Deakin University, to help me answer your question. He told me that in the workplace, having to deal with passionate and competent colleagues who are also overly emotional and lacking in tact is a challenging but not uncommon situation.

Addressing these issues can also be “incredibly rewarding,” Wang said, and offered some suggestions for how to do so. His first piece of advice is to provide instant feedback, carefully worded.

“While it’s definitely commendable for you to be open and talking to your colleagues about how you’re feeling, they may need more specific feedback to make behavioral changes,” he says.

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