Why is your relationship with your nemesis so bad?
Otto wasn’t really my nemesis.
If you’re wondering who Otto is you can catch up here but this will make sense anyway.
He was doing the best he could in a tough situation and looking back, it wasn’t him that was the problem, it was me.
Let me explain.
The person on the left is me.
I think Otto is stubborn, unreasonable and opinionated.
So when I talk to him I’m I blunt, demanding and condescending.
The person on the right is Otto.
He’s responsible for making sure the new system is fit for purpose for his department. His boss is asking him every day why it’s not working, his team are annoyed they can’t just go back to using the old system and then there’s me.
If you were Otto, what would you be thinking?
Might you think I’m being difficult, arrogant and incompetent?
Might you respond with frustration, annoyance and inflexibility?
The way I’m talking to Otto is making him like me even less and there’s more anger when he talks to me.
This make me like him even less and I become even more blunt and authoritative.
In response he won’t compromise on anything.
The only way out of this cycle is for one us to do something different.
So when Otto sent an email cc’ing the entire company executive, including the CEO, to tell me I was wrong, I took him out for coffee.
I was terrified and after we sat down I blurted out, “I know you don’t like me, but we have to find a way to work together.”
Otto looked at me surprised, “It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that you’re the face of the project team and I don’t like the project team.”
I have to say at the time neither did I, I hope I didn’t say that but I probably did.
What I did do was shut up and listen.
I asked questions to understand what was happening for him.
Then he asked what was going on for me.
Eventually, Otto was my biggest supporter and he spend hours helping me understand the business and what the system needed to be able to do. A lot of my success is down to him.
I shouldn’t have let things get that far. I knew things weren’t great and I ignored it. I doubled down on my approach instead of taking a pause and doing something different.
I’m not promising changing your approach will work every time, but whatever you’re doing now isn’t working either so what do you have to lose?