January 14th, 2010
Morgan is putting in our pool in our Florida vacation home. He is a great guy, fun to chat with, does fantastic work, but he is very difficult to deal with because he is an avoider.
Morgan hates conflict, so he tells you what he thinks you want to hear, which isn’t always the truth.
We’ve been having a major problem with final delivery date of the pool. It was due weeks ago, and the pool is still not done. Morgan won’t tell us exactly why (although we clearly see that his time management is the issue); instead he avoids the question. When asked when we can see a completed pool, he will give me a date (like, “next Tuesday”), but when Tuesday arrives, he says, “Well, maybe Thursday.”
He avoids saying the truth because he knows that I will be upset. He avoids facing the issue because he is uncomfortable with confrontation. He does everything he can to keep the waters calm, to keep me happy and to avoid talking about the why it is late and when it will be ready.
Initially it was very difficult to get angry with him because he was such a nice guy. After missing the deadline by weeks, it was easier to be angry.
He doesn’t return phone calls. He doesn’t tell the truth. He doesn’t want to deal with the situation, which makes him a very difficult person in my eyes.
Is his behaviour intentional? Partially. I think he is deliberately not returning my calls because he doesn’t want to discuss the fact the pool is still not done. When we see him in person, he changes the subject, dances around the issue, and avoids commitment. Is that deliberate or innocent? A bit of both. He has “learned” to avoid conflict and he does it without realizing he is doing it.
The bad news is that there is no easy fix. I can’t force him to tell me the truth or return my phone calls. What I can do is be very clear on what I want, without making it seem too confrontational. I can call him every day, or every hour until he finally returns my call. I can ask him to promise me it will be done.
But I can’t always win. I can’t always get the truth, and I’m still not getting my pool delivered on time.
I can choose to never work with him again once the pool is finished though. In a workplace, that isn’t so easy. The best you can do is be aware you are dealing with an avoider, and be very clear on expectations. You’ll still suffer from frustration, and they will still avoid uncomfortable situations and commitments.
Not everything that is faced can be easily changed, but by not facing an issue is guaranteeing that it won’t change. Better to do something than nothing at all.
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