Every work place, group or organization has them. Some are more vocal than others, while some are just odd in interpreting and disseminating their non-traditional opinion. Most of the time this isn’t a problem since they don’t generally force their viewpoints on others... until they do.
What to do when your friendly neighborhood wack job being to be overly assertive
- Politely ignore them
- Try to use neutral body language and posture
- Redirect the conversation to a different topic
- Do not engage in the ridiculous statements
- Smile and excuse yourself as soon as possible
It is important not to engage in the conversation. Doing so will get you locked into a long and often unwanted debate on trying to disprove their points. Take for example the following conversation which happened earlier this morning.
A coworker comes up to me and poses innocently : “Hey, do you have a moment?”
“Sure, what can I help you with?”
“I was wondering if you knew about Stephen Hawking’s theory that you can travel only back in time..”
I was in my office, there was no one to reach out to for help.
“This isn’t really work related but I have heard of this theory. I’m really not knowledgeable enough to comment on it extensively.”
“Oh that’s okay, I just wanted to give you some evidence I found on the internet that people traveled back in time to help us get cell phones.”
“You really shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet and look for multiple sources for -”
“But,” I am interrupted. “I just really believe that humans were screwed up and people from a hundred years from now came back to set us on the right course.”
A text message alerts my phone. “You know, I’ve really got to answer this, maybe we can talk about it later.”
I escape quickly. The problem with these exchanges is not that they happen, it is the increasing frequency that poses a threat. A threat not only to the obvious work obligations, but a threat to coworkers and my own sanity. This person cannot be avoided in all situations, but the tactics listed above can only work for so long and are only efficient for a person with extremely high constitution.
Exhausting all evasion options, I am left with the most drastic of choices. A stern talking to about relevance to work place activities and to keep these ideals to themselves.
At least it is Friday of a long weekend and I won’t have to endure these absurdities for three days.