Describe your most challenging professional relationship. (2 to 3 double-spaced paragraphs)
I was recently appointed by my manager to lead a five-man customer survey team. On the team was an older lady, who had been in the firm longer than the rest of us. She was already frustrated; she felt should be leading the team. Meetings were always a battlefront. She will disagree with every suggestion and look for ways of humiliating me. She would often go up to the manager and complain that she was not given opportunity to comment at the meeting. The other team members were complaining about her attitude towards them also. I was worried that we might not meet our deadlines because after the first month we had hardly started the project.
This went on for a while. I gave the matter a serious thought and decided to use a different strategy. I choose to consult her before the meetings to get her suggestions. I also consulted her on other issues that were not even directly related to the meeting but that I feel she can contribute to. I did some research and discovered that she is very passionate about perfumes. I bought her perfumes; we had length discussions on perfumes. We also discuss family issues, social activities etc. I discovered she was having problems with her husband; she was already filing for a divorce.
Now that I could understand the problems, I took out time to help her. I will spend about 30minutes to one hour every other day with her. We talked extensively, and over time the effort paid off. She started to contribute more positively at team meetings, there ware less complains from the other team member and most importantly we were able to meet the deadline. We are now very good friends and occasionally I serve as her confidant.
Andy successfully applies the "SAR" (Situation-Action-Result) framework in this essay. He does a good job of succinctly setting up the problem in the first paragraph. Right away we understand the situation and the challenge that he faced. In the next paragraph we see what he did to remedy this problem, and in the final paragraph we see the result.
This essay works well, but there are two ways that Andy could improve it:
• Fix grammatical mistakes. There are a handful of mistakes in this essay, the kind that are commonly committed by non-native English speakers. Many of them deal with switching from past tense to present tense and back again. For instance, "She will disagree with every suggestion and look for ways of humiliating me," should read, "She would disagree with every suggestion and look for ways to humiliate me."
• Provide a little more depth to the action and the result. Obviously Andy needs to keep this essay short, but the solution almost seems a little too easy. Did the co-worker's mood change right away when Andy started to talk to her about her interests? Or did she initially resist? Did she explain why she had been behaving that way? Adding some depth here will make the story more interesting and more believable.
Overall, Andy has taken the right approach with this essay. He should be able to upgrade it with just a little more work.
NOTE: Since we first posted this essay, several readers commented that they felt that Andy's example of buying perfume for his co-worker was somewhat inappropriate. Their opinion is that this seems a little too forward for a professional relationship between a man and a woman. This difference in opinion is probably due to cultural differences. We don't necessarily agree or disagree with their opinion, but wanted to mention it for Andy's sake and for others who read this essay.
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