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Dealing With Difficult Behaviors

At work, most of our problems involve relationships. Whether we reside in a cubicle farm or on a construction site, our teammates can provide the biggest challenges.

In the book Taking God to Work, Steve Reynolds and I examine some of the dysfunctional actions and attitudes that can threaten your productivity, workplace harmony and even job security.

We are careful to label behaviors and not people. When we label a person, we rob them of their power to change. While change can be difficult and elusive for some, nothing is impossible for a workplace inhabited by God. Calling someone the "Office Gossip" implies that this person has always been such and will always remain so.

"And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not" (1 Timothy 5:13).

By examining Scripture and understanding the root issues behind destructive behaviors, each of us can become transformation agents within our places of employment. Gossips, for example, are getting needs met by their idle chatter. The root cause may be laziness (when I'm talking, I don't have to be working.) Or the issue might be a habit of sowing discord. In the short-term, gossip can make the purveyor feel powerful.

The antidote to gossip is challenging the one of spreads it to say their story in front of the person they are gossiping about. Lies and half-truths tend to die in the light of day. Help them get busy with a work project, instead of wasting time with idle chatter.

Another destructive behavior is behaving like a bulldozer. Aggressive co-workers may attempt to run over you in order to get their part in a project completed, while your work goes unattended. It's fine to be helpful whenever you can, but boundaries may be needed when dealing with a bulldozer personality. Slow them down by acknowledging their need, agreeing to get to their request and setting a reasonable response time for answering them.

By learning to deal with the various types of bad behavior listed in Taking God to Work, you can transform your workplace slowly, day-by-day. I've seen God do miracles in several places I worked once His Spirit was prayed into daily interactions, meetings and projects.

Have you picked up your copy of Taking God to Work yet? Check it out at